Bregenz is the capital of the Vorarlberg state in western Austria and lies on the shores of the immense freshwater body, Lake Constance (Or Bodensee in German). This charming town has many fantastic sights and a great deal to offer in terms of tourism and activities.
From the wonderful promenade, to the intriguing Vorarlberg Museum there is something for everyone and the favourable summer climate makes Bregenz a premier tourist destination to explore Lake Constance or even as a base to explore the wider region.
Lets explore the best things to do in Bregenz:
This mighty mountain towers over the town of Bregenz and is a popular tourist destination throughout the region.
The Pfander is reached by the amazing cable car aptly named the Pfanderbhan and is part of what makes the mountain so special – Ascend in the cable cars and see the scenery unfold beneath you and when you eventually get to the top, take in the fantastic views of the epic landscapes that confront you.
Not only can you enjoy the jaw dropping views, there is also an Alpine Park, many hiking trails and a restaurant.
2. Bregenz Promenade
This enchanting promenade by the edges of Lake Constance is a fantastic place to take a walk at any time of the day really – In the morning watch the sun coming up and see the locals having a jog or walking their dogs, or in the evening mingle among the tourists and stroll in the moonlight.
You can watch the various boats and ferries arriving in the harbour, maybe have a drink in one of the cafes, or even be adventurous and hire a paddle boat.
No matter how long or short your stay is at Bregenz, you can’t pass p at least one walk down this wonderful place.
3. Lake Constance
Lake Constance, also known as Bodensee is the third largest fresh water lake in Europe and has parts in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
The river Rhine flowers into the lake and it serves as a major water source for parts of Western Germany.
As one of the largest lakes in Europe, there are countless towns to visit that lie on this body of water and with three different countries cultures and identities, endless touristic opportunities.
Bregenz is one of the major cities located on the lake so it has great access and transport links.
4. Vorarlberg Museum
Right in the centre of Bregenz, next to the train station and only a few minutes’ walk from the promenade, the Vorarlberg Museum is in a prime location.
The structure has a contrast of modern and classical architecture with a white washed bottom level complete with many windows, while the top section is an imposing concrete square with a huge glass window on one side.
Inside the museum there are great collections from the Vorarlberg region specialising in archaeology, history and folklore.
5. Fort Heldsberg
Part of the extensive Swiss borderline defensive network that was used as a defensive bulwark against the ever growing power of the Axis Powers in 1939, For Heldsberg is a prominent reminder of what was involved during that bloody time period.
This particular fortification at Heldsberg was meant to provide defence against advancing forces on the Rhine and Lake Constance.
What remains of the defence station is now a museum and you can explore the bunker and tunnel network as well as learning about the history of its construction, all of which are complemented by various artefact displays from the era – Heldsberg is a truly interesting place to understand some history from WW2.
6. St. Martins Tower
The striking onion domed tower has come to represent Bregenz and is one of the towns historic symbols.
This 14th century chapel and tower is a quiet and modest place to visit.
On an elevated position in Bregenz when you go up to the top of the wonderful onion domed tower, you can have great views of the town and countryside.
Inside the chapel there are some old frescos and art work – While not overly elaborate, it is still an interesting and thought provoking place to see.
7. Bregenz Festival
This marvellous performing arts festival is held annually in July and August and is a major event in the calendar of Bregenz and Austria.
The festival has been held ever since 1946 and has developed over the years to what it is today.
There are several different venues including the floating stage and barges surrounded by amphitheatres, and theatres where operas are performed.
The most prominent contributor to the festival is the world-renowned Vienna Symphony Orchestra who performs every year.
If you happen to be in Bregenz during the months of the festival you should definitely get tickets for one of the performances – The quality is fantastic.
Deep in the countryside around 30 minutes’ drive to the south east of Bregenz, the Rappenlochschlucht is an area of natural beauty and one of the largest canyons in Europe with several waterfalls and walking trails to enjoy.
In 2011, the canyon was no longer accessible due to a landslide however it is reopen again and the walkways that wind through the canyon have been maintained and improved.
Enjoy the spectacular formations of the rocks in the canyon, see walk on footbridges that hang over the running water, and see the amazing waterfalls in their full might.
While the hiking involved can be strenuous at times, the Rappenlochschlucht should be manageable for everyone and is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the Austrian countryside.
9. Schattenburg Castle
This fine medieval castle has stood in the small village of Feldkirch since the 1100’s and has been owned by many Austrian’s in a position of power including the Habsburgs.
The castle sits high on a hill in the centre of the village and is easily recognisable, it has many quaint features remaining such as the wooden beams and gates and iron cross work window frames.
Inside the castle is the Schattenburg museum and also a restaurant with authentic Austrian cuisine, and the village of Feldkirch has a certain charm about it and is a lovely place to walk around.
10. Boat tour on Lake Constance
What is a better way to see the marvellous Lake Constance than to take a boat trip on this beautiful body of water? There are several ferries that can transport you from one city to another and while you are transported you can go out on deck and enjoy the amazing scenery of the lake.
Also, there are several different tour providers who operate on Lake Constance and offer different cruise packages to suit your style.
11. St. Gallus Church
This imposing parish church is on an elevated position in Bregenz so can easily be spotted much like St. Martins Tower.
Parts of the church date back to the 14th century and the artwork in interior is really detailed and admirable.
Pink marble and white stucco is featured throughout the building and there are numerous paintings on display as well as the ornate main altar.
12. Try traditional Austrian Cuisine at the Goldener Hirschen
Austrian cuisine is well known to be homely, hearty and filling, with typical dishes like the Tiroler Grostl (A Bacon, onion and potato fry-up), the Styrian Pot Roast or the Tafelspitz (Boiled Veal). What better way to sample some authentic Austrian culture than to have some traditional food at one of many restaurants in Bregenz.
The Goldener Hirschen is one of the finest restaurants in Bregenz and offers traditional Austrian cuisine at a reasonable price, the atmosphere is also pleasant and there is a garden to enjoy a drink in.
13. Lindau town on Lake Constance
Lindau is both an Island and a small town on the east coast of Lake Constance and is an enchanting place to visit, just 10 minutes’ drive from Bregenz.
Accessible on land by a single strip of land and road that runs into the island, the only other way is by boat.
This small town is historic in its own right and has many churches and old buildings to look around.
Furthermore the harbour has an old lighthouse and is a sublime place to watch the world go by or enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants on the promenade.
The style of the architecture and the great views of Lake Constance make Lindau a must see if you are stopping in Bregenz.
14. Kunsthaus Bregenz
The other of Bregenz’ major museums (The other being the Vorarlberg Museum), the Kunsthaus museum is a contemporary art exhibition and showcases various art displays from around the world.
As one of the leading contemporary arts galleries in Europe, the museum has a high reputation and its Austrian themed exhibitions have come to represent the culture and identity of the Vorarlberg region.
If you are an art lover or appreciate any form of contemporary art, the Kunsthaus will be well worth your time.
15. Enjoy a local drink at the Weinstube Kinz bar
Aside from dining on the local cuisine; why not sample the local tipple at one of the traditional and local bars in Bregenz? While there are many modern and fashionable bars in the town like the beach bar or Lowlife, the Weinstube Kinz has a traditional style and atmosphere and serves many local wines and beers and also appetisers like cheese and meat platters.
Located a couple of minutes’ walk from the promenade, this bar is in a perfect location so don’t forget to drop in for a glass or two!