A “must do” if you are in Western Austria, the The Silvretta High Alpine Road had reviews as “one of the most breathtaking scenic routes in the Alps.” It was as great as advertised, and the hiking and restaurant options at the top made for a perfect summer day.
The Alpine road (alpinestraße) is 22.3 km in length and a toll road (usually 15 Euros) which we had paid for already with our weekly montafon trip card which is good for Gondolas, museums, and tolls in the area. The road extends from Partenen in the Montafon valley to Galtür in the Tyrol, using a total of 34 hairpin bends to climb up to the Bielerhöhe pass at an altitude of 2,032 m. The best part for us travel geeks- Each of the 34 hairpin turns is labled! It was amazing to see many bicyclists making the journey up the mountain using the same road- frightening because of the drop offs as well as just the sheer athletic ability needed to make it up! Along the way there were several places to pull over and snap some beautiful pictures or get out of the way of the Lamborghini’s and Ferraris we saw. Our Honda Odyssey didn’t have quite the pick up that the performance vehicles did…
At the top of the pass there are about 4 restaurants (plus a cheese shop), and plenty of hiking possibilities. We had some snacks and coffee at the oldest of the 4 restaurants and then headed out to hike around the Silvretta Lünersee. At 6.7 km it would make for a lovely 2 hour hike with endless views of snow capped mountains (which we learned that on July 1st was quite rare). The highest of which is Piz Buin at about 3300m, the highest mountain in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg and also on the Swiss border. We walked about 1/3 of the lake before heading back as we were not up for a long hike that day. For lunch we chose the Silvretta Haus which is on the hill over looking the lake. The meal was outstanding with excellent service. Our server was actually the owner and was the most pleasant man and spoke perfect English, and offered our 1 year old toys and memory cards to play with during our meal. With free wifi as well it was just about the perfect lunch and we even sprung for dessert to delay our departure.
We headed back down the road in low gear, gawking at the sights and taking more pictures. The road is holding a classic car rally starting July 3rd and we saw a few of them drive by along the way.
In the end we survived…in our Minivan!