Stretching east of Salzburg into the foothills of the Swiss Alps, the Austrian Lake District—the Salzkammergut—is home to some of Austria’s most stunning scenery. This is an idyllic spot for a summer vacation, with picturesque alpine villages, lush green valleys framed by snow-dusted peaks, and dozens of glittering lakes.
Salzburg is the gateway to the Lake District, and day trips might include a tour of the Dachstein Ice caves, a boat cruise across Lake Wolfgang, or a visit to the town of St Gilgen, where Mozart's mother was born. Many visitors combine a scenic drive through the Lake District with a sightseeing tour of Salzburg’s UNESCO-listed Old Town or a visit to the Obersalzberg salt mines.
Things to Know Before You Go
- It’s easy to get around in the Lake District; pick one town as your base and explore the others on day trips.
- Most towns have their own Visitor Information centers where you can purchase hiking maps, access free Wi-Fi, and learn more about the region.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a swimsuit—you can take a dip in many of the lakes.
How to Get There
Buses and trains link Salzburg with larger towns such as Mondsee, Bad Ischl, and St. Wolfgang, but the most convenient way to explore is with your own transport or on a guided tour. Boats and passenger ferries also link the towns and villages around the Attersee, Traunsee, Mondsee, Hallstätter See, and Wolfgangsee lakes, but most run only in summer.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit the Lake District is in summer; book tours and hotels in advance if you’re visiting during the busiest months of July and August. At this time of year, you can get your fill of outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, and water sports; in winter, meanwhile, you can hit the ski slopes on the surrounding mountains.
The Sound of Music tours
The Austrian Lake District is perhaps most famous for its starring role in the musical “The Sound of Music” and visitors still come from all around the world to visit the film’s scenic locations. Sound of Music tours typically visit the magnificent Schloss Leopoldskron and Schloss Hellbrunn; the gazebo at Schloss Hellbrunn, where Liesl von Trapp sang “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”; the Mondsee church where Captain Von Trapp married Maria; and, of course, the green meadows where the iconic opening scene, starring Julie Andrews, was shot.