Salzkammergut: between lakes and spas in the Bad Ischl region

Waters that change from turquoise to deep green. Wooded banks dotted with villas. Wooden houses as boat shelters. In the Salzkammergut, Straddling Upper Austria, Salzburg and Styria, the lakes paint the landscape like slices of sky between meadows and rocky heights.

A vacation spot for emperors, painters, poets and musicians, they are still today, as in the past, sources of refreshment and well-being. A centuries-old interaction between nature and culture which received particular recognition this year: 23 countries in the region, led by Bad IschlI am European Capital of Culture 2024.

Bad Ischl, the discovery of the Habsburgs

The story of regeneration holidays in Salzkammergut begins in this relaxing town. The Habsburgs discovered it: Archduchess Sofia, mother of the future Emperor Franz Joseph, came here to receive her salt water spa treatments, who spent the summer months in Bad Ischl, taking the entire court with her.

To prove it, there is the Kaiservilla, with the museum and memories of imperial life. By the river it stands out Villa Leharwhich attracted the greats of 19th century music here: Brahms, Bruckner, Strauss.

In the center of Bad Ischl, you should not miss the old spa resort, now transformed into a cultural center, as well as the modern building Bad Ischl thermal spa which offers well-being for the body and mind with all the benefits of salt water.

READ ALSO: Bad Ischl, “little Vienna”: discovering the European Capital of Culture 2024

A boat on Lake Grundlsee

The Salzkammergut lakes

It's not farLake Atterseesince the end of the 19th century a favorite destination of the Viennese bourgeoisie, artists and intellectuals, enchanted by the shades between blue and turquoise of its waters.

Gustave Mahler he composed in a small house on the banks, a Steinbach am Attersee. And Gustav Klimt found places to regenerate and create: 47 of his 58 landscapes found their inspiration here.

Today, a relaxing trail named after the painter winds through the sparkling water and gardens. A magic that lasts in the dark: the Attersee-Traunsee Nature ParkAustria's first Dark Sky Park, where you can let yourself be enchanted by the enchantment of the stars.

The force of nature unites with that of the spirit on Wolfgang Lakevery popular with sailors.

Like the brothers Konstantin and Oliver Kobale, who took part last year in the Ocean Race, the famous and demanding regatta around the world. And as soon as they can, they return to their beloved “home” waters.

The lake is also bordered by one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in Europe. You climb from St. Gilgen on the Falkenstein following the footsteps of San Wolfango, to the Gothic church which preserves the only intact altar of the South Tyrolean master Michael Pacher.

The parish church stands out in the center of Saint Wolfgang, dominated by the profile of Mount Schafberg, on which the steam rack inaugurated in 1893 still climbs.

Upon arrival, at 1,783 meters, there is a view of the sparkling Salzkammergut lakes and an amphitheater of mountains, from the Höllengebirge to the Watzmann.

The Grundlsee in Styria

The landscape is also very charming Lake Grundlsee, in Styria. It is surrounded by the Totes Gebirge mountain range, the largest limestone karst plateau in Central Europe, covered with virgin forests on which rise arid rocky peaks.

The waters of the Grundlsee stretch over five square kilometers, earning it the nickname “Styrian Sea”.

It's no surprise that it was chosen for their vacation by a long list of people, including Archduke John of Habsburg-Lorraine and Sigmund Freud.

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Science has confirmed it: the region today claims the title of “climatic and thermal resort” for air quality, capable of contributing to human well-being.


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