This capital of the westernmost state in Austria has roots that date back to Roman times. The city’s year-round population is a modest 28,000, but the charming lakeside community is a considerable tourist draw.
Situated on the shores of Lake Constance (one of the largest lakes in Europe), Bregenz is a lovely place to settle in for a relaxing weekend of strolling along the popular promenade, peering across the lake at sunset, or taking a day trip by bicycle to neighboring Germany and/or Switzerland. Also noteworthy are the variety of scenic lake cruises offered from April to October.
The best ways to take in the aforementioned views are from the city’s most famous landmark–Martin’s Tower, the summit of the Pfänder, which is a lookout tower with panoramic views situated at an elevation of 3,500 feet–accessible by cable car. The promenade emanating from downtown Bregenz winds along the lake and is dotted with pleasant, outdoor restaurants.
Easily the most popular event in the city is the Bregenzer Festspiele, or Bregenz Festival, which features performances of famous operas on the largest floating stage in the world. You may have noticed this iconic structure in 2008’s Quantum of Solace. In any case, the population of the city swells to a staggering 200,000, so book in advance. The festival program features more than 100 performances each year, with works by Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein, and countless others.
Suffice it to say, if it is peace and quiet that you’re after, steer clear of Bregenz from mid-July to mid-August.