Mainau Island is an enormous park, just over the border on the Bodensee, with beautiful gardens and lovely walking paths, generally a nice way to spend a sunny spring day. There are stroller-friendly paths through thousands of flowers in all sorts of configurations. Kids love the huge playground, with lots of swings, slides, climbing structures and water play. The butterfly house is real treat, with hundreds of butterflies flying overhead. There are pony rides, animals to pet, model trains, and amusing sculptures made of flowers. We prefer to bring a picnic as the restaurants aren’t very good. The season begins late March and continues through summer, with different flowers in bloom at different times. For tulips, it’s best to visit mid-April to early May.
|Location:||Switzerland – Germany Border|
|Address:||Mainaustraße 1, 78465 Konstanz, Germany|
|Car:||1hr from Zurich|
|Train:||1hr40 from Zurich|
|Trail:||various walking paths around island|
|Condition:||paved/dirt, strollers ok|
|Open:||year round, flowers best April through June|
|Prices:||Adult CHF 19.90, children under 12 free|
|Services:||restaurant, playground, picnic areas, no fire|
After buying your tickets at the entrance on the mainland, you walk over a short bridge to access the island. From there, you simply wander through the flowers. Note that the playground is close to the entrance, so be prepared to either stop right away or convince your children to see the flowers first and return as a reward.
The park is stroller friendly. There are some stairs, but they have alternate accessibility paths and some of the stairs have rails for wheelchairs that also work for most strollers. Bikes are not allowed, but we’ve taken the kids’ scooters with no problem. The park is big and little kids that are too big for a stroller can tired easily.
By car: Drive to Konstanz, Germany and follow signs to Insel Mainau. You could put Mainaustraße, Konstanz, Germany in your GPS. There is a big car park on the mainland next to the park. Remember to pay for the parking before returning to your car.
By public transport: Take a train to Konstanz, then a bus to the Mainau, Konstanz stop.
Opening Times & Tickets
Mainau is open from sunrise to sunset starting in late March through October. One year, we got there at 8:30am and were one of only three cars in the parking lot. It was really nice to enjoy the park by ourselves for an hour or so before it got crowded. See website for opening times and admission fees.
This flower sculpture greets you as you enter the park. Since 2006, we’ve taken a picture every year in front of this flower. It’s fun to see how our family has changed and grown over the years.
Although there are a couple restaurants, self-service cafes and kiosks, I recommend bringing a picnic. We’ve eaten at three of restaurants/cafes and the food ranged from unpleasant to rather terrible. And on a busy day, it took an infuriating long time to be seated. There are plenty of picnic tables near the playground and other scattered through the park. You are allowed to bring in whatever food you like and I’ve seen many people bringing large coolers and massive picnic supplies.
When to go
The best time to go is usually the third and fourth weekend in April, but that’s always right in the middle of school holidays so it’s hard to make it there. I always try to catch it at the perfect bloom, but I realized it doesn’t matter. I’ve seen different flowers every time I’ve gone and it’s always beautiful.
Flowers usually start blooming early April, starting with crocus and daffodils. The below pic was the first week of April 2010, when the daffodils were amazing but the tulips were only just starting to come out.
In late April, you’ll see the most flowers, primarily tulips but many other varieties as well.
One year, we went in mid-May. Most of the tulips were gone, but the flowering bushes were out of control and lots of other flowers were blooming.
The rhododendron bushes were amazing and the wisteria smelled so good.
The playground is one of the first things you see when entering the park and our boys always want to stop. But we always insist on flowers first and play later. If we play first, no one has energy to walk around the island looking at flowers. But we always reserve lots of time for the playground at the end of our visit. It’s a super big playground with swings, slides, climbing structures, water play, rafts to push around, etc.
Just a warning, bring extra clothes for your kids in case they fall off the raft into the water (not deep, but certainly wet). There is a clothes dryer next to the playground, but that’s not so effective. Last year, I finally remembered to bring a complete change of clothes, including shoes, and we needed it within the first five minutes. You can leave the park with a hand stamp, which was good since I had the extra clothes in the car.
Besides the playground, there are lots of expansive green lawns where the kids have plenty of room to run around. Little kids might need a few reminders to steer clear of the flowers, but other than that you don’t have to keep a tight leash on your kids.
Next to the playground, you’ll find model trains running around a mini Swiss landscape. My boys were fascinated by this when they were younger.
Here’s some of the variety you’ll see as you walk around the island. Some of the gardens are sculpted and designed. Other fields are more wild.
Lots of smooth paths for strolling.
There are lots of ponds, fountains and waterfalls throughout the park. If you didn’t get wet at the playground, you might here.
At the far end of the island, there is chateau and chapel at the top of a hill, with an adjacent orchid green house and rose gardens.
The butterfly house is packed full of gorgeous butterflies, flying every which way. Sometimes they will even land on you if you keep really still. It’s very hot and humid inside and on busy days, it can get a big claustrophobic. It’s small, so I’d recommend leaving your stroller outside and letting your kids walk or carrying the really little ones.
Sometimes the butterflies land on you, very exciting. Careful not to step on them.
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