With so many fun things to do in Bregenz, this lovely town is a great place to visit in Austria. Located between the high mountains and a tranquil Lake Constance, Bregenz, the capital of Vorarlberg, is filled with beautiful architecture, charming streets, numerous local shops, engaging public art and some fantastic museums. I loved exploring that town and will definitely visit it again. Here is the Culture Tourist’s guide to Bregenz with things to do and see in that beautiful town.

Things to do in Bregenz

Bregenz has a long history spanning 3500 years. In around 15 BC, Romans founded an important centre called Brigantium there. With its large pedestrian area, beautiful nature surrounding it, and many cultural events and things to do in Bregenz, today it’s a liveable town worth visiting.

Read more: What to see in the Vorarlberg region in Austria

1 – Learn more about Bregenz during the guided tour

Filled with numerous fascinating stories and many buildings with exciting history, you’ll get the best introduction to Bregenz during the guided tour. So, the first thing I did during my trip to Bregenz was joining one of them. My guide Karin told me about its history, exciting events from the past, local legends, fascinating residents and stories that make Bregenz such an interesting place.

We climbed the Saint Martin’s Tower and enjoyed the view of Lake Constance from it. We peeked in some of the Bregenz Upper Town courtyards, explored wall paintings on some of its buildings and tried delicious chocolates from a local shop in Bregenz Lower Town. It was a great way to get to know the city better than I would if only walking around it by myself.

TIP: You can look for a guide in your language on the official Austria Guides website.

2 – Wander around the Bregenz Upper Town

Wandering around the narrow streets of the Upper Town in Bregenz will make you feel like you travelled back in the Middle Ages. It’s home to numerous beautiful wooden-been houses decorated with wall paintings, small statues and flowers. One of its most interesting buildings is Deuringschlössle, a medieval castle rebuilt in the Baroque time.

Built by Romans, Saint Martin Tower (Martinsturm) was rebuilt a few times throughout history. A chapel on its ground floor is home to some fascinating 14th-century wall paintings. On its top, you’ll find the largest Baroque bulb-shaped tower in Central Europe. The building is home to a small museum where you can learn about Bregenz’s history and enjoy a panoramic view of Bregenz and Lake Constance from its top floor.

Read more: Cultural tourism explained – How to be a cultural tourist

3 – Take a ride on Pfänder Cable Car

One of my favourite things to do in Bregenz was a ride on Pfänder Cable Car. The ride lasts only around six minutes, during which you get to see Bregenz from a different perspective. Once on its upper station, you can see vast mountains covered by coniferous forests. And enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of Lake Constance, Bregenz, the Vorarlberg region, Swiss mountains and Germany.

TIP: If you visit Bregenz in summer during the high season, I advise planning a Pfänder Cable Car ride earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon when it’s not too busy.

4 – Visit Kunsthaus Bregenz

Art and culture are celebrated in Bregenz, and you can feel that on its every corner. The city is home to some fantastic museums and galleries worth exploring.

Kunsthaus Bregenz is a place that shouldn’t be missed by any art lover visiting Bregenz. One of the leading European contemporary art galleries opened its doors in 1997. Its building was designed by the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. He created a neutral cube that can be adjusted for contemporary art exhibitions. I was especially amazed by how he used natural light to illuminate the gallery’s interior.

Kunsthaus Bregenz doesn’t have a permanent display but hosts around four temporary exhibitions each year. During my visit, they displayed three artworks by Anna Jermolaewa, an artist who will represent Austria at the Venice Biennale in 2024.

The rest of the building was reserved for the exhibition by Michael Armitage, a British artist born in Kenya. I was blown away by the paintings made by this talented painter and fantastic storyteller. He isn’t painting on canvases. Instead, he’s using Lubugo bark cloth for his artworks. That’s why you can see holes and ‘scares’ in his paintings.

Read more: 15 Best museums you have to visit in Europe

5 – Stroll alongside the Lake Constance

Lake Constance is one of the largest European lakes and gives Bregenz a Mediterranean town feel. What especially fascinated me was that while standing at the Lake Constance shore in Bregenz, you see three countries: Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It’s such an incredible cultural meeting place.

Unlike its neighbouring countries, the shore on the Austrian part of Lake Constance is almost entirely open to the public. You can stroll alongside a lovely promenade and enjoy the lake view. If you’d like to spend a day on Lake Constance you can rent a small boat or pedal boat. Or even go on some of the special boat rides organised around the lake by Vorarlberg lines.

6 – Try some chocolates at Xocolat

Whenever travelling, I’m always looking for some lovely local shops. Talking with local producers and trying and purchasing their products is a great way to dive deeper into the local culture. The shop I especially liked in Bregenz was Xocolat. It’s a small chocolate manufacturer creating some of the most delicious and creative chocolates. You’ll find some unusual flavours like yuzu, mocha, different kinds of fruits, etc.

They have special boxes with drawings of Bregenz and the Voralberg region on them. You can pick the box design you like, fill it with chocolates to your taste and create a perfect Bregenz souvenir to take home with you.

7 – Visit Vorarlberg Museum

Another excellent cultural venue to visit in Bregenz is the Vorarlberg Museum. It’s dedicated to the region’s art, history and culture. Its facade texture of plastic bottle bottom models makes its architecture quite interesting. The museum hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions offering insight into this beautiful region. Among them, especially interesting is the one about the Brigantium, the Roman town which was a predecessor to modern Bregenz.

Located on its top floor, the Panorama Room has a fantastic view of Lake Constance. I could sit there for hours and enjoy the magnificent view. A fun little thing the museum does is provide a camera obscura in front of the room, so you can observe the lake like a historical painter would.

TIP: Vorarlberg Museum has a lovely cafe and museum shop on its ground floor. I definitely recommend visiting both!

8 – Watch the show at Bregenz Festival

Bregenz is the Vorarlberg region’s cultural capital, and it defends that title by organising numerous fantastic cultural events. Bregenz Festival is the best known among them. It’s organised annually in July and August. The festival is unique because of its stage, which is the largest floating lake stage in the world. They change the stage design and the festival’s leading opera every two years. During my visit in 2023, they were showing Madame Butterfly. However, in 2024 and 2025, the Bregenz Festival will host Der Freischütz opera by Carl Maria von Weber, which will also have a new stage design.

With its fantastic setting, great production and impressive cast, the Madame Butterfly at Bregenz Festival was one of the best operas I have ever seen. Its performances are in the evening, so you can enjoy the sunset over the lake at the show’s beginning.

I also enjoyed taking a behind-the-scenes tour before the show started. During it, I could see backstage, learn interesting facts about the festival, and even walk onstage.

TIP: The auditorium is on the lake, so be sure to bring warm clothes and even a small blanket with you because it could get chilly in the evening.

9 – Explore some of Bregenz’s public art

Combining historical neighbourhoods and old houses with modern buildings and contemporary public art gives Bregenz a unique charm.

You’ll stumble upon many statues while strolling around the city. In front of the Kunsthaus Bregenz, you’ll see ‘A Porsche made of Concrete’. It was made in 1971 by Gottfried Bechtold. One of my favourite public artworks in Bregenz was an untitled work by Heinz Gappmayr. In a massive twelve metres long inscription, he wrote a tiny measurement, ‘0,0000000001 mm’. With it, he wanted to stress the difference between the idea of something and how it actually looks like.

Another interesting public artwork in Bregenz is ‘Homage to Brigantium’, made by Herbert Albrecht, one of the most important Austrian contemporary sculptors. It’s located on the Lake Constance promenade. In front of the Bregenz Festival building is the 6,90 metres tall statue ‘Ready Maid’ by the local Bregenz artist Gottfried Bechtold.

10 – Get a glass of milk at Milchpilz

Another unique local place I loved in Bregenz was Milchpilz. It’s a mushroom-shaped kiosk where you can buy different kinds of flavoured milk. I tried the coconut chocolate one and loved it! These kinds of stalls in the shape of mushrooms selling milk and dairy products were common in West Germany and Austria in the 1950s. The one in Bregenz is the last in Austria, still having its original purpose. Visiting that unique place should definitely be on your list of things to do in Bregenz.

Read more: The most interesting European myths and legends

Some additional tips for visiting Bregenz

Where to eat in Bregenz

Bregenz is home to some pretty decent restaurants and I didn’t had a bad meal during my time there.

I recommend Pier 69 in the Lake Constance harbour for breakfast or brunch. I had breakfast there on my first day and loved it! Another place I’d suggest for brunch is the Vorarlberg Museum Café. They have different kinds of sandwiches, focaccias, salads, delicious cakes and fresh fruit yoghurts.

I had a great dinner at the Hotel Schwärzler and recommend it. Another place I’d suggest for dinner is Buehnedrei at the Bregenz Festival building. And I also loved the KUB Café Bar. I had dinner on their terrace and enjoyed great food and a view of the beautiful Kunsthaus Bregenz building.

What to buy as souvenirs in Bregenz

To bring some edible souvenirs home, visit the Xocolat Shop in Bregenz. I bought a couple of chocolate boxes there during my visit to Bregenz, and everyone loved them! Vorarlberg Museum has a nice museum shop with some lovely Bregenz-inspired souvenirs. You’ll find a merchant stall at the Bregenz Festival before the performance, so buying something inspired by it could make a great souvenir from Bregenz, too.

Besides these places, you’ll find many local shops in Bregenz where you can buy locally made products of good quality and excellent design.

Where to stay in Bregenz

During my trip to Bregenz, I stayed at the Hotel Schwärzler. It’s a 100% climate-neutral hotel with a beautiful interior design. They are also collaborating with local producers, so you’ll find their products in the hotel rooms and a restaurant. It’s a great hotel I definitely recommend for staying in Bregenz.

With so many great things to do in Bregenz, it’s wise to plan your visit to that charming Austrian town in advance. It’s a beautiful place filled with lovely architecture, outstanding museums, and so much to explore.

Have you been to Bregenz? Would you add anything to this list of things to do in Bregenz? Let me know in the comments below!

TIP: Check out more photos and videos from Bregenz in this Culture Tourist Instagram highlight

Watch my video about the cultural sites you shouldn’t miss in Vorarlberg region:

I visited the Bregenz in Austria on a press trip organised by Vorarlberg Tourismus and their partners, Bodensee Vorarlberg Tourismus and Bregenzervald Tourismus. Many thanks to all of them for organising such a wonderful trip for me. As always, all opinions are my own.