There aren’t many places we describe as a little piece of Heaven on Earth. But, the region, just 30 minutes drive outside of the city of Salzburg is one on them. Admittingly, we’d never heard of the place, until stumbling across a photograph of it on the cover of a guide book. This is The Salzkammergut Lakes in Austria.
Coincidentally, we’d previously got talking to an enthusiastic Austrian at an Aire in France. He soon asked for the Michelin Map that was on display in the motorhome cab. Before we knew it, he was circling with his pen what he described as a ‘must see’ place to visit – The Salzkammergut Lakes in Austria!
That was it, we were soon driving off in the direction of Austria and the province known as Upper Austria. As the breathtaking mountains of the Alps came into view, we knew this was going to be an exciting trip into the unknown.
The Salzkammergut Lakes in Austria consist of no less than 70 different lakes! Just imagine the majestic Alpine mountains falling into the still, blue waters and you can pretty much picture the scene!
Driving through the picturesque landscapes from Salzburg was fabulous. Then the first lake at Mondsee came into view. By now, the rain had set in. Most days in Summer, the Alps give way to a fierce storm and we’d arrived just as the lightening struck!
The rain pelted down on the motorhome, so the view of the lake didn’t appeal as much as it would under a clear blue sky. Mondsee Lake is the warmest of all the lakes and is famed for windsurfing, so presumably gets a bit windy in the process.
As the sky cleared, we took a look inside the other famous attraction, the church of St.Michaels. It was here that Maria married Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music classic. A beautiful, classic lemon coloured building with no less than 7 alters inside!
Leaving Lake Mondsee behind, our wheels took us in the direction of St.Wolfgansee. The scenery en-route became more dramatic at every turn. As the lake itself came into view, the colour of the water was simply amazing – true blue and beautiful.
The high mountain peaks stretched out above, casting reflections onto the still water. It was here that holidays of the rich and famous were taken, in particular, the Chancellor’s of Germany and Austria.
St.Wolfgang is the main town here, this quaint little place is a low-key affair situated on the Northern shore. Cycle paths made exploring easy, marked routes linked various parts of the lake and towns.
After parking up, we rode off to see what was on offer. A good selection of campsites along with pretty lakeside picnic areas provided plenty of recreation space. Time we thought to find a place to stop for the night.
We didn’t know of anyone who’d toured Austria in their motorhome, so didn’t really know what to expect. It soon became apparent that campsites were the best option for places to stop. Wild camping is frowned upon and unlike neighbouring Germany, there’s no motorhome Stellplatz system.
Soon, we discovered, that campsites in Austria are both modern and immaculate. As we pulled in to our first stop for the night further along the shore of Wolfgansee.
First we had to wait for the campground to open! Most campsites in Austria have a daily quiet time, a little bit like a Siesta for everyone, including reception and the campsite guests. They close the gates for a couple of hours every afternoon to recover from the stress of the day.
So, whilst we waited at Camping Romantik for the gates to re-open, we used our time wisely, speaking to some fellow motorhome owners about their travels.
We soon realised the campsite we chose was fairly full, but luckily a large pitch was available with gorgeous views of the mountains.
The campsite owner took us on his golf buggy to show us the pitch. The grassy area was neatly mowed, resembling a prized garden! Ahead of us, we could just make out the steam train of the mountain railway, heading up the 5,850ft Schafberg or Sheep Mountain in the distance.
As the heat became more intense, our first dip in the lake beckoned. A refreshing way to end the day before sipping a cool glass of wine in front of that view!
Leaving Wolfgansee behind the next morning, our route took us towards Taunkirchen am Traunsee. Situated on the shores of Lake Traunsee, little did we know that this is one of the main tourist areas.
The sun shone down as we approached, making the stunning backdrop of the 1691m Taunstein Peak ever more dramatic. Plunging like a rock face into the lake, the mirror image of the reflection was simply idyllic.
We managed to park a few minutes outside of the town. Although this was peak season, nowhere seemed overly busy with tourists. We soon found ourselves on a footpath towards the famous landmark of a pretty little chapel, named Johannesbergkappelle.
Below us, people swam in swim pools in the lake, where picnic areas provided a perfect spot for a lazy afternoon.
A wooden jetty jutted out into the water, from where we watched boat trips glide along the calm water of the lake.
Just when we thought things couldn’t possibly get any better, we stumbled on Hallstatt. Ahead of us came into view the most scenic lake of all. Nestled alongside the shores of the lake itself, this picturesque Alpine village was the photo on our guide book! We’d found it and it didn’t disappoint.
This area is surrounded by the Dachstein Mountain ranges, plunging into the Hallstatter See or lake. We’d arrived at dusk and needed a place to stop. At the end of the village we found a small campsite, Camping Klausner-Holl, which had just one pitch available so we snapped it up.
As the coach tours departed for the day, we strolled into the quiet centre. Traditional alpine buildings built along narrow streets lead to the water. Whilst timber boat houses with their pitched roofs sat below, many housing the rowing boats that adorn the lake.
Hallstatt is one of the most photographed places in Austria and we could see why! It’s also home to the oldest salt mine in the world, no wonder so much salt is for sale in the town.
All good things must come to an end and our stay at Hallstatt had to be cut short. The campsite was full the following night, so after wondering around briefly during the morning, we then moved on towards Attersee.
The lake of Attersee is rather large! Infact, it’s the biggest lake of all. Driving around the shoreline, led us past the Mountains of Hell or Hollengebirge. We didn’t have time for mountain walks, but this whole area is an outdoor paradise.
At the small village of Uterach am Attersee, we found a gorgeous campsite, Intel-Camping. Fortunately, they had a free pitch for us to park up and relax. Lakeside sunbathing areas, ladders into the clear water and wooden jetty’s made it a water lover’s haven.
Even more conveniently, we could stroll into the village centre. Here, some lakeside cafes and restaurants proved too good to miss. As the sun went down, we took a water-side table, enjoying a wholesome meal under the star light.
This whole area is simply incredible, but we had to head home. As it was time to say goodbye, we vowed to return again soon. That we still haven’t managed, simply because we’ve been pre-occupied elsewhere!
There is so much more to explore in The Salzkammergut Lakes in Austria, we barely touched the surface.
This trip was several years ago, before social media changed how we share travels. When we return, we may be a bit surprised at just how much busier the region has become.
There’s no mistaking the natural beauty of the area will never change. So, we can’t wait to return soon!