Meet the Expert: Michelle Roberts in Austria’s Lake District

Meet the Expert: Michelle Roberts in Austria’s Lake District

With 76 lakes and a stunning mountain backdrop, Austria has its version of the Lake District, which is just as captivating as the one in the UK. Offering a serene place to enjoy the great outdoors, walking or biking its winding trails, Salzkammergut in Austria is the perfect place for a self-guided adventure holiday.

As you explore this glorious Alpine landscape of azure lakes, bright green meadows and quaint villages, you’ll find an incredible range of things to see and do. Stop for a swim in the clear waters, explore ancient salt mines and ice caves or take a relaxing boat trip to experience your surroundings from a different perspective.

Our Commercial Executive, Michelle Roberts, recently spent some time experiencing our holidays in the Austrian Lake District. Read on as she shares her unique insights into Salzkammergut for anyone considering a trip to this glorious region.

If you choose to begin your cycling trip in Salzburg, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Mozart’s birthplace. Here, you can learn how this infamous classical composer began making music in his early life while exploring this vibrant, cultural city. Michelle recommends taking at least a day here. She loved admiring the spectacular architecture, stopping to enjoy some local Austrian dishes in the Old Town along the way.

As you follow the riverside paths out of the city, the sheer beauty of the Austrian Lakes becomes ever more apparent. With the crystal-clear waters, the lakes urge you to stop for a swim. Whether you’ve chosen a walking trip or opted for a holiday on two wheels, a quick dip certainly provides a refreshing break. This activity was a real highlight for Michelle. “Having the opportunity to swim in the calm waters of the lakes and spend time in stunning locations really gave us the greatest insight into this beautiful area of Austria.”

Michelle visited several of the region’s beautiful lakes and commented that each offered “something unique with the most incredible views.” She particularly enjoyed visiting Lake Hallstatt and Lake Wolfgang (also known as Hallstatter See and Wolfgangsee).

With picturesque Alpine towns dotted around its circumference, Lake Wolfgangsee is popular with visitors for its boat trips. Michelle did just that, taking in the enchanting landscape while meandering on the open waters.

A little further south, you’ll find Lake Hallstatt. This body of water is named after the local town, with the surrounding area recognised as a UNESCO site. Its dramatic beauty is mesmerising, with imposing mountains towering over narrow valleys and higher pastures stretching out and providing grazing for sheep and cattle. It’s one of the most photographed places, and Michelle remarked how she had taken hundreds of pictures! Follow the route around Lake Hallstatt on our Cycling the Lakes and Rivers of the Salzkammergut trip, and you’ll get to soak up the entire majesty of this natural environment. Michelle loved biking in this area. “It was a pleasure to cycle along well-marked paths, beside the shoreline of most lakes and through small villages, saying hello to the friendly local people as we passed by.”

However, Hallstatt is about more than just its beauty. It’s also an area rich in history, with salt mining being a means of prosperity as early as the Middle Bronze Age. On trips such as our Walking in Austria’s Lake District, you can visit these ancient salt mines and even take a brine bath. There’s also the opportunity to ride on the panoramic funicular railway up the mountain and admire the outstanding views from the Skywalk platform. Follow the trail down through the Glacier Garden and you’ll pass some impressive waterfalls.

Also part of the UNESCO World Heritage area is the Dachstein Giant Ice Cave. Said to extend 42 kilometres into the mountain, the cave encloses around 13,000 m³ of ice, which is 20 m thick in places and approximately 500 years old. Exploring this intriguing underground world, you can see how the ice meets the stone, creating the most extraordinary glistening sculptures.

After all the adventure, a rest day is well-deserved and where better to unwind than the Salzkammergut thermal baths in Bad Ischl? After a soak in these brine swimming pools, there’s the perfect café nearby where you can enjoy a coffee alongside one or two of its delicious cakes or pastries. The imperial city of Bad Ischl offers plenty to explore, too. Our Salzkammergut Lakes Walk trip invites you to explore the riverside promenade, taking you into Kaltenbachau, a site of Imperial amusements such as horse races, picnics and rendezvous.

The food in the Austrian Lakes is top-notch. Michelle noted the quality, giving the presentation a 10/10. She also shared that meat, fish and vegetarian dishes are generally offered in most hotels, meaning there’s usually an option for most dietary choices. When it comes to local dishes, Michelle highlighted that “the delicious Wiener Schnitzel, a traditional dish served with vegetables and potatoes”, was one of her favourites.

On our self-guided walking and cycling trips, you’ll have an opportunity to stay in various hand-picked hotels. One of the stand-out hotels for Michelle, was Hotel IM Weisses Rossl, St Wolfgang, commenting that “this is by far one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed in.” She describes how it is set in a stunning location, nestled on the shores of Lake Wolfgang. It is also well-equipped, with nice touches, such as robes and slippers for use in the spa area. The hotel even has its own heated lido pool on the lake with panoramic views.” Michelle also enjoyed her stay at Erika Boutique Hotel, a beautiful hotel situated in the heart of Kitzbuhel. She said, “The location of this hotel was fantastic as it was within short walking distance of the cable cars and local town. It was very elegant and had a luxury feel, with modern facilities including a spa, swimming pool, relaxation rooms and an outdoor landscape pond. There was also a stylish bar and lounge which had a nice and relaxed atmosphere.”

Summing up her experience in the Austrian Alps, Michelle is nothing but enthusiastic, “This was my first time in Austria, and I can honestly say I was absolutely blown away by the sheer beauty of the Austrian Lakes and Salzkammergut region. There was a moment on this trip where I stood for a while, appreciating the breathtaking scenery, and felt like I was a member of the Von Trapp family. “The Hills really are alive with the Sound of Music!”

If Michelle’s experience has inspired you to discover the Austrian Lake District, then please head over to our Austrian trips page to learn more.