In the small province of Voralberg, the Bregenzerwald
region has some 22 villages that sit at the base of peaks that reach as high as 7,000 feet. Ample hiking trails allow visitors an intimate peek into daily life as they pass historic fir and spruce farmhouses with traditional wooden shingles. At the same time, a number of leading contemporary architects have been drawn to the region. Their daring new buildings use local materials and respond to the area's vernacular traditions in surprising ways.
The village of Bezau, in the heart of the Bregenzerwald, is home to the family-run Hotel Post Bezau was originally an inn for postal carriage passengers; the modern renovations have assured that the hotel is comfortable as well as historic. The entire 2,300-foot-high village of Schwarzenberg is a protected landmark, and that includes the Hotel Hirschen Schwarzenberg, a 250-year-old inn with a fine collection of local art.
The small Restaurant Schulhus in Krumbach, located in an old school house, sources wild berries, fruits, mushrooms, and herbs for its menu, and serves local lamb and trout as well. Some 160 dairy and farm partners belong to the Bregenzerwald Cheese Trail, which offers opportunities to meet local cheesemakers and sample their products.
In a traditional Schwarzenberg village house, the Angelika Kauffmann Museum is devoted to a local 18th-century landscape and portrait painter who was miles ahead of her time-she was one of only two female founding members of London's Royal Academy of Arts.
Tip: The hearty traditional cheese dumplings of the region, käseknöpfle, will keep you fueled through the day.