Summary: family-friendly mountain resort with fun theme trail and other attractions
Golm Austria is an all-star of family-friendly mountain resorts. It has a theme trail with play equipment, a super fast alpine coaster, a ropes course, a crazy long zip line, multiple playgrounds, etc. The whole place is geared to family fun. Plus you're in the mountains with beautiful nature all around you. Below, I've detailed our visit from 2011, but things may have changed since then. So see the Golm website for current information. Golm is part of the Montafon area, which has many other great resorts with family activities (like the Gargellen Smugglers Trail). It would be a nice place for a long weekend or summer holiday.
|Car:||2hrs from ZH||Trail:||3.5 downhill||Restaurant:||yes|
|Train/Bus:||local buses||Stroller:||no||Fire pit:||yes|
Details. Drive to Vandans, Austria as shown in the above map and follow signs to the Golmerbahn. There is dirt car park next to the Vandans Golm cable car station. First, let's get oriented. I couldn't find a trail map on the website, so I've scanned in an old map I have from 2008. Obviously, things have changed since then but the basic elements are there.
This first cable car takes you from Vandans to the middle station Latschau (you can also drive here, I'll let you figure that out). The alpine coaster starts here and you'll find the ropes course and Flying Fox zip line nearby. More about that at the end of this post. For hiking, take the cable car from Latschau up to Grüneck.
You can buy tickets for each piece separately. If you are doing the Golmi Exploration theme trail, there is a ticket specifically for that, which includes the appropriate cable cars. See current prices here. But there are discounts if you combine activities, like trail with ropes course and alpine coaster. See combi offers for details.
We started the day by riding all the way up to Grüneck (shown below). Here's you'll find a restaurant with a big terrace and lots of playground equipment.
My pics of the playground are quite terrible, sorry! There's lots to keep the kids busy here. There are slides, sand pit, climbing wall, bouncy castle (at least when we went in 2011), slack line, swings, etc.
The Golmi Exploration Trail (aka Forschungweg) starts right next to the restaurant. Follow the blue trail signs as shown below. Start by snapping a pic with Golmi, the blue cartoon marmot. There's a human-sized marmot hole (shown below right) where kids can crawl in and look out the window. My kids said it was a little dirty in there, spiderwebs and the like.
This nature exploration theme trail has 21 stations, a mix of education and play. Happily, the text appears in both German and English. It's recommended for children over 6, as some of the quizzes and games are targeted to older children. But our 4 year old enjoyed it as well. It is not stroller-friendly; although it starts as a wide gravel path, it has rough sections that would be tough to navigate with a stroller. It's downhill and not particularly difficult, but it might be a little long for very small children. Be prepared to carry them at the end.
A sample of the views at the top. There are other non-themed trails that head off into this wilderness.
A couple of the stations. The signboard below has the kids match the animal with their home, a green light illuminating if you make a correct match.
A water play station and picnic area.
A few animal sculptures along the way, a little beat up and need of repair.
One of our favorite stations where you try to jump as far as the animals can.
I don't know what we learned at this station, but we sure enjoyed teetering back and forth on this seesaw that filled water buckets on each side then spilled the water across the see saw to the other side.
Adorable station where you can play songs by hitting the correct bells. There's sheet music in the book telling you which bells to hit.
On the left, a sample of a rocky portion of the trail, no strollers here. On the right, the restaurant at Matschwitz, the middle station of the Latschau-Grüneck cable car. You could continue walking down the mountain, but the Golmi theme trail ends here. We ate a hearty meal here then rode the cable car back down to Latschau.
Back at Latschau, you'll find various amusments. The ropes course and Flying Fox zip line are in the forest, on the far side of the big (not attractive) reservoir, about a 10 minute walk. We didn't do the ropes course, but it looked good. There are three levels of difficulty. Kids with a height of 100cm-130cm can do the lowest level course. Kids over 130cm can do the other courses, accompanied by an adult. It can get very busy, so they recommend making a reservation ahead of time.
The Flying Fox is a super long zip line (565m) that starts on a hill in the forest and crosses the entire reservoir, reaching speeds up to 70km/hr. My husband and 7 year old did it. I was more nervous than them, especially watching his little body sail far, far away high above the ground and water. My husband went first so he could help my son on the other end. I sent him off, then walked back with my 4 year old.
Last, but not least, the alpine coaster. This is a different class of alpine coasters than others I've ridden in Switzerland. It's 2.6km long, the entire length of the cable car down to Vanduns, and reaches speeds up to 40km/hr. A little scary, but super fun! The cars are sturdy, comfortably fit two people, and surprisingly have seatbeats. Children must be 3yrs old to ride with an adult, 8yrs old and 140cm to ride alone. Just do it!