The Pfänder is the local mountain close to the Lake Constance and situated next to the small town Bregenz in Austria. With the highest point of 1,064 metres the mountain offers a unique panorama of the nearby Lake and its three surrounding countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. A total of 240 Alpine peaks can be seen on a day with good visibility, making the Pfänder a great lookout point of the region.
For those who are keen on sports or need some diversion from their sightseeing tour in the city, hiking or biking up the mountain is a very attractive option. There are various well sign-posted networks of walks taking one up to the top from within a short amount of time or an all-day hike.
However, for those who do not want the exercise or simply do not have the time for that, there is another great option available: the Pfänderbahn! This spacious panorama cable car takes visitors from the base station in Bregenz near the harbour up to the summit in just 6 minutes. It is open daily from 8:00-19:00 on the full and half hour, or every 15 minutes if there are more visitors. A single ticket for adults is €7.40, and a return ticket €12.70.
Apart from the great panoramic view one has over Bregenz, the Lake Constance, and the surrounding alps, there are three restaurants, a souvenir shop, and a small Alpine wildlife park up there. Right next to the cable car station there is a small stall with a variety of fruit gums and other sweets which reminded me so much of the times when buying sweets like that was relatively common in Austria.
From up there one can spot the small city Lindau which is situated on an island on the Lake Constance. Right after taking the cable car up the Pfänder, my friend and I actually took a train to visit the small city to spend the rest of the day there.
Taking the cable car up the hill was a great idea to get another perspective of Bregenz and its surrounding. We went there at around 10am, so the cable car was almost empty when we took it. Unfortunately, the sight was not the best, it was a bit foggy and the sky was full of clouds. After a while though the sun finally came through, and we could enjoy the view and had our breakfast up there before continuing our journey.
On our way to Liechtenstein and Switzerland we also wanted to explore the westernmost province of Austria – Vorarlberg – and its capital Bregenz. With around 29,000 inhabitants the city is only the third biggest town of the province (after Feldkirch and Dornbirn). Bregenz is located on the eastern shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance) between Switzerland and Germany.
Even though the city is kind of hard to reach and it takes me over 6 hours on a train to get there, I really wanted to go there this year. It’s already been the third time for me but I’ve taken a great liking to the small town so of course my bf and I had to make a stop there and do a little exploring :)
The city is famous for its annual performing arts festival – the Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival), which is held every July and August. A very special venue of the festival is the ‘Seebühne’ – a floating stage with an open air amphitheatre on the shores of the lake. Every other year they change the stage decoration and as this year’s opera performance is Turandot (a play set in China) the decoration consists of the Chinese Wall and the Terracotta Army. I never knew that you could just walk inside the venue during the day or else I would have gone there all the times before… It was really cool to see everything ‘up close’ without having to pay for it :D
The Lake Constance is the third-largest freshwater lake of Europe. It is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The river Rhine flows into the lake from the south and has its outflow in the west. In Bregenz there are many seats right next to the lake where you can enjoy the beautiful view. Naturally, there are many birds – especially swans – hoping to be fed by the people. It’s also possible to rent a paddleboat and enjoy the cool breeze on the lake itself.
We couldn’t just sit next to the lake the whole afternoon so we went on a little tour through the city. We started our tour by climbing the hill to reach the Martinsturm, which is located in the Upper town – the oldest part with remains from the 13th and & 16th centuries. The Martinsturm is the landmark of Bregenz. This tower is apparently the biggest Baroque bulb-shaped steeple in Central Europe, built in 1601. Right around the corner of the tower is also the old town hall from 1662 with a beautiful colourful facade. A little further down the road is the Gothic parish church of St. Gall, whose foundations date from before 1380. The Landhaus – already in the Lower town – was also nice to look at, which was built in the 1970ies.
We had our early dinner break at a very nice restaurant somewhere in the city – Nashia Kulinarisches. It’s a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that offers a variety of african, asian and indian food. Very delicious and at a reasonable price. I’d definitely recommend the place.
After our almost 8 km march through the city we felt like we deserved a little break on the shores of the lake, where we just sat and relaxed for the rest of the evening before heading to the next city.
Even though it’s been three times now I’m definitely going there again. Maybe I’ll even be able to get hold of a festival ticket and see it in real action – even though I’m not the biggest opera fan to be honest… :D