Treasures of the Salzkammergut

by Susanne Stiegler

Gmunden at Lake Traunsee

Gmunden at Lake Traunsee

When people holiday in the Salzkammergut they mostly visit the major attractions like the Salt Trail, the Ice Cave at Dachstein or the Imperial Villa in Bad Ischl, but there is more to experience!

Lake Attersee and Lake Traunsee offer exciting activities as well, which are well worth giving a try.

When staying at Lake Attersee, one must-do is a cruise with the Attersee shipping company, which offers different tours of the lake. I would recommend going on board of the southern route, which takes about 2.5 hours. The special thing about this route is that you cannot only enjoy the beautiful landscape and feel the fresh lake air, but also view magnificent villas of Austrian and international celebrities. Maybe you are lucky and spot the two times Austrian Olympic champion in alpine skiing Hermann Maier sunbathing in his garden – who knows? Read More

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 Anna Blum on 17.07.2014  |   No comments

It begins in Linz…

Linz (c) linztourismus_JohannSteininger

Linz (c) linztourismus_JohannSteininger

By Cynthia Flaggl


There is an Austrian saying „In Linz beginnt’s”, which basically means „It begins in Linz”. So why don’t you actually start your holidays in Austria in Linz?

Admittedly, there are far more famous cities in Austria than Linz, but why don’t you step away from the crowded tourist paths and enjoy exploring a really interesting and upcoming city far away from Mozart and the Sacher Torte?

Linz was made European Capital of Culture in 2009 and since then its image really has changed. Linz developed itself from a very industrial city to a modern, upcoming, cultural hub, which is definitely worth visiting.

Linz offers something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in culture, shopping or nature, Linz has something for you too.

On a sunny spring day I would recommend you to take a stroll along the famous Linzer Landstraße. The Landstraße is the most important shopping street in Linz and offers a variety of different shops. I can ensure you, you will find something there. And if you are a little bit tired after your stroll you can walk up to the “SKY GARDEN” and enjoy a coffee with a unique view of the cathedral and the Pöstlingberg. There is a reason why “SKY GARDEN” can say that they have the most beautiful terrace in Linz.

But no worries, if you are not that interested in shopping there are plenty of other things to do in Linz, which are connected with culture and nature.

For cultural lovers it is a MUST to pay the Ars Electronica Center a visit. And if you are lucky and you are in Linz at the right time (4th – 8th of September 2014), then there is also the Ars Electronica Festival which is absolutely worth a visit. This festival turned out to be a very successful and remarkable event for media art, and it now belongs to the most important of its kind. In the Ars Electronica Center you can enjoy different exhibitions, which change over time. But they are always connected to the theme of the permanent exhibition – “Neue Bilder des Menschen” (meaning “new pictures of humans”) – and take a closer look at humans, how the live and how they will be living.

Another highlight in Linz is the Bruckner Festival (13th of September – 5th of October 2014). This festival has taken place in the Brucknerhaus every year since 1974. The Brucknerhaus, named after the famous composer Anton Bruckner, is a famous concert and event venue. During the Bruckner Festival there are many outstanding concerts with elite international artists and ensembles.

And if you still looking for more cultural experiences in Linz you can also pay a visit to the Mariendom cathedral, the Lentos Kunstmuseum or the Schlossmuseum.

But if you have done enough culture and are now looking for some relaxing outdoor activities, I would recommend you to either take the Pöstlingbergbahn - Europe’s steepest mountain railway – up to the Pöstlingberg, or why not enjoy a cycle ride along the beautiful and majestic Danube?

Up at Linz’s local mountain – the Pöstlingberg – you can enjoy visiting the Wallfahrtsbasilika, Linz’s Zoo or the popular fairy-tale world of the Grottenbahn. Not to forget the absolutely magnificent view over Linz, which awaits you at the mountain top.

So, after telling you all of these things about Linz, why don’t you pay a visit and experience Linz on your own. You will, without a doubt, come to the conclusion that Linz is definitely worth a trip!!!


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 Anna Blum on 11.03.2014  |   No comments

Luxury Chalets in the Austrian Alps

Chalets Montafon (c) ÖW EbersbergDrying the ski gear by the fireplace in a freezing mountain hut or setting off on a half-day hike to source dinner could be classed as romantic, but if you like a few creature comforts on your hard-earned holidays then a chalet stay can still be an option in Austria! We present you with a selection of quirky and luxurious lodgings across the Austrian Alps that offer everything from ski boot warmers to food delivery at unbeatable prices.


For sweeping slopes with guaranteed snow in winter and sunny trails leading to glistening lakes in summer, head to Carinthia. Traditional Alpine huts, comfortable hunting lodges and generous chalets form the exclusive Almdorf Seinerzeit, including a rustic restaurant, wine cellar, swimming pool and spa. Right by the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve, one of Austria’s beautiful national parks, the scenery and attentive chalet staff make guests feel like they have found a secret haven.


INNs HOLZ Chalet Village is located in the Bohemian Forest of Upper Austria. A special focus was placed on the materials used for the 11 chalets, with traditional loden and cloth playing the main role alongside wood. Each chalet has its own Finnish sauna and outdoor area, and guests can also use the wellness area of the INNs HOLZ Hotel.


45km south of Salzburg you’ll find the Wood Ridge Luxury Chalets. These luxurious Canadian-style log cabins offer plenty of comforts such as a whirlpoorl on the terrace, private sauna and daily breakfast basket. For larger groups visiting the SalzburgerLand region Alpin Chalets are ideal, sleeping up to 30 on a self-catering or fully catered basis.


Those looking for an authentic mountain experience will love the Hüttendorf Pruggern in Styria. Next to the summer hiking trails and winter slopes, the self-catering chalets are modernly equipped, but guests can still pay a visit to the on-site shop that sells farmers’ produce and freshly baked goods.


Tirol is one of our favourite holiday destinations, so why not avoid the hotel crowds and give your holiday a unique twist? The Biohotel Stanglwirt in Going takes bookings for its newly renovated Hüttling Moos. Up to 60 people can be hosted in this 5-star cabin, fully serviced with an own cook and butler. In nearby Kirchberg you can stay at the Maierl-Alm and Chalets, where you can enjoy goodies including your own panorama sauna and ski boot warmer.


We end our selection at the height of luxury in Vorarlberg. The 5-star Hotel Bentleys House has 3 chalets, stylishly equipped and providing full board with a personal butler service. Located at an altitude of 1720m, not only the service but also the stunning views of Lech Zürs will have you on a high!

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 Anna Blum on 03.01.2014  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Tirol – national park on the roof of Austria

Here’s a tall feat – 241 peaks over 3,000m. Wow.

The undisturbed rugged mountain terrain of East Tirol (nicknamed the ‘roof of Austria’) is a true reminder that we are really just guests within the natural habitats of our world, and the best way to experience these inspiring settings is by simply – and respectfully – letting nature lead the way.

Those who choose to follow this ‘best of’ experience can be part of a newly launched ‘hands on’ adventure in National Park Hohe Tauern that allows volunteers, accompanied by a park ranger, to lend a hand with sustainable practices such as planting young trees, laying down climbing routes or cutting grass on the farm.

The theme of preservation continues on your visit to Villgratental, one of the most remote valleys in the Alps. A delightful surprise then to find out that this unspoiled valley is the setting for an award-winning restaurant. Enjoy fine dining with a menu of regional specialties made with fresh, local products in a traditional farm house dating back to 1879. You’ll continue to admire authentically Austrian wooden architecture at Oberstaller Alm in nearby Innervillgraten, often cited as one of the most interesting villages in the Alps with its 16 wooden farmhouses and a small chapel.

Your overnight on this tour is at the Zedern Klang Spa Hotel, which holds the distinction as the first hotel in Austria to receive the International Climate Award for its energy-saving and eco-friendly construction. Here, ‘green energy’ is produced through the power of water, and the salt water pools and thermal baths in the hotel’s spa landscape offer natural regenerative effects. A gourmet dinner before you rest upon a sheep wool mattress on a cedar wood bed built with no metal joints. Even sleep seems to come more naturally here!

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 Anna Blum on 26.06.2013  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Salzburg – enjoy a lead-free holiday

While the city of Salzburg has firmly established itself in visitors’ Austrian itineraries year after year due to a host of attractions which include the Mozart birth house, a grand selection of vibrant festivals, an Old Town famous for its baroque architecture, and of course the city’s draw as the setting for the beloved film The Sound of Music, the province of SalzburgerLand, home to Austria’s ‘Lake District’, proves no less alluring.

In fact, on this ‘best of’ experience, you’ll be introduced to a charming mountain town that, for the past 15 years, has been trailblazing its way into eco-friendly (and cool!) mobility initiatives. For guests in the all-season, alpine resort of Werfenweng, getting around is all part of the fun on a car-free holiday. You’ll be introduced to the town’s own soft mobility project – SAMO – as you test drive some of the unique e-vehicles available to visitors and on a horse-drawn carriage ride en route to a hearty snack at an inviting summer lodge amidst high alpine pastures. After adding to Werfenweng’s 250,000 annual visitor overnights tally with one of your own, day two beckons with the promise of outstanding views as you ride the Ikarus cable car up Bischling mountain where you’ll have an incredible vantage point of over 40 peaks.

Be in awe of some of the native inhabitants of SalzburgerLand’s peak region as you enjoy a birds of prey show at 1850m, followed by a circular hike that’s sure to whet the appetite for lunch at one of SalzburgerLand’s 161 certified alpine huts and Bioparadies establishments which take great care in serving fresh, regionally-grown products. Before your ‘so longs and goodbyes’ to this part of Austria, stop in at a farmer’s store for some demonstrations, sampling, and no doubt a bit of ‘take away’!

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 Anna Blum on 11.06.2013  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Carinthia – natural cuisine and jewels of nature

In its enviable sun-kissed location on the ‘southern balcony of the Alps’, Carinthia truly splashes out on visitor fun with over 200 warm bathing lakes, the majority of which have drinking water quality!

Marvel at the sights of National Park Hohe Tauern, home to Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, and the largest natural protected area in the Alps. Originally established in Carinthia in 1981, its boundaries now stretch over three provinces – Carinthia, Salzburg and Tirol. Surrounded by mountains that stretch some 3000m skywards, and amidst tranquil greenery, on a ‘best of’ experience you tuck into lunch on a terrace at the charming 4-star Holiday Village Moserhof, set upon a historic manor house estate.

With energy levels up, it’s then time for a tour through the impressively scenic wilds of the Rabisch gorge in the company of a national park ranger. Cameras at the ready for even a waterfall or two! Dinner is at your choice of one of the cosy, traditional guesthouses which uphold a centuries-old tradition and a culinary philosophy adhering to organic ingredients.

Overnight at the Hotel Alpengarten in the 1200m resort town of Mallnitz, with dreams of tomorrow’s guided e-biking tour through the Seebachtal Valley, followed by a walking excursion with the national park’s animal warden. And, just one last taste of Carinthia to be had: a traditional buffet lunch – the so-called ‘Jause’ – with the freshest of products from local farms and businesses.

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 Anna Blum on 31.05.2013  |   No comments

‘Best of’ Vienna – two wheels instead of the big wheel

While many visitors to Vienna enjoy a unique bird’s eye view of the city from atop its landmark 200m Giant Ferris Wheel, another unique vantage point can be had on two wheels along Vienna’s 1200km of cycle paths.

This ‘best of’ experience in the Austrian capital gives you access to Velo-city 2013. Held at the impressive city hall, this is the largest international conference on cycling, bringing together some 1000 participants ranging from planners and architects to social marketers, environmentalists and industry representatives. Highlighted themes this year include ‘cycling cities’ and ‘cycling benefits’, along with the newly introduced topic of ‘cycling cultures’.

What better way to toast Vienna’s rich cycling traditions than with a fine award-winning wine! Treat yourself to a spot of wine-tasting at Heuriger Wieninger, a traditional Viennese wine tavern, where your third-generation host Leo Wieninger will guide you through the tavern’s wine cellar and offer you a taste of authentic Viennese wine. And did you know that Vienna is only city in the world that boasts vineyards fully within its boundaries? We say a hearty ‘cheers’ to that!

Enjoy a dinner at Vestibül Restaurant, impressively set within Vienna’s ornate Burgtheater, serving fresh and innovative new twists on well-loved Austrian specialties. Follow with an overnight stay at the Boutiquehotel Stadthalle, the world’s first city hotel maintaining a zero energy balance. Your ‘best of’ experience concludes the next day with a guided cycling tour through Vienna, passing by some of the city’s most celebrated sights.

And this is just one of your choices…

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 Anna Blum on 16.05.2013  |   No comments

Winter Walks in SalzburgerLand

Winter is not all about skiing, as Touching Nature Web Guides know for sure. Set out on a winter walk on your holiday in SalzburgerLand, and enjoy rosy cheeks and fresh alpine air at a slower pace.


When it comes to winter activities in Austria, your mind probably wanders to downhill skiing. While there is ample opportunity to soar down mountains or glide through scenic valleys and woodlands on cross country tracks, discovering the alps on foot lets you experience the white-clad landscapes and fresh serenity more intimately. There is now a growing trend to cater for those who enjoy the quiet beauty of winter with walks and rambles rather than skiing. More and more walking trails are being groomed specifically for the snowy season, offering everything from relaxing strolls to longer hikes.


For winter walking in Austria, all you need is a comfortable pair of hiking boots and your usual outdoor clothes. Some walkers choose to bring along a pair of walking poles, but this is not a necessity, especially since there are a number of level paths. But they come in handy should you find yourself on an icy patch or when ascending a steeper hillside. Winter walking trails are specially flattened so you won’t find yourself sinking down to your knees.  These trails are called ‘Winterwanderwege’ in German. One region that is particularly attractive to winter walkers is SalzburgerLand. The Salzburger Sportwelt region, for example, consists of eight ski resorts, all of which have well-prepared winter walking trails in their vicinities.


Another prime winter holiday destination in SalzburgerLand is Zell Am See-Kaprun. There you can take a cable car or ski lift up to Mt Kitzsteinhorn (3,203m/10,509 ft) to walk the easy but wonderfully scenic ‘Glacier Trail’ at an altitude of 3,029m/9 938 ft. The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier is covered in snow 10 months a year! While on Mt. Kitzsteinhorn you can also visit the Ice Camp, an amazing world of sparkly ice and illuminated igloos, with an ice bar and an ice cinema at 2,500m/8,202 ft above sea level.


The Rauris Valley, which is located in the Hohe Tauern National Park, boasts 48km/30 mi of waymarked trails for winter walking. Along the trails you may observe wildlife such as deer and snow hares, and you can warm up along the way inside rustic mountain huts. One Rauris Valley trail not to miss is Kolm Saigurn, which leads you to a romantic valley head surrounded by frozen waterfalls.


Finally, the Gastein Valley is a hub for winter walking and boasts over 100km/62 mi of Winterwanderwege. Choose between trails that take from half an hour to four or more hours to complete. Some are gentle and level while others are gradual climbs. Several of the tracks can be accessed by cable car, such as one that begins at the Stubnerkogelbahn-Senderbahn summit station. “The fantastic view from the peak of the Stubnerkogel across the entire valley is something not only skiers rave about,” describes Gasteinertal Tourism. “Those who are particularly brave venture across the 140m/153 yard long suspension bridge at 2,300m/7,546 ft: an airy kind of winter experience!”


Other non-skiing winter activities in the SalzburgerLand region include going for a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ride, tobogganing, snow-shoeing, Nordic walking, ice skating – not to mention kids of all ages enjoy building snowmen! After a day of outdoor recreation, you can take a cable car to a mountain hut to relax over hot chocolate or ‘Jägertee’ – a popular tea and rum drink.


There are numerous other walking options in SalzburgerLand, with most of the region’s winter walking paths being clearly marked and local tourist offices providing you with winter walking maps. So put on your boots, grab your walking poles and get ready to experience the magical winter season.


For more information on SalzburgerLand and other Austrian walking regions, visit

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 Anna Blum on 04.10.2012  |   No comments

Get A-Fled of the Games

The Olympics are fast approaching, bringing road and public transport chaos galore. Instead of seeking alternative routes, why not pack your bags and head to a destination where the only means of transport you need are your legs, fuelled by fresh mountain air and hearty Austrian cuisine? Introducing the Eagle’s Walk in Tirol.


I got to know this neck of the woods as part of an Austrian road trip, filming footage for Matt Carroll’s Hidden Austria. We were running slightly behind schedule as the van pulled into a parking lot at the base of a rather steep, pine-tree dotted incline of the Alpine landscape. According to the itinerary, the Eagle’s Walk section was to involve a short hike up to a mountain hut where we would meet our guide and later lay our heads to rest. The changeover was to be “schnell, schnell, schnell” and, travelling with Austrian time efficiency and three men, there was no room for rearranging bags. My suitcase was thrust open, out came the PJs and, lacking headspace to decide what potions a city girl might need to look halfway respectable after a night in the hills, the entire vanity case was taken in tow.


Now, I might have put myself out there for the ridiculing remarks that followed, but ladies, take my advice: leave the cosmetics at home. For as soon as you have left that last memory of your constantly trackable lifestyle – a laptop – on the backseat in a car-park, the Eagle’s Walk opens up a whole new world of natural beauty in which a blotchy face no longer feels like the end of the world. 126 stages covering some 1480km of scenic, high-altitude hiking trails came within reach as we began our ascent. What struck me was the complete calm, broken only by birdsong and the rustles of wildlife going about their day from the surrounding greenery, plus the air glorious air, filling your lungs and driving you effortlessly onwards against the warmth of the afternoon sun. Inspiring stuff, for when else does a Londoner get to walk up a route to eternity other than the steps of a broken down escalator?!


A common way to experience the Eagle’s Walk is on a multi-day hike, broken up by overnight stays at mountain huts and chalets. These are located at regular intervals along the trails, making it easy to plan your trip in advance, and there are even accommodation-to-accommodation luggage transfer options. For those looking for additional incentive to get those hiking boots down from the loft, there is an Eagle’s Walk reward system with many of the inns offering stamping stations. Collect the stamps to receive hiking badges, souvenirs and the chance to win your next holiday.


As we found out on our overnight stay at the Hämmermoosalm in Leutasch, despite being at 1417m altitude in basic, wood-beamed accommodation, the Tirolean mountains work their magic and you wake up feeling more uplifted than after a night at a 5* resort. The pillow feels fluffier, the people seem friendlier and the food tastes scrummier. Only one element could leave you feeling like you didn’t manage to Get A-Head of the Games: the queue for the shower. But then, us Londoners do love a good queue. And with homemade bread wafting up from the breakfast room below and the sun gaining ground on the majestic Alps outside the window, this is one Olympic jam that I am quite happy to be caught up in.

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 Anna Blum on 18.05.2012  |   No comments

Rob’s Skisafari – Bregenzerwald / Vorarlberg & Salzburger Sportwelt

Rob Rees is on a tour through Austria. Discover with him Austria’s hidden gems.

“We are five days into the Grand Tour of Austria’s lesser known ski resorts, having just left St. Johann / Alpendorf en route for the Dachstein area.

We started the Tour in the village of Au in the Bregenzerwald in Vorarlberg. The area is magical, totally unspoilt and so accessible from the Southern German motorways and the main Vorarlberg town of Dornbirn. Friedrichshafen and Memmingen airports are both within an hour making it a perfect short break destination. We were lucky to stay at the Hotel Roessle in Au. It’s a 300 year old building, tastefully renovated and run with such passion and care by the Simma family. Good food, attentive service and a simple spa and sauna area.

Snow kept coming but we managed to get up to Damuels for 2 hours deep snow to reacquaint ourselves with our skis and trusted equipment on the first day. ‘Warm-up Day'; well that’s what we convinced ourselves as the afternoon refreshments slipped down easily. How good that Austrian beer always tastes!

Bregenzerwald is a real find. Totally authentic; mostly dairy farms and wooden buildings. 22 villages scattered along the main road so you never feel like you are in a developed or commercialised ski resort. Skiing co-exists with real life. The ambience is excellent; the Mountain cheese is abundant and it is the home of 17 cheese producers and a Cheesemakers academy. There’s also plenty of good intermediate skiing split over three big mountain ranges; Warth-Schrocken, Damuels-Mellau and Au’s Diedamskopf. 200km in total giving plenty of runs, even for the most dedicated piste basher. They are all covered by the Three Valleys or 3 Taeler lift pass .

Day two provided us with the ‘day of all days’. After a morning skiing the delightful Diedamskopf by Au, the snow just kept coming. A 4 hour car journey from the Roessle to our next stop -Alpendorf near St Johann in Pongau- took seven hours. In hindsight, a very wise decision to abandon our skiiing on the Diedamskopf and head for the roads early. It is easy for Brits to misjudge the conditions and easier to fail to see that huge quantities of snow can even fox the super-efficient Austrians. We’re so used to just travelling around Austria effortlessly most ski seasons on pristine roads.

A memorable car journey began; through the Alberg tunnel and along the Inn valley with famous name ski resorts flashing by us every twenty minutes on the clear motorway – Monatafon, St Anton, Ischgl, Galtur, Alpbach, Seefeld, Zillertal. We headed off onto side roads at Woergl tracking through the ‘Ski Welt Wilder Kaiser’ resorts of Soll & Ellmau. No worries about the lack of snow here! We crawled behind snowploughs, tail to tail, via Fieberbrunn and Leogang until we hit Saalfelden. Unsurprisingly the pass near the Hoechkoenig at Hinterthal was closed so we diverted via Zell am See, to take the long way round. Massive tree slides at Taxenbach reduced traffic to single file but the Austrian Army were on hand to chop it up and clean it all away.

Suffice to say a good night’s sleep was had at the Pension Palfengut high above Alpendorf, when we finally reached our destination.

To discover the Salzburger Sportwelt, it would probably have been better to be based in Flachau or Wagrain. You will be more central and these villages provide easier access to a broader range of slopes. It’s also simpler to build Kleinarl, Flachauwinkl and Zauchensee into a day’s tour. With Alpendorf as our base, we had to rush to get back home at night via the rather convoluted, ageing Gernkogel chair lifts. However, there are still some superb red runs from the top of the Grafenberg which flatter even the most ‘out of practice’ skiers. The Grafenberg is serviced by a fast new gondola from Wagrain….but it is better to use the continual bus link from this Wagrain base station to the ‘Flying Mozart’ gondola to get to the Flachau ski area

Flachau’s Griessenkareck has some long wooded red runs that fan out in various directions from the summit and you’ll have a smile on your face all day. The ‘must do’s’ are the Hermann Maier World Cup run down to the centre of Flachau, the long red to the bottom of the ‘Rote 8′ gondola and the red to the bottom of the ‘Flying Mozart’ lift. The conditions could not have been better. Perfectly groomed pistes, 1 degree temperature, some beautiful huts and long uncrowded descents.”

 Martina Jamnig on 16.01.2012  |   2 Comments