Feldkirch marks the westernmost point of Austria, right on the border of Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It is your archetype postcard pretty Austrian town with a well preserved old town that has remained unchanged for centuries, crowned by the glorious Schattenberg Castle and the Gothic-style cathedral of St. Nikolaus.
It is a city that you can easily visit in a day thanks to its very pedestrian friendly centre packed with numerous cafes, restaurants and bars. It also is a perfect base to explore Vorarlberg- Feldkirch railway station lies on the main railway line through the state with regular inter-city services to Zurich and Vienna. Whether you wish to spend a few hours or longer, to help you make the most of your trip, I’ve created a guide to some of the best things to do in Feldkirch, based around local tips I received on my recent trip to the city.
Unusual facts about Feldkirch
The city has a special connection to the Irish writer James Joyce. The unusual connection starts around 1915, when Joyce was mistaken for a spy at the border check in Feldkirch. With the help of friends with connections, Joyce gets released but the incident left its mark on Joyce and subsequently, influenced his most important work, Finnegans Wake. Joyce returned to Feldkirch in the summer of 1932 with the help of publisher couple Maria and Eugene Jolas. Joyce stayed for several weeks at the Hotel Löwen where he wrote Finnegans Wake.
Best things to do in Feldkirch
1. Cool architecture- Montforthaus Feldkirch
If you’re an architecture nerd, you will love Vorarlberg and especially the Montforthaus in Feldkirch. Standing on the edge of the town and looming under the watchful gaze of the Schattenburg castle lies the Montforthaus with its beautiful rounded facades. Built in 2015 on the former location of a congress centre from the 1970s, this modern new building designed by the Berlin architects Hascher Jehle and the Vorarlberg architect Mitiska/Wäger Architekten replaced an architectural dinosaur that had become stylistically and functionally outdated. It is a stunning building that really integrates well with its medieval surroundings thanks to the large glass front.
The Montforthaus is open during the day, a tour or a visit to the restaurant with roof terrace is always possible and worthwhile. In the evening there are many events on the programme.
2. Climb to the top -Schattenburg Castle and Museum
To get a nice aerial perspective of the city, we climbed up to the medieval Schattenburg castle, the once upon a time residence of the Duke of Montfort. Housing a restaurant, the castle also features a museum. Spread across 18 rooms, each room focussing on a different side to the city’s history. The museum ticket also gives guests access to the castle chapel and to the keep. The best part is the panoramic view of the city from the rooftop gallery.
3. Feldkirch Old Town
We arrived late in the evening, dropped our bags and spent a good hour roaming the medieval heart of the city with its winding , cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved period buildings. It was late in the evening on a Sunday so we had the whole place to ourselves and it was the perfect start to the trip. The main heart of the Old Town is Marktgasse where the twice weekly market takes place and also the annual Christmas market.
4. Wildpark Feldkirch
If you are visiting with family and young ones, the local Wildpark ( € Free to enter ) with several marked forest trails is a perfect start to the day. There are over 140 animals located in the park within large enclosures. The park also features a huge adventure playground for the wee ones plus there is a kiosk onsite selling various drinks and food.
5. Buddhist Monastery Letzehof
One of the more unusual and cool things to do in Feldkrich is to pay a visit to the Buddhist monastery on the outskirts of the town. It is a good hour hike but once you reach the monastery, it really feels a world away from the city with the Tibetan payer flags fluttering in the wind and the glorious dome of the Buddhist stupa glistening in the sunshine. The Letzehof or ‘Getznerhof’, as it was also called at that time was a farm till the estate became a refuge for monks from Tibet in 1982. Tibetan monk Gesche Rabten Rinpoche founded the monastery and study centre and a year later the Dalai Lama visited.
We visited Paspels Badesee on the recommendation of a local and wow, this lake was stunning. We timed our visit perfectly before sunset. It was an early Autumn evening and the weather was still warm and there was gaggle of locals bathing in the lake. Beside a large sunbathing area on the banks there’s a wee biergarten- the Seeblick-Stüble, which serves a range of hot and cold snacks plus beer on draft. Sunset was perfect, so if the weather is nice, come in the evening and don’t forget your bathing costume. Public toilets are also available.
Where to eat in Feldkirch
7. Lunch at La Bottega del Gusto
Tucked away in the heart of the old town is a little slice of Italian heaven. The owner and chef Nico is a man of few words and there is no set menu here. The menu is simple with a few suggestions -everything we tasted here was delicious. For €9.95 for 2 courses including a glass of wine, this is a cracking bargain.
8. Coffee at Backerei Mangold
Feldkirch is blessed with a bunch of independent cafes and bakeries but we really liked Backerei Mangold, a home grown family run chain of bakeries in 30 locations across Vorarlberg, dating back to 1850. Their bread has won numerous awards and they serve great pastries, cakes plus good coffee. Definitely worth a visit.
9. Dinner at Restaurant Kantine
If you are a sucker for stone baked thin Napolitan style pizza you will love Kantine- best pizza in the area.The appetisers are really good, especially the grilled Cauliflower in the oven-very tasty.
Where to stay in Feldkirch
10. Night Inn Feldkirch
Conveniently located next to the train station, the Night Inn Hotel is a modern, comfortable option with stylish rooms ( some with views onto the train station where you can sit by the window and see the trains come and go, if that’s your kind of jam ) and also a very decent buffet breakfast. Staff are a mixed bag-some friendly and some bit cold, impersonal but that could be the language barrier.
Getting there and away to Feldkirch
The nearest airport to Feldkirch is Zürich while Stuttgart is an option too. Swiss Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS) operates a train from Zürich HB to Feldkirch hourly. Tickets start from €44 and the journey takes 1h 29m. Alternatively, FlixBus operates a bus from Flughafen/Messe to Bregenz bus station twice daily.
I was invited to the Feldkirch by the Vorarlberg Tourism Board . As always, all opinions ( bad and good) expressed here are my own.
Huge thank you to Katharina Fa, Katrin Preuss and the Vorarlberg Tourism Board team for showing us your beautiful home and making our time there memorable.