Discover Lake Wolfgangsee

Situated at the foot of the northern slopes of the Alps, Salzburg is surrounded by green and snow-capped mountains, giving it a mountainous charm. The hustle and bustle of the city, which can be intense at times, invites travellers to abandon the urban setting for more natural vistas. To recharge your batteries, there's nothing like a visit to the Wolfgangsee, also known as "Wolfgang's Lake".

Of the 76 lakes in the Salzkammergut region (itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site), this is one of the most famous and beautiful. Covering an area of 12.4 km², it can freeze in winter, while in summer the temperature reaches 28°C! It's the ideal place if you're looking for a swim and a walk in beautiful surroundings.

© saiko3p / Shutterstock

The history of the lake

Wolfgangsee, renowned for the quality of its water, is one of the clearest lakes in Europe. It takes its name from the community of St. Wolfgang, which lies on its shores and is one of Austria's chic tourist hotspots.

© easyvoyage

With its traditional inns, award-winning schnapps distilleries and gourmet luxury hotels, the lake is a gourmet's delight. As far back as the 14th century, pilgrims stopped off at the lake to collect its precious water, considered to be curative.

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100 years ago, the lake was also a popular destination for artists, writers and aristocrats. It was the preferred holiday destination of the Habsburg family, who left their mark here.

Visit Villa Kaiservilla, the Habsburg summer residence

© Bad Ischl

Franz Joseph and Sissi's summer residence, known as the "Kaiservilla", bears witness to the imperial family's love of natural settings. Given to them on the occasion of their marriage by Archduchess Sophie, the Emperor's mother, the building takes the shape of the letter "E", in reference to the Empress's real first name, "Elisabeth".

With its neo-classical architecture and superb English garden, it is well worth a visit. The tour reveals more about the private life of the imperial couple, and also looks back at major historical events, such as the outbreak of the First World War. If you don't speak German, you will be given a brochure in French.

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Where to swim?

© easyvoyage

Perceived as a veritable fountain of youth, the lake is a curative excursion for many Austrians, who appreciate the freshness of the water and its cleanliness. The lake is shared by the towns of St. Gilgen, Strobl and St. Wolfgang, all of which have small (and affordable) beaches. They are small, so you need to arrive early in the summer season to find a spot.

© easyvoyage

We recommend that you head for the beach at St. Wolfgang, which is close to the cemetery. This way, you can make the most of your day by visiting the charming church of St. Wolfgang with its treasure room and Michael Pacher's famous altarpiece dating from 1481. If you're staying in the area for a few days, or just want a bite to eat, stop off at the traditional Auberge du Cheval Blanc, renowned for its setting, spa and cuisine.

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Romantik Hotel Im Weissen Rössl am Wolfgangsee

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Which hike to choose?

In summer, the area is a hiker's paradise, while in winter it becomes a renowned ski area. Among the many hiking trails available, we recommend the one leading to the stone summit of Falkenstein, which can be followed by a visit to the old hermitage and its thermal spring.

© BBA Photography / Shutterstock

Although the climb is fairly steep, the views over the lake are splendid once you reach the summit.The itinerary for the hike is available online.

Admire the lake by cable car or train

© Seilbahn TV

For those who are less sporty, consider taking the Zwölferhorn cable car, which drops you off at 1,225 metres to the top of the mountain in St. Gilgen's backyard, in just 11 minutes. For a longer journey, you can opt for the cog railway (also known as the SchafbergBahn), which links St. Wolfgang to the top of the Schafberg, at 1,782 metres above sea level. This activity, which is offered from April to October, takes 40 minutes and offers breathtaking panoramic views.

© easyvoyage
by Jude JONES
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