15 Best Things to Do in Dornbirn (Austria)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Dornbirn is the largest city in the state of Vorarlberg in Western Austria and is an important commercial centre for the region.

Various settlements have been present in the area surrounding Dornbirn for many years but the town came to greater prominence during the Habsburg rule in the 1300’s.

Dornbirn attracts adventure lovers and people who love the outdoors – This is due to the stunning landscapes that surround the town such as the Karren Mountain, Lake Constance and Hoher Ifen.

With great proximity to Germany, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, and also other attractive Austrian towns like Bregenz and Feldkirch, Dornbirn is a great place to visit in the Vorarlberg state.

Lets explore the best things to do in Donbirn:

1. Karren Dornbirn Mountain

Karren Dornbirn MountainSource: flickr
Karren Dornbirn Mountain

This epic mountain lies right in the midst of the town of Dornbirn and serves as a focal point for the area.

A wonderful cable car takes you to the top of the mountain in just 5 minutes and you can hitch a ride to the top from the station on Gutlestrabe.

If you are feeling adventurous however and fancy a hike, the summit can be reached in around 40 minutes but there are plenty of trails in the immediate area to make a full days work of.

At the top you are greeted with stunning views of the Austrian countryside and also across to Germany and Switzerland via Lake Constance.

There is also a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy some find food or a refreshing beverage.

Ascending the Karen Dornbirn is a must do attraction!

2. Inatura Natural History Museum

Inatura Natural History Museum dornbirnSource: east-centricarch
Inatura Natural History Museum dornbirn

This exciting museum is probably the most well known in Dornbirn and predominantly features exhibits of Natural History.

The grounds of Inatura are located centrally in Dornbirn just across from the river.

This interactive museum includes a host of hands-on exhibitions such as an avalanche simulator, and earthquake station, various displays of insects and an outdoor water garden.

This is a fun place especially for children, but adults will appreciate the fun-factor and the interactivity too.

3. Rappenlochschlucht

RappenlochschluchtSource: wikimedia

This amazing spot of natural beauty is one of the highlights of the countryside surrounding Dornbirn.

This series of trailers and waterfalls is only 10 a 10 minutes drive from the southern end of Dornbirn and can easily be reached.

Immerse yourself in some truly spectacular scenery that follows the course of a river and cascades over several breath taking waterfalls.

Throughout the trail, you can walk long specially constructed wooden boardwalks that wind their way through the rocky gorge and provide great views to the water below.

If you encounter pleasant weather during your stay in Dornbirn, ensure you head to the Rappenlochschlucht, it will not disappoint.

4. Rolls Royce Museum

Rolls Royce MuseumSource: wikimedia
Rolls Royce Museum

This is reportedly the largest museum of its kind in the world and is not far from the natural wonder of the Rappenlochschlucht.

Rolls Royce is considered one of the fines makes of car ever to be made and the Rolls Royce museum does this justice.

With over 1000 exhibits and a reconstructed Rolls-Royce manufacturing factory, this museum is a true testament to the company.

The cars included in the displays contain a royal Safari-touring model, a Rolls Royce Limousine belonging to King Edward VII and even the parade car of the Spanish dictator Franco.

If you are a Rolls Royce fan, or a automobile buff, or just love historical exhibitions, this museum will be your paradise.

5. Walk down the Dornbirner Ach

Dornbirner AchSource: wikipedia
Dornbirner Ach

Situated on the banks of the small river that runs through Dornbirn in the western part of the town, the Achauen is a small area of natural beauty perfect for walks.

This forested area covers both sides of the river and has plenty of walking paths to stroll along.

You can start down near the Birkenwiese sports stadium and work your way parallel to the river and walk up to the other end of the park at just over 1km.

This tranquil spot is perfect to enjoy the fresh Austrian air.

6. Hike in the Hoher Ifen Mountain range

Hoher IfenSource: flickr
Hoher Ifen

Another of the fantastic mountains in the Vorarlberg region, the Hoher Ifen lies only an hour and 30 minutes from Dornbirn along some fantastic driving routes.

Standing at 2230m high it is part of the Allgau Alps and features a nature reserve and has brilliant opportunities for Climbing and mountaineering.

The large amount of hiking trails mean this mountain can be explored thoroughly and for anyone wanting to experience the Austrian Alps and adventure, the Hoher Ifen will be your haven.

7. The Red House

Rotes Haus, DornbirnSource: flickr
Rotes Haus, Dornbirn

This building that spans back to the early 1600’s and is one of the icons of Dornbirn.

Simply known as the red house, this building was owned by a wealthy couple and used as a residence, but has also been a dance studio.

The architecture and design of the house are simply stunning and typify the Austrian design, complete with wood panelling, decorative window ledges and various historical emblems.

You can enjoy a bite to eat in the restaurant that serves traditional Austrian food, or simply enjoy the magical look of this lovely building.

8.  Church of St. Martin

St. Martin, DornbirnSource: flickr
St. Martin, Dornbirn

This particular parish church is one of many to stand one this site and stands out from the local architecture and styling.

The exterior has a similar styling to the Pantheon in Rome with a large palisade and entrance lined with ornate columns, there is also a separate free standing bell tower.

This miss-match of styles creates an unusual and imposing design in a town filled with otherwise typical Austrian architecture.

The interior features a large open hall with plenty of marble and typical religious decoration and creates a more traditional style to the exterior.

9. Marktplatz

Dornbirn MarktplatzSource: flickr
Dornbirn Marktplatz

The Market square and adjacent market street make a wonderful pedestrianised place to explore in central Dornbirn.

There are several important sights on the square including the Red House and the Church of St. Martin, together with several fountains.

The style of the buildings surrounding the Marketplace take you back to an age long past and speak of historical Austria.

Have a walk through the square, admire the beauty of St.

Martin’s, and enjoy a relaxing coffee in one of the quaint cafes that line the streets.

There is also a weekly local flower market every Wednesday and Saturday which displays a beautiful range of colourful bouquets.

10. Bodele Ski Resort

Bodele Ski ResortSource: wikimedia
Bodele Ski Resort

This particular region of Austria has a plethora of Ski resorts to choose from, and the Bodele Resort is right up there at the top.

This resort has great access with a regular shuttle bus leaving from Dornbirn every 30 minutes.

The available slopes stretch over 18.5km and there are also 5.6km of skiing routes to choose from, serviced by 12 ski lifts.

The traditional ski huts, friendly ski instructors and amazing scenery make Bodele an appealing resort for beginners and experts alike.

11. Boat ride on Lake Constance

Lake ConstanceSource: flickr
Lake Constance

This immense lake and has borders in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and is the third largest in central Europe.

The Lake is around an hour’s journey from Dornbirn depending on which part you want to visit.

There are plenty of different boat rides available on the lake, ranging from simple ferries that take you from one town to another, to half day guided cruises where you can enjoy the stunning scenery and possibly a drink of champagne.

12. Einkaufszentrum Shopping Center

Einkaufszentrum Shopping CenterSource: wirtschaftsblatt
Einkaufszentrum Shopping Center

If you want to enjoy a day of shopping and to find some local bargains then the Einkaufszentrum Shopping Centre is the perfect place.

Here you will find a variety of different shops from clothing, stationary, electronics and anything else you can think of.

When you have saturated your desire for shopping (and you wallet), you can enjoy a meal or a drink in one of the many restaurants that can be found here.

On rainy days be prepared for the crowds to emerge, but mid-week, the shopping centre will be quieter and you can enjoy a stress-free saunter around the centre.

13. Cross the border to Switzerland

WidnauSource: wikimedia

Switzerland lies only 20 minutes to the west of Dornbirn and there are many bordering towns that you can visit including Diepoldsau, Widnau and St. Margrethen.

For a little excitement and to tick another country off your list, a border crossing to Switzerland is a great thing to do.

The L45 road in the southern part of Dornbirn leads to the Swiss town of Diepoldsau, while the Philip-Krapft Strabe in neighbouring Lustenau takes you across the border to Widnau.

Providing you have your passport, you should be able to get across the border with relative ease.

14. Visit the nearby village of Ebnit

EbnitSource: flickr

This peaceful mountain village is located 20 minutes to the south of Dornbirn in southern Vorarlberg.

A truly idyllic village that has changed little over the years, this is an absolute gem and the perfect place to get away from the busier towns and frantic pace of life.

There are many activities to enjoy here including Pony Riding, Adventure tours and plenty of hiking trails.

15. Enjoy a meal at the Karren Restaurant

Karren RestaurantSource: wikimedia
Karren Restaurant

This wonderful restaurant in one of the most highly regarded in Dornbirn and rightly so.

Perched on top of the stunning Karren Mountain in Dornbirn, you can enjoy unparalleled views of the surrounding countryside from here.

The aesthetically pleasing restaurant features huge glass windows which allow you to look out to Dornbirn below and across to Germany.

The service and menu are fantastic with a wide range of traditional Austrian meals including Schnitzel or fish from Lake Constance.

If you want to enjoy a quality meal with a perfect view, then the Karren Restaurant is an unmissable opportunity.

15 Best Things to Do in Dornbirn (Austria):

  • Karren Dornbirn Mountain
  • Inatura Natural History Museum
  • Rappenlochschlucht
  • Rolls Royce Museum
  • Walk down the Dornbirner Ach
  • Hike in the Hoher Ifen Mountain range
  • The Red House
  • Martin
  • Marktplatz
  • Bodele Ski Resort
  • Boat ride on Lake Constance
  • Einkaufszentrum Shopping Center
  • Cross the border to Switzerland
  • Visit the nearby village of Ebnit
  • Enjoy a meal at the Karren Restaurant