Friedrichshafen is located at the northeastern corner of Lake Constance (Bodensee), near the lake's widest point in the German federal-state of Baden-Württemberg. The city has played a vital role in the history of aviation, as this is where Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin developed and built his famous airships which dominated the skies in the early 20th century, and where similar smaller airships are made to this day. Friedrichshafen features a wealth of aviation-related attractions and museums. It also has one of the longest waterfront promenades along the Bodensee.
This mostly modern city was almost completely rebuilt after bombing in World War II. It also has a nice view of Austria and Switzerland and the alps across the lake on a clear day. In addition, the town's other highlights are three interesting museums and the dome-capped Schlosskirche, the premier remaining reminder of Friedrichshafen's baroque past.
Friedrichshafen has a small international airport, Bodensee-Airport Friedrichshafen (IATA: FDH), with direct flights from Dublin, London, Berlin and Prague. From the airport's train station (Friedrichshafen Flughafen), there are regular commuter trains to Friedrichshafen, and in the opposite direction to Ravensburg and an hourly service to Ulm. A cab from the airport to downtown will cost between €10-15, depending on where you go.
You could also consider to fly to Zürich Airport in Switzerland and take one of the hourly trains to Romanshorn, and the take the ferry over the Lake Constance. Since the last ferry in the off-season period leaves around 19:30 this is not an option for late arrivals.
There is a ferry port in the very centre of Friedrichshafen with many frequent services to other ports on Lake Constance shores:
- A 45-minute car ferry service links Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn on the Swiss side of the lake. From there, you can board express trains to Swiss cities like Zürich, Lucerne and Berne.
- A 40 minute Speedboat (Bodensee Katamaran) (pedestrians and cyclists only) links Friedrichshafen and Konstanz. There is a train station close to where the speedboat docks in Konstanz, where trains from many Swiss destinations, including Basel and Zürich, call.
There is a regular train service from Stuttgart and Ulm to Friedrichshafen. Another train line runs along Lake Constance (though mainly inland and not very scenic) from Lindau via Friedrichshafen to Radolfzell, Schafhausen and Bale. The main train station is Friedrichshafen Stadt, but there is also a small train station very close to the ferry terminal called Friedrichshafen Hafen. Both train stations are within walking distance of the city center. In summer time, the trains to and from Friedrichshafen might be crowded with groups of cyclists.
The town of Friedrichshafen covers a fairly large area along the lake side and the hinterland. There is public transportation, including a fairly priced night-bus system, but the best way to get around is by bike or car. During high-season in summer roads can get quite crowded and traffic jams getting in and out of Friedrichshafe are frequent. In particular on the B31 (Lindau-Friedrichshafen-Immenstaad-Hagnau-Meersburg-Überlingen).
There are plenty of opportunities to rent bikes in Friedrichshafen.
- Dornier Museum, Claude-Dornier-Platz 1 (close to the airport). May-Oct (summer): daily 09:00-17:00. Nov-Apr (winter): Tue-Sun 10:00-17:00, Mon closed.. Everybody can be a pioneer – this is the central message of the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen. Situated next to Friedrichshafen airport, the museum opened in the summer of 2009, offering a 100 years of aviation and aerospace history as a fascinating experience. The extraordinary architecture accommodates almost 400 exhibits on 5000 sqm, including 12 original aircraft, 7 exhibits from space travel and a full-size model. Pioneering spirit at your fingertips – for all those who are interested in technology and history, for families as well as all friends of aviation. €9 adults, €4.50 children, €7 concessions.
- Schulmuseum, Friedrichstraße 14. Apr-Oct (summer): daily 10:00-17:00. Nov-Mar (winter): Tue-Sun 14:00-17:00, Mon closed. At the Schulmuseum Friedrichshafen (school museum) it's like going back to school. During your visit you will find out how schools developed and what classrooms looked like in 1850, 1900 and 1930. Historic teaching materials and quaint exhibits like old slate pencil boxes, satchels and the big cardboard cones filled with sweets and little presents received on the first day of school, bring back fond memories of long-gone schooldays. On the two seater school bench you can try out writing on slates. Negative aspects of former school life are represented too, for example how discipline and obedience were enforced on pupils by caning, shaming them on a wooden donkey or making them kneel on a three-sided piece of wood. €3.50 adults, €1.50 children.
- Zeppelin Museum, Seestraße 22. Situated in the historic harbour station building, this museum presents the world‘s largest collection on the subject of airship history, construction and travel. Under the same roof you can visit an important collection of art dating from the late Middle Ages to the present day. The main attraction is the 33m long reconstruction of part of LZ 129 Hindenburg in its original size, which visitors can board just as the original passengers did in the 30‘s. The authentically fitted passenger rooms give an impression of how people travelled during the period of the “silver giants”. Two entire storeys of the Zeppelin Museum are dedicated to different aspects of Zeppelin history and technology. In addition to the permanent exhibition the museum organizes special events and temporary exhibitions. €8 adults, €4 concessions.
- Palace Church (Schlosskirche). The Schlosskirche with its two 55 m high domed towers made from Rorschach sandstone is the landmark of Friedrichshafen. It was built by Christian Thumb from 1695 to 1701 and belongs to the famous Upper Swabian baroque buildings. Since 1812 it has been a protestant church. In 1944 it was partly destroyed by air raids, reconstructed from 1947 to 1951 and then given back to the Protestant community.
- Viewing tower on the pier. A 22m high construction which offers good views of the city, palace church and seafront.
- Waterfront promenade. Walk along the expansive waterfront from east of the harbour to the Palace Church (in the west).
- Cycling. Rent a bike or bring your own and cycle along the lake to Meersburg (in the west) or Lindau (in the east). It is also fairly popular to do a tour around the entire lake in one (sportive with shortcuts), two (reasonable), three or more (leisure) days.
- Canoeing. There are probably more scenic locations along the lake where you can do canoeing, but there is a canoe rental in Friedrichshafen and they also organise tours on one of the small tributaries into the Lake of Constance.
- Climbing. Besides an indoor climbing facility by the DAV (Deutscher Alpenverein) for its members and affiliates , there is an adventure park in nearby Immenstaad (about 12 km from Friedrichshafen) that is more geared to families, children or groups on a team building exercise.
- Airship flights, ☎ +49 7541 5900-0. You can board the Zeppelin airship and get a bird's eye view of the lake and the surrounding area, depending on the tour. Tours last between 30 minutes and 2 hours. €200 - 765.
- Pension Wurster, ☎ +49 7541 72694, fax: +49 7541 33970, e-mail: PensionWursterFN@t-online.de. Georgstr. 14, A pleasant, well-kept place a short walk away from downtown. A doubleroom with shower, WC and TV costs €50.
- Graf-Zeppelin-Jugendherberge Friedrichshafen, Lindauer Straße 3, ☎ +49 7541 72404. Youth Hostel.
- Holiday Inn Express Friedrichshafen, Allmannsweiler straße 79, ☎ +49 7541 599500.