Wedged between Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, the tiny but prosperous province of Vorarlberg is booming in winter, when skiers and fans of other snow sports descend. In summer, the fun centers on the Green Ring, a three-day trail that takes hikers right over the watershed between the North Sea and Mediterranean. It leads to a quiet lake called the Zürsersee, which, at 7,000 feet, is still surrounded by the craggiest of peaks above. A pier extends far into the 15-acre, turquoise body of water—and it’s just the place to bask in the sun and listen as a local recounts fables about the treasures said to lie deep in the water.
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Feldkirch, the medieval capital city of Vorarlberg, Austria's westernmost state, is a magical place along the banks of the glacier-fed River Ill, with the ancient Schattenberg Castle looming over the old town from its perch high up on one of the city's many hills that exist between the Rhine River and the Montafoner Alps. I spent two nights in Feldkirch, but could have spent a week. The magnificently preserved Old Town is a walker's delight, and for daytrips beyond Feldkirch, excellent train and bus connections can take you to Bregenz on Lake Constance (and from there on to Munich or Zurich), to Liechtenstein (less than 2 miles away), to Bludenz and Vorarlberg's many ski resorts, or further east into Austria in the direction of Innsbruck.