Hiking to see the sun rise in the mountains, petting lovely goats, driving on a narrow gauge train and visiting the superb inatura museum - there’s plenty of adventures to be had for old & young in the Bregenzerwald!
A Ride with the Wälderbähnle
The Wälderbähnle is what puts big smiles on kids’ faces - and adults if they’re trainspotters! My son is a big, big railroad fan and the possibility to ride on a train in great mountain scenery was a highlight for him. From the moment he woke up until we finally went to the railway station he was asking about it, and then it finally was time to climb aboard our carriage and enjoy the journey.
The Wälderbähnle offers two different rides: One with an old Diesel engine which runs most often and the more rare Steam Engine which pulls the eight or so carriages - including a Café! - from Bezau to Schwarzenberg through the beautiful mountains of the Bregenzerwald. We were pulled by the red Diesel engine and took a look at the Steam engine in the halls of the railway station of Bezau as we were back. It’s a short ride - the from Bezau to Schwarzenberg and back takes a bit over an hour, this includes the engine switching from one side to the other one when it goes back. All along the way you could see the mountains, crossed the Bregenzer Ache river and passed cows which were enjoying the fresh grass on the meadows along the tracks.
The ride was very popular with families and our carriage had at least a dozen kids between 0 and 12 in it - and as Kids under six are free of charge it’s not expensive either. You buy your ticket at the railway station in Bezau before you jump on the train, although you can reserve a ticket online too, which is probably recommended for the days when the steam engine pulls the train.
Hiking around Mellau
We stayed with the Family Wüstner in Mellau, at one of their Apartments which were great for a family of four. Mellau is a small village which has everything we needed: A Supermarket for grocery shopping, very frequent bus connections to any place in the region, a cable car up the mountain, bike rentals and outdoor shops, plenty of Cafés & restaurants and last, but certainly not least: A big hiking trail network. Right in front of our house started the Flusswege Path which runs along the Bregenzer Ache and explains on pretty info boards about the flora & fauna of the river. At the end of the path you also can make a short stroll over to the impressive waterfall and then head back to Mellau, where one of the nice Cafés is waiting to help you with a good serving of coffee & strudel =)
I also stole away for an evening hike up towards the Gopfberg, and again the trail started pretty much in front of our house. It was a nice walk up into the dusk and once I reached the start of the forest after all the meadows I was tempted to make a run for the summit and back, but without a headlamp on me I decided it’s smarter to simply stroll back down and watch the night fall over the small village. There is, however, the possibility to walk around the Gopfberg, something I want to do on my next trip there!
A Visit to Metzler Naturhautnah
When it rained just too much for a hiking trip we went and visited Metzler Naturhautnah, a dairy farm with 100 goats and 20 cows which also produces cosmetics from the whey. We got a guided tour of the dairy and saw how tasty cheese was made, petted the goats in their adventure playground stable and then also tasted the delicious cheeses.
From the bus stop in Egg it is a short walk up to the farm of Family Metzler. It lays scenically up a hill with a great view of the mountains, and the buildings themselves are also aesthetically very pleasing to look at, the big stables being constructed from wood in a modern design. The tour started at the shop where the daughter in law welcomed us and showed us around, answering all our questions about cheese making, goats and cosmetic products. ly stopped, too, and so we walked through the wet and cloudy hills down to catch our bus back to Mellau =)
We then continued to the stable where we spent some quality time with the lovely goats, petting them and looking how they “played” around. This was great for our son, as nowadays it isn’t so often that you can get up close and friendly with a goat and other animals. Hungry we continued to the pretty Conference room slash Café where we had a super-tasty cheese lunch, with almost a dozen different cheeses and fresh bread. Once it was time to leave the rain happi
The next morning it was again raining hard. Happily we had another rainy-day alternative on our list: A visit to the inatura Erlebnis Naturschau Museum. Situated in Dornbirn¹ it was an hour bus ride from Mellau to get there, but with the great local bus system it meant we jumped on just one bus and get out in Dornbirn an hour later!
Located in an old factory the museum is from the outside and inside a real pearl and such a great place to visit that we really enjoyed our time in it. From the temporary exhibition about beavers to the five permanent exhibitions, the inatura is a museum which wets the appetite of old & young for knowledge and which encourages its visitors to touch and try things; especially in the Sciences Zones which one finds throughout the buildings you can see how magnetism works, play with cog wheels and see lots of fish swim happily in big tanks. Add in a nice Café, friendly & helpful staff and you have a great destination to spend a rainy day and keep the kids happy!
Sunrise hike up the Kanisfluh
I guess that means I will get up at 2:30 am so I can watch the sun rise from the summit of the Kanisfluh, the landmark of the Bregenzerwald. I have seen the impressive mountain every day from Mellau & our adventures there, and was eager to pay the summit a visit to enjoy the vast views from the summit. Combining it with the best light of the day was a no-brainer, and so I sneaked out of the apartment while the family continued to sleep. In the middle of the night I met mountain guide Matthias and my fellow sunrise hikers at the Tourist Office in Mellau; then we squeezed into Matthias’ car to ride to the other side of the mountain where our hike would start.
The stars were still out when we set off from the car, but it wasn’t long until that magic light of pre-dawn started to arrive and colour the sky into the prettiest pastel colours.
We reached the summit cross a mere 45 minutes after we started hiking and weren’t the only ones up there who were waiting for the sun to rise. A group of friends which set off way before us was shivering at the cross, waiting for the warm rays of the sun to warm them up. I slipped into my puffy jacket, took my camera and looked for the best angles.
And then the sun came.
We watched fascinated as the sun rose slowly over the horizon, and pastel colours slowly gave way to oranges and yellows, but before long the light of day was around us. Matthias shared a zip from his flask, and then it was time to start the descent.
While it would have been tempting to eat breakfast on the mountain hut close to our car I promised my family to be back for breakfast, and low & behold: As I arrived back at the apartment with fresh, warm rolls from the supermarket the kids were just getting up. Over breakfast we were pondering what we should do on this beautiful, sunny day together!
There was more on this holiday and I hope to have the next instalment out next week. In the meanwhile you can take a sneak peek at the Vorarlberg Flickr Album where you can see a lot more photos from these adventures and those yet to come. And if you enjoyed this post and would like more, why not support me with a coffee or two? I work Full-Time on Hiking in Finland to bring you inspiring trip reports, in-depth gear reviews and the latest news from the outdoors. You also could subscribe to the rarer-than-ever Newsletter and follow along on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube for more outdoorsy updates!
¹ Dornbirn belongs to the Bodensee-Vorarlberg Region in Vorarlberg, and is just a wee bit in front of the Bregenzerwald Region.
Disclaimer: I thank Tourism Vorarlberg for the invitation to their region. They helped with getting there, accommodation and activities, but as always this does not influence the article as I maintain full editorial control of the content published on this site. Read the Transparency Disclaimer for more information on affiliate links & blogger transparency.