Motorcycle tour Vorarlberg – out and about in Montafon

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Motorcycle tour Vorarlberg - out and about in Montafon

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Motorcycle tour Vorarlberg – out and about in Montafon

Motorcycle tour Vorarlberg
Out and about in Montafon

A trip to the west of Austria is worth it, no question about it. The small but incredibly fine Montafon is the right destination for a few days off. Driving fun and mountain panoramas guarantee perfect regeneration.


The whole village was involved in the smuggling ”, explains waiter Georg,“ Wines from the Valtellina were very popular. You often put your life on the line for anything you could earn money with. The need in this area used to be great. It got more serious later. We also smuggled people there. During the Second World War, the mule tracks over the mountains to Graubunden served as a sluice to bring Jews into neutral Switzerland. ”Today, things are less exciting in Montafon, which was one of the farthest corners of Austria before the connection to the Paznaun Valley was built. At most, the mountain world now drives the pulse upwards – in addition to the independence of culture and traditions, which has been preserved for a long time, a good reason for a visit, especially since the finest motorcycle routes open up the whole thing.

The Paznaun Valley, wedged between three thousand meter peaks, brings us steadily up to Galtur, a once deadly idyll. In February 1999, 38 people lost their lives under the snow masses of an avalanche. Today, huge stone walls that look like a fortress to defend against nature bear witness to the fear of repetition.

Another barrier is waiting just beyond the village. If we are supposed to pay a toll for the use of the Silvretta High Alpine Road (the private road was once built for the construction of hydropower plants), then we take our time. The landscape up here deserves it. Shortly after the toll gate, a lake and lush alpine meadows invite you to rest. The atmosphere of the alpine high valley can only be soaked up in peace. Then the Bielerhohe is waiting. With its charm-free restaurants and even an excursion boat 2032 meters above sea level, the pass is ready for tourist crowds. A short gravel path leads us to the side, so that we can enjoy the view over the turquoise Silvretta reservoir with the glacier world of the Piz Buin undisturbed.

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A little later, the 30 bends of the steep Silvretta west ramp bring us down into the Gargellen valley, where we hear the smugglers’ stories. The smuggling is over today, but the highwaymen are at work. Small gray cameras, camouflaged like power boxes on the floor, would demand a post-duty postage if the driving style was too brash. On closer inspection, we can find one of them in almost every village in the valley. In Schruns, the capital of the Montafon, we turn into the Silbertal. The homely name owed to the mining industry is not tempting for nothing. We swing up the slope over beautiful serpentines with little traffic and suddenly land in a village with perhaps the most spectacular view in the Alps: Bartholomaberg. We have to stay here!

The next day doesn’t really know what he wants. A blue sky shines over “our” mountain. But dark clouds crouch over the Ratikon Mountains on the other side of the valley. We start to the west, where the horizon is brightest. After Bludenz it will be international. Via the city of Thuringia, it goes to the village of Thuringerberg and from there to ubersaxen. But not only the place names stay in the memory. The remote, low-traffic route, which always runs up the slope, is a real insider tip. It often offers magnificent views of the Rhine Valley. At Rankweil, it then leads us down into the valley. Before we run the risk of enjoying the pleasant warmth down here, we go straight up again. The Furkajoch is on the plan. A narrow road leads through the narrow Laternsertal. Then the route climbs up a steep slope in tight bends through dark forest to spit us out above the tree line. Vegetation, fog rushing by and the temperature are less reminiscent of summer than of Scotland. With clammy fingers we let ourselves drift to the other side and immediately flee to the first inn in the adjoining high valley. The “Jagerstube” turns out to be a stroke of luck. Half an hour later (again very Scottish) the sun is shining, which encourages us to tackle the Hochtannbergpass right away. The road is finely developed, but not ugly because of that. And with its green slopes in the backlight of the afternoon sun, the top of the pass is a visual delight. Time for another rest.

Motorcycle tour Vorarlberg - out and about in Montafon


Respect for nature when saying goodbye to Italy: huge remains of snow on the Gaviapass.

The warm day still has some space, so we treat ourselves to a detour to the Brandnertal. The first four kilometers between Burs and Burserberg would have been converted into a mountain race track elsewhere. Here we can savor the slopes without restriction. In perfect curves it goes up into the dead end, which is why the valley is blessed with little traffic. We breathe deeply in fire. The houses in the town are still traditionally clad with tiny wooden shingles, a work of art that shows the craftsman’s patience. The road narrows behind the town and takes us into a wide, green valley basin. Waterfalls rush down the slopes here. At some point it will be over: we are surrounded on three sides by vertical rock walls. But we have long been drawn to another attraction: the “Schattenlaganthutte”. A mountain panorama, a nice waitress and a wheat beer beckon here. It has to be easy now. It is late afternoon, the mountains around us are shining in the finest sunshine, in short: It is one of those moments when everything is right and one that you want to capture forever.

On the other side of the Ratikon Mountains, a place awaits the next day where the smugglers of modern times are up to mischief. While we pass the numerous red light blissements of Liechtenstein on the busy main road, which are not expected in the Alpine idyll, we imagine politicians and company bosses arriving with suitcases to deposit the bills in the tax-free banks of Miniland.

No wonder that the largest flows of money flow from the north to Liechtenstein – from the south they would have to cross a Swiss fortress with the beautiful name St. Luzisteig, which still serves as a barracks today. The whole thing looks so martial that wrongdoers probably think twice about getting through here. A little later we stop in the town of Maienfeld. Absolutely perfect world. Cobbled streets, a cafe, narrow streets. Suddenly two tanks from the nearby barracks thunder through this postcard idyll, a scene that couldn’t be more paradoxical.

Over the armor-free Bernina Pass, we go to the tax-free Livigno, all because of the fascinating high mountains here. The bare rocky landscape of the Bernina is still covered with plenty of snow. The lakes are still frozen over. A few hairpin bends below, the path branches off to Forcola di Livigno. After we have passed the Swiss border station, we drive through no man’s land to the top of the pass. At the top, at 2315 meters, the Italian border guards grant us entry to the Zona Franca. Thanks to Napoleon, you can stock up on cheap alcohol and petrol here. The Corsican found the place strategically important, he wanted to give an incentive to colonize and declared the high valley a duty-free zone. Once privileges have been granted, they are obviously difficult to abolish. Given the prices, we might have become smugglers ourselves at the last minute if the limited cargo space of the motorcycles hadn’t put a stop to greed. In addition, with the wild descent to Bormio and the Passo di Gavia, there are sensual pleasures that far exceed those of disdainful consumption.

Travel info

Motorcycle tour Vorarlberg - out and about in Montafon


Travel time: 3 days. Distance covered 800 kilometers.

The Montafon is a 40 kilometer long valley in western Austria in the state of Vorarlberg. It is surrounded by three mountains – the Verwall Group, the Silvretta and the Ratikon – and can therefore offer a corresponding number of motorcycle routes in its region. It was once settled by the Rhaeto-Romanic, which many place names still bear witness to today. Due to the geographic remoteness of the valley, an independent culture has been preserved, which is reflected in the architecture (Montafonerhaus), food (Sura Kees) and a special dialect.

Route planning:
When the Silvretta High Alpine Road opens at the beginning of June, the best travel time for the Montafon begins. Depending on the weather, it lasts until the end of September. Probably the most exciting journey from Germany leads from Garmisch-Partenkirchen over the Fernpass, the Hahntennjoch and the Flexenpass. The fastest way to get here is from Lake Constance through the Rhine Valley via Bludenz.

Various day tours can be realized in the Montafon. Particularly varied: with little traffic via Thuringia, Rankweil, Furkajoch (1761 m), Faschinajoch (1486 m) with detours to the Grobe Walsertal and the remote Brandnertal up to the “Shadow Lagan Hut” (1483 m). The big round of the Pass: via Faschinajoch, Hochtannbergpass (1676 m), Hahntennjoch (1894 m), Pillerhohe near Imst and the Silvretta-Hochalpenstrabe (2036 m). A special service is offered in the Paznaun Valley in Ischgl with the high-bike motorcycle test center. For 60 to 80 euros per day you can try out the latest machines from BMW, Ducati, KTM and Triumph here (

The Montafon is very well developed for tourism, so that accommodation can be found in all price ranges. The most beautifully situated place in the valley is Bartholomaberg, which can only be reached via serpentines. Located on a south-facing slope, it offers many hours of sunshine with wonderful views of the Silvretta and Ratikon. A special tip for everyone who wants to pamper themselves and / or their partner is the hotel that lives up to its name “Distant view” ( The owner drives a motorcycle himself. We were most impressed by its lovingly built outdoor sauna, made of ancient wood, with a view of the mountains of the Silbertal.

If you like it secluded and high up, the best place to stay is Gargellen (1423 m). In the high valley between the almost 3,000-meter-high mountains of Silvretta and Ratikon, clear mountain air, tranquility and close proximity to unspoiled mountains are guaranteed. “Fischerstobli” in Bartholomaberg, a rustic wooden house with a trout pond and fresh specialties from it; “Shadow Lagan Hut”, friendly house at the end of the Brandnertal with simple local dishes.

Literature / maps:
Official website, also for booking accommodation:; Silvretta-Hochalpenstrabe: Maps: tear-resistant, washable general motorcycle map Austria No. 5 on a scale of 1: 200000; ISBN 3-82-72153-6; 5.90 euros and for the western part of the route: Marco Polo Switzerland, eastern part on a scale of 1: 200,000; ISBN 3-829-74018-2; 8.50 euros.

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