SalzburgerLand – where summer’s instinctive

In this picture-book setting, your summer story awaits. In Austria’s Salzburgerland province it’s a season that writes its own standalone chapter, not to be outdone by its winter prequel.

It’s a most natural transition this blanket of greens, blues, and florals that need no coaxing and are behind every summertime adventure and pastime in this region. It’s impossible not to want to hike every mountain, splash in a crystal clear lake, ride the most adrenaline-inducing trails on two wheels, or find wonder in enduring cultural and culinary traditions. You’ll instinctively feel it once you arrive – a mood, an awakening, a rush - experience the Salzburgerland summer. 

Step into a warm-weather postcard in the holiday surroundings of Zell am See-Kaprun, famed not only for its romantic lakeside settings around shimmering Lake Zell, but also as a centre for almost any conceivable recreation  under the summer sun. Water activities such as swimming, boating, stand-up padding, sailing, kayaking, and more, take advantage of both the beauty and drink water quality of the region’s most famous lake. Two new, themed hiking trails for 2019 add to an already expansive network of sign-posted paths here in the heart of the Austrian Alps, and the new Maiskogel lift whisks guests up one of the resort’s two local mountains. At even loftier heights is the 3000m ‘Peak World’ attraction atop Kitzsteinhorn mountain and glacier, part of the protected Hohe Tauern National Park, and home to Salzburgerland’s highest observation platform. Zell am See-Kaprun is also well-served by 240km of bike trails and the Tauern Cycle Trail is one of Europe’s most popular long-distance cycle routes. And speaking of stamina, in September, some 2,500 international athletes descend upon the region for Ironman 70.3. Phew. Maybe it’s time for a round of golf (or two) on one of Austria’s leading golf courses featuring 36-holes.

Lying at an altitude of 1,003m, the mountain resort of Saalbach Hinterglemm is the real deal (or the ‘wheel deal’) when it comes to all things bike. From guided mountain biking to the ‘Big-5 Bike Challenge’ covering five mountains in one day and, everything in between, Saalbach Hinterglemm is a real summer hot spot for cyclists. 400km of trails served by transport on five mountain lifts, e-biking options, cycle hire, and bike-friendly hotels cater to all abilities and pursuits. Further recreation includes 400km of hiking routes, including several unique herbal paths and adventure trails for families. Europe’s highest tree-top trail, running 1km in length with its 200m ‘Golden Gate Bridge of the Alps’ -  a suspension bridge spanning the valley below and offering great panoramic photo opportunities. A great visitor tip is the JOKER card, available for free at its partner accommodation, offering guests complementary use of mountain lifts, free or discounted access to a variety of outdoor activities, and transportation on the hiking bus.

Just 70km southwest of the city of Salzburg lies the fantastically diverse resort region of Saalfelden Leogang. The contrast of choices is what makes this holiday escape a natural go-to for summertime fun. A sprawling infrastructure of 720km of mountain bike trails to negotiate at day break while closing out the evening with the annual Saalfelden International Jazz Festival, this year (22 – 25 Aug 2019) celebrating its 40th year. An early morning round of golf on a classic championship course with many interesting natural obstacles to an exhilarating 130km/hr ride on the 1600m Flying Fox XXL, suspended some 140m above the ground racing along on steel cables, in the afternoon. This is a holiday destination for all ages and abilities. Young and young at heart can give mountain biking a try at Europe’s largest  beginner park and then watch in awe at the pros perfecting their moves at Leogang’s world-class bike park, set to host the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships  in 2020. For those preferring to stay firmly on their feet, choose from valley paths, meandering grassy hills, high alpine mountain routes or even long distance hikes stretching over several days with luggage transport. The barefoot hiking path on Saalfelden’s Asitz mountain stimulates the senses and encourages attunement with nature. Finally, come ‘home’ and relax at many of Saalfelden Leogang’s fine hotels and experience a focus on wellness, organic cuisine, and sustainable practices.

Who hasn’t uttered the words “are we there yet?” on a journey by car?  The beauty, in its most literal sense, is that travelling along Austria’s most stunning alpine road is the destination. You’ve arrived already, now just look out the window and enjoy the grand, high-altitude mountain scenery as you wind your way through the 48km and 36 hairpin bends of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road leading you to the highest point in Austria reachable by car at 2571m. Featured in many movies, music videos, and vehicle promotions, this special route which weaves through the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park towards the tallest peak in Austria, the Grossglockner, opens to traffic each year (depending on weather) from late April/early May through to late October/early November. An information package, given to visitors at the check in pay stations at the beginning of the route highlights nine exhibitions, four themed playgrounds, nature paths, rest stops, and info points along the way.  Emperor Franz Josef himself once surveyed the view from the route’s final lookout point – ‘Franz-Josefs-Höhe’ – albeit having hiked to this point in the absence of any road!

For a top-notch family holiday destination, St. Johann in Salzburg fits the summer bill. ‘Cable car hiking’ will surely please those with less stamina for the uphills but having plenty of energy to explore the all-ages fun at ‘Ghost Mountain leisure and adventure park’ where four ‘worlds’ are introduced by the mountain mascots, leading to 40 varied stations featuring slides, water games, swings, climbing towers, and also picnic benches and relaxation chairs for when little

feet need a rest. The attractive, walkable town of St. Johann offers a variety of accommodation from luxury 4-star properties to cosy alpine lodges, with real mountain atmosphere along its shopping street lined with cafes, bakeries and outdoor adventure stores which hint at the recreation on offer in this mountain playground commanded over by its 1750m Gernkogel mountain, popular amongst hikers and bikers alike. The 300km-long Tauern cycle path, one of the prettiest cycling routes in all of Austria, makes its way through St. Johann in Salzburg. Not to be missed is a visit to the Liechtenstein Gorge and, far below this alpine landscape, the largest ice cave in the world is just plain cool and a real draw amongst visitors (May - end of Oct).

One can’t help dismiss the coincidence that presents itself with Hochkönig, one of Austria’s leading hiking destinations. After all, with a name that translates as ‘high king’, what a brilliant and subtle spot of self-promotion. This aside, Hochkönig is well-deserving of its accolades, including ‘Austria’s hiking seal of approval’ certification, as this wild and pristine region of Salzburgerland is simply spectacular on foot. 340km of sign-posted trails web their way across the mountainous terrain dominated by the Hochkönig massif. One of the jewels in Hochkönig’s crown is the ‘Königsweg’ or ‘King’s Way’, a 73km long distance hiking trail that winds through the region, while the area’s herbal hiking choices are also a unique draw – 13 herbal farms and specialised herbal accommodation round out this theme. That said, the culinary experience is a real attraction here, be it traditional favourites such as Kaiserschmarrn or Kasnocken cheese dumplings to modern cuisine with regional products. Of note, Hochkönig is the world’s first certified vegan region supported by the many vegan partner farms, alpine huts, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and accommodation providers. Families have always also enjoyed a royal welcome in Hochkönig with plenty on offer such as a 1.6km summer toboggan run, Europe’s first forest slide park, stroller accessible mountain routes, and the ‘mountain village of animals’ in nearby Mühlbach.

When your Salzburgerland story is over, its epilogue might best say that it was a summer holiday that truly wrote itself, and you, its most welcome guest, just went along with it. Instinctively.

Further information: www.austria.info/summer

Find pictures on www.views.austria.info