Vorarlberg is the westernmost state ofAustria, bordering Germany, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Blissfully under-the-radar, Vorarlberg isn’t the most obvious destination for hiking in the Alps.
Considered even “too far away” for Austrians, this western state enjoys its somewhat hidden status, tucked away from the well-known destinations of Tirol and Salzburg. However, those that venture here, will be absolutely enthralled by the alpine scenery, hospitality, and hiking opportunities.
We return to Vorarlberg each year to hike. Maybe it’s the water, or maybe it’s something else, but I truly believe everything is more charming in Vorarlberg: the grazing cows, the velvet-like mountain slopes, the lush wildflower-carpeted meadows, and even the dialect.
In this guide to hiking in Vorarlberg, we’re highlighting our favorite hiking destinations, hiking trails, and places to stay.
Hiking in Vorarlberg, Austria
- When to Hike: Mid-late June – late September
- Top Day Hikes: Formarinsee to Spullersee, Lünersee to Schesaplana Peak, Hohe Rad Circuit Trail
- Top Hut-to-Hut Hikes: Rätikon High Trail and Montafon Circuit Trail
- Long Distance Hikes: Min Weag
- Vorarlberg Mountain Ranges: Rätikon Alps, Silvretta Alps, Verwall Alps, Lechquellen Mountains, Bregenzerwald Mountains, Lechtal Alps, Allgäu Alps.
- Vorarlberg Regions: Montafon, Brandnertal, Lech Zürs am Arlberg, Kleinwalsertal, Bregenzerwald, Bodensee-Vorarlberg.
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Vorarlberg Hiking Map
Brandnertal is a valley which runs from the city of Bludenz to the Schesaplana massif in the Rätikon Alps.
The Rätikon Alps are part of the Central Eastern Alps and form part of the natural border between Vorarlberg and Graubünden (Swiss Canton) and Liechtenstein. This range romances hikers with its shimmering limestone peaks, verdant slopes, active alpine pastures, and mountain lakes. It’s like a waking dreamland, almost too beautiful to be real.
The main attraction of Brandnertal is Lake Lünersee, fondly called the pearl of the Eastern Alps. In summer (late May – mid/late October), the Lünerseebahn cable car connects the valley to the lake. You can hike around the lake in two hours, summit Schesaplana, follow the Rätikon High Trail, and so much more.
Form Brandnertal, you’re also well positioned to conquer a series of challenging summits like Mondspitze (1967 m) and Schillerkopf (2006 m), Grosser Valkastiel (2449 m), and Saulakopf (2517 m).
Many lovely mountain huts and alpine pastures are within reach as well: Heinrich-Hueter Hütte, Sarotlahütte, Obersalimhütte, Totalphütte, andLindauer Hütte.
Brandnertal Hiking Trails
Rätikon High Trail Circuit
- Day 1: (Brandnertal) – Douglass Hütte – Lünersee – Lindauer Hütte (4 hours, 10 km)
- Day 2: Lindauer Hütte – Tilisunahütte – Carschinahütte (5 hours, 10.2 km)
- Day 3: Carschinahütte – Schesaplanahütte (6 hours, 15.8 km)
- Day 4: Schesaplanahütte – Schesaplana – Totalphütte – Lünersee (9.2 km, 5 hours)
The 4-5 day Rätikon High Trail Circuit wraps around the Rätikon Alps, starting and ending at Lünersee.
On day 1, the trail leads gently across meadows and alpine pastures past the Schweizer Tor (Swiss Gate) to Lindauer Hütte. After passing Tilisunahütte on day 3, the trail crosses the border into Switzerland, and then returns to Austria on day 4, with a dramatic ascent to Schesaplana (2965 m), the highest peak in the Rätikon.
This is a very moderate hut-to-hut hike, with very little technical difficulty. The only challenging section is the ascent from Schesaplanahütte to Schesaplana peak (day 4). For most hikers, it makes sense to descend to Lüneresee from the peak, ending the hike on day 4. We extended the trek across the Brandner Glacier to Mannheimer Hütte, which isn’t entirely necessary.
To learn more about hut-to-hut hiking in Austria, read our Austria Hut to Hut Hiking Guide.
Where to Stay in Brandnertal
Budget | Pension Bergkristall is an apartment-style accommodation in Brand, next to the Dorfbahn Cable Car Station. If you’re planning to base yourself in Brandnertal for a few days, or even a week, you’ll feel very comfortable here. Breakfast is available upon request.
Mid-Range | Hotel Lün is a top-rated modern hotel in Brand, offering double rooms as well as apartments with fully equipped kitchenettes and dining areas. Highlights of staying here are the spa area, the breakfast buffet, and the fresh and cheerful design.
Luxury | Aktiv-Hotel Sarotla is a stylish and modern hotel with excellent spa facilities, spacious rooms with balconies, and a fabulous hotel restaurant and bar. Guests can participate in guided hiking and cycling tours free of charge.
Look for accommodation in Brandnertal.
Lech Zürs am Arlberg
Lech am Arlberg is an alpine village in the Lech Zürs am Arlberg Region of Vorarlberg. This is one of Austria’s premier ski destinations, attracting the crème de la crème. Lech has a reputation for being posh and stuck-up, but if you visit in summer, you won’t get that impression.
Lech is a fantastic base for hiking, because it’s situated along the River Lech between the Lechtal Alps and the Lechquellengebirge. In summer, hiking buses shuttle guests to/from trailheads all day. This is one of the few destinations in the Austrian Alps where you absolutely do not need a car.
The first time we visited Lech was after completing the Eagle Walk across the Lechtal Alps. We finished the route in St. Christoph am Arlberg (where it traditionally ends) and took a bus to Lech. If we could do it over again, we’d hike directly to Lech via Stuttgarter Hütte and Rüfikopf.
During our second and third visits to Lech, we explored the Lechquellen Mountains on a series of day hikes.
Given that this is a popular ski resort, you may be concerned that there’s too much ski infrastructure. Luckily, the cableways don’t bisect most of the hiking trails. The only places where the ski infrastructure is notably distracting is around Petersboden in Oberlech and at Zürser See.
Learn More: Lech am Arlberg Hiking Guide
Lech Hiking Trails
Lake Formarinsee to Lake Spullersee
This is our favorite day hike in the Lechquellen Mountains.
To reach the trailhead, take bus 7 from Lech (or Zug) to Formarinsee.
The trail initially wraps around Lake Formarinsee to Freiburger Hütte (30-45 minutes). From the hut, trail 601 ascends across wildflower-carpeted slopes and alpine pastures to Steinernes Meer (“Stone Sea”), an impressive karst landscape. After carefully crossing the Stone Sea, you’ll continue your ascent to the Gehrengrat mountain ridge.
The hike continues over the ridge, where you need to be extra careful, and down to the Dalaaser Schütz high alpine valley. It’s an easy walk from here to the the Spullersee high-alpine reservoir.
To return to Lech or Zug, take bus 6.
Learn More: Lake Formarinsee to Lake Spullersee
More Day Hikes around Lech
- Spuller Schafberg Peak – Highly recommended
- Rüfikopf – Stuttgarter Hütte – Zürs
- Oberlech – Göppinger Hütte – Zugertal
Where to Stay in Lech am Arlberg
Budget | Lech Hostel is a budget-friendly accommodation in Lech am Arlberg, offering clean and cozy single, double, and triple rooms. Guests have access to a shared kitchen and shared lounge. Bathrooms are shared as well. The room rate is unbeatable.
Midrange | Hotel Garni Schneider is a top-rated, affordable bed and breakfast, situated next to Rüfikopfbahn in the center of Lech. Bedrooms are nicely decorated, spotless, and comfortable. Guests also have access to a wellness area (Finnish sauna, steam bath, Kneipp basins, and relaxation room) and free private parking.
Hotel Auenhof is a family-run hotel, situated along the River Lech, facing Omeshorn.
With its dreamy location and extraordinary staff, Hotel Auenhof outshines other Lech accommodations in terms of its hospitality and atmosphere. The family and staff work hand-in-hand to ensure that your stay is comfortable and memorable.
The highlight of staying here is the creative cuisine. Each night, chef Matthias Fiebig prepares a unique, multi-course dinner menu, which delights and surprises in equal measure.Many hotel restaurants strive to be innovative, but none so successfully as Hotel Auenhof.
In the afternoons, guests are treated to a generous and complimentary afternoon snack.
The wellness area has recently been expanded. The newest addition is the “silent Spa” relaxation area , a lavish space to rest after enjoying one of Auenhof’s five saunas.
Der Berghof is an elegant hotel in the center of Lech. This hotel delivers an unparalleled experience in terms of style, comfort, wellness and cuisine. Each bedroom is uniquely designed and furnished with the finest materials.
The wellness area features 5 modern saunas, a cold water basin, a foot bath, relaxation room, and tea and snack bar. Additionally, complimentary salt exfoliants are provided for the steam sauna and bath salt for the foot bath.
Guests can look forward to a rich and healthy breakfast buffet featuring sliced cheese and meats, spreads (hummus, Liptauer, etc…), eggs and bacon, breads and delicious croissants, homemade jams, muesli and yogurt, a juice bar and a premium loose leaf tea bar.
You also have the option to eat dinner in the hotel. Each evening, a 5-course menu is served in the main dining room.
Learn More: Best Hotels in Lech
Montafon is a 39-km-long alpine valley in Vorarlberg that stretches from the city of Bludenz to the Silvretta Bielerhöhe mountain pass. Montafon Valley is bounded by the impressive Verwall, Silvretta, and Rätikon mountain ranges.
For decades, this region has been a beloved skiing destination. In the 1920s, the great American novelist Ernest Hemingway spent winters writing, skiing, and playing cards in the valley.
While winter is the premiere season in Montafon, summer tourism is picking up each year, as insiders are discovering the region’s riveting hiking trails, lofty peak summits, charming mountain huts, active dairy farms, and mountain lakes.
We love this region of Austria because it manages to exhibit a spirit of openness alongside its many deeply-rooted traditions.
Montafon Hiking Trails
The Montafon Hut Circuit is a 13-stage hut-to-hut trail which traverses the Verwall, Silvretta, and Rätikon Alps in one giant U-shaped arch around Montafon Valley. The final 5 stages are actually very short, so the whole trail can be hiked in 10 days.
Highlights of the route include:
- Staying in the Wiesbadener Hütte, below Piz Buin (3,312 m), the highest mountain in Vorarlberg.
- The ascent to Litznersattel, which affords staggering views of Klostertaler Egghorn (3120 m), Schattenkopf (3114 m), Schattenspitze (3202 m), Schneeglocke (3223 m), and Knoten (3190 m).
- Hiking down the Vergalda Tal valley to the active alpine dairy Alpe Vergalden (1820 m).
- Hiking into the Rätikon limestone range and arriving at Tilisunahütte mountain hut.
We hiked 5 stages in 4 days, starting at the Silvretta Bielerhöhe mountain pass and ending in Schruns.We wrote about our experience and why we hiked these stages in ourMontafon Hut to Hut Circuit Hiking Guide.
- Day 1 (Stage 4): Schruns – Bus to Silvretta Bielerhöhe – Wiesbadener Hütte (3:30 hours, 8.3 km)
- Day 2 (Stage 5): Wiesbadener Hütte – Saarbrücker Hütte (4:45 hours, 10.7 km)
- Day 3 (Stages 6 and 7): Saarbrücker Hütte – Tübinger Hütte – Gargellen (7:45 hours, 16.8 km)
- Day 4 (Stage 8 and Exit Route): Gargellen – Tilisunahütte – Tobelsee – Latschau – Schruns (9 hours, 21.9 km)
Hohes Rad Circuit Trail
This fabulous day hike in the pristine and wild Silvretta Alps starts at Silvretta Bielerhöhe, the high mountain pass which connects Montafon Valley with Paznaun Valley.
From the pass, you’ll hike along the Silvretta Reservoir to Bieltal Valley. The trail ascends gently up the valley to Radsattel (2652 m), the saddle between Bieltalkopf (2797 m) and and Hohes Rad (2934 m).
When you crest the saddle, you’ll be met with dazzling views of glaciated, crystalline peaks.
Experienced hikers should consider extending their hike to the summit of Hohes Rad (3 hours out-and-back), starting at Radsattel.
The trail continues over the saddle through a pristine high-alpine environment to the managed Wiesbadener Hütte (DAV mountain hut). From this mountaineering refuge, descend Oschental valley to Silvretta Bielerhöhe.
Learn More: Hohes Rad Circuit Trail Guide
Where to Stay in Montafon
Budget | The brand new TUI Blue Montafon hotel in Tschagguns features modern, comfortable, and quiet (sound-proof) bedrooms. Guests praise the attentiveness and friendliness of the staff. And, the breakfast buffet is excellent, offering a lot of variety and local ingredients. The hotel has an on-site restaurant (limited menu) and small spa area.
Midrange | The quaint Gasthof Löwen in Tschagguns is a traditional, family-run hotel dating back to 1500. The hotel restaurant is one of the best places to eat in Montafon. It’s also one of our favorite restaurants in all of Austria. Expect a wonderful breakfast as well. On Thursdays, the family members play traditional music in the bar. Guests also have access to the Montafoner Hof indoor-outdoor pool.
Luxury | Amrai Suites is an alpine-modern hotel in Schruns with an on-site restaurant and luxurious wellness area. Tastefully designed with natural materials and an earthy color palette, the bedrooms are both incredibly calming and visually stunning. Highlights of staying here are the breakfast buffet, creative dinner menus, and the Stólla spa oasis, which pays homage to the region’s former mining industry. It encompasses an indoor copper bath, herbal kettle sauna, Finnish sauna, steam bath, rain shower, ice fountain in the Montafon Glacier Grotto, outdoor pool, and relaxation rooms.
Löwen Hotel Montafon
Löwen Hotel Montafon is a 4-star superior hotel in Schruns with a massive 3000 m2 wellness and spa area.
The spa contains an indoor and outdoor pool, five saunas, a Lady’s spa area, a whirlpool, multiple relaxation rooms, waterbeds, a refreshment bar, and a reading room.
The hotel’s bold interior design honors the Montafon Valley with its use of local materials and regional motifs. You’ll see this keenly expressed in the hotel’s lavish lounge, bar, and lobby area.
Rooms are lovely, though on the smaller side.
We don’t recommend booking half board here. Though the service is exceptional, there are better places to eat in town.
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Hiking in Austria:
- Best Day Hikes in Austria
- Best Treks in Austria
- Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria
- Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations
- Austrian Mountain Huts
Austria Hiking Guides by Region:
Learn more about the European Alps: