Vorarlberg is an Austrian state, known among tourists primarily as a winter holiday destination due to the ski resorts. Among them, the most famous are Zürs and Lech am Arlberg. However, the place has just as much to offer in summer. I spent a few days here at the end of August and I can guarantee you that summer and autumn are the perfect months to visit Austria. It is impossible to get bored in this region, the alpine views are breathtaking, and the offer includes a whole lot of interesting ways to spend time actively, which are worth taking advantage of. Vorarlberg is an ideal place for a long weekend or short stay to be close to nature. I have prepared a practical guide for you, which I hope will help you plan such a trip.
Vorarlberg – most important information
Vorarlberg is the most westerly state of Austria. It borders Germany to the north, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to the west, Switzerland to the south, and Tyrol, another federal state, to the east. It is a region of the Eastern Alps. The northern edge belongs to the Bavarian Alps, in the south of which is the hilly highlands of the Bregenz Forest. On the other hand, in the south of the state there are Northern Limestone Alps and the Rätikon mountain group, which is part of the Rhaetian Alps. In the south-east, there are the ranges of the Central Alps – Silvretta and Verwallgruppe. The western border of Vorarlberg and at the same time the border of Austria runs through the Upper Rhine Plain. The most important and largest valley in the state is the Ill river valley, which lies along the northern slopes of the Rätikon mountains. Its upper part is known as Montafon and the lower part as Walgau. The settlement of the region is concentrated here. The valley leg is formed by the Klostertal valley, which is also attractive for tourists.
The capital and largest city of the region is Bregenz by Lake Constance – the greatest attraction of the city. An annual music festival with symphony concerts, opera, and theater performances takes place here in July and August. The old town has atmospheric cobbled streets with characteristic houses. Its most important monuments are the Tower of St. Martin from the 16th century and the Town Hall from the 17th century. The cable car will take you to the top of Pfander, from which you can admire the view of the area against the background of Allgäu Alps. From May to September, falconers’ shows are taking place here.
Arlberg area – Zürs and Lech am Arlberg
Zürs at an altitude of 1717 m above sea level is one of the most famous winter sports resorts in the Alps. This little village is one of the most popular places to go skiing. Together with the towns of Lech, Oberlech, Zug, and Stubenbach, it forms part of the Arlberg region of Vorarlberg. It has 87 ski lifts, 200 km of ski slopes, and 305 km of cross-country ski tracks. About four kilometers north of Zürs there is Lech am Arlberg, another ski resort that is not only connected to Zürs by roads, but also by lifts and slopes. Lech am Arlberg is one of the 12 members of the elite group “Best of the Alps”. There are many exclusive hotels in the region. The FIS Alpine Ski World Cup competitions take place here. Although the area is known primarily for skiing, there are also many interesting things to do and visit in summer. An architectural gem is the St. Nicholas’ church in Lech am Arlberg. As the Alberg region is relatively high and there are empty many empty mountain pastures, you can admire the Alpine peaks from here regardless of the season of the year.
How to get to Vorarlberg Zürs and Lech am Arlberg?
Thanks to its proximity to Switzerland and its short distance from Zurich, the fastest way will be a flight to Zurich. At the airport in Zurich, you can rent a car and drive to Vorarlberg which will take about 2 hours. Many companies also offer transports between Zurich and Vorarlberg. Other options you may consider are Innsbruck or Munich airports.
How to get around the region?
The best solution for getting around the region is Lech Card. In summer, the card gives access to summer offers in Lech Zürs am Arlberg. These include for example free rides on blue public transport buses, free use of selected lifts, BMW E-Bike, visits to the lakes Spullersee and Formarinsee, or in popular places in the Zugertal valley. For 23 € you can buy a ticket with a validity period of two days and for 7 consecutive days the card costs 36 €, a 14-day ticket costs 67 € and a 21-day ticket costs 92 €. Children up to 14 years of age will get the Lech Card free of charge.
What is the best time to visit Arlberg in Vorarlberg?
If the main reason why you want to visit Arlberg in Vorarlberg are winter sports, the best time is from early December to late March. Everyone who wants to see a different face of this place – summer and green – can come here from mid-May to the end of September.
Where to stay in Lech Zürs am Arlberg?
Lech Zürs am Arlberg has a unique atmosphere and this is also due to its hotels, which combine Austrian tradition with high-class luxury.
During my stay in the region, I stayed in one of the oldest hotels in Lech – Gasthof Post Hotel (or Post Lech). This is an exclusive 5-star hotel belonging to the circle of renowned hotels “Relais & Chéteaus”. It is hard to find a more traditional place filled with antiques and hunting trophies. The interiors were designed with attention to detail, focusing on the family atmosphere and cultivating Austrian tradition. The hotel’s restaurant serves exquisite cuisine, and the hotel’s amazing spa offers relaxation close to nature.
Summer Arlberg – things to do
Hike to Mohnenfluh summit
Mohnenfluh summit is definitely one of the most beautiful and at the same time the most difficult hikes in the region. The trail leads to the top of Mohnenfluh (2542 m above sea level) from where there is a stunning view of the surrounding mountain ranges. It’s worth getting up very early to see the sunrise. The lowest point – Oberlech (1740 m above sea level) is both the beginning and the end of the trail. The trail is approximately 6 km long and the elevation gain is 804 m. Its first section leads to the Kriegeralpe Pass, where at an altitude of 2,000 m above sea level there is a restaurant. It continues to Mohnenfluh up the slope to an altitude of about 2,300 m above sea level, then crosses the Zuger Hochlicht slope horizontally. The last stage of the hike is easy serpentines first, then rocky climb. The full description of this trail and all the details can be found in the: Mohnenfluh summit – sunrise in the Austrian Alps and one of the most difficult hikes in Lech Zürs
Other interesting hikes in Arlberg Vorarlberg include:
• Grüner Rätsel Ring – Green Ring – a three-day hiking trail that tells the history of the local people, shows their culture and landscape. The trail follows the footsteps of legends and stories about local residents and events. It is an easy route recommended for families with children, for whom there are, for example, educational paths.
• Libellensee and Waldlehrpfad – easy and very short rail which takes about 30 minutes. Recommended for families with children. It starts in Sonnenburg, leads through the forest to Lake Libellensee, and continues to Waldlehrpfad.
• Hiking to the sources of the Lech river – the trail starts in Sonnenburg. It overlaps with the Grüner Rätsel Ring at a certain distance and reaches the Lech forest swimming area, then passes the Zug fish pond and continues along the Lech river towards its sources, not just one point, but the entire source area. The duration of this trail with an average level of difficulty is approximately 3 hours
The region also offers many interesting cycling routes for people of various skill levels, ages, and expectations. You can choose from downhill, mountain bike, and road tracks. There are a lot of options, and an interesting proposition is also Bike & Hike, which means you start with a bike, you reach the beginning of the mountain trail, leave your bike and continue your trip on foot, on your way back you get on your bike and return to the hotel
The most interesting bicycle routes in the region are:
• Burgwald Tour – is the first official freeride and enduro track in the Vorarlberg region. It runs alongside the Lech-Oberlech cable car. It is meant for both beginners and advanced freeriders. There are some obstacles here, all of which are clearly visible.
• Spullersee Tour – a 25.5 km long mountain bike route with an average level of difficulty, which takes about 5 hours, and the elevation gain is 996 m. It is full of amazing views. It starts in Zug, runs along the asphalt road to the Ęlpele inn, uphill to the Spullersee dam, goes around the lake, and then goes uphill towards the Ravensburger hut. The next stop is Alpe Brazer Staffel and Stierlochjoch. From here you go back down the serpentine road towards Zug.
• Kriegerhorn Tour – a difficult route that leads from Oberlech via the Tannegg viewpoint uphill to Grubenalpe and on to the Kriegerhorn peak. It is 16.4 km long and the elevation gain is 834 m, it takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Zürsersee is a natural high mountain lake located in the vicinity of Zürs. It is located in the middle of the Lech-Zürs ski area (2,144 meters above sea level) in the Lechquellen mountains. To the south and west of the lake is Wildgrubenspitzen, to the southeast is Hasenfluh. You can get here by cable car using the Lech Card. The ride itself guarantees breathtaking views. There are several cable cars here. In the summer, numerous hiking trails lead to the lake. This is one of the most picturesque places I have seen during my trip to the region.
One of the most beautiful places in the Lech Zürs area is the Zug waterfalls. They are located just a few minutes’ walk from the center of the village of Lech and they are easy to get to, although they are somewhat out of the way and far from the most important trails. To get to them you need to go through dense forest and pass the Lech River.
Rafting & canyoning
I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t recommend you guys some extreme sports. In summer, Lech Zürs am Arlberg is famous for rafting and canyoning. Many companies offer all-day rafting or canoeing in the Lech River Valley. And if you are looking for something truly extreme and with a high dose of adrenaline, then make sure to consider canyoning – and walking around caves.
*** I visited Austria at the invitation of the Post Lech Tourism Board and the Post Lech Hotel, who supported me in all my crazy travel ideas and partnered this trip.