The Austrian Lake District, known as Salzkammergut, is simply stunning at every turn. Sleek turquoise lakes glitter between the crisp alpine peaks and grass-green meadows, and it’s easy to find secluded spots in this soaring wilderness. The rugged mountains are punctuated by the church spires of pretty lakeside towns, and this picturesque region is also well-known for its starring role in the film The Sound of Music.
Stunning scenery fit for an emperor
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April, May, June, July, September, October
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This delightful lakeside town perches steeply by the shore of shimmering Lake Wolfgang. Backed by the deep green of the alpine forest, it is known for the impressive carved altar in its waterside church. St Wolfgang is also home to the Schafberg Mountain Railway, an unforgettable cog railway which makes a steep climb, affording stunning panoramic views of the lake.
The beautiful baroque city of Salzburg is endlessly charming throughout the seasons. Whether it’s basking in sunshine or sparkling in the snow, Salzburg’s turreted skyline rises prettily and is topped by the indomitable Hohensalzburg Fortress. Salzburg’s old town has a maze of medieval alleyways, was Mozart’s birthplace, and is home to the elegant Mirabell Gardens.
Gateway to the Salzkammergut region, the beautiful spa town of Bad Ischl is packed with charm – so much so, that this was where the emperors of the Austro-Hungarian Empire chose to spend their summers. Kaiservilla was the imperial summer residence of Franz Joseph I and hosted the cream of Europe’s aristocracy during his reign – and it’s also from here that he declared war with Serbia, thus providing the catalyst for World War I. Today, the tranquil, elegant villa evokes the grandeur of the 19th century with its buttery-hued neoclassical facade.
Picture-postcard Hallstatt is dwarfed by the majestic Dachstein Mountains at its back. The tiny settlement is mirrored in the clear lakewaters of Hallstätter See, doubling the prettiness of this idyllic village nestled into the dramatic UNESCO-listed landscape. Known for its millennia of history as well as its beauty, this is a wonderful place to take to the water and absorb the incredible scenery.
A drive through the incredible Salzkammergut region will take in all the highlights of this stunning lake district. Take in the glassy waters of Traunsee, the second-largest lake in Austria, and explore pretty Gmunden, known for its ceramics. Next is Mondsee, an unspoilt expanse of water and also one of the filming locations in The Sound of Music. Finally, wander around the lovely, traffic-free village of St. Gilgen, which was once home to Wolfgang Mozart’s mother and sister.
“When visiting Bad Ischl make sure you visit the famous Café Zauner, which has been serving coffee and cakes since 1832. The village of Hallstatt is my favourite place to visit in Austria. On a clear and sunny day this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. If you can climb 200 steps, visit the Bone House in the grounds of the Church where you can see a collection of painted skulls.” (Andy)
Hand picked destinations
The Tyrol region is an idyllic Alpine paradise, the quintessential Austria of postcards: a vivid landscape of grassy meadows and turquoise waters set amongst majestic, snow-capped peaks.
Rising from the land like the undulations of a sleeping dragon, the peaks of the Lake District shelter some of the deepest, longest lakes in England, and its scenery is quite simply unforgettable.
Lake Geneva sparkles with crystal-clear waters and its shore is strung with vibrantly charming towns. Terraced vineyards line its banks with verdant stripes of green in summer, yet snow-capped peaks and glaciers are never far away.
Stunningly picturesque, the Alpine town of Annecy sparkles at the tip of the glassy waters of Lac d’Annecy. The beautiful mountain scenery can be enjoyed from chic Chamonix, glorious Geneva and majestic Mont Blanc – the pinnacle of the Alps.
The deep turquoise waters of Lake Bled encircle an impossibly picturesque island church, are backed by breathtaking emerald forests and the snow-tipped Julian Alps, and are overlooked by the medieval splendour of Bled Castle.