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Innsbruck, Tirol, and Vorarlberg Travel Guide

  • Photo: cesc_assawin / Shutterstock

Plan Your Innsbruck, Tirol, and Vorarlberg Vacation

The provinces of Tyrol and Vorarlberg make up the western tip of Austria with Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, the natural, historic, and economic center. These two provinces are so different from the rest of Austria that you might think you've crossed a border, and in a way you have. The frontier between Tyrol and the province of Salzburgerland to the east is defined by mountains; four passes

routed over them are what make access possible. To the west of Tyrol lies Vorarlberg—“before the Arlberg," the mountain range straddling the border between the two provinces.

In winter you'll find masses of deep, sparkling powder snow and unrivaled skiing and tobogganing. You can also venture into the famous Arlberg ski resorts, cult destinations for skiers from all over the world. In summer, Bregenz, the historic state capital of Vorarlberg, becomes the "Summer Capital of Austria" when the Bregenz Festival opens with a performance by the Viennese Symphonic Orchestra. Thousands flock to see operas and musicals by Giuseppe Verdi or Leonard Bernstein—to name just two—which take place on a huge floating stage with Lake Constance (the Bodensee), and the Swiss mountains as a backdrop.

Like most other mountain peoples, the Tyroleans are proud and independent—so much so that for many centuries the natives of one narrow valley fastness had little communication with their "foreign" neighbors in the next valley.

Until a tunnel was cut through the Arlberg range, Vorarlberg was effectively cut off from the rest of the country in winter. The province has much in common with its neighbor, Switzerland. Both peoples are descended from the same ancient Germanic tribes that flourished in the 3rd century BC.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. The Ötz Valley. Outdoors enthusiasts love hiking through this region because of rich green pastures in summer and glittering expanses of white in winter.
  2. Highly rated skiing areas. Known around the world for its extensive and in many cases fashionable ski villages, Tyrol often attracts celebrities and global glitterati to its resorts to experience the high-altitude good life, along with dedicated skiers keen to take on its challenging slopes.
  3. Tyrolean Stuben. These warm and cozy wooden parlors, often found today in hotels and restaurants, are traditionally part of old farmhouses in Tyrol.
  4. Bernstein in Bregenz. With the sun setting over Lake Constance and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra striking up the overture of West Side Story on the world's biggest floating stage, this is an unparalleled place to see an opera or a musical.
  5. See four countries at once. Take the cable car up Pfänder, the mountain behind Bregenz; the views are incredible Swiss mountains on your left, German rolling hills on your right, Liechtenstein to your left in the Rhine valley, Austria below your feet, and the glittering expanse of Lake Constance stretching 64km (40 miles) into the hazy distance.
  6. Experience top hospitality in a top village. The Gasthof Post is a bit like Lech itself—full of charming understatement. Teatime in overstuffed armchairs for all houseguests will keep you going until it’s time for a delicious dinner. You'll never want to leave.

When To Go

When to Go to Innsbruck, Tyrol, and Vorarlberg

The physical geography of the Tyrol and Vorarlberg makes them perfect for enjoying outdoor life year-round. Ski-crazy travelers descend on the...

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