The Bregenzerwald region is a special place with landscapes that could have been the model for the Shire of the hobbits, the people are independent and self-confident. They’re proud of their roots but open to the new. ‘Meor ehrod das Ault, und grüssod das Nü’ (‘We respect the old and welcome the new’) is how the people of the Bregenzerwald continue the heritage of their forbears. Architecture and trades, art, culture and design and even culinary delights: tradition and modernity come together here in a bold and surprising manner.
Hiking shoes, curiosity and a suitcase full of time – that’s all that’s needed to get to know the ‘Would’ (‘forest’) on a leisurely outing. The kitchens in Bregenzerwald that refine traditional dishes with imagination and attention to detail will keep you refreshed and ready to go. Many ingredients are sourced from the surrounding area as well as the local rivers and lakes. Visitors may take culinary trips and dine out in the Bregenzerwald (‘Dining in the Bregenzerwald’) and so enjoy the most beautiful of sights and fine local cuisine at the same time. The star among all the delicacies is cheese: the KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald (‘Bregenzerwald Cheese Trail’) brand takes in the entire region and directs all attention to farmers and mountain dairies. They’ve come together with partners from the entire Bregenzerwald region to create cheese experiences right where the ‘white gold’ is made.
It all starts in the lower Bregenzerwald – where the country undulates gently across meadows and through flood plains and woods. The place where villages have made themselves comfortable on wide plains and hills and where the residents pursue their pretty and tidy daily routines. Where homes and farmyards lie scattered around inns, parishes and churches and where traditional dress is still worn on Sundays and bank holidays. Where the women walk elegantly and upright in their elegant black Juppen and the carefully pleated skirts and embroidered bodices.
It is also from where long and winding roads lead into the central Bregenzerwald region. The place where viaducts span the gorges of rushing streams. And where, from June to September, thrill-seekers can launch themselves into the depths from the bungee bridge in Lingenau. The Bregenzerwald is an adventure park and a treasure trove for action-packed programmes to accompany workshops, conferences and incentive events. The place for teams to bond while kayaking and canoeing, rafting, canyoning, paragliding, braving the Flying Fox, trying their hands at 3D archery and many other activities in the great outdoors.
The culture that can be enjoyed here is also worth a special mention. Extraordinary events are staged at unusual places off the beaten track: classical music meets cowbells at the Schubertiade in Schwarzenberg and the Bezau Beatz Festival stages jazz in the ‘Wälderbähnle’ (historic railway) depot alongside old steam locomotives. Museums provide insights into unexpected (his-)stories.
A stroll through the villages reveals the special architecture that is so characteristic of the Bregenzerwald. Traditional farmhouses graced by flower displays present their shingled wood façades. White canvas curtains, embellished with hand-crocheted lace, adorn the windows. And old farmyards frequently surprise visitors with their modern and reduced restyling. More recently built homes reinterpret the unique aspects of the region’s typical buildings. The art of erecting structures from timber and the associated trades are deeply rooted in the Bregenzerwald region. That’s why carpenters, joiners and other master tradespeople came together to form the ‘Werkraum Bregenzerwald’. Accordingly, the Werkraumhaus in Andelsbuch, designed by the famous architect Peter Zumthor from Switzerland, is both a meeting place and a showcase. It’s a ‘must-see’ for anyone interested in architecture and design. The same goes for the ‘Wartehüsle’ (bus shelters) in Krumbach: architects from all over the world designed seven bus stops in the BUS:STOP project.
The mountains gradually get nearer until visitors can experience them up close in the upper Bregenzerwald with its craggy rocks. Ski resorts spring up in winter on the Bregenzerwald’s mountain meadows and peaks. There’s something for everyone, from beginners and kids to demanding slopes. Off-piste skiers rave about the endless descents in open terrain. Ski tourers, winter hikers and cross-country skiers enjoy views that make their hearts skip a beat. The warmer periods of the year turn the Bregenzerwald into a paradise for everyone wishing to explore nature on foot or on two wheels. Visitors can switch off and relax in the Bregenzerwald where hospitality is grounded and genuine. Whether a hotel focusing on health, well-being, comfort, conferences or workshops, whether quaint inns or rustic guest houses or farms – many families have employed great sensitivity to bring their heritage right up to date.