If you are looking for a day trip from Salzburg to spectacular lakes and mountains then the Salzkammergut is for you. The Salzkammergut region covers a large area of lakes and mountains but for our day out we are going to concentrate on one of the most popular lakes, Wolgangsee. It is also the easiest to get to from Salzburg and offers a wide range of attractions and sights.
If you have access to a car it is a straightforward drive to the main lake Wolfgangsee. If you don’t have a car, do not depair, there is a regular bus service from Salzburg to St Gilgen. From here you can get a ferry that does a circuit of the lake calling at St Wolfgang and Strobl amongst others. You can leave at any point, have a look around and then hop back on a later boat.
Head for Route 158 (Wolfgangsee Strasse) to the east of the city and keep on this road all the way. If you have a sat nav enter St Gilgen. Along this route you will pass the pretty lake and town of Fuschl to your left. Keep an eye out for a modern building on the right with bronze bulls stampeding out of the offfices. This was until recently the headquarters of Red Bull! As you near St Gilgen you will see a small carpark on your right, its easily missed but it has a fantastic vista of the lake. mountains and the town of St Gilgen. The large mountain to your left is the Schaffberg that has a cog railway all the way to the summit.
Descending into St Gilgen you will see signs for many carparks. In the peak season expect to park a little further out rather than in the centre.
Bus 150 leaves the main train station every 30 minutes. You can also catch the same bus at Mirabelplatz. The cost is €13.80 return and takes about 50 minutes. The bus stops at the bus station in St Gilgen and then it is a short walk into the town and the lake. For information about any bus service in and around Salzburg go to https://fahrplan.salzburg-verkehr.at/
This elegent town is at the north west of Wolfgansee lake and is one of the main departure points for the frequent ferries around the lake. A round trip takes about 2 hours but you can stop at the wonderful St Wolfgang and the little town of Strobl along the way. The ferries operate from Mid April until the end of October. During Advent they do special cruises to visit the Christmas Market. Each ferry has a little bar serving hot and cold drinks and snacks.
Ticket prices for 2019 for a round trip are €21.20 for adults and €10.70 for children. This is for a single entry and exit per stop. If you just want to go to St Wolfgang then these tickets are a bit cheaper.
Also in the town is the cable car up to the mountain behind St Gilgen called the Zwolferhorn. From the top there are wonderful views of the lake and surrounding mountains. It is open all year except from early January to early February. Cost for a round trip is €24.50 for adults and €15.00 for children.
There is a strong connection with Mozart in St Gilgen although Mozart himself never got to go there. His grandfather worked in the town, his mother was born in St. Gilgen, and his sister Nannerl moved there after her marriage. There is a small museum in the town.
St Wolfgang is the jewel of Wolfgangsee nestling at the foot of the mighty Schafberg mountain. The name is derived from Saint Wolfgang who founded the first church here in 976. The church became a place of pilgrimage and the current church dates from the 14th century. From the terrace behind the church you get a lovely view of the lake and mountains. If you have a car you can drive to St Wolfgang but personally it is easier to take the ferry and enjoy the views.
The town is also famous for the White Horse Inn featured in the operetta by Ralph Benatzky and the film. It sits on the water’s edge and still attract guests from all over the world.
Just outside the town is the cog railway that takes you to the summit of the Schafberg mountain in about 35 minutes. This little train jugs up the mountain for nearly 6km before reaching the top at 1783m. The views along the way and at the summit are fabulous. You really feel as if you are on top of the world. Perched on the very top and at the edge of a precipitous cliff is the Hotel Schafsbergspitze, the oldest mountain inn in Austria dating from 1862. The railway is open from Mid May to the end of October. Note that in 2019 it will only go half way in October due to construction work.
The cost is €39.60 for adults and €19.80 for children. Trains start at 08:55 with the last train down at 17:05
Strobl is a small town at the far end of Wolfgangsee and is a lot calmer than the busy St Wolfgang. Although dating from the medieval period, Strobl became increasingly important as a holiday resort once the Hapsberg family built their summer palace at nearby Bad Ischl.
It has a pretty promenade where you can go water skiing or hire a boat or just relax. It also has a flat lakeshore and natural beaches where you can swim.