Oh, Bregenz! You really captured us with your beauty and charm. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting Vorarlberg’s state capital on two occasions now. In this blog article, we want to share with you our personal travel tips for Bregenz.
Every year, there is a big festival hosted by Bregenz, right on the lake front. It’s so well known that this annual festival often comes up when talking about Bregenz. It goes without saying that we certainly couldn’t miss the spectacular opera performance ourselves. So we share our experiences and impressions of the Bregenz Festival later in this article.
What else can you do in Bregenz apart from the festival? Read on to find out some of the most beautiful sights we visited and our personal highlights.
1. Travel Guide: Top Things to See and Do in Bregenz
Oberstadt – aka. the Upper Town of Bregenz
The Oberstadt is a maze of historic streets, and named rather appropriately too, as this upper part of Bregenz is slightly elevated. We can definitely recommend a walk through this part of Bregenz.
The Upper Town is surprisingly tranquil with the tourist bustle from the lakeshore muffled by distance. If you walk through the Upper Town, then you will notice that there are very few restaurants or shops – but lots of pretty, cobblestone streets and historic timber-framed houses instead.
Attractions in the Oberstadt (Upper Town)
Although the Oberstadt (Upper Town) is already an attraction in itself, there are a few specific places that we would highly recommend you to stop by. First on the list would be the view from Martinsturm Tower (admission: 3.50 Euro). The Martinsturm is the landmark of Bregenz and also home to a museum. It’s well known for its fantastic view over Bregenz and Lake Constance from the last floor.
From Kirchstraße, you also get a great view of the Oberstadt (Upper Town), as well as the very pretty Deuringschlössle (a small castle). You can reach Kirchstraße from the Oberstadt (Upper Town), by simply following the Meißnerstiege and then you’ll pass the parish church of St. Gallus. If you keep going down the Kirchstraße, then you will also reach the narrowest house in Europe (Kirchstraße 29), before finding yourself again in modern Bregenz.
Bregenz Lakeside and Harbour
When you’re in Bregenz, it’s almost impossible not to find yourself by the waterfront on multiple occasions. Here is where you will find the main attraction of the city during festival periods: the magnificent stage situated on the lake. (We’ll share more about that in the next section about the Bregenz Festival).
Of course, there are other things to see by the lakeside too. The Fischersteg is also a popular photo spot. This white pavilion actually houses a bar and on a nice day, you can enjoy a glass of Prosecco and watch the sunset.
Speaking of sunset: Bregenz comes with the bonus of facing the north west, which means beautiful sunset evenings on the shores of Lake Constance. Get an ice cream and then walk east along the lakeshore to the Sunset Steps – known as Molo to the locals. From there you have the best sunset view in summer.
Kunsthaus Bregenz – Art Gallery
You simply cannot pass through Bregenz without a visit to the Kunsthaus Art Gallery! The impressive Kunsthaus Bregenz houses a collection of international contemporary art and in our opinion, is simply a must when visiting the state capital.
Since the exhibitions changes from time to time, we can’t say too much about the content – because it’s almost certain that you’ll be seeing a different exhibition than we did. Just let yourself be surprised by whatever it will be. We really enjoyed our visit on both occasions we were there – which says a lot, because usually we rarely find ourselves in museums.
Information about the Kunsthaus Bregenz
Address: Karl-Tizian-Platz, 6900 Bregenz
Admission: 11 Euro (combined ticket with Vorarlberg Museum 17 Euro)
As mentioned, we are not huge on spending time in museums. However, we think that the Vorarlberg Museum in Bregenz is definitely worth seeing, even if just for the architecture alone. The new museum building was opened in 2013 and we honestly found it very impressive.
The Vorarlberg Museum shows both the history and the modern present of Vorarlberg and is larger and more extensive than we expected. Perfect activity for a rainy day. Small photo tip: you can get a really amazing view of Lake Constance through the panoramic window on the 4th Floor.
Information about the Vorarlberg Museum
Address: Kornmarktplatz 1, 6900 Bregenz
Admission: 9 Euro (combined ticket with Kunsthaus Bregenz 17 Euro)
View from the Pfänder Summit
The Pfänder is the local mountain of Bregenz, which rises above the city on the eastern shores of Lake Constance. From the top, you are rewarded with a fantastic view of Lake Constance and Bregenz. Of course you can also hike up the Pfänder yourself, but most people (like us), will opt to go up with the famous Pfänderbahn.
In just 6 minutes, you go from the Old Town of Bregenz to the mountain station at over 1000 meters above sea level. Once at the top you can either enjoy a nice drink or you can do a little hike.
Small drawback: If you’re hoping to catch the sunset from the mountain top during summer, then you should best prepare to go back down by foot, as the last train departs the mountain station at 7pm. However, you can also request (for a fee of 68 Euros per half hour), to depart later in the evening.
Information about the ride on the Pfänderbahn
Address of the Station: Steinbruchgasse 4, 6900 Bregenz
Price for return journey: 13,90 Euro
Stand Up Paddling on Lake Constance
Our visit to Bregenz was made all the more memorable with an exciting “first time” experience. Until then we had never been on a stand-up paddle (SUP) board before. (Apart from Romeo’s short experience in France.)
Lake Constance seemed more than inviting for a first timer. Although a bit shaky at first, we got the hang of the movement fairly quickly. Overall, being on the SUP board was much more exhausting than we had expected, because it requires a lot of muscle work to keep your balance.
Alex, our guide and founder of Ländle SUP, also provided us with some helpful tips to save us from tumbling into the water. We would recommend doing a SUP tour either early in the morning or later in the afternoon, when the lake is at its quietest.
2. The Bregenz Festival: Tips and Info
If you visit Bregenz during the summer months, then you will most likely hear about the Bregenz Festival. Between mid-July and mid-August, the famous floating stage turns into an important venue for the festival and attracts a huge number of visitors from all around! (An astounding 7,000 guests gather around to watch from the stands.)
They create a new performance sequence every two years. So as in 2019 was the first year of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto, that means it will be performed again in 2021. (In 2020, the Bregenz Festival has been cancelled due to Covid.)
Rigoletto was the first opera that the both of us ever seen performed, and it was made all the more special that it was here at the Bregenz Festival. As opera amateurs, we cannot provide much insight or comparison on this matter. However, we can confirm that the performance was so spectacularly performed that we never got bored during the entire two hours of show time. We would even go as far as to recommend this to those who have never seen or have no idea about operas.
Tip: See the Lake Stage / Backstage Tour
The floating stage is actually open and freely accessible to the public during the day. Even if you do not have tickets for the performance, you can always have a (free) peek at the spectacular stage.
However, a backstage tour proved to be even more impressive. During the festival period, these backstage tours run several times a day. It costs 7.50 Euros per person and takes about 50 minutes. As part of the tour, you will also visit the Festival Hall and walk on the stage.
Of course, you will also learn some exciting things about the show, which you can then pay more attention to during the performance. Getting to peek in behind the scenes definitely instills a greater appreciation and anticipation for the opera show! It’s something we can highly recommend!
A few practical tips for visiting the Bregenz Festival
If you aren’t able to take a warm blanket from your hotel with you, then you should at least bring something warm to wear, as it can get rather cool in the summer evenings by the lake shore. You could also consider bringing a cushion for your seat, as you’d be sitting on folding chairs up on the grandstand.
During the performance evenings, many of the nearby restaurants get full rather quickly, so we would recommend you to reserve a table for dinner in advance. The same goes for hotel bookings.
During the performance there is a strict ban on photography and mobile phones. Therefore, you really only see photos of the final applause. However, you should really stick to the ban, because the bright light displays are really distracting for other spectators who are sitting behind you.
And last but not least: familiarise yourself with the performance in advance. Otherwise, you will have trouble following the plot. Although translations are shown on the left and right hand sides of the stage, that alone is not enough to understand the whole show. We just find that the performance is much more beautiful and exciting, if you actually get what’s happening.
3. Best Cafes and Restaurants in Bregenz
Lieblingscafé (featured in the first photo): If you are looking for a special breakfast, then the Lieblingscafé is “the place to be”. There are many vegetarian and vegan delicacies here. The café is located in the heart of the old town down a small alleyway. Highly recommend!
Bahi (in the 2nd and 3rd photo): A really great place, where the café also combines with co-working spaces and a yoga studio. You can enjoy a coffee here during the day or come over for a delicious lunch.
Pier 69: Located right on the harbour and a good choice if you want to eat near the shore. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fritsch am Berg: Just outside Bregenz, you’ll find this Fine Dining Restaurant in Lochau. The restaurant belongs to a rather fancy hotel on a mountain. Depending on the table, you can dine with a nice view over the lake.
4. Hotel Recommendations in Bregenz
Option 1: Hotel Schwärzler
During our first visit to Bregenz, we stayed in a lovely, tranquil place called Hotel Schwärzler. The rooms were just beautiful, with a lot of wood, muted colours, and a balcony – precisely our taste in style. The hotel is not located directly in the city centre. However, you can borrow some bikes from the hotel. It only takes a few minutes to reach the old town by bike. (Note: the return journey takes longer, as it’s more uphill.)
As we expected, the breakfast was excellent. Very high quality and with a very beautiful garden scenery, top notch stuff! Another bonus is how dedicated the hotel owner is at Hotel Schwärzle. Rarely have we met such a dedicated hotel owner and we feel that he truly cares about the welfare of his guests.
Here you can book the hotel: Hotel Schwärzler
Option 2: Hotel Hirschen in the Bregenz Forest
If you’d rather not spend the night in the city, then we have a special recommendation for you: the Hotel Hirschen. Located in the Bregenz Forest, this place is an absolute gem and it’s only a 30 minute drive to the centre of Bregenz. For those attending the festival, this hotel also offers a bus shuttle service for their guests so you don’t have to drive in the evenings.
The Hotel Hirschen is a dream of a hotel. The ambiance is so special with a very quaint yet stylish feel. Cozy, but still very special. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and can only highly recommend this hotel if you prefer a more natural setting.
Here you can book the hotel: Hotel Hirschen
Disclaimer: Advertising & Affiliate Links
This article was written in cooperation with The Vorarlberg Tourism Board and the Bodensee-Vorarlberg Region. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity!
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A million thanks from the both of us!
Have you ever been to the provincial capital of Vorarlberg? Do you have any extra travel tips for Bregenz? What are some of the sights and highlights that are a must-see in your opinions? We look forward to reading your comments below!