Last updated on August 25th, 2020 at 11:41 am
The Montafon region lies on the southern side of the Ill valley opposite the hills and lower mountains of another popular tourist area in the Vorarlberg, the Bregenzerwald.
The Montafon, however, is a different beast and the region boasts the highest mountain of the province, Piz Buin at 3312m, and a whole range of other high peaks in the Rätikon and Silvretta chains.
In summer the valley provides a long-distance network of hiking trails stretching over the border into Switzerland, while in the winter a network of generally smaller ski areas offers a refreshing alternative to the high-octane winter sports in the Tyrol.
Summer in the Montafon Valley
Although the Montafon is renowned for the long-distance hikes near and into Switzerland, visitors shouldn’t be put off by mention of the high peaks.
There are plenty of trails below the treeline and the typical alpine landscape of this area includes the Maisäß – a form of small mountain settlement with barn and farmhouse below the high mountain pastures. Many of these are linked by a network of paths and access roads.
Those who do want to hike further afield could try the Montafoner Hüttenrunde – a 12-stage route which combines the three mountain ranges of the Montafon (the Verwall, the Silvretta and the Rätikon) with stays overnight at mountain huts (reservations strongly recommended).
The valley is a paradise for those who love outdoor sports, with a variety of climbing areas, plenty of paragliding opportunities and a good network of mountain biking trails.
- the Bartholomäberg with its pilgrimage church and remnants of the iron and silver mining in the area
- the Silbertal – almost a ‘hidden’ side valley which rises behind Schruns and is famous for the beauty of its landscapes
- the high mountain walking on the flanks of the Rätikon and Silvretta peaks which border Switzerland
Winter in the Montafon Valley
The largest downhill skiing area is the Silvretta-Montafon ski region, which links the runs above Schruns with those of St Gallenkirch and Gaschurn.
There are also smaller downhill ski areas at Golm, above Tschagguns, and on the Schafberg plateau above Gargellen.
The Montafon is also a very popular area for snowshoe tours and for winter hiking routes.
Travel to the Montafon
The Montafon valley is surprisingly accessible. Not only is it just off the main motorway connection through the province of Vorarlberg, it also links to the Tyrol over the impressive Silvretta Pass and down to the resort of Ischgl (summer only) and has its own train line running halfway up the valley.
The Montafon is reasonably accessible from a number of airports. Innsbruck is the local Austrian option, with a quick motorway journey from the airport on the motorway and through the Arlberg Tunnel (or over the Arlberg Pass).
If a hub for main scheduled air services is needed, then Zürich would be the best option over the border in Switzerland. And Friedrichshafen, just over the border in Germany, also comes into the equation for those who can take advantage of the limited number of low-cost services which use the airport.
Nearest Train Stations
The nearest main line railway station is at the regional centre of Bludenz down in the valley. The local railway, the Montafonerbahn, runs from there up to Tschagguns-Schruns, calling at St Anton in Montafon and other stops along the 20-minute journey. There is also a post bus service heading further into the Montafon to resorts such as St Gallenkirch and Gargellen.
Best Accommodation Bases for the Montafon
There are plenty of outdoor activities available at all levels of the Montafon valley, although the further one goes up the valley, the more rugged and mountainous the scenery on both sides becomes.
These are actually two different villages on either side of the Litz river. Schruns is the main town of the Montafon valley and trades proudly on its history of playing host to Ernest Hemingway (as well as featuring in one of his short stories) during a winter season in the 1920s. The town is the more built up of the two and offers access to the mountain via the Hochjochbahn, as well as road access into the Silbertal and up to Bartholomäberg. Tschagguns is smaller and quieter – it also has a mountain lift with access to some stunning walking on the southern side of the valley.
Gargellen is the highest village in Vorarlberg with an altitude of over 1400m. Known for its small ski area in the winter, the village offers access to the high mountains and passes along the Swiss border. This is where the side valley of the Montafon was originally settled from and keen walkers and bikers can take the former trading route up to the Schlappiner Joch and over the border down to the Swiss resort of Klosters.
St Gallenkirch is the administrative centre for the part of the Montafon where the main valley and the Gargellen valley join. As well as the peaks to the south of the village – used as part of the popular Silvretta Montafon area in the winter – there are plenty of alpine meadow walks between the typical tiny farming hamlets of the region on the slopes above the main valley. To the southeast is the village of Gaschurn followed by the winding Silvretta High Alpine Road (Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse) which climbs up to the reservoirs at the Bielerhöhe (at an altitude of over 2000m) and links the Montafon to the Paznaun valley with the resorts of Galtür and Ischgl.
Montafon Accommodation Map
Check accommodation availability in the Montafon valley with this map from Booking.com. Use the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs to zoom in on an area and reveal more options.