Paragliding in Austria is an exhilarating way to see the layers of the country’s famed landscape from up high and glide over the famed Alps. More specifically, its a chance to survey Austria’s smallest and westernmost state of Vorarlberg from the skies. But why did I test out the paragliding experience in this particular destination?
The Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg is the best place to go paragliding in Austria since it boasts the ideal thermal conditions for the sport.
Here, you have a higher chance of taking a flight to enjoy the unspoilt meld of rolling green valleys, beautiful timber villages and picture-perfect snowy mountain trails from a very different perspective.
- 1 Paragliding in Austria – Alps and Adrenalin
- 2 Tips for Paragliding in the Austrian Alps
- 3 Further Reading on Adventure Activities in Austria
Paragliding in Austria – Alps and Adrenalin
Preparing for Flight
I took the bus from the Vorarlberg village of Mellau to the Diedamskopf Mountain cable car and met my pilot, Jodok. He gave me one of the two backpacks of equipment to carry and we made our ascent, first in the cable car, and then for a short 15-minute trek up to the peak.
Like any mountainous adventure, and especially if you will be paragliding in the Austrian Alps, you have to work for the climb to be rewarded with the ultimate view.
You watch your pilot unravel the huge sheet of material ready to carry you. It’s laid out, awaiting the precise moment it will be whisked up by the rules of nature, as you are dutifully harnessed and buckled up, attached together in a huge bundle.
It feels like a lifetime waiting for your paragliding pilot to simply say the one word that begins this grand adventure: “Run.”
A precise moment timed with the speed and direction of the wind when the chute fills with air and you become nature’s string puppet.
The snow crunched under our feet as we bounded forward, wobbling with the weight of the seated harness that connected us and powered by adrenalin that came from the fact we were about to launch ourselves off one of the highest mountains in the Diedamskopf ski area.
This time on the mountain peak, it wasn’t about climbing to a viewpoint to peer out from a relaxing viewpoint, and there would be no ski slope to tackle in a descent down the mountain’s groomed trails and curved edges.
The Paragliding Journey from Mountain to Valley
We headed straight out into the fresh window of valley air, the weight of our final steps into nothingness expanding our parachute to full, floating flight mode.
I was being driven towards the village of Mellau when I saw the colourful parachutes hovering above the valley basin. I knew there and then that there would be no better way than to see this region of beautiful timber villages and alpine trails from a much higher vantage point than my usual mountain cravings.
If you go paragliding from Diedamskopf Mountain, you take off toward the south, southeastern and eastern directions of the Bregenzerwald, across the alpine and into the basin of the steep valley terrain.
The Best Time to go Paragliding in Austria
March is the optimal time to paraglide in Austria and see the changing of the seasons in an alpine region such as Vorarlberg. First, we glided over the ski area, taking note of the precise pathways that form the beautiful, swirling network of ski runs. Within minutes, the glittering white power turned to the brown valley hillsides on the cusp of bloom, to the green further below where Spring has already put on its alpine green coat.
There’s a healing power to the peacefulness of the skies, and for 20 minutes you are within the realms of nature in its purest form – untouched, silent and free. If it wasn’t satisfying enough from the ground, taking to the skies by paragliding is certainly a way to see a huge patch of Austria it in all its natural magnificence.
Tips for Paragliding in the Austrian Alps
Booking Tandem Paragliding in Austria
- I took my paragliding flight with Flugschule Bregenzerwald – a Vorarlberg flying school who are the masters of the skies in this region. No previous experience is needed to try this sport.
- A 15-20 minute tandem flight costs €130 and includes the costs of the cable car and all equipment needed, such as the helmet and harness. You will take a flight with a state-certified pilot and receive a certificate at the end of your flight.
Paragliding in Austria has never been easier, due to having the ideal flying conditions in specific areas. The Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg has two flying areas (Niedere, which is close to Bezau-Andelsbuch, and Diedamskopf, close to Au-Schoppernau). I flew in the latter area, although both are known for their pleasant thermal currents.
I also went paragliding in Tirol in the valley region of Wildschönau. Neighbouring the state of Vorarlberg, Tirol is also one of the optimal places for paragliding Austria as the winds here are also near to perfect because of the protected location.
General Paragliding Tips for First-Timers
- Wear comfortable, roomy and warm clothing space to move your arms and legs, even when buckled in tight.
- It is advised to wear long trousers, especially since it gets cold up high.
- Wear sturdy shoes such as hiking boots – anything idea for the short run off the mountain and the ground landing, which also requires a short run.
- Bring your own GoPro, just in case the pilot or the paragliding company doesn’t offer the service as a standard inclusion.
Further Information and Research
- For a complete list of activities in the Vorarlberg region, and specifically the Bregenzerwald, visit the Vorarlberg Tourism website.
- Inspiration on travel in Vorarlberg and beyond in Austria can be found on the official site for Austria Tourism.
Further Reading on Adventure Activities in Austria
- Canyoning in Tirol on the wild waters of the Devil’s Gorge in Tirol
- The high life of the climbing park in Tirol’s St Johann
- Want to explore part of the Danube Cycle Path in Austria? Here’s one place to start
- Fatbiking in Austria – taking a mountain bike on the snow-clad alpine
Paragliding in Austria and exploring the state of Vorarlberg was the third part of my ‘Year in Austria’ project, as the UK ambassador for the Austrian National Tourist Office. I will be travelling all around the country (from my home base of Vienna) over the next 12 months and showcasing a variety of destinations and activities. Continue to follow #YearInAustria for all stories.