The Salzkammergut area of Austria boasts a huge variety of lakes. 76 in total, each with their own unique settings and characters. Some are easily accessible and full of activity such as Attersee, the largest lake in Austria. Other lakes require a half day hike or longer to reach, being nestled high up in the mountains. Whilst we haven’t visited them all just yet, we have been to about twenty of the easiest ones to reach. That is those that are accessed by road or less than an hour to walk to.
To get started on our favourite 5 lakes in the Salzkammergut area of Austria we’re highlighting the wonderful Offensee. We like Offensee especially in Summer as there is a large grassy area where you can setup a nice picnic. The water is normally refreshing (but not ice cold!) and surrounded by the imposing Totes Gebirges range of mountains. It really is a hidden gem and not too many people visit as there is a short but easy walk which is enough to keep the hordes away! It is also very pretty in Winter when the lake can freeze over and people ice skate. There are also husky rides nearby which make for another way to enjoy this beautiful setting.
Two of the spots in this list are the fantastic lakes known as the Vorderer and Hinterer Langbathseen. The crowds can be larger in Summer, partly due to the convenient car park located nearby. It is a definite crowd pleaser as the lake is bathed in sunlight which nicely warms the water despite being high up in the mountains. Being higher up in the mountains also helps to knock a few degrees off the Summer heat which can be a real bonus during the heat waves we often have. These really are two separate lakes with just a short but moderately steep walk in between. The Hinterer Langbathsee is actually our favourite spot in the whole Salzkammergut. Our reasons? Sunny, easy to get to, but with steep sided mountains towering above which feels like you are in the middle of wilderness. All in all it is just a great place to relax and recharge your soul!
The Traunsee is the deepest lake in Austria and probably one of the most striking with the sheer edges of the surrounding mountains plunging straight into it. It is also a large lake which has plenty of water sports to keep any water enthusiast occupied. Activities include diving, kite surfing, sailing, and our favourites of kayaking and e-boats! In Summer there is a great setup at the Ebensee beach area of Rindbach. In the lake there is normally a climbing pyramid, water trampoline, as well as mini blobbing pillows. Nearby there is also a volleyball court and playground. The beach area is also free unlike many other lakeside areas which helps keep costs down!
If you’ve ever seen a picture of Austria, chances are pretty good that you’ve inadvertently already seen the last lake in our list – the popular Hallstättersee. The lake is not so pleasant to swim in as it is usually icy cold. Along the eastern shore there is a lovely walking and cycle path, far away from the busy main road on the other side. It is from the east shore that there is also a regular small boat service. This carries you into the UNESCO recognised salt mining village of Hallstatt. It is a wonderful way to get across and offers amazing views of the houses built almost on top of one another – in a nice way! It is a lovely spot to wander around and take in the waterfall which falls almost directly above the town centre. Hallstatt also offers the chance to tour around the salt mine from which the “white gold” is produced. The views from the mine entrance are easily reached via funicular. Alternativel a short but steep climb which is well worth the effort and takes in another view of the waterfall. It is from the mine perched about 20m above the western shore that there is also the historical Soleweg or “Salt Path” which (eventually!) leads all the way back us at the Rosenhof.
Well that makes up our personal favourites in the area and many of our guests seem to agree. We hope you get some ideas and come and let us know what you think!