Wanting to avoid the heat that summer, beaches crowded with tourists and the inevitable crowds, we decided to go on vacation to the mountains. As great nature lovers, our choice fell on the Austrian Alps, just a few hours drive from Zagreb. We wanted to replace the unbearable heat with pleasant daily 20 degrees, fresh mornings and cool evenings, enjoy the peace and nature, recreational easy hiking, lakeside walks, glacier tours, national parks, local food from local suppliers and beer from small family breweries.
The picturesque Schmittenhöhe, the crystal clear lake in the valley and the only glacier in the state of Salzburg, Kitzsteinhorn, were more than enough motivation to head to the small Austrian town of Zell am See not far from Salzburg with great excitement.
Zell am See is a town of about 10,000 inhabitants located on the western shore of Lake Zeller surrounded by the peaks of the Alps which are covered with snow even in summer and is located at the foot of the Schmittenhöhe mountain which is part of the Kitzbühel Alps. This famous year-round tourist destination with the cleanest lake in Austria, with a water temperature of up to 23 degrees in summer, Kitzsteinhorn Glacier and Austria’s highest mountain peak Grossglockner (3798 m) nearby, gentle green hills covered with fresh flowers, numerous hiking and trekking , acted as a place where we will enjoy an active vacation, beautiful nature and pleasant temperatures.
And we weren’t fooled. Zeller Lake is 4 km long and 1.5 km wide and is ideal for all kinds of water sports in summer. Here you swim, surf, sail, dive, water ski, while along the coast you practice yoga, ride a bike, walk and run. On the shores of the lake back in 1896, the now cult Hotel Grand was built, which gives the whole city a dose of glamor and nostalgia for the past. The walk around the lake, Seepromenade, takes about 3 hours of easy walking, and along the way you can relax in many cafes and inns and enjoy the view and fresh air.
It is interesting that Austria spends more nights in summer than in winter and that, although they do not offer the sea and the sun, their income from summer tourism is 2.5 times higher than the year-round Croatian tourist earnings. We quickly convinced ourselves why this is so. Everything is perfectly organized, accessible, everyone is extremely kind and correct. I can arrange everything you want within 24 hours.
We would start the day by climbing to the top of Schmittenhöhe, 1975 m above sea level, one of the many hiking trails. All trails are clearly and in detail marked, with degree of difficulty, length, duration, so you can choose the route that suits you and carefree hours of untouched nature and views of the Alps, without fear of getting lost along the way.
Mastering the hills and trails covered with colorful mountain flowers and green pastures, you will feel all the tranquility of the landscape and the majesty of nature.
Along the way, you will also meet cows that thoroughly graze pastures, ignoring the numerous hikers.
When you get tired, you can find respite and refreshment in many mountain lodges, Hütte, drink apricot brandy, homemade beer, try local specialties and socialize with other mountaineers and share experiences.
From the very top of Schmittenhöhe there is a magnificent panoramic view of the lake and the city at the foot, and you will instantly forget about fatigue and sore muscles and just soak up the beauty of the amazing scenery. There is a group practice of yoga, so yoga lovers can enjoy the mountain environment every day by performing asanas. There is even a yodeling course.
View from the top of the Schmittenhöhe on the Zell am See
To commemorate the visit of Queen Elizabeth (Sisi) to Zell am See and the summit of Schmittenhöhe in 1885, a wooden chapel of Queen Elizabeth was built that fits perfectly into the landscape.
Chapel of Queen Sisi
There, on the same occasion, a circular promenade Elisabethrundweg was built, with which you can complete the pleasure of climbing to the top of the mountain in half an hour.
Residents of Zell am See are extremely proud that a unique and world-renowned Porsche design is being created at the Porsche Design Studio in their city. Since 1942, the Porsche family has owned a property in the vicinity, in Schuttgut, where the successor Wolfgang Porsche still lives, and has been connected to this area for decades. Thus, the design of the modern cable car that runs from the foot of the city to the top of Schmittenhöhe is signed by Porsche Design.
The trail is crowded, adapted to all ages and conditions, many activities are offered, the landscape is enchanting, and the feeling of satisfaction when you finally arrive at your destination after a few hours of climbing is unrepeatable.
I would recommend this kind of vacation to everyone because you will feel calm and satisfied in nature, you will wake up the next day full of energy and ready for new conquests and explorations. The perfect combination of mountains and lakes, a sense of fulfillment and good energy that nature fills you with will always bring us back to this magical place.