Paragliding in Austria is an exhilarating excuse (should you need one) to see the layers of the country’s famed landscape from the skies, or more specifically, the country’s westernmost topography. The Bregenzerwald region of Vorarlberg boasts ideal thermal conditions in order to take flight and enjoy the unspoilt meld of rolling green valleys, beautiful timber villages and picture-perfect snowy mountain trails from a very different perspective.
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 an adrenalin that came from the fact we were about to launch ourselves off one of the highest mountain tops in the Diedamskopf ski area.
This time, it wasn’t about climbing to a viewpoint to peer out and there would be no skiing in a descent down the mountains groomed trails and curved edges. Instead 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.
The next day I took the bus from Mellau to the Diedamskopf cable car and met my pilot, Jodok. He gave me one of the two backpacks of equipment to carry and me made our ascent, first in the cable car, and then for a short 15-minute trek up to the peak. Like any mountainous adventure, you have to work for the climb, to be rewarded with the ultimate view.
On the Diedamskopf, 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. In March, it was the optimal time to see the changing of the seasons. 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 in Austria is certainly a way to see a huge patch of it in all its natural magnificence.
Things to Know:
Booking Paragliding in Austria – Vorarlberg Flying School
- I took my paragliding flight with Flugschule Bregenzerwald – 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. It is advised to wear long trousers and hiking shoes.
- Paragliding in Austria has never been easier, due to having th 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.
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 from Borders of Adventure
- Canyoning in 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 – 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.