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Austria's West: The Bregenzerwald





The Bregenzerwald is situated between the Rhine valley in the West and the Allgäuer Alpen in the East. Although it is just a couple of miles away from the famous Lake Constance (Bodensee), it is rather seldomly visited on its own. Too attractive are the high rises of the Rätikon and the Silvretta in the south and due to this, the average traveller on the Rhein Autobahn A14 usually doesn't realize, how much beauty is hidden here for everyone looking for a rest in beautiful surroundings. No matter what you are up to: climbing, hiking or mountain biking, the Bregenzer Wald is well worth a stop - or even a fully blown vacation in the area.

General Information
Weather
Maps
 
Travel Information
How to get there
Travelling in the area
Accommodation
Activities
Hiking
Outdoor Sports
 
Specials
Things you shouldn't miss...
Things you shouldn't do...
 
please note: most of the information presented here is the same as for the Rätikon.

General Information
- Bodenseeinfo (German)
- Vorarlberg Tourism
- Vorarlberg Online

Weather
- Vorarlberg Online Weather
- Swiss Weather from Neue Zürcher Zeitung
- Yahoo! Weather for Bregenz
- Weather forecast for Vorarlberg by alpin.de
- Alpine weather forecast for Bregenzerwald by bergwetter.de (choose "Bregenzerwald" or "Lechquellengebirge" in the menu. German only)

Maps
Traditionally, Austria is not really famous for its maps. And Vorarlberg is unfortunately not even covered by the Swiss maps or the maps of the Deutscher Alpenverein, although it borders Switzerland and Germany. Consequently, the best maps available are from Kompass and Freytag & Berndt. I used the former, "Nr. 2 Bregenzerwald Westallgäu", which is pretty reliable.
- Area Map from National Geographic
- Simple Map with City Infos by bsz
- Map Bregenzerwald area by multimap
- Map (1:250.000) (283k) of Vorarlberg by Freytag & Berndt
- Map (1:50.000) (91k) of the tour to the Sünser Spitze
- Map (1:50.000) (77k) of the tour to the Hoher Freschen

Travel Information

How to get there
Vorarlberg is well connected with Germany via the A96 (D) and the Rheintal Autobahn A14 (A). If you are coming from Switzerland, you can choose the highway N1 coming from St. Gallen or the N13 from Chur. From the East, Vorarlberg is accessed pretty easily via the S16 using the Arlbergtunnel. Remember, that Austrian and Swiss highways require a Vignette, which can be bought at the respective border or gas stations on your way. Train connections are unfortunately not as well, but at least they do exist: from Lindau (D), St. Gallen and Chur (CH) and Innsbruck (A) Bregenz can be reached, from there it is recommended to proceed to Dornbirn.

Travelling in the area
Without a car, many areas in the Bregenzerwald will be hard to reach. Although you can take the busses operating in the area, this option is not really one. They operate rather seldom and depending on the season, they will not operate at all. If you didn't arrive by car, rent a mountain bike in Dornbirn and prepare yourself for some strenous climbs over the hills...

- Vorarlberg Tourism
- information on road conditions by the ÖAMTC

Accommodation
Once you are in the mountains, camping usually won't be a problem: just put up a tent some hundred meters away from the next trail, ask the land owner if available and enjoy :-) In case you want a little more comfort, Dornbirn and the surrounding small villages will offer you a big variety of hotels, Pensionen and private rooms. Personally, I liked the Gasthof Firstblick in Dornbirn/Kehlegg pretty much. Check out -again- Vorarlberg Tourism for a database based Online Booking facility. For the hiker who wants to walk from hut to hut, the Bregenzerwald is an ideal area with very comfortable huts, e.g. the Freschenhaus (1.846m, summer only), the Emser Hütte (1.283m, all year) or Schuttannen (1.150m, all year).
- Vorarlberg Tourism

- for more info on the huts in the area, try the OeAV
- just an example: Freschenhaus, 1.846m


Activities
If you arrive in the Bregenzerwald during the summer months, you'll be surprised how much the area is frequented by - mostly local - hikers, mountainbikers, climbers and trail runners. Partly the reason for this is the rather easy access to the mountains from the Rhine Valley, the good climate and the many hills, walls and mountains around.

Hiking
In my opinion, the Bregenzerwald is most beautiful in late spring and autumn. These are the times when the weekend hikers are still sitting at home in their warm and cozy living room and the hills and mountains are silent, wild and covered with snow. But also in peak season the tours described will be worth a visit...
-
Tour: From the Unterfluhalpe (1.180m) to the Hoher Freschen (2.004m) via the Binnelgrat
-
Tour: From the Furkajoch (1.759m) to the Sünser Spitze (2.062m) via Sünserkopf, Portler Horn and Portlakopf

Outdoor Sports
Depending on the season, the Bregenzerwald is not just a hiking area. As already mentioned, mountain biking and trail running are very popular, furthermore, paragliding, climbing and ski tours are possible there, too. Check with the local tourist information or simply ask one of the many outdoor sports enthusiasts you'll meet.

Specials

...things you shouldn't miss!
Vorarlberg, and especially the Bregenzerwald, are famous for the local cheese, so try it wherever you can! The best way to get some good cheese, sausages, Speck and fresh bread is to hike or bike to one of the many Alpes in the area. The Most is another local specialty you should try: made of fermented grapes, it is very refreshing and not as strong as straight wine. If you had enough of mountains, try a walk along the Alter Rhein and/or the nearby Lake Constance - an almost mediterranean experience during summer. Or reward yourself with a dinner high above Dornbirn in the restaurant on top of the Karren! Another idea is to walk through the wild Rappenlochschlucht...but I guess the best recommendation is to explore the Bregenzerwald on your own...

...things you shouldn't do!
There's only one thing you shouldn't really do: to ignore this part of the Alps in favour of some overcrowded "hot spots".

last revision: Monday, August 11, 2003 copyright www.therucksack.net