Sitting on the eastern edge of Lake Constance, Europe’s third-largest freshwater lake and bordered by 3 countries -Germany, Switzerland and Austria, the city of Bregenz enjoys a rich mixture of influences which is reflected in its rich cultural programme plus also its cuisine, Bregenz is the ideal starting point for our week long adventure in Vorarlberg. Here is a short summary of the best things to do in Bregenz and where to eat in Bregenz.
The perfect time to visit Bregenz is during their famed summer Bregenz Festival, where superlative operatic performances take place on a floating lakeside stage. Even though we missed the festival, we had the chance to see the spectacular floating lakeside stage.In 2023, Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly will be performed on the lake stage on a total of 25 evenings.
1. Captain for a day- Explore Lake Constance on a motor boat
If the weather is nice, then I would highly recommend renting one of the boat from the gondola harbour, between the Fischersteg and the Festspielhaus. It is a tad expensive but a brilliant way to get a nice perspective of the Bregenz skyline and the Pfander mountain towering in the background. You have the choice of renting electric, pedal and motor boats from the boat rental company Feurstein. The best and most fun option in my opinion is to choose the motor boats which are equipped with a 6 hp outboard engine and can be driven without a skipper’s license. All information and frequently asked questions can be found on their website. The boat rental is open daily from April to October, weather permitting, until sunset. In rainy weather, the boat rental remains close.
2. Alternative: Hire a bike
If time permits, another great way to explore Lake Constance is to of course explore the 270 km circumference via the challenging and impressive “Bodensee Rundwanderweg” ( Celebrates 40 years in existence this year!) , or Lake Constance Trail. It is possible to circumnavigate the entire lake in chunks, ( Lindau is just 36 km away) roughly four to seven stages by bike. The trail is of medium difficulty with an ascent and descent of just about 400 metres each. Another option is of course to hop on one of the boats operated by Vorarlberg Lines that will take you across the Lake and then back to Bregenz or drop you off at other points of the lake.
3. Hop on the Pfänderbahn cable car
If you have a short stopover in Bregenz like us, do make time to go to the top of the Pfänder mountain -offering stunning views of the city, Lake Constance and over 240 Alpine peaks of Austria, Germany and Switzerland combined, it really is some view. To enjoy the view, hop onto the Pfänderbahn cable car (Tickets for a return ride is €13.60 for adults, €6.80 for kids – 6-15 years- and €27.20 for a family ticket) On the top there is a panoramic restaurant from where you can enjoy the views while supping on a cold beer.
4. Bregenz Culture Mile- Say hello to Kunsthaus Bregenz
Also recommend a wee meander along the Bregenz culture mile which has an incredible mix of old and new architecture. The walk should include a visit to the uber-modern KUB aka Kunsthaus Bregenz museum for contemporary art.( Standard adult tickets costs €11, concessions €9. Combined ticket to KUB and vorarlberg museum is €17, €12 for under 25’s). A rota of revolving exhibitions means that there is always something new to see here. Illustrious exhibitions that have been hosted here in the past include those of Warhol, Weiwei and Antony Gormley.
5. Vorarlberg Museum
The vorarlberg museum, ( Regular tickets €9, Concessions €7 ) another stunning modern building, is the repository of the state’s art and cultural treasures. The collections here dig deep into the realms of archeology, folklore, art history and much more.
Where to eat in Bregenz
Lunch: Pier 69
The lakeside setting of Pier 69 is unbeatable, service is fab plus the food is a nice mix of modern European fare with dishes ranging from seafood paella to potato gnocchi with basil pesto. Their set lunch menu offer incredible value.
Lunch at Kunstler Cafe
Right on the Kornmarktplatz, next to the Kunstahaus is the Kunstler Cafe which came recommended to us by one of the ladies at the weekly farmers market. There is a very laidback atmosphere at the cafe with a nice mix of friendly locals who were great to chat to and filled with great suggestions of what to do in the area. As the name suggests, the cafe also doubles up as a platform for local artists who can display their work for free. The art being, using art too stimulate conversation between guests at the cafe. In the past, the cafe has hosted exhibitions with various wild themes ranging from shoe throwing at ex-president George W. Bush” when 100 pairs of shoes dangled from the coffee house ceiling aimed at a picture of the former president.
There is nice selection of food, from sandwiches to cold cuts of meat and cheese alongside a drinks menu. The coffee is sourced from a local coffee roasting company Kaffeebohne in Dornbirn. The owner froze the price of an espresso at €1.90 five years ago, determined to offer his guests fair and consistent prices with quality.
Sample Vorarlberg cheese at Fredi’s Kaselade
One of the highlights of any trip to Voralberg is trying the rich variety of cheese specilities the region is famous for. 60% of milk produced in Vorarlberg is used to make cheese specialities. Centuries of craftsmanship and modern production combine to create Vorarlberg cheese’s unique character. Examples of great local cheeses you should sample include the Alp Cheese, Mountain Cheese, Cream Cheese and Sura Kees which are all made from goat’s or sheep’s milk.
A great place to bite into Vorarlberg cheese culture in Bregenz is Fredis Kaselade.
Try the Obstkuchen at Theater Cafe
This cafe came recommended from patrons of the Kunstler Cafe. It is a very stylish and cozy cafe located in historical centre of Bregenz, like the Kunstler on the Kornmarktplatz. Service was fantastic and besides good coffee, hot chocolate they are know for their cakes-try their poppy seed strudel or excellent freshly baked tarts like ‘Obstkuchen’ – apple tart.
Checkout my new guide to the best things to do in Feldkirch, my earlier guide of the best things to do in Vorarlberg and also my story of Vorarberg’s mesmerising architectural heritage.
I was invited to the Bregenz and Vorarlberg by the Vorarlberg Tourism Board . As always, all opinions ( bad and good) expressed here are my own.
Huge thank you to Katharina Fa, Katrin Preuss and the Vorarlberg Tourism Board team for showing us your beautiful home and making our time there memorable.