It's Better to Travel than Arrive?

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive"

Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque, 1881.

"Robert Louis Stevenson speaks utter tosh and has

obviously never flown long haul economy class"

Kristy, first ever blog post, 2011.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mainau Island

On Thursday I took my holidaying parents-inlaw to visit Mainau, the amazing garden island just a causeway's walk away from the coast near Konstanz.  Our friend, Susi, had told me that the tulip displays were looking amazing, and she was absolutely right!

I had been before, with my parents, at a different time of year, and it was grey and raining - there weren't really any blooms out and it was all very nice, but not "wow".  This time, however, it was an absolutely glorious spring day and there were tulips everywhere!  Tulips are my favourite flower and I just couldn't believe how many different kinds they had.  I'll post a stack of my iPhone photos below so you can get an idea of how many they have planted.

There is also a fantastic butterfly house (free), and a great palm house (free) that was hosting an exhibition of seriously amazing orchids.  Everyone who walked through the doors of the palm house (no matter the nationality), stopped dead in their tracks and said "Oh, WOW!".  "Wow!" is international?  Who knew?  I know "ouch!" is.

There's lots of parking, or you can get there by bus or ferry.  There's loads of cafes and restaurants, but you're allowed to bring your own picnics if you'd prefer.  You can bring your dogs also.  There is a seriously amazing playground for the kids, one of the best I've ever seen - just be prepared for them to get a bit muddy at the mud pie station, or wet whilst riding the rafts.  I wanted to have a go myself!

Entry to the island isn't cheap at €16.90 for adults and €9.50 for kids, but you can spend the whole day there, take your own food and drink, and you'd certainly get your moneys worth.  You can also buy an annual pass (€45 for an adult) if you think you'll be there more than a few times in a year.

 Mainau is an island in Lake Constance (on the south shore of the Überlinger See near the city of KonstanzBaden-WürttembergGermany). It is maintained as a garden island and a model of excellent environmental practices. 
The island belongs to the Lennart Bernadotte Foundation), an entity created by the late Prince Lennart, Count Bernadotte af Wisborg, formerly a Prince of Sweden and Duke of Småland. 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.
Mainau Bay is the location of the university sailing club; their many small sailboats add to the summer scenery.
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 IBaden became a republic with the abdication of Grand Duke Frederick II, son of Frederick I. The former Grand Duke retained his private property including Mainau. 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 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.
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 treesagavescacti, 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.



  1. The Mainau is one of my favourite islands! I love it there! Thanks for all the history, I had no idea.

  2. Did you see the playground there? With the rafts? Makes me want to have kids just so I can take them there! (Am making do with kids of friends who visit though.)

    1. Flipping love that playground! I wanted to go on it myself. I love the rafts, but it was the mud pie station with the water screw that I really wanted to get involved in. On a hot day I would have been in that water park.

  3. Love the photos...and best of all it is at your doorstep! Will time my next trip around that for sure...I am sure Archie would have loved a romp through the tulips!

  4. Hi everyboby, I want to visit Mainau island in this time. But I don't know there is any flowers in this time? I live so far Munich. So could you give me some comments whether I could go there? Thank you very much.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Anonymous! Here's a link from their official website that shows what flowers on the island each month. I hope you can find something that interests you!


Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!