For true “wow” moments in nature, we recommend the following 14 places of exceptional natural beauty in Vorarlberg for those looking to discover the wondrous interplay of nature’s variety, biodiversity, habitats and landscape zones. We’ll also throw in information about the right hiking or cycling tours to the region’s natural wonders (some in German only).
C View towards Lake Formarinsee, Rote Wand (c) Dietmar Denger / Vorarlberg Tourismus
01 On the Gottesacker plateau, Kleinwalsertal
Sparse, rocky, shrouded in legend, and imposing to behold, one feels as though cast back in time to a different era in Earth’s history on the plateau north of the Hoher Ifen mountain in Kleinwalsertal. The craggy limestone surfaces here are in fact the over 120-million-year-old remains of coral reefs and other ocean life from the Tethys Sea. Washed-out looking and consisting of many grooves and ridges, the area bares witness to forces of nature over many millennia.Learn more
The plateau is most easily accessed with the Ifen cable way. A breath-taking panorama, routes and trails for various tastes, and a variety of plant life unlike any other make this an unforgettable place to explore.
02 Lünersee lake
And another lake: In 2019, viewers of the final episode of the ORF TV programme “9 Plätze – 9 Schätze” (9 places, 9 treasures) voted the Lünersee lake the most beautiful place in Austria. Lünersee lake lies at 1970 metres above sea, at the head of the Brandnertal valley. It is considered the turquoise gem of the Rätikon mountains. Once the largest natural mountain lake of the eastern Alps, it is now one of the largest reservoirs in western Austria. In 1959, its holding capacity was enlarged by means of an impressive dam.
Mountain peaks, rugged rocks, but also soft green pastures surround the lake. When the sun is out, the crystal-clear water emanates a wonderful turquoise gleam.
03 In the Wildental valley, Kleinwalsertal
There are many features of this idyllic side valley that impress visitors on a hike or excursion: the windy Breitach river, the impressive mountain peaks of the Schafalpkopf mountains, the raging waterfall, the deep gorges and of course, great places to stop in for snacks and refreshment (e.g. the Innere Wiesalpe hut). This is a place of energy and magnetic activity sure to invigorate and revitalise.Learn more
04 Verwall area, Montafon
Verwall, Vorarlberg’s largest European Protection Area in the Natura 2000 network, features many transitions: the transition from Vorarlberg to Tyrol, from the fringes of the Alps to the central Alps, and from idyllic landscapes to rugged habitats.Learn more
Views enjoyed along the hiking routes are as diverse as the mountains themselves. From the mountain stations of the Hochjoch and Sennigrat cableways, which are the starting points for countless tours, visitors can’t help but admire the countless peaks, towers, combs and pinnacles. When weather conditions are ideal, the view from the Zamangspitze mountain (2,387 m) extends all the way to Lake Constance.
05 The Gipsdolinen gypsum sinkholes of Lech, Arlberg
Visitors flock to Oberlech to visit the area’s gypsum formations with over 1,000 sinkholes. These gypsum holes are a special geological feature. The sediments were created approx. 220 million years ago near the equator. Today’s gypsum formations are the remains of an erstwhile lagoon created by the shifting of continental platesLearn more
and the mountains which arose. The sinkholes were created when water dissolved the gypsum. The largest sinkhole has a diameter of nearly 100 m and a crater that is approx. 35 m deep. The area is also a ‘treasure chest’ for botanists: Hiking here during the flowering period for orchids from July to mid August is particularly recommended.
06 At the Rhine river delta, Höchst-Gaißau
Reed beds, marshes and alluvial forests are home to over 300 species of birds and over 600 different plants. The Rhine river delta is a landscape of impressive botanical variety and a haven for small animals. This Natura 2000 area is a popular and unique area for excursions in the natural world. However, protecting this special landscape, where the Dornbirner Ache stream meets the old and new Rhine rivers as they flow into Lake Constance, is and remains a challenge. Indeed, preserving this sensitive natural environment of plants and animals for the long term, while factoring in various interests for its use, is not easy. More information, guided excursions and info material are available at the Rheindeltahaus.Learn more
07 The Fohramoos area at the Bödele, Dornbirn
The Fohramoos area is a seemingly ancient forest landscape of gnarled birches, low mountain pines and larch punctuated by swampy ponds, blankets of moss and dwarf shrubs. This area of largely undisturbed and hydrologically intact upland moor and moor forest is located not far from Dornbirn at the foot of the Bödele hiking and winter sports area.Learn more
Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, this nature conservation area impresses visitors with its changeable scenery, from mystically barren to invigoratingly alive.
08 Körbersee lake and Formarinsee lake
They are among the ‘Austria’s most beautiful places’: TV viewers and an expert jury chose Körbersee lake (2017), and Formarinsee lake (2015) as the most beautiful places in Austria in Austrian broadcaster ORF’s ‘9 Plätze, 9 Schätze’ (9 places, 9 treasures) campaign. Both mountain lakes are jewels of nature in the Lechquellengebirge range, far removed from everyday life and surrounded by majestic mountains. They are places in which to enjoy a sense of peace and exquisite beauty. The lakes can be reached via a series of hiking trails that begin in Schröcken, Warth (Hochtannberg), Lech and Dalaas (Klostertal) and feature various levels of difficulty.
09 In the Grosses Walsertal Biosphere Park
To the north are the gentle flysch mountains of the Walserkamm range and to the south the rugged peaks and scree of the Western Limestone Alps. This sparsely populated, largely agricultural valley strictly follows the international UNESCO Biosphere Park concept for development and regional protection of exceptional nature and cultivated landscape. Together, the six municipalities in the valley form the Grosses Walsertal Biosphere Park. The goal of this biosphere park is to protect the nature and the habitats that species need and to develop the region into a vibrant area for responsible business and trade. The landscape is zoned into three different usage or development categories.Learn more
10 Natursprüngeweg trail, Brandnertal
What goes on at an Alpine pasture? How is weather created and which dangers exist in these Alpine mountains? The interactive Natursprüngeweg trail in Brandnertal is devoted to answering these and countless other questions.Learn more
This hike is especially suited to families who are invited to not only see nature, but to consciously be aware of it. More than just a simple hike, it’s an opportunity to learn and experience. Visitors can arrive at the starting point via the Dorfbahn Brand cableway from the valley. Follow the signs towards the Innere Parpfienzalpe Alpine pasture.
11 To the Wiegensee lake, Partenen-Montafon
The Wiegensee lake, a natural monument with a protected upland moor, is located northeast of Partenen at 1,920 m at the foot of the Versalspitze mountain. This idyllically situated small lake is only accessible on foot after a 1.5-hour hike from the Tafamunt cable car mountain station. The view of the surrounding Silvretta and Verwall mountains is impressive.
During summer Montafon Tourist Board offers a full day guided hiking tour to this mountain area.Learn more
12 In the Holdamoos, Au-Schoppernau/Bregenzerwald
Located along a connecting trail between the municipalities of Au and Schoppernau, the Holdamoos Nature-Discovery area protects a species-rich herb garden and a 400-year old middle pasture hut. Well-maintained walking trails, a suspension bridge over a gorge for the adventurous, and a signposted nature and agricultural trail are located around the hut and small lake.Learn more
In summertime, regular guided tours take place for both adults and kids.
13 Through the moors, Krumbach/Bregenzerwald
“Discover nature with all your senses. Make and take time.” These are the principles of the Krumbach Moor. At the 12 info stations and 14 moor seating areas, interested visitors will discover more about the area’s plants as well as insights into the geology and history of this place. The “Moorraum” is the perfect place to take a break. This timber building is an ideal vantage point to enjoy the Salgenreute moor.Learn more
14 The “Steinernes Meer,” Arlberg
Those who visit will take a journey into Earth’s history. The “Steinernes Meer” (fossilised sea) is a plateau of Alpine karst in the Lechquellen range not far from Lech am Arlberg. 200-million-year-old fossils such as fossilised snails, corrals and mussels bare witness to the area’s maritime past and also give this place its name. The “Steinerne Meer” is a geological wonderland and a feast for the senses.Learn more