If you are planning a summer vacation in Europe that includes culture, architecture, gourmet food, outdoor activities, and boutique hotels, how about a week or longer in Vorarlberg? Abundant in natural beauty, culture, and fun activities – Austria’s westernmost state is an excellent summer destination.
Vorarlberg, Austria Location
Bordering Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, Austria’s Vorarlberg state is easily accessible by car, rail or air. Learn more about how to reach Vorarlberg, Austria here.
Vorarlberg is diverse, but compact at only 100 km north to south. If you arrive by rail or air, consider renting a car so you can explore the region at leisure during your summer vacation in Europe.
Gateway: Bregenz, Austria
Home of the renowned Bregenz Festival and many other cultural events, the lakefront city of Bregenz is Austria’s culture capital. And a fantastic place to begin your summer vacation in Europe.
Plan to spend two or three days exploring Bregenz, and attend the Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival) if you can visit the city during the four-week long event.
In Bregenz, you can also go out on Lake Constance (bordered by Switzerland and Germany), cycle on dedicated paths, visit museums, and ride a tram up Pfänder Mountain (3487 feet (1063 m)). Read more about these and other things to do and see in Bregenz, Austria here.
Book the four-star hotel am see, located in Hard, a lakeside town located about 10 minutes from Bregenz. Located 300 m from Lake Constance, this boutique hotel caters to families and business travelers. The adjacent restaurant Gasthaus Käth´r is excellent.
Day 3 -5: Visit the Bregenzerwald
From Bregenz, drive for approximately one hour to Bezau, Austria. Located in a sun-filled valley in the Austrian gourmet region of Bregenzerwald, Bezau offers easy access to alpine and village trails, culinary hikes, beautiful architecture, and all things cheese. Approximately 3000 tons of alpine cheese is produced in the Bregenzerwald each year – if you enjoy cheese, be prepared to fall in love!
From Bezau you can access mountain lifts up to the starting points for many hikes. Including trails leading to alpine dairies.
In the Bregenzerwald, you can visit an alpine dairy like Alpe Wildmoos (link), where families devote their summer to the production of Bregenzerwald alpine cheese.
Stop at the Bregenzerwald Kasekeller in Lingenau to learn more about the renowned Bregenzerwald Cheese and see a state of the art cheese cellar (Kasekeller) where approximately 32,000 wheels of alpine cheese mature.
Known for high-quality building design and craftsmanship, architects design 25 percent of all homes in the Bregenzerwald. Working as equals, construction workers, craftsmen, and architects refer to themselves as “construction artists” in the Bregenzerwald. To explore this architecturally significant region, follow the “Umgang Bregenzerwald” walks through 12 towns and villages. Pocket-sized maps of each walk are available at the Bregenzerwald Tourism Office.
Werkraum Haus in the village of Andelsbuch showcases products designed and developed by Bregenzerwald craftsmen. Here builders, architects, and visitors can view and learn more about products from the region. Everything from wood frame windows & beautiful custom kitchen cabinets to textiles for the home are on display at Werkraum Haus. The large, light-filled space also includes a retail shop and restaurant with outdoor seating.
BUS: STOP Krumbach
The bus stops in the Bregenzerwald village of Krumbach are anything but typical. Architectural firms from Belgium, Chile, China, Japan, Norway, Russia, and Spain were invited to design seven bus stops in Krumbach, and the results are impressive. These unique bus stops, completed in 2014, are a tribute to the culture, landscape, local materials, and high-quality craftsmanship found in the Bregenzerwald.
Plan to stay at Suzanne Kauffman’s Post Hotel and Spa in Bezau. This family-run boutique hotel and spa, managed by internationally acclaimed natural skincare guru Susanne Kaufmann, has a strong connection to architecture – the Kaufmann family is one of the most famous families of architects in Austria’s Vorarlberg State.
Day 6 – 7+: Explore the Arlberg
The well-known winter destination of Lech Zürs am Arlberg is world class during the summer. Over 350 km of well-marked trails, themed hikes, and a dedicated hiking bus ensures easy access to the Arlberg’s sparkling alpine lakes, flower-filled meadows, and fragrant forests. Read more about summer in Lech Zürs am Arlberg here.
Plan to spend a few days (or more) with the Walch family at Hotel Gotthard in Lech am Arlberg (or Lech). Nicole and Clemens Walch, third generation hoteliers, run Hotel Gotthard like a large family home – we felt like distant* relatives after only a few hours.
Travel Tips – Planning a Summer Vacation in Europe
- The Vorarlberg State Tourism Office and regional offices provide excellent information to help fine-tune your summer vacation in Europe. Online or in print, the tourist information is the best I have seen anywhere.
- You can also begin your summer vacation in Europe in Lech Zürs am Arlberg and follow this itinerary in reverse.
- This itinerary is appropriate for travellers of all ages.
- Each region offers special tourist cards – be sure to ask the front desk at your hotel or visit the tourism office for the Lech Card in the Arlberg, the Bregenzerwald Guest Card, and the Bodensee-Vorarlberg Tourist Card in and around Bregenz.
Have you been to Vorarlberg or elsewhere in Austria?
Our visit to Vorarlberg, Austria was in collaboration with the Vorarlberg State Tourist Board. As always, if I don’t love a destination or experience, I won’t recommend it.