Bavaria begins – and the German shore of the Bodensee ends – at the idyllic resort of LINDAU, hard by the Austrian border and with the Austrian town of Bregenz clearly visible across the lake. Though the modern town sprawls for several kilometres along the mainland shore, it's the picture-postcard medieval Altstadt on an island in the lake, with its sunny, south-facing harbour, mild climate and luxuriant summer vegetation that makes Lindau a fully-fledged tourist honeytrap. Crowded it may be, but it's sweet for all that, with barely an eyesore in sight.
Smart hotels and café terraces line the harbour, which is busy with yachts and excursion boats in summer and whose entrance is guarded by a tall lighthouse and an outsized Bavarian lion, placed there in the mid-nineteenth century. Beyond it, a spectacular backdrop of snow-capped Alps rises above the far shore. On the quay, the thirteenth-century Mangturm – the predecessor to the present lighthouse – has an almost Venetian look, complete with its colourful tiled roof. A little way back from the harbour stands the fourteenth-century Rathaus, the splendour of its stepped gables a reflection of Lindau's medieval importance as a trading centre and former free imperial city, though the colourful frescoes on the exterior – which depict the Reichtstag, the imperial Diet held here in 1496 – date from the nineteenth century.