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Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Travelling to Montafon in Vorarlberg: Hiking, biking and mountain culture experience.


Gourmet Travel, Austria, Travel With Locals, Europe, Travel Blog , , 0

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Once a year, a couple of us Austrian travel bloggers gather together and meet up for an annual travel event in our home country. It is a lucky circumstance we could all travel and meet again this year, and even luckier that we were hosted by no less a beautiful region than Montafon, Vorarlberg, in the south-western most corner of the country. Besides the opportunity to chat and update ourselves on projects and trip ideas, we got to know some of the best mountain spots and foodie travel tips for this part of Austria. Ernest Hemingway himself fell for this magic mountain district, close to the border with Switzerland, and ended up staying two winters. Just like him, we felt what he must have felt when we sat in awestruck silence, surrounded by the majesty of mountain tops at well over 3000 metres above sea level.

 

A short overview of what not to miss.

From the small town of Schruns, you may reach the so-called Tilisuna hut via a “hike + bike” experience that takes you up to an altitude of about 2200 metres above sea level. Further along the valley floor, crossing the other Montafon small town Gaschurn, you can head up towards Gantakopf and Bieler Höhe trails and lookout spots, the later being popular with motorcyclists along the summit road of the Silvretta-Hochalpenstraße.

On this map, you can also see the border between Tirol and Vorarlberg, which lets you continue into the Paznaun valley and reach such popular Austrian mountain spots as Galtür, Ischgl or Kappl.

 

 

Where to sleep and eat in Montafon.

During our three-day trip, we were hosted by the Explorer Hotel Montafon, which is conveniently located right along the valley floor in Gaschurn. Its laid-back, modern style betrays parts of the more classic architecture in the area, but I’ve very much enjoyed its fusion between tradition and modernity. Besides, it has been built as a passive house, meaning it is using minimal resources in heating technologies, and contributing to an overall carbon neutral footprint. We got to know the entire building – from its seminar centre to the spa area – and really enjoyed staying here.

Das Explorer Hotel Montafon ...

At the Explorer Hotel Montafon …

 

... empfängt uns mit seinem modernen Stil, der dennoch wunderbar in die alpine Berglandschaft V

… we are received to an atmosphere of openness and modern mountain living.

 

Vorarlberg, and in particular the Montafon, is a natural foodie destination, too. One of its prime specialities is the so-called “Sura Kees” cheese, a soft cheese made from curdled milk that tastes much better than what you might think. Part of it is still being made right by the mountain pastures and grazing cows. We were offered some bites of it after reaching Tilisuna hut: Do make a point of asking your local hosts there for it!

Et voilà: So ein echter "Sura Kees" auf der Alm, die hierzulande "Alpe" heißt, hat schon was für sich.

Fresh “Sura Kees” cheese from Montafon is a true delight, especially after a day’s worth of biking and hiking up the mountain.

 

... und gegen den Hunger ein ordentliches Speckknödel mit saftigem Sauerkraut auf der Tilisunahütte. Mahlzeit!

To really fill our bellies, we also ordered a proper “Speckknödel” bacon dumpling with sauerkraut! Yum.

 

In the evening, we went out for dinner to both “Alte Talstation” and “Stoba 7” restaurants, two excellent choices that offer meals based on traditional ingredients infused with fresh new flavours. They are within easy walking distance from our Explorer Hotel Montafon, and are both recommended after a long day out in the fresh mountain air.

Die Stoba 7 hat sich saisonalen Spezialitäten verschrieben: Hier dinieren wir Anfang September zum kulinarischen Motto von Steinpilzen und

“Stoba 7” restaurant known for its seasonal cuisine: Early September marks the season of ceps and blue berries.

 

Den Burger in der nahe gelegenen "Alte Talstation" lasse ich mir ebenfalls schmecken! Hier gibt es zudem "Sura Kees" in Form von l

I’ve also loved my mountain burger at the “Alte Talstation” restaurant nearby.

 

Last but not least, here comes a travel tip that you really should not miss: A visit to the highest wine tasting shop in Vorarlberg! Montafon is home to the “Nova Stuba” mountain restaurant with its adjacent wine bar, VINNOVA, the largest wine bar and tasting shop of its kind in Vorarlberg. Its sweeping panoramic views in a 360° circle upon the surrounding mountain tops is a travel (and photographic) experience to remember.

Die gemütliche "Nova Stoba" beherbergt über der Terrasse (im Bild hinten) noch Vorarlbergs höchstgelegene Weinstube.

The modern mountain terrace at “Nova Stoba” beckons a visit to its specially curated wine bar (top terrace in the picture).

 

Aussichten wie diese sind hier bei gutem Wetter einfach atemberaubend, findet Ihr nicht? Vor allem, wer solch ein #Winelover ist wie ich! Grüße an meine Heimat, hier mit meinem Wein vom Weingut Jurtschitsch im Kamptal, Niederösterreich.

I’ve loved having my glass of Rosé here at well over 2000 metres above sea level, connecting me to my home country the Kamptal wine growing area in Lower Austria near Vienna.

 

More about our Bike + Hike tour towards Tilisuna hut, totalling well over 2000 metres difference in altitude.

“You can all do it. Trust me. All of you.” Markus, our bike guide, is trying his best to instil confidence in our sports abilities for the day. But are we to trust him, he who has been up the mountain thousands of times and who likely is fitter than the rest of us altogether?! It’s one thing to pose for a photograph with our fancy e-mountainbikes, but quite another to cycle up a huge mountain, as he brightly suggests. Even I, who consider myself very fit thanks to my continuous Taekwondo training, harbour some initial doubts. Will the batteries in our e-bikes last all the way up towards Tilisuna hut, we wonder?

Truth is: They did. And all of us did it. Our entire group, counting fitter and not so fit travellers alike, have all been able to master this demanding, yet very rewarding mountain bike tour. I would never have thought I’d like it so much besides, as what’s ingrained in my “mountain bike mind” are sweaty, fierce-looking cyclists trying hard to reach the top without appearing to have fun in doing so. Anyway. There is something else I’d like to mention concerning the day tour we did: After the biking part of the tour, be aware that it’s still quite a way to hike towards the hut, meaning to carry enough sun screen, water, outdoor clothing and hiking boots to make it there comfortably. Finally, then, Tilisuna hut not longer eludes us, but slips within sight. What a day !!!

First things first: Schickes, noch umverschwitztes Foto vor der Tagestour mit Markus, unserem E-Mou

First things first: Picture with my e-mountainbike, which is soon to take me up the mountain behind me (and, ah, yes, that’s only the very mountain’s foothill).

 

Nach den ersten Höhenmetern vom Tal weg ...

So from the valley floor, we start climbing, and climbing…

 

... gibt es eine von vielen, kurzen Motivations- und Infopausen ...

… including, of course, several short breaks for tips from our bike guide Markus, information about the surrounding area, photographs and more …

 

... an diesem Foto wird denke ich gut ersichtlich WIE steil die Tour wirklich ist ("ka Pemmerl", würden die Ostösterreicher sagen ...!)

… and yes, it’s a steep and long way up (this photo really gives credit to the Montafon tourism claim – “real mountains, real experiences”) !

 

Wir radeln weiter, Turbo-Zuschaltung auf unseren E-Mountainbikes sei Dank ...

We continue on our e-mountainbikes, which boast four gears of an electronic motor support. Very grateful for it, too …

 

... Markus hat für alle den richtigen Schmäh sowie ein paar spannende Infos über Wegstrecke, Berge und seine diversen Sporterfahrungen im Gepäck ...

… Markus entertaining us with his wit, charm and sense of humour, a true local at that …

 

... nachdem wir unsere Fahrräder abgestellt und Markus diese mit einem Schloß gesichert hat ...

… and once he has safely stored away our precious e-mountainbikes at the highest access point for bicycles …

 

... die letzten Höhenmeter wollen zu Fuß bewältigt werden ...

… we continue climbing the last couple of metres towards Tilisuna hut on foot, our goal for the day …

 

... atemberaubendes Panorama inklusive ...

… what a wonderful view to behold, and so naturally, eternally quiet up here too …

 

... endlich, die Tilisunahütte am Horizont!

… finally, there we are: Tilisuna hut appearing as if by magic amidst the high alpine grassland.

 

Zur Wanderung selbst ist zu sagen, dass dafür auf

Concerning the hike itself, I strongly recommend wearing proper shoes, clothing and especially sunscreen! Coming up this fast from the valley floor, you can easily underestimate the strength of the sun in alpine surroundings. Other than that, it’s a lovely lovely walk in one of the most beautiful mountain top area I’ve hiked in here in Austria.

 

Belohnung für all die Mühen: "Mürmlis", also sich lustig-hoppelnd bewegende Murmeltiere am Wegesrand.

A relief to the eye from wiping the sweat off your brows: Camera hunting for marmots along the way.

 

Gantakopf Hiking Trail: “It’s a tightrope walk”.

The second day of our mountain explorations in Montafon marks another hiking highlight. While one part of our group decides to take the Versettla gondola up the mountain, and hike along the easy, stroller-friendly loop trail right by the mountain top station, we have chosen the Garfrescha chair lift in St. Gallenkirch for the start of our tour on the Gantakopf trail. This trail “on a tightrope” across a narrow mountain crest had us do a climb of yet another 500 metres up towards our meeting point, with steep slopes sweeping away from us on both sides. Wow. The views, though, the views … Rätikon, Verwall and Silvretta are some of the mountain tops you may view from up here in all their glory.

Los geht's aufs Neue: Tag 2 unseres Reiseblogger-Treffens führt erneut hoch hinaus und "aufi auf di Berg" ...

Come what may, second day … Again, we prepare to undertake a major hike for the morning …

 

... nach dem ersten Teil des Panoramaweges, der durch den Wald führt, öffnet sich der Blick in alle Himmelsrichtungen mit diesem mächtigen Panorama ...

… soon opening up from the initial forest to breathtaking views of the surroundings …

 

... und wer genau schaut ...

… and if you look closely along the trail …

 

... wird auch immer wieder frische Heidelbeeren am Wegesrand entdecken!

… you may well find yourselves some blueberries to nibble on!

 

Was für ein Traumtag in den Bergen!

What a day to be up on the mountain top!

 

Auf der Hütte angekommen, gibt es zudem Unterhaltungsmöglichkeiten für Groß & Klein ...

Having arrived at the recently renovated “Nova Stoba”, we enjoy the modern playground and deck chairs on its wide open terrace …

 

... und wer möchte, schnappt sich im Anschluss einen der regelmäßig verkehrenden Regionalbusse hinauf zur Bieler Höhe, von dessen Staudamm aus man einen atemberaubenden Blick auf den Piz Buin mit seinem Gletscher hat.

… and if you can spare another hour or two, why not take the public mountain bus up to Bieler Höhe lookout point and reservoir lake, a point that offers exciting views towards Piz Buin, the highest mountain in this area of southwestern Austria and northeastern Switzerland (3312 metres above sea level).

 

Piz Buin and its glacier up close.

Piz Buin and its glacier up close.

 

Check out even more photographs from our Montafon trip:

 

Disclaimer: We have been invited by Montafon Tourism Board and Explorer Hotel Montafon on this trip to Vorarlberg. All opinions are my own.

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Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

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