The charming atmosphere of the Austrian Alps
The Alps are the largest mountain range in Europe, covering six countries: Switzerland, Austria, France, Slovenia, Germany and Italy. Everyone has heard about the Swiss Alps, and they have become a familiar sight. Mount Mont Blanc in France is also well known to many on souvenir postcards. Today we will talk about a little less familiar, but very high-quality ski vacation – in Zell am See.
Geography and climate
The ski resort Zell am See is located on the shores of a beautiful lake just 60 kilometers from the major city of Salzburg. The city itself is small, just about 55 square kilometers, and the population is just over 10 thousand people.
The center of the resort is Schmittenhof mountain height of 2000 meters. Especially for tourists equipped with elevators that allow climb to the top and enjoy the scenic view from a height. The total length of trails for skiing is 128 kilometers.
In the middle of the mountains you can find a mountain lake Zeller, a length of 4500 meters and a width of 1500 meters. It is located at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level. Its deepest point is 73 meters. Unfortunately, in winter, it freezes, so swim it is not possible.
The climate for skiing is ideal: in winter the temperature drops to -14 ° C. And the coldest month is January, which is useful to keep in mind when planning a trip.
Geography and climate
What is appealing
Once in the Alps, one is immediately absorbed by the snowy beauty and fairy tale. Holidays in Austria are always held at the highest level and is famous for its impeccable service for tourists. In addition, you can not worry about the fact that the weather will not be suitable, in winter in the Austrian Alps, you can always see the snow, in addition, the nature there is simply amazing. Austrians have thought of everything in detail. There are tracks for beginners and kids, as well as for real professionals, but with a steeper slope. The resort is a great place for those who love to take pictures. In addition to the mountain ranges you can get great shots at the banks of Lake Zeller, Salzach River and glacier Kitzsteinhorn.
Those who are tired of skiing, but miss the outdoor activities can go curling, winter golf or snowmobiling. These relatively young sports are incredibly popular here and in addition to great memories tourists take with them the contacts of new friends from around the world.
In between snowmobiling and skiing you can walk around the city, which is famous for its unique architecture with its medieval buildings. It is recommended to visit the Catholic Cathedral of St. Hippolytus, as well as the Evangelical Church. There are an art gallery and museum of local history.
Most hotels and houses in the city are in the Tyrolean style. Visitors to Austria will find many Tyrolean restaurants, which presents dishes of national cuisine. Such institutions open both in the city and in the mountains, so visitors can admire the scenic views at dinner.
What is attractive
How to get there
The comfort for tourists is thought out in great detail. This includes several ways to get to Zell am See.
- By plane. Salzburg has an international airport. In a little over an hour after landing you can be at the resort. It will take a little longer to get from the airports in nearby Innsbruck and Munich. The flight itself will last an average of 3 hours. When the plane lands, you can take a cab or rent a car. There is also a transfer service to many hotels. The most budget way is by public transport.
- By bus. This is a rather tedious way, which is suitable for those who like to look out the window while traveling. From Moscow to Munich will take 43 hours and 20 minutes by comfortable bus ecolines.
- By car. Confident drivers can drive their own car and appreciate the highest quality European motorways. Typically, the allowed speed on such roads from 120 kilometers per hour, which greatly speeds up the trip.
Regardless of the type of transport for travel in advance will have to take care of a visa to the EU. For the Russians at the moment the visa fee is 35 euros. It is better to take care of the visa in advance and collect all necessary documents.
The way from Munich to Zell-Am-Zee takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes if you prefer public transportation. The best way to do this is to buy a train ticket at Munich railway station. Right outside Munich Airport are cabs on duty, also very popular in Germany car rental. This is relevant for those who have an international card. The way along the A8 will take only 2 and a half hours.
From Salzburg, the drive will be much easier. From there to Zell-Am-Zee go by train. The travel time is an hour and a half. Almost the same – 1 hour and 20 minutes – will take a rental car or cab. It is worth to come to Austria once, to fall in love with the charming atmosphere of the mountains and want to return again.
Austrian Alps. High Tauern National Park.
Snowy mountain peaks, ancient glaciers, unusually beautiful waterfalls, deep gorges, thick forests, picturesque valleys and high alpine meadows, mirror-like lakes and picturesque villages attract travelers to one of the largest national parks in Central Europe – Nationalpark Hohe Tauern. It is located on the territory of the three Austrian states: Salzburg, Carinthia and Tyrol.
National Park covers an area of more than 180 thousand hectares. The highest mountain range of Austria – the High Tauern (Hohe Tauern), in the center of which the reserve is located, gave its name. At the center of the park are 266 magnificent mountain peaks over 3000 meters high. Hidden here behind the clouds and snow are the highest mountains in Austria – Grossglockner (3798 m), Grosswenediger (3674 m), Grosser Muntanitz (3232 m). On the outskirts of the reserve impress with unique flora and fauna alpine mountain meadows and forests spread out on the slopes of the mountains. The riches of the High Tower are more than 550 mountain lakes and 279 mountain rivers, as well as 130 square kilometers of ancient glaciers.
Getting to the National Park is easy by car on the A 10, as well as by bus or train from Salzburg or Klagenfurt. For tourists in the High Taern National Park developed many interesting excursions, skiing, climbing, hiking and biking trails. Especially beautiful is the panoramic alpine high road Grossglockner, which many romantics who come to Austria dream of driving.
The Großglockner connects two Austrian states: Carinthia and Salzburg. The road is 100 km from Salzburg and 160 km from Klagenfurt, in the heart of the Austrian Alps and the High Tauern National Park and runs between the villages of Heiligenblut and Fusch an der Großglocknerstrasse. The maximum height of the road is the Hochtor Pass at an altitude of 2,500 m, and the length is 47 km 800 m. At an altitude of 2,369 m, the Kaiser Franz Joseph Center offers a magnificent view of Mount Großglockner and the ancient Pasteurze Glacier, the largest glacier in the Eastern Alps, which is 9 km long and 1.5 km wide.
The Großglockner is a spectacular mountain serpentine
You can get to the Großglockner along the scenic A10 motorway. From the north you turn off towards Pongau and Fusch, from the south you leave the highway in the direction of Lienz and Heiligenblut. The Alpine highway is open from May to October and only during daylight hours. Weather conditions also affect the operation of the road, in snow or fog the highway is closed. There is a toll on this spectacular serpentine road with 36 steep turns.
It is not an ordinary road, but a popular attraction in Austria. Each year it is visited by more than a million tourists from all over the world. Building this road was a real feat. It all started with a bold project in 1924, which seemed unrealistic to the Austrian government at the time. But the terrible unemployment and the crisis forced the authorities to resume the project of building a tourist transalpine road to give work to 3,200 people. The road was planned as a toll road, because it was necessary to recoup all costs.
A young energetic engineer, as well as an experienced mountaineer Franz Vallack led the construction of the road. The works began in 1930. The mountainous terrain created great difficulties, and the builders were killed. In memory of their heroic work, a monument was erected on the Grosglockner freeway – the Fuscher Turl Gate. It was as early as 1934 that the Salzburg state government leader drove on the Großglockner for the first time. The spectacular mountain road opened on August 3, 1935 and quickly gained popularity among tourists. It is so fascinating to enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery, the alpine meadows. The highway also offers excellent service. The ticket price includes all the exhibitions, parking lots, garages, visits to information centers, wonderful playgrounds for children where you can play, experiment and get to know the wonderful world of plants and animals of the High Tauern National Park.
The ride along the Grosglockner Alpine Road is a thrill and an unreal experience. The mountains impress with their power and majesty, the snowy peaks occasionally hiding behind the clouds. The words of Vysotsky’s song come to mind: “The only mountains that are better than the ones you’ve never been to”. A breathtaking panorama awaits you after each turn of the road. At numerous observation points along the highway you enjoy the splendor of nature, mountain fresh air and alpine herbs. Curious marmots, one of the symbols of Grossglockner, peek out from behind the rocks.
Along the whole road there are two exits. One is to the Kaiser Franz Josef Center, a huge building that houses the most interesting exhibitions. From the large observation deck near the center you can see the huge Pasteurze Glacier. Sparkling in the sun, it creates the atmosphere of a fairy tale. The most curious tourists can walk on the surface of the glacier by taking the cable car or the steep stairs.
The second exit is not often visited by tourists, perhaps because of the very steep climb, but it is worth the effort. The Edelweisspitze (2,573 m), or Edelweiss Peak, is located on a stone tower built on the highest point of the Grossglockner that is accessible to drivers. The view from here is breathtaking: 37 mountain peaks over 3,000 m high and 19 ancient glaciers. As you leave the Grosglockner Alpine Road and are impressed by what you see, you cannot help but be reminded of the romantic words of Vysotsky’s song:
“The whole world is in the palm of your hand – you’re happy and you’re not, and only a little bit jealous of those Others, whose peak is still ahead of them”.
Krimmer Falls, a natural attraction in High Tauern Park
One of the highest waterfalls in Europe, Krimmer is a majestic landmark of the High Tauern National Park. It is located near the village of the same name, in the very west of Salzburg, on the mountain river Krimmler Ache. It is open to visitors from April to October. You can get to the waterfall from Lake Zeller See by bus or train or by car on regional roads 168 and 165 through the village Mitterziel. There are parking lots next to the waterfall, entrance is paid.
When looking at the bubbling wonder of nature, which shakes all around with the roar and rumble of falling water and fills the air with a myriad of splashes, you will be convinced that water is a powerful element. Krimmel Falls are 380 m high and cascade down three huge ledges. All three cascades can be seen simultaneously only from a distance.
The lowest tier of the waterfall is accessible to all travelers. It takes some effort to climb to the observation deck of the second tier, but the third, the highest level is conquered only by determined tourists for a few hours, passing picturesque panoramic platforms along the way. Krimmel looks great in sunny weather, thousands of rainbows give delight and magical atmosphere. Interestingly, in winter, the waterfall freezes, it is truly a fantastic and fabulous spectacle. The air near the waterfall is very humid, the spray is so strong that it is impossible to come close to the raging stream. It is better to have comfortable shoes and a raincoat as an umbrella is not a defense in this case.
On the way back to Zeller See, stop in the village of Mitterziel. Here, visit the regional center of the High Tauern National Park. In several large halls of the center, informative materials about the history, flora and fauna of the park are presented in an interactive format. You’ll discover the secrets of glaciers, mountain forests and meadows, animals and birds, crystal lakes, and the treasures of the Towerne.
The highlight of the center is a unique breathtaking film “National Park” with a 360 degree panorama, which has no analogues in the world so far. You are in the heart of the stunning views and sounds of the nature of the High Towers, climbing to the peaks, descending into deep gorges, and floating down a fast mountain river. An unreal and vivid movie experience for adults and children.
The picturesque Lake Zell am See and the village of Kaprun
Zell am Zee is a small, picturesque lake in the High Tauern National Park. The clear clear water reflects the floating clouds and the high mountains covered with dense forests. The lake is surrounded by the alpine mountain range Schmittenhöhe. The small town Zell am See is comfortably located on the western shore of the lake (100 km from Salzburg). For the first time people settled here in 749 in the old Romanesque parish church of St. Hippolyta 13 century, the Rosenberg Palace in the Renaissance style of 16 century, the Vogtturm Tower of 12 century. It is interesting that since the early 19th century, thanks to the Lake Zeller, the locals have organized a very original craft. In the winter, when the entire lake froze, they cut out pieces of ice from it and sent it to the brewers of neighboring Southern Germany.
The village of Kaprun (a few kilometers from Zell am See) is located in the beautiful valley of the same name. It is known not only for the historic old castle from the 12th century, but also as a ski resort in winter Austria. Want to play in the snow and skate on the ice in the middle of summer? The Kitzsteinhorn glacier, near the village of Kaprun on a mountain nearly 3,000 meters high, will put you in the winter mood. A chairlift takes you up to the top, while you admire the magical panorama of the valley, the surrounding mountains, the waterfalls, the forest that covers the slopes. From here, the Kitzsteinhorn offers fabulous views of the entire mountain landscape of the High Tauern National Park, which is about 30 alpine peaks.
Bad Gastein resort
The famous Austrian spa town of Bad Gastein is 50 km from the village of Kaprun and 100 km south of Salzburg on the banks of the Gasteiner Ache. It is nestled in the middle of an alpine mountain gorge. The river divides Bad Gastein in two and gushes down from a height of 63 m noisy waterfall, which gurgles right next to the houses. The town has 18 unique thermal springs of radon, which yield millions of liters of healing mineral water every year. As a resort it was discovered in the 13th century, and in the 19th century it was considered one of the most popular elite resorts in Europe. Otto von Bismarck and the Austrian emperors Franz Joseph I and Wilhelm I were treated here, and Franz Schubert and Johann Strauss composed their musical masterpieces in Bad Gastein.
There is not a single horizontally flat street in the city. Reserve your strength and comfortable shoes to traverse the steps and paths leading up and down steeply. On the terraces of the town’s picturesque slopes, the classicist buildings, painted imperial yellow, sit elegantly and proudly. The luxurious architecture and the splendor of nature are in harmony in this exceptionally beautiful and elegant spa resort. Bad Gastein is a perfect place for rest and relaxation!
The Cradle of the Rainbow, one of the deepest and longest gorges of Europe, the Liechtenstein Gorge, is situated 6 km away from the town of St. Johan, 65 km from Salzburg.
The town and waterfall of Golling
Just 40 km south of Salzburg on the Salzach River, in a valley between the high mountain ranges of the Tennengebirge and the Hagengebirge is the picturesque little town of Golling an der Salzach. It is famous not only for its old watermill from the early 17th century, the old St. Nicholas Church, the hospitality of the locals and the authentic atmosphere of Austria. Tourists have been coming to this town since the early 18th century to see the stunning natural attraction of the High Tower National Park – Golling Falls.
It is born in a deep karst cave and falls into a narrow crevice in two cascades from a height of 75 m. There is a hiking trail with ladders and bridges along the bubbling and cold water stream. It is both scary and joyful to walk along it. It’s a beauty and a delight!
The High Tauern National Park is an extraordinary natural wonder and a magnificent natural treasure of Austria that must be seen. Driving along the roads from one landmark in the park to another, one never ceases to be amazed at the beauty all around. It’s better to drive slowly along these roads, stopping from time to time at numerous observation points to enjoy the fabulous views of mountains, lakes and valleys, to breathe in the light and clean air and to touch the clouds.
P.S. Austria is characterized by remarkably changeable weather. Joyful sunshine can be suddenly replaced by rain and piercing cold. If the Großglockner alpine road is closed because of weather conditions, and you dream to see the main attractions of the High Tauern, then an excellent alternative to the high road on the route from Klagenfurt – the Tauern A 10 autobahn. It is built in a picturesque valley between high mountain ranges. It passes through numerous tunnels through the mountains. Especially impressive are the 5 and 6 km long tunnels.