All photos: Bryan Dearsley / LuxuryEurope  


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If, like me, you’ve traveled to beautiful Lake Constance (Bodensee) by train from Munich, your first port of call will likely be Lindau. It’ll be here in this charming medieval town on the north shore of Europe’s third-largest lake that you’ll probably get your first glimpse of what is perhaps the world’s most exciting form of air travel… the Zeppelin airship.

I recently had the chance to visit the German side of Lake Constance, a magnificent 39-mile-long body of crystal clear waters it shares with Switzerland and Austria, while exploring the scenic states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. In addition to the charming island town of Lindau, I planned to also visit Friedrichshafen, the birthplace of the Zeppelin and where the legacy continues to this day.

As a fan of history and flight, as well as luxurious sightseeing opportunities, Friedrichshafen was a bucket list travel destination I was eager to explore.


Lake Constance Zeppelin Flights: First Glimpses


Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the thrill of seeing these amazing aircraft in flight in the days leading up to my own Zeppelin adventure. The first glimpse of what lay ahead was while touring the excellent Haug Weingut winery in the village of Schönau.


Lake Constance with a Zeppelin flying over the lake and cineyard Photo by Bryan Dearsley
Zeppelin sightings over Lake Constance never grow old  


Wine sample in hand (hey, it was after 10 am… just!), I spied the airship from the vineyard’s slopes just north of Lindau, a distant sliver of silver making its way along the lake at what looked to be a snail’s pace. Frequent double-takes were to prove, however, that it was making progress.

My second glimpse of an airship that day was even more exciting. Standing at the bow of one of the many sightseeing vessels that ply the waters of Lake Constance, a Zeppelin flew directly over us, this time providing not just a better sense of its speed (it was much faster than the boat), but also its size.


Friedrichshafen, the Birthplace of the Zeppelin


A scenic 25-minute train ride from Lindau, Friedrichshafen is well-known for its role in aviation history, particularly the development of the Zeppelin airships. This rich history is celebrated throughout the city, with many references to Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, the brains behind the city’s nearly 125-year-old airship legacy, dotted around its public spaces.


The Zeppelin Museum cars on display
Zeppelin-inspired cars on display at the Zeppelin Museum


The excellent Zeppelin Museum (Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen) is a must-visit before or after your flight. Opened on the 100th anniversary of the first Zeppelin flight – an event that took place in Friedrichshafen – this elegant art deco building contains a wealth of information and artifacts related to the history and technology behind these amazing aircraft, as well as about Count Zeppelin himself.

The experience is even more enjoyable if you secure the services of a professional tour guide. The delightful Wini Boos was my guy and is an excellent freelance tour guide who brought the stories behind Friedrichshafen’s most famous man (and his machines) vividly to life.


To the Zeppelin Hangars


It’s only a 25-minute bus ride (10 minutes by taxi) from downtown Friedrichshafen and the museum to the Zeppelin Hanger. Situated on the edge of Friedrichshafen Airport, this excellent facility is the home base of Zeppelin NT, the company responsible for bringing airships into the 21st century.


Lake Constance Zeppelin Flights over the Zeppelin Hangar
The Zeppelin Hangar is home to the Zeppelin… and a lot of fun to visit 


As well as implementing innovations such as the use of helium, Zeppelin NT has instigated rigorous protocols to ensure passenger safety with modern facilities like state-of-the-art check-in and pre-flight processes making it abundantly clear that you’re in good hands.

I arrived early enough to get lunch from the facility’s café so I could grab a patio seat and watch the Zeppelin I was to travel on load up the tour ahead of me. And I’m glad I did. Watching this 246-foot-long airship land with a grace that seemed to defy gravity was a thrill in itself. So, too, was watching it take off just a few minutes later with a new payload of 14 passengers (plus two crew), all visibly excited about their Lake Constance Zeppelin flight.


The Experience of a Lifetime


When our turn comes, we hop aboard a shuttle for the brief ride to the Zeppelin’s landing pad where we’re politely asked to wait in line in pairs as we watch our flight arrive. The process is well organized, with staff carefully shepherding two passengers off before two are loaded, ensuring an even weight distribution (remember, helium is lighter than air!). They also had us shuffle along, conga-like, as a breeze caused the airship to swivel a few feet in either direction.


Lake Constance Zeppelin Flights with passengers getting ready
Getting ready to board my Zeppelin flight across Lake Constance


Safely aboard, every passenger gets a window seat, a real treat for those of us wanting to take photos. Then, just minutes later, we’re airborne. The thrill of the quietest, smoothest almost vertical take-off I’ve ever experienced takes a few moments to register. We went straight up, like a birthday balloon escaping a child’s grasp.

As we ascend to our cruising altitude of 1000 feet, the next thrill kicks in: those stunning views. First, it’s Friedrichshafen, and it’s easy to make out the landmarks I encountered earlier in the day: there’s the Zeppelin Museum, and I trace the route along Uferstrasse, the lakefront promenade, to the Friedrichshafen hotel where I’ll be spending the night, the classy Lukullum.


What You’ll See on a Lake Constance Zeppelin Flight


While a variety of flight options are available that last from 30 minutes to up to two hours, I opted for the Flight Mainau experience. This 60-minute tour not only allowed me time to relish the elegance of this modern take on Count von Zeppelin’s original invention – plush seats, an on-board washroom, and the opportunity to watch the pilots at work – but it gave me a chance to see (albeit from the air) Konstanz and other attractions at the west end of the lake, including the towns of Immenstaad, Hagnau am Bodensee, and Meersburg.

The highlight, though, was flying over a future bucket list item: Island Mainau (Insel Mainau). The view of “Flower Island” from our lofty perch was breathtaking, to say the least. Better still, as the airship passes directly over it, passengers can move around the cabin and even open windows to get the best possible shot of this and other Lake Constance attractions.


Zeppeliin - Photo By Bryan Dearsley 01 -04
Modern Zeppelin’s offer luxurious sightseeing  over Lake Constance


Heading back to Friedrichshafen over the lake was just as much fun, and in fact, allowed opportunities to see a few things we may have missed on the outward journey. The famous UNESCO Pile Dwelling Museum (Prähistorische Pfahlbauten)? Yup. Schloss Friedrichshafen? Got it this time! And then, all too soon, we were preparing for landing… and yes, that, too, was smooth as could be.

After spending a memorable Zeppelin-focused day in Friedrichshafen, pay a visit to the Schloßhorn viewing area for a spectacular sunset over Lake Constance. It’s a breathtaking experience. And if you’re lucky, as I was, you might just get to see a Zeppelin fly by one more time before you call it a day.


If You Go (and You Should!)


For more details on this and other wonderful Lake Constance Zeppelin flights, including other destinations around the country where you can hop aboard an authentic German airship, visit

Even if you don’t plan on flying, you can visit the Zeppelin Hangar during their regular business hours and watch these majestic aircraft come and go at your leisure. Buy yourself a coffee, a beer, lunch or even dinner, and take your time.


Author Bryan Dearsley enjoying his Lake Constance Zeppelin Flight
Author Bryan Dearsley enjoying his Lake Constance Zeppelin Flight


For further details about visiting Friedrichshafen and Lake Constance, visit the Bodensee Tourism website at And if you’re going to visit Lake Constance attractions like the Zeppelin Museum, as well as use public transit (including on-water transport) pick up the excellent Bodensee Card Plus; you’ll not only save money, it’ll make your travels in this corner of Germany even better… and easier.

Finally, for more ideas about travel to this beautiful part of Europe, visit the Germany Travel website.




Bryan Dearsley is a writer and editor and is the Co-Founder of LuxuryEurope and Riley, leading source of news and information about the world’s leading luxury destinations.


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