“A” is for Austria and “D” is for Dornbirn

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City center of Dornbirn

City center of Dornbirn

While I’m not exactly on track with my goal to highlight one country a month, I’m determined to finish up all our travels and recommendations for Austria.  This time, Dornbirn is our next stop in the land of The Sound of Music.  Dornbirn is near Bregenz, and the Kaese Strasse region.  While it won’t be on the top 10 places to visit in Austria, it is a wonderful central point in Europe and a great stop over for travels between Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy and other Austrian cities.

Because of the nature of my husband’s job, he has traveled for work quite a bit and is a Starwood Preferred Guest member.  Anyone can join this program and earn points through frequent stays.  Your points can be redeem for free or reduced cost of nights at their hotels!  So when we travel, we look at what Starwood hotels are offered near by.  That is how we found the Four Points by Sheraton Panorama House in Dornbirn, Austria when we were looking for something thing to break up the drive when traveling between Northwest Germany and Italy.  We found a little gem in Dornbirn and a welcoming experience at the Panoramahaus, a Four Points by Sheraton hotel. The Panorama House offers generous size rooms, good food in the restaurants and a partnership with a spa, housed in the same building that offers free childcare while visiting the spa! You can learn more about the hotel here.

View from the restaurant patio on top of the Panoramahaus Hotel.

View from the restaurant patio on top of the Panoramahaus Hotel.

Directly across from the Panorama House is a shopping mall with a supermarket.  In the mall is a fantastic children’s play area with a forest theme climbing area with slides.  It is free to enter this area but it also has little merry-go-round rides that just cost 20 euro cents per ride and often fit 2-3 children on each ride. Next to this play area is a drop in “kindergarten” where you can leave your child to play while shopping for up to 3 hours.  There is a small fee of just .90 Euro Cents and hour (about $1.10) and the age requirements (between 3 and 7 years old can participate) must be proven with the child’s passport.  Note however that this “kindergarten” is only allowed for the use while the parents shop inside the mall.  There is an intercom system and the possibility of calling you on your cell phone and they must be able to reach you when called.  I found that the prices throughout the mall were noticeably cheaper than the same stores in places like Munich and Vienna.

Play area in the Messepark Einkaufzentrum (Shopping mall across from the Panoramahaus)

Play area in the Messepark Einkaufzentrum (Shopping mall across from the Panoramahaus)

Dornbirn itself also has a funicular that you can take up to access some panoramic trails and a small scenic restaurant. It has a very small playground, nothing compared to Bregenz, but the main attraction for the kids was the funicular ride itself and wandering around.  There is a charming little town center (zentrum) with a few traditional half timbered painted buildings and a lovely protestant church in the main square. The famous Rotes Haus restaurant serves traditional Austrian cuisine in a beautiful historic building in the town square. It is a nice place to eat with a moderate price.

Rotes Haus Restaurant

Rotes Haus Restaurant

Here are a few great places to travel in any direction from Dornbirn by car:

1. Lietchenstein-Use Dornbirn as your base, get to the capital, Vaduz in just 30-45 minutes.

2. Zurich, Switzerland-Can be reached within an 1.5-2 hours, dependant on traffic and weather.

3. Munich, Germany-Reach this German jewel within 2-2.5 hours.

4. Milan, Italy-Just 3.5 to 4 hours away to the south.

5. Innsbruck, Austria-Approximately 2 hours drive.

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