Mainau is maintained as a garden island and a model of excellent environmental practices. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Lake Constance. Beside flowers there is a park landscape with views on the lake. There is also a greenhouse with tropical climate and thousands of butterflies.
Until the Napoleonic mediatisations and secularisations of small German fiefs this island belonged to the Order of Teutonic Knights. It was later sold into private ownership. In 1853 Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden purchased the island as his personal property and built a summer palace there. At the end of World War I Baden became a republic with the abdication of Grand Duke Frederick II of Baden, son of Frederick I. The former Grand Duke retained his private property including Mainau (a controversial referendum to expropriate some of the remaining "private" property of the former ruling houses narrowly failed in 1926 for not meeting the 50% of eligible voters quorum). When he died childless in 1928 the island passed to his sister Victoria of Baden, wife of King Gustaf V of Sweden. Upon her death two years later she bequeathed the island to her second son Prince Vilhelm, Duke of Södermanland and his descendants. In 1932 Prince Wilhem gave Mainau to his only child Count Lennart Bernadotte of Wisborg who owned it until 1974 when he transferred the island to a foundation. Count Bernadotte formed Enterprise Mainau GmbH in 1991 as a private enterprise to manage the island for the benefit of the Lennart Bernadotte-Stiftung. The Count remained active in managing Mainau until his death in 2004 but appointed his second wife Sonja co-manager in 2001. Lennart's widow Sonja Countess Bernadotte af Wisborg and his children ran both the foundation and the management company until 2007. Since January 2007 Bettina Bernadotte, the eldest daughter of Lennart and Sonja Bernadotte, directs the Mainau GmbH as the current manager.
Flora and fauna
Mainau is a "flowering island" notable for its parks and gardens. Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden, created the island's arboretum, which now contains 500 species of deciduous and coniferous trees, many exotic and valuable, including fine specimens of Sequoiadendron giganteum (1864) and Metasequoia glyptostroboides (1952). The island also contains about 200 rhododendron and azalea varieties.
The Italian Rose Garden laid out geometrically with pergolas, sculptures, and fountains, and includes some 500 rose varieties. The Mediterranean terraces contain exotic pot plants, including palm trees, agaves, cacti, and Bougainvillea. The island as a whole contains about 30,000 rose bushes representing 1,200 varieties, and about 20,000 dahlias of 250 varieties.
Due to being inside a rather large lake, the climate of this island is rather distinct from other European places at the same latitude.
From Konstanz follow Mainaustraße. Cars are not allowed on the island and you have to park outside for €4 during main season and free during off-season.
- Bodensee Schifffahrt, ☎ +49 7531 3640-0. Offers regular boat services from most major cities e.g. Konstanz (€8.20), Überlingen (€8.20) and Meersburg (€6.80).
- Vorarlberg Lines Bodenseeschifffahrt, ☎ +43 5574 42868, e-mail: email@example.com. Offers daily boat cruises to Mainau. The trip is about 3.5 hours. Adults between €26-49.90 from various locations on the lake. The price includes a return ticket and entry fee to the island.
Bicycles are not allowed on the island.
Mainau Island is open throughout the year from sunrise until sunset.
Main season (mid-Mar - mid Oct): €19 for adults, €11 for school children (13 and above) / students (with ID card), €39 for a family (2 adults and children under 16) and free for children (under 13). A special sunset ticket is available from 17:00, which offers half price on any ticket. Groups per person (minimum 10 people) cost €14.90.
Off-season (mid-Oct - mid-Mar): €9.50 for adults, concessions €5.50, group tickets €7.50. The family ticket and sunset ticket are not available. Parking is for free.
You will have to walk as no vehicles or bicycles are allowed on this island. Most but not all of the island is accessible to people in wheelchairs.
- The Castle. Daily 10:00-17:00. The Castle of the Teutonic Order is the architectural highlight of the island located in the eastern part. The royal Bernadotte family still lives in the parts of the building.
- Palm House. Daily 9:00-21:00. The Palm House is the exotic heart of Mainau with palms and orange trees and a stunning view from the castle terrace.
- Butterflyhouse. Daily, main season 10:00-19:00, off-season 10:00-17:00. One of the main highlights on the island is the tropical butterfly house. See hunderts of butteflies while walking through the humid rainforest house. It is the secand largest of its kind in Germany.
- Arboretum. A park with a collection of old and huge trees.
- Wine Tasting, Torbogenkeller. During the main season, every first and third Friday of the month you can taste the wine from the island. The tasting starts at 15:30 and takes 30min. €5.
- Restaurant Schwedenschenke, ☎ +49 7531 303-156. Main season daily 11:00-23:00, off-season closed. Cheaper quick lunches during the day and fine dining in the evening. If you have a reservation, you are allowed to drive on the island from 18:00 and park next to the restaurant.
- Comturey (Located at the harbour area). Main season daily: restaurant 11:30-17:00 (food only until 15:30), bakery 9:00-19:00, beer garden 10:00-18:00, ice cream shop 11:00-17:00. Off-season closed. In this area you can find a restaurant, a bakery, a beer garden and an ice cream shop.
- Schlosscafé. Troughout the year daily 11:00-17:00. Cafe offering a large selection of different coffees. Also has teas, cakes and ice cream.
- Rothaus-Seeterrassen. Main season daily 9:00-18:00. Off-season closed. Self-service restaurant and café with outside seating area right at the lake.
- Würstle Grill, ☎ +49 7531 303-156. Main season daily 11:00 bis 17:00, off-season closed. Offers various barbecued sausages and beverages.
- Reichenau — one of the three main islands on the lake mostly used for growing vegetables and fruits; much bigger and free to visit