5 Beautiful Places Near Salzburg Worth Visiting
The Salzburg Region is full of stunning mountains, lakes and quaint villages. Most people flock only to see the city of Salzburg, while completely bypassing some of the most scenic and photogenic landscapes I’ve ever seen. Therefore, I decided to put together a list of 5 beautiful places near Salzburg, which I think are highly worth visiting. You can do them either as a day trip or multi-day trip from Salzburg.
Each of these places are unique in their own way and I will share with you my tips and recommendations, as well as accommodation options and how to get there from Salzburg. If you are planning on visiting Salzburg as well, perhaps you’d like to read my tips for the city here: Salzburg Guide.
One of the most photographed places in Austria is the village of Hallstatt. Situated by the Lake Hallstättersee, it enjoys a beautiful mountain scenery with swans gliding across the lake - like something out of a fairytale dream... if you are able to phase out all the tourists, that is. Unfortunately, in recent years, this little village has been getting more attention than it perhaps initially bargained for. It’s biggest fan-base tends to be the Asian Tour Groups, and while all visitors can happily co-exist together for a short time, it’s definitely nicer to enjoy the views with a bit more peace and quiet.
On that note, my biggest tip would be to get here early morning (between 7-9am) because most of the shops and cafes open at 10am, which means this is usually the time when the tour groups start arriving in large numbers.
It’s a very small, but charming, village that is quickly explored. There are lots of cafes and shops, cozy looking alpine houses and narrow alleyways to wonder around. One of the main attractions is the Salt Mines (Salzwelten) and the World Heritage View Point.
There are many options available in Hallstatt, but very expensive in my opinion. However, should you be interested in staying the night, you can find a list of accommodations in Hallstatt here: Hallstatt Accommodation
By Car - Hallstatt is about an hours drive from Salzburg and very scenic, as you pass through so many mountains and lakes on the way!
By Train - From Salzburg, it takes about 2h30 by train and you usually have to change trains at Attnang-Puchheim Station. Once you arrive at Hallstatt station, you are directly in front of the lake and now comes the exciting part! There’s a little boat that comes back and forth between the Hallstatt Village and Hallstatt Train Station! It’s such a beautiful boat ride across the Hallstatt Lake and truly an experience in itself. Here is a link to the Boat Timetable and Prices.
2. St. Gilgen/Wolfgangsee Lake
A few years ago, I spontaneously came to the little township of St. Gilgen, situated by the beautiful Lake Wolfgangsee. Although my stay was a short one, I have to say, I really liked this tranquil village. I got the feeling that it’s quite a local place, as I didn’t see very many tourists at all.
The main reason I came here, was to hike up to the peak of Schafberg mountain and I thought St. Gilgen was a good place to start. However, I discovered later on that it would’ve been faster to start from St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut township instead. I will describe the hike in more detail down below.
I stayed at the Jugendgästehaus St. Gilgen (Youth Hostel) for two nights and although it was on the pricier side in terms of hostels, I found it to be of very high standards and very clean. For roughly 30 Euros a night in a Dorm, it was the cheapest accommodation I could find in St. Gilgen. There are also other options near St. Gilgen, such as St. Wolfgang im Salzkammergut, which makes for a perfect location if you are planning to go up the Schafberg mountain.
Bus 150: 45 mins Journey from Salzburg
Car: 30mins from Salzburg
One of the most rewarding hikes in terms of views and atmosphere. From St. Gilgen, I walked around the lake before passing through dense forests with very steep gradients and it took about 2 hours before I passed the tree line and was able to see the lake view again.
The trail itself would be deemed Moderate Difficult. While it is quite well paved with occasional sign posts, it is also easy to get lost and veer off the wrong path - plus you might have to climb over fallen trees and scrabble up some steep sections. I’d recommend checking your maps from time to time, just to make sure you’re still on the right track. At a certain point, you will link back up with the main trail and from there it becomes much easier, as the track is better paved and you will start to see signs of civilisation again - and people! Hopefully, you will also spot the little Tram that takes non-hiking tourists from St. Wolfgang am Salzkammergut to the top of Schafberg - as long as you follow the rail upwards, you can’t get lost from there.
Once you get to the summit (at roughly 1700m altitude), you are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views over the Salzburg region - mountains and lakes as far as the eye can see. If you are thirsty or hungry, there are huts/restaurants there which serve traditional Austrian food - but prices are rather expensive.
To get back down, I took the same route back to St. Gilgen. It took 9 hrs in total (return) and I was exhausted by the end. I would recommend perhaps starting from St. Wolfgang am Salzkammergut instead as it’s faster. If you are short on time, you can also take the Mountain Tram from there and reach the top in just 35mins.
You can view more info here: Schafberg Tram and Prices for 2019
Extra Tips for Hikers:
Bring lots of water to keep hydrated. There is no refill opportunity until you get to the huts at the top.
Bring snacks and food with you
Bring some money with you just in case.
Weather can change quickly, so check the forecast in advance and equip yourself appropriately.
Sturdy hiking boots are ideal, but general gym/running shoes will also be ok.
Download an offline map or make sure you have a GPS of some sort on you.
Start point: St. Gilgen or St Wolfgang am Salzkammergut
Duration: 9hrs return from St. Gilgen
Alternative: Mountain Tram from St. Wolfgang am Salzkammergut
Shelter: Either in the dense forest or at the summit, there are some huts and restaurants there.
I spent a night here at Mondsee because I wanted to escape Salzburg city and be surrounded by lakes and mountains. This area is beautiful and easy to reach from Salzburg. There are some Museums, Palaces and Churches to explore, but a walk around the lakefront (Seepromenade Mondsee Park & Garden) is definitely highly recommended.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t all that great, so I wasn’t able to get out as much as I would’ve liked. But compared to St. Gilgen, Mondsee was definitely busier. I would say, most people use Mondsee as a base to explore the surrounding areas, skifields and mountains.
I stayed for one night at the Jugendgästehaus Mondsee (Youth Hostel) for roughly 30 Euros a night. They offer free breakfast and the facilities were really clean and overall a rather cozy place. I was lucky enough to have the whole 4 Bed Dorm to myself, the bed itself was also very comfortable. Can highly recommend this place for single or group travelling.
Getting to Mondsee:
By Car: from Salzburg, you can reach Mondsee in under 30mins.
By Bus: from Salzburg Hbf, it will take roughly 1hr with the Bus 140 to Mondsee Busterminal. Tickets cost around 7 Euros and you can either purchase your ticket at the Salzburg station or download the ÖBB App (ÖBB is the Austrian Rail/Transport Company) and buy a ticket online.
5. Zell am See/Kaprun
Zell am See is a popular destination for skiing, as it is home to many ski fields in the area. In fact, there is one right above the town and you can reach the ski lifts (Ebenbergbahn) from the centre.
The ski field I went to was in Kaprun/Kitzsteinhorn, as part of an organised trip by the Uni (when I studied in Vienna back in 2016). We stayed in Zell am See, but skiied up on Kitzsteinhorn.
What is so special about this ski field is that you can reach an altitude of 3029m with the very modern cable car and then ski down from there! The view from there is just epic! Plus, instead of the typical open-air ski lifts where you freeze your butts off, this ski field is mostly run by warm cozy cable cars where you put your skis/boards on the outside, while chilling inside without having to worry that anything you take out of your pockets will fall down into a white oblivion.
We stayed at the Hotel Schütthof, which was a very cozy chalet style hotel with buffet breakfast. I remember the food being really good there and it was just a very comfortable place to stay in general.
Getting to Zell am See:
By Car: it takes about 1.5 hours from Salzburg to Zell am See.
By Train: from Salzburg Hbf, it will take roughly 1.5 hours by train (direct). You can check/buy your tickets online with the ÖBB Rail App or at the Station.
Getting to Kitzsteinhorn Ski Field:
By Car: about 20mins from Zell am See to the bottom of the ski field (Talstation), where you then take a Gondola up.
By Bus: about 30mins from Zell am See Bahnhof with the Bus 660 to Kaprun Kitzsteinhorn Bergbahn Talstation.
There are so many beautiful places in this area of Salzburg. Have you been to any of these places or perhaps you have some other great recommendations for hiking, skiing or sightseeing destinations? If so, I’d love to hear your comments down below! :)
This article contains some of my personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you make a booking through these links, then I will receive a small commission from the company, but this doesn’t affect the prices for you at all :) Thank you for reading and I appreciate the support!