In Bregenz in Vorarlberg, Austria, culture enthusiasts, nature lovers and those who enjoy nature get their money's worth. This cosy small town, which attracts more than 150,000 visitors every year with its Bregenz Festival, lies picturesquely at the foot of the 1064-metre-high Pfänder on the eastern shore of Lake Constance.
The oldest finds of human settlements in Bregenz date back to around 1500 BC. The Celts built impressive fortifications around 500 BC before the Romans founded their settlement Brigantium in 15 BC. Numerous relics from Roman and Celtic times can still be admired today in the Vorarlberg museum and at the Protestant cemetery. Between the 13th and 16th centuries, the upper town was built within almost rectangular city walls, most of which are still preserved. Today's Bregenz, with almost 30,000 inhabitants, has the most important port on Lake Constance in Austria and is making a name for itself as a cultural centre.
The illustrious season starts in March with the Bregenz Spring with dance ensembles from all over the world, and in June the spirit of New Orleans awakens at the Bregenz Jazz Festival. July and August are dedicated to the Bregenz Festival with a two-yearly changing opera programme. At the largest lake stage in the world, 7000 spectators can listen to the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. There are also classical and contemporary plays in the Festspielhaus and on the workshop stage.
Art lovers are in season all year round: the vorarlberg museum am Kornmarkt shows not only historical finds but also regional art and culture. Lovers of contemporary works are drawn to the Kunsthaus in its award-winning architecture by Peter Zumthor, which opened in 1997: light penetrates the interior through the opaque glass façade and conjures up surprising moods at any time of day. Modern art can also be seen in the Künstlerhaus Bregenz and in Magazin 4.
Who would like to experience city history with an imposing view, climbs the Martinsturm, the town's landmark built in 1601 as a granary. A curiosity worth seeing is the narrowest house in Europe in Kirchstraße with a front only 57 centimetres wide.
Finally, a visit to Bregenz includes climbing the local mountain Pfänder. Families with children can also enjoy nature to the fullest on the extensive hiking trails with lovingly laid out game enclosures. And if you don't want to walk at all, take the Pfänderbahn. There are also interesting views from the water, whether on a sporty pedal boat trip or a boat tour to Mainau Island.
The cultural metropolis Bregenz offers culinary variety and numerous accommodations on 4-star level, so the Hotel Germania and the Mercure Bregenz City. Villa Raczynski has small but fine rooms in an idyllic park location. Friends of home-style Austrian cuisine can enjoy Viennese schnitzel, goulash and cheese noodles in the restaurant "Zum Kornmesser" or in the "Goldenen Hirschen". Italian delicacies are served in the "Piccolo Bella Napoli", and vegetarians and vegans prefer to feast in "Susi's Zauberei".
In the evening you can go to the casino or to one of the more than 30 bars and pubs for every taste. The "KUB-Café" or "Corona" are the perfect place to relax in a rustic and quiet atmosphere. While the younger party animals in the "Paschanga" or in the disco "Calypso" turn the night into day, advanced semesters celebrate in the "Neptune".