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Relax and Rejuvenate in the Austrian Alps

In the unspoiled Arlberg region, enjoy adventure in style.

The forests of Arlberg are just a part of its natural beauty.

The forests of Arlberg are just a part of its natural beauty.

Vorarlberg Tourism/Marco Mathis

While it’s easy to navigate the roads to the Austrian resort town of Arlberg’s stunning mountaintops and fresh Alpine air, that doesn’t mean the destination is on the beaten path. Activities to restore body and mind await those who venture here, including recreation from hiking to biking that immerses you in these incredible surroundings.

This sophisticated Alpine region is a collection of five historic small villages and hamlets nestled between craggy peaks; rustic meets the refined in the best possible ways. Nature remains unspoiled, and the skies open to stunning vistas. Luxury wellness lodgings with fine dining and wine diversify what once included only simple traditional hut-style lodgings and respite stops. Enrichment ranges from meditative to active, offering a sense of self and place. Arlberg is a destination where you can rest and recharge, unplug devices, and energize yourself.

Explore pristine Alpine nature in Verwalltal, Formarinsee Lake, Valluga, and beyond

Tourismusverband St. Anton am Arlberg/Patrick Bätz

The views from Valluga, Arlberg’s highest peak, are epic.

Tourismusverband St. Anton am Arlberg/Patrick Bätz

Recreation here soothes the mind, body, and soul—there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the outdoors, whether it’s on two legs or two wheels. That doesn’t mean you should drive a car into the verdant Verwalltal Adventure Valley, however. This auto-free retreat’s bubbling brooks, lush forests, and meadows lead to emerald Verwallsee Lake along leisurely and restorative paths suitable for all ability levels. The absence of vehicles besides quiet electric bikes means the most common sounds surrounding you are footfalls, birdsong, and wind, making it the perfect way to wind down or prepare for more trekking.

Of the five villages at Arlberg (St. Anton, Lech, Zürs, St. Christoph, and Stuben), St. Anton alone has more than 245 miles of well-marked hiking trails, all surrounded by stunning views of the Tirolean Alps. Hardcore hikers can spend several days adventuring, including splitting the 17.7-mile Green Ring into two legs, starting in Lech.

Lech is also where explorations of Formarinsee Lake kick off, and it’s easy to see why Austrians have voted it their country’s most beautiful place. The lake’s aquamarine waters pop against the verdant ring of grass and flora ringing it, and hikers may spot fossils in the surrounding rocks.

If you’re in it for the views, there’s an easier way to enjoy some of Austria’s best mountain landscapes. To ascend the 9,215-foot Valluga, Arlberg’s highest peak, a series of two cable cars lead to a 360-degree platform with soaring panoramic views into Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Liechtenstein.

It’s no surprise that Arlberg is known worldwide as the cradle of Alpine skiing, with snow-capped peaks topping the mountains that hug the region’s villages. In Stuben, a hamlet of less than 100 people, a walkabout through winding streets lends a historical perspective with an open-air exhibit of 19th-century photographs depicting the origins of one of the world’s most popular winter sports.

Sports enthusiasts can travel back in time at the Museum St. Anton am Arlberg, where the region’s heritage as an isolated mountain community changed forever when local resident Hannes Schneider reoriented his skis to make turns instead of the custom of his time, which was sliding straight down slopes. The rest is history.

Uncover the charm of historic architecture

Tourismusverband St. Anton am Arlberg/Patrick Bätz

Like other mountain huts dotting the countryside, Wagner Hütte offers mountain adventurers food and shelter in St. Anton

Tourismusverband St. Anton am Arlberg/Patrick Bätz

Mountains, lakes, and landscapes for days aren’t the only camera-worthy sights here—the gently sloping roofs of the chalets’ ornately painted facades evoke the romance of a fairytale. In villages like Lech, wooden balconies, carved ornaments, and rich curlicues paint a portrait of a time gone by, while family-owned boutiques like Sagmeister and Strolz in the center beckon shoppers with contemporary fashions.

Get a more intimate view of Alpine architecture from the inside when you admire the cozy craftsmanship of Arlberg’s mountain huts. These unpretentious retreats were built to offer hikers a warm bed, simple sustenance, and protection from the elements. Over the years, many huts have become destinations in their own right. They’re places to build a community out of strangers and enjoy a selection of hearty meals traditional to the Arlberg region.

At Wagner hut in Verwalltal, homemade strudel and apple pie are served with views of Arlberg’s mountain range. The 400-year-old Bodenalpe hut offers local meats and cheeses from cows that dot the hillsides. Or at Freiburger Hut, try kaiserschmarren, airy shredded pancakes served with applesauce and dried fruits as a dessert or light lunch. Freiburger Hut is also a retreat for travelers who bring a sleeping bag, although there are more comfort-filled accommodations elsewhere for those who prefer fluffy pillows with their pancakes.

Savor luxurious experiences at Arlberg hotels

Österreich Werbung/Achim Meurer

Tempting tastes like käsespätzle await in Arlberg, the perfect way to sate your appetite after a day of adventuring.

Österreich Werbung/Achim Meurer

One such retreat is Hotel Alte Post in St. Anton. The grand 17th-century facade indicates the resplendent hospitality and culinary experiences that await within. This is no ordinary experience to toast a great day on the slopes or hiking trails, and a luxurious candlelight dinner awaits those who want to treat themselves to refined presentations of classics like fondue or käsespätzle—think of it as the Austrian version of macaroni and cheese.

For a farm-to-fork experience, book a stay at the Post Lech, which has its own farm that’s home to dozens of Tirolean stone sheep. Among the family-owned hotel’s six bars and restaurants, Postblick pairs panoramic views of the surrounding mountains with dishes like lake trout with fermented potatoes and beef filet with kimchi. Plus you can enjoy your dining experience with one of some 14,000 bottles stored in the hotel’s wine cellar, a treasure trove for wine connoisseurs filled with rarities and classics from the region and beyond.

Learn more about the Arlberg while planning your trip to Austria.

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