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10 reasons to visit Vorarlberg in Austria

Read about 10 reasons to visit Vorarlberg in Austria

Wildflower meadows speckled with yellow daisies, lush green pasture and stunning mountain scenery. These are the images I brought back from my trip to Vorarlberg in Austria this summer. But in this most westerly province of Austria, I discovered a natural landscape that is enhanced by world class art, with food that is sophisticated yet true to its roots and a chance to unwind in nature without compromising on comfort. There are so many things to do in Vorarlberg, but here are just a few that may tempt you to plan a holiday there next year;

Mountains in Vorarlberg in Austria

Relax in the mountains of Vorarlberg in Austria

The charming town of Lech in Vorarlberg

Lech is one of the reasons to visit Vorarlberg – a charming resort with a glacial blue river running through it, framed by the mountains. In winter it’s an elegant and rather upscale ski resort, where you can find luxury hotels, great food, bars and restaurants. In summer when I visited, things are quieter and the accommodation becomes a lot more affordable – summer walking in Lech is one of my favourite ways to enjoy the mountains.

Within the town, look out for the Lechmuseum Tannberg which provides an insight into everyday life in the region and the Lechmuseum Huber-Hus which is one of the oldest Walser houses in the area and has been restored to show how farmers lived and worked (open June-Oct). You’ll see lots of references to the Walser people, who migrated to these valleys around 1300 AD from the Swiss cantons bringing their own dress, customs and dialect. Summer in Lech is a great time to visit and you’ll find more information at the official Lech Zuers website.

Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The resort of Lech in Vorarlberg, Austria

I hope you enjoy this video about summer in the mountains in Vorarlberg

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Antony Gormley sculpture and the Horizon Field project

I hiked up to visit the last iron man left above Lech, from the Antony Gormley Horizon Field project which ended in 2012. The whole project was seven years in the planning and saw 100 life sized figures installed around the region at an altitude of exactly 2039 metres above sea level, each within sight of another. For two years the figures stood in summer pasture and winter snow, before they had to be removed, all except the one I saw at Kriegeralpe. It’s well worth visiting him by taking the Petersbodenbahn chair lift and then the Bergbahn cable car from Oberlech (€4 one way for each lift), or of course if you’re feeling energetic you can hike the whole way! After your hike, and a few photos with the iron man, you can relax at the Kriegeralpe mountain restaurant with a drink, observing the mysterious sculpture from below.

Read more: Antony Gormley and Art in the mountains of Vorarlberg

Antony Gormely Statue, Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Antony Gormely Statue from the Horizon Field project, above Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria

Art in the landscape in Vorarlberg

The Antony Gormley sculpture is only one of a number of artistic projects that you can find in the mountains above Lech. Coming by the end of 2017 is Skyspace Lech, a collaboration with American artist James Turrell who is known for the Roden crater in Arizona, where he has created tunnels and underground rooms that open to the sky and are bathed in changing forms of light and colour. Skyspace Lech will be partly buried underground, with a dome where visitors will experience the light installation and a cupola that can open to the sky.

Another way to enjoy art in the mountains is by hiking The Green Ring, a three day hiking trail around Lech-Zuers, which draws on mythology and legend with art installations along the way. You might come across a door on the mountainside waiting to be opened, or a rocky watershed that was once a playground for witches, or a wooden giant climbing through a cleft in the rock. Just below the Antony Gormley statue I came across the Lecher Chluppa stone wall installation, with each rock inscribed with the date of birth of an inhabitant of Lech, forming a permanent archive of all those who live here.

Read more: Antony Gormley and Art in the mountains of Vorarlberg

Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The Lecher Chluppa, part of the green Ring art project in Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria

Hiking through the flower filled meadows

When I visited Vorarlberg at the end of June, I was entranced by the wildflower meadows that we passed along the hiking trails above Lech. These are protected and carefully managed to support the natural variety of wildflowers, providing pasture and hay for the cattle, adding flavour and richness to their milk. As we hiked above Oberlech, our path took us through a tangle of wildflowers and grasses, yellow daisies and the white lacy heads of cow parsley. If you can, I urge you to visit in the spring and early summer, to go hiking in Vorarlberg and see the flowers at their most beautiful, before they are mown and made into hay for winter fodder.

Read more: Getting active in Austria’s Wachau Valley

Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The wildflower meadows of Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria

From hearty to refined – the food in Vorarlberg

When you’re in the mountain regions of Austria, you expect to find hearty dishes, the sort that will sustain you after a long hike or afternoon ski-ing. Dishes like Kaiserschmarrn, the sweet pancakes that are cut up and warmed through in butter, dusted with icing sugar and totally delicious served with a compote of berries.

But if you’re looking for sophisticated and refined cuisine, you won’t be disappointed either. The ingredients are often rooted in the location, with local beef or lamb, mountain cheeses, freshwater fish and seasonal vegetables. A perfect example of this was at Hotel Travel Charme Ifen where I ate at the Theo’s restaurant (they also have a Michelin star gourmet restaurant in the hotel). From the set menu I ordered a delicious and beautifully presented choice of cucumber and yoghurt chilled soup with smoked salmon tartar, a main course of Walser lamb saddle with braised bean cassoulet and a desert of light curd mousse with poached rhubarb and rhubarb sorbet and white chocolate wafer.

Read More: 14 things that Foodies will love in Graz

Food in Vorarlberg, Austria

Both hearty and refined – the food in Vorarlberg, Austria

The people you meet in Vorarlberg

One of my favourite things about travelling is the people you meet – such interesting local characters who are both passionate and knowledgeable about the place they live. One such was Herbert Edlinger, a former chef who now works with local farmers to showcase the natural food of the valley and I joined one of his foraging tours. As we wandered along the forest path, Herbert would dive into the undergrowth, emerging triumphantly with a fistful of pungent wild garlic leaves, which he uses to make his popular wild garlic pesto.

Walk with Herbert Edlinger, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Meeting Herbert Edlinger for a foraging walk in Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria

Soon we arrived at the bank of a mountain stream, where Herbert spread out a picnic of local produce for us to try. It may seem a little eccentric to make pesto from wild garlic, or cough remedies from young pine shoots, but many of the people I met in Vorarlberg were creating and supporting local businesses that would keep them in the valley rather than leaving for the towns and cities. They were determined to preserve the natural beauty and unspoiled nature of their region for generations to come. For more things to do in Kleinwalsertal visit the Kleinwalsertal Tourism website.

Read more: Food and harmony in nature, in the Kleinwalsertal valley

Walk with Herbert Edlinger, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river with Herbert Edlinger in Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria

Man in harmony with nature in Vorarlberg

This theme of man in harmony with nature was reinforced when we visited  the Narandi permaculture garden in the Kleinwalsertal valley, created by Andreas Haller. At the challenging altitude of 1150 metres, Andi showed us around the garden where salads and vegetables mingle with flowers, bordered by large rocks that absorb the warmth of the sun and then radiate at night time.

Trees had been planted as a shelter zone around the plot, creating a warmer microclimate to support apples, plums, cherries and other fruit. In a nearby tipi, we munched on a lunch of the fresh salad leaves from the garden, as Andi told us about his project to bring school groups here and show them how they can live in the natural surroundings of the Kleinwalsertal. Even the most challenging behaviour seems to be calmed, once the children are free to run and play in harmony with nature.

Read more: Food and harmony in nature, in the Kleinwalsertal valley

Narandi Permaculture, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Narandi Permaculture, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria

The glorious mountain scenery of Vorarlberg

One of the biggest reasons for visiting Vorarlberg has to be the gorgeous mountain scenery that you can enjoy while hiking or just relaxing in one of the valley resorts. If you want to try a bit of hiking, you don’t even need to go that far before you come across a pleasant mountain restaurant, where it’s easy to get waylaid on the terrace admiring the view with a drink in your hand! This photo was taken on the way up to the Rud-Alpe mountain restaurant above Lech, which was an easy 30 minute hike up the mountain and served delicious food in the cosy traditional restaurant.

There are a number of themed hiking trails in Vorarlberg, such as the ones around Lech. Try the long distance Lechweg trail, the Tannberg trail with information stations that lead you through Walser history and culture, or The Green Ring, an art trail with legends and stories set in the natural landscape.

Read More: Hiking to Gmunden on the Salkammergut trail

Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The stunning mountain scenery around Lech, Vorarlberg, Austria

Try the local produce of Vorarlberg

In Vorarlberg, the farmers are guardians of the landscape, which they manage through the cows that graze the mountainside and produce the milk, butter and cheese. For a taste of the food in Kleinwalsertal, Herbert Edlinger presented us with the cheeses from the local farms to try, some young and creamy, others rich and mature. There were air dried beef sausages that would have originally provided a snack for the farmers tending their herd while up in the mountains, eaten with nutty bread, studded with pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Mountain herbs are often used for flavouring, and we tasted a mustard scented with mountain hay, which we tried with the sausages and cheese. Sweet schnapps is flavoured with green walnuts or other fruit and herb flavourings.

In Kleinwalsertal, look out for the GenussRegion mark that is used in shops and restaurants to denote produce that’s authentic and local, and there’s a farmer’s market to buy local produce every Friday. The GenussRegion scheme includes the farmers who are rearing high quality beef and cheeses from the Alpine cattle, the mountain huts serving local and regional produce, or the restaurants that take pride in serving the flavours of the region. Find out more about where you can discover the GenussRegion mark in Kleinwalsertal.

Read more: Hiking in Austria and the wild Leutasch Gorge

Walk with Herbert Edlinger, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Walk with Herbert Edlinger, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria

Hotels with a sense of place in Vorarlberg

For me, staying in a beautiful hotel is all part of the holiday experience, especially when that hotel has a strong sense of place in its decor and traditions. There are plenty such hotels in Kleinwalsertal and Lech to choose from, including;

Hotel der Berghof in Lech

In Lech, I stayed at the luxurious Hotel Der Berghof which is set above the main street, so that you feel you’re already on your way up to the mountains. My room was decorated in elegant Austrian style with painted wood furnishings, wooden beams and a balcony to look out towards the mountains and the cable car going up and down close by. This is a lovely boutique hotel that combines Austrian charm while keeping one eye on the latest modern style.

Find out more on the Hotel der Berghof website | Check prices and availability for Hotels in Lech

Der Berghof in Lech Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Der Berghof in Lech, Austria

Hotel Travel Charme Ifen in the Kleinwalsertal Valley

While in the Kleinwalsertal Valley on Vorarlberg’s westerly border, it was a pleasure to stay at the Hotel Travel Charme Ifen in Hirschegg. The 5 star hotel has beautiful views overlooking the valley, featuring a large open terrace with landscaped plantings and open air pools leading out from the spa.

My elegant and stylish room in the curved building had pale larch wood and restful shades of soft green, with an oversized stylized headboard. I loved the luxurious bathroom with a bath and shower and the balcony overlooking the valley as well as delightful touches like the bowl of fresh apples.

For more information and to book: Hotel Travel Charme Ifen | Check prices and book for hotels in Kleinwalsertal

Travel Charme Ifen, Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Travel Charme Ifen, in Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria

Natur Hotel Chesa Valisa in Kleinwalsertal

I also visited the Natur Hotel Chesa Valisa in Kleinwalsertal, which is run by the Kessler family, who have built the hotel up from a simple pension, although the original house has been in the same Walser family for 500 years. New buildings have been added to the original traditional house in line with the Natur concept, which goes beyond Bio or Organic food to encompass a sustainable philosophy in architecture, business and every aspect of the hotel.

All the materials in the hotel are natural and organic and the architectural style is very clean and simple, with pine wood exterior that darkens naturally over time. The hotel works very closely with farmers to source all their food from the valley and everything including the wine and beer is 100% organic. There is a spa with sauna, relaxation room and heated outdoor pool with treatments that follow Ayurvedic principles.

For more information and to book: Natur Hotel Chesa Valisa Website| Check prices and book for hotels in Kleinwalsertal

Natur hotel Chesa Valisa in Kleinwalsertal

Natur hotel Chesa Valisa in Kleinwalsertal

Visit information for visiting Vorarlberg Austria

Vorarlberg is the most westerly of Austria’s regions, known for its unspoiled mountain scenery and natural beauty. Find out more on the Vorarlberg Tourism website.

You can also find information on the Lech Tourism website , Kleinwalsertal tourism and Austria Tourism website to plan your holiday in Vorarlberg.

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Read about 10 Reasons to visit Vorarlberg in Austria

Thanks to Vorarlberg Tourism who hosted my visit to their region of Austria

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    Suzanne Jones
    November 23, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    So many different ways to enjoy that beautiful Alpine scenery – with art in the most unexpected places, with home-grown locally sourced food, with with walking activities. There’s also a good and varied range of accommodation to choose from.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

      @Suzanne The Alpine scenery there was stunning

  • Reply
    Evan Kristine
    November 24, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Lovin’ these 10 reasons to visit Vorarlberg. All of the pictures taken are so lovely. I can really say that the beauty of Vorarlberg has been portrayed in your post Heather. The mountain scenery , the landscapes, and passing the flower fields as the people trek in this place is so breathtaking. Foods featured looks so delicious and rich. Vorarlberg is such a peaceful and a calm place. Thanks for sharing this post!
    Evan Kristine´s last blog post ..Top Tourist Attractions in the USA (Destinations to Visit in Different States)

  • Reply
    Evan Kristine
    November 24, 2017 at 8:46 am

    All of the pictures taken are so lovely. Lovin’ these 10 reasons to visit Vorarlberg. I can really say that the beauty of Vorarlberg has been portrayed in your post Heather. The mountain scenery , the landscapes, and passing the flower fields as the people trek in this place is so breathtaking. Foods featured looks so delicious and rich. Vorarlberg is such a peaceful and a calm place. Thanks for sharing this post!
    Evan Kristine´s last blog post ..Top Tourist Attractions in the USA (Destinations to Visit in Different States)

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2017 at 9:43 am

      @Evan Thanks so much, it’s a beautiful part of Austria

  • Reply
    Jaillan Yehia
    November 24, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I was just thinking how beautifully classic and ‘Sound of Music’ it all was and then I saw the Antony Gormely and the hotel – love that mix of traditional and modern!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2017 at 9:42 am

      @Jaillan definitely a traditional and modern approach in this part of Austria

  • Reply
    Anna Parker
    November 24, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    So stunning, I do think the nicest time of year over here is in the summer, we’ve driven through a few times. I am sure it wasn’t just me but I am humming ‘the hills are alive’ now!!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2017 at 9:41 am

      @Anna Those wildflower meadows do give you that Sound of music feeling!

  • Reply
    Kathryn Burrington
    November 24, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Skyspace Lech sounds like an interesting project but I love the idea of the wooden giant best. Imagine coming across it unexpectedly, especially with children! Such a beautiful region too.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2017 at 9:41 am

      @Kathryn Yes, I love the whole Art in the landscape thing

  • Reply
    Sara @ Travel Continuum
    November 24, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    That classic alpine scenery never fails to evoke a sense of clean, natural living (and memories of reading Heidi!). I’d have loved to have joined you on that foraging expedition, I fell in love with the idea from watching Ray Mears and I keep meaning to try it here in the New Forest.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 27, 2017 at 9:40 am

      @Sara Foraging is a great way of connecting with nature and experiencing the local food culture

  • Reply
    Lucy
    November 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    There’s something so special about summer in the mountains, and Vorarlberg looks like a great place to experience that wonderful scenery and food, and with an unexpected arty side too!

  • Reply
    alison abbott
    November 29, 2017 at 3:28 am

    I love the idea of exploring the mountains in the summer-all that cool crisp air is so invigorating. Voralberg has so much to offer. Great local food, beautiful outdoor sculpture and chic hotels. That whimsical headboard at the Hotel Travel Charme Ifen, in Kleinwalsertal, Vorarlberg, Austria has my name all over it.
    alison abbott´s last blog post ..10 Best Eco Friendly Travel Gifts

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      November 30, 2017 at 11:24 am

      @Alison I love being in the mountains but it’s great to find art and culture there too.

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