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|−|Vorarlberg is one of the safest countries in the world, with crime rates significantly lower than that of most Western countries. Street crime is rare, even late at night. Women traveling alone should have no problems. |+|
is one of the safest countries in the world, with crime rates significantly lower than that of most Western countries. Street crime is rare, even late at night. Women traveling alone should have no problems.
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Tap water is of exceptional quality and safe to drink.
Tap water is of exceptional quality and safe to drink.
Revision as of 16:42, 23 June 2009
Vorarlberg is the westermost federal state of Austria, sharing borders with the countries of Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland and the Austrian federal state of Tyrol. It is almost entirely mountainous and enjoys one of the hightest standards of living and income levels in Austria due to its proximity to Switzerland. It is also is home to an Alemanic alpine culture, quite different than the rest of Austria making it a special place in the country even to other Austrians. It is sometimes refered to in German as the "Landle", which translates as the "statelet" or "tiny province". Vorarlbergers are a very proud and hardy people and work hard to protect and preserve their identity and history.
Although the province of Vorarlberg is quite small the landscape is quite varied. When you arrive in Bregenz, the capital, you reach the lake region and Rhine valley, which stretches down to Feldkirch along the Rhine. From Bregenz you also have access to the Bregenzerwald, which is a narrow valley that leads to the Arlberg, the mountain range that separates Vorarlberg from Tyrol. The Kleinwalsertal also belongs to Vorarlberg, but it can only be accessed by road from Germany and Bavaria due to the mountains. From the end of the valley you get access to Alpine region Bludenz and the Walgau Valley, which stretches from Feldkirch to Bludenz. From Bludenz you also have access to the Montafon Valley. Here you can see a simplified map of the regions. Other valleys in Vorarlberg are: the Klostertal (stretching from Bludenz to the Arlberg), the Walsertal which connects the Walgau and the Bregenzerwald, the Brandnertal in the Montafon region, the Laternsertal which connects the Rhine valley (Rheintal) with the Bregenzerwald, the Laiblachtal (close to Bregenz) and the Lechtal in the Arlberg region.
- Lake Constance: Great for water sports, sailing or daytrips to one of the islands.
Winter Sport Resorts
Many top winter sports resorts are located throughout Vorarlberg. Most of them are organized in regional ticket federations such as 3taeler Pass . This means several day tickets are valid in all participating resorts and include free transportation with ski buses. Some of the larger winter sport places are:
- Kaesknoepfle, or so called spatzle. a typical Vorarlberger dish. Very heavy but delicious. This is how they are made. For the dough you need 500 g flour, 5 eggs, salt, a pinch of nutmeg, a little milk, 200 - 250 g grated cheese (3 different kinds), salted water, 1-2 table spoons oil, 1 big onion, 1/2 tea spoon flour, 125 g butter. Prepare a firm dough out of the eggs, the flour, the salt and the milk. Don't use a mixer for this and don't stir too long. Let the dough rest for 1/4 hour. To make the dumplings people use a "Spaetzlehobel" here but you can also fling small portions of the dough (tiny dumplings) into the boiling salted water (with oil). You have to be quick here. You have to do this portion by portion. When the dumplings swim, then you fish then out of the water with a sieve or strainer. Then you put one layer of spatzle into a bowl. The lowest layer is cheese, the last one spatzle. You alternate: cheese, spatzle, cheese, ... At the end you pour a laddle of the water that they cooked in over these layers and then you spread the golden-brown onion rings with the butter over the spatzle. Many people have potato salad with it. But the custom differs from household to household.
Even if you speak German, you may have problems understanding the people here because of their dialect. There are big variations in the accent and some of the words used even between the various regions. If you speak swedish or dutch this might be easier to understand for you than "hochdeutsch" (standard german). The people of vorarlberg speak a dialect similar to that of their neighbors in Eastern Switzerland, Liechtenstein and to the north in Swabia. This is unique to the rest of Austria, which speaks a dialect much similar to that of Bavaria and South Tyrol in Italy.
Autobahns and major highways are connected to Munich, Zurich and Innsbruck. Austrian and Swiss Autobahns charge toll.
Nearby international Airports include Zurich, Munich and Innsbruck. Other Airports are St.Gallen/Altenrhein in Switzerland (direct flights to Vienna) andn Friedrichshafen  in Germany (direct flights from London, Dublin, Spain, Turkey...) both located near the Lake of Constance (Bodensee).
Major train routes come from Switzerland as well as Tyrol and you either enter Vorarlberg in Feldkirch or in Bregenz. The important train route Munich to Zurich goes right through Vorarlberg. A high number of Eurocity, Intercity and ICE trains go to either Bregenz or Feldkirch.
Vorarlberg is reachable by from important neighboring cities within relatively short time:
- From/to Zurich: ~ 1.5h
- From/to Innsbruck: ~ 2.5h
- From/to Munich: ~2.5h
Vorarlberg has a very efficient public transport system. The railway from Bregenz to Feldkirch and the Arlberg is a kind of backbone and buses take you to all other places. Connections can be checked here: .
Vorarlberg is a very popular mountain biking region and has both exstensive paved and off-road bike paths.
Vorarlberg offers various summer and winter sport facilities (mountain biking, cycling, inline skating, skiing, snowboarding...) and there are also a lot of cultural events throughout the year including carnival in towards the end of winter.
- Major cultural attractions in Bregenz are Bregenzer Frühling,  with modern dance and especially the Bregenzer Festspiele,  with the stage on the lake.
- The Kunsthaus in Vorarlberg's capital. The museum built by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has a very special lighting system which combines artificial and natural light and makes visiting any exhibition an extraordinary experience. The museum specializes in modern art.
- The Künstlerhaus Bregenz is another place for those who are interested in modern art. The exhibitions are organized by the professional association of Vorarlberg artists.
- The Gebhardsberg ("Gebhards mountain) is 598 m above sea level and it offers a splendid view on the Rhine Valley (Rheintal) and Lake Constance (Bodensee). It is popular among the local population for walks. On it you can find the ruins of Hohenbregenz, which was built at the end of 11th century, in 1097, by the Dukes of Bregenz. It later changed ownership several times and in the 17th century it was extended into a stronghold. In 1647 it was captured by the Swedes without any resistence and they blew up the fortress in the same year. From 1670 the ruins gained importance as a place of pilgrimage of St. Gebhard and they were adapted for religious and gastronimical purposes several times. In 1723 the church, which was built within the ruins, was consecrated. In this time the "mountain" got its present name. There is a restaurant there now.
- The Pfänder (1064 m)  is another mountain with a spectacular view on Lake Constance, Vorarlberg, Switzerland and Germany. It is also a popular mountain for easy walks or mountain biking tours and if you don't like walking, you can go up with the Pfänderbahn (Pfander cablecar).
- The Karren is worth a visit. From here you have a splendid view of the Lake Constance and you look into 3 countries: Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Either you use the cablecar to go up or - if you're fit - you walk up there but they way is quite steep.
- Visit the modern and well done inatura alpine nature museum, or if cars are your thing, the largest Rolls Royce museum in the world, both in Dornbirn.
- Go to the jewish quarter in Hohenems and visit the Jewish Museum, that tells the story of the city's jewish history.
- In Lustenau: Take a ride with the narrow gauge steam railway along the river Rhine and visit the rheinschauen museum, telling the story of the river.
- Dornbirn may not be the nicest city of Vorarlberg but it's quite lively in the evening when it's warm. It's definitely worth a visit then.
- Feldkirch has a beautiful small old town, which is definitely worth a visit although it only comprises a few streets. In summer the streets are quite lively and there are many cafés which invite you to take a rest. The town is much overlooked by the bus tours that head straight south for the "touristy" capital of Liechtenstein in Vaduz, preserving much of the authentic integrity of the city and saving you the kitch! Feldkirch comes to life during the carnival season in the late winter and has quite the parade and festive atmosphere during this period. Feldkirch is a good launching point for explorataions of the tiny country of Liechtenstein and the neighboring valley of Walgau which are both worth a visit for their scenic beauty. Feldkich while smaller than Bregenz and Dornbirn is much more historic and has a romantic charm unto itself.
- On a hill overlooking the town of Feldkirch is the dark and impossing Schattenburg Castle. There's a restaurant in the castle and also a castle museum. The restaurant is known regionally for its large and tasty servings of Wienerschnitzel!
- Feldkirch used to be the home of the Stella Matutina, a Jesuit grammar school that is also mentioned in Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain". Now the building is home to an academy of music.
- Nearby Feldkirch, in Rankweil, one finds the Liebfrauen Basilica, an old place of pilgrimage located on a small hill in the center of the village.
- Bludenz also has a nice old town. It is home to a Milka factory and a brewery too.
- Golf: two 18 hole (Bludenz-Braz and Brand) and two 9 hole (Schruns, Partenen) are available. These courses are very scenic and worth playing.
Drink and Eat
Vorarlberg has more than 40 restaurants that have been distinguished by Gault Millau. Therefore visiting Vorarlberg can also be a culinary delight.
Bregenz and surroundings:
- Restaurant Guth, Lauterach  nearby Bregenz.
- Restaurant Mangold, Lochau  nearby Bregenz.
- Hotel Zamangspitze, Ziggamweg 227, A-6791 St. Gallenkirch/Montafon, ☎ +43 (0) 5557 6238 ([email protected], fax: +43 (0) 5557 6238-5), .
With the exception of parts of Vienna, Austria is one of the safest countries in the world, with crime rates significantly lower than that of most Western countries. Street crime is rare, even late at night. Women traveling alone should have no problems.
Tap water is of exceptional quality and safe to drink.
The drinking age for beer, wine and cider is 16 while the age for any other alcohol is 18. The public consumption of alcohol in Vorarlberg is legal, so do not be alarmed if you see a group of teenagers drinking a six-pack on public property; this is by no means out of the ordinary and should not be interpreted as threatening.
In mountain areas, be sure to inquire about weather conditions at the tourist information office or local alpine huts as you head out in the morning. They should be well informed about severe weather conditions and will advise you about possible avalanche areas.