Having grown up with an Austrian Grandmother, Austria has always been on the ‘Must Visit Soon’ list. But as I’m not much of a skier it has always been trumped by the temptation of sandy beaches and more exotic locations. That was until this summer when Soheil finally lost his triathlon marbles and decided to sign up for an Ironman in the town of Zell Am See. I was more than happy to take on the role of accompanying supportive girlfriend once a quick Google search revealed it’s immense beauty and with The Sound Of Music soundtrack on full blast I got busy planning our road trip.
We flew to Munich then drove for an hour across the border to our first stop in Zell Am See. The dramatic backdrop of the Alps makes this drive feel well worthwhile, it’s simply breathtaking. Having booked our accommodation on Air B'n'B we weren’t quite sure what to expect but were completely blown away by The Glas House. We were staying here with some other friends taking part in the triathlon and with 5 double bedrooms and views across the mountains it would be a fab location for a winter ski trip too. Lake Zell is one of Europe’s clearest bathing lakes and we enjoyed a good few rest days post triathlon soaking up the mountain fresh air and crystal clear water. It’s quite a sleepy town but for days spent relaxing on the lake and consuming enough schnitzel and strudel to sink a ship, it’s got you covered.
Then we were off to the Capital city of Vienna and wow what a city. I had heard great things but it surpassed all of them. Days were spent pacing the streets soaking up the culture and history whilst nights were spent grazing the food markets and putting the free film festival screenings outside the Rathausplatz to good use. Vienna also plays host to two of my all time favourite artists, Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. Seeing their original pieces at the Belvedere Palace is something I’d definitely recommend and even if you’re not an art lover the view of the city from the palace itself is pretty spectacular.
We then travelled back West to Salzburg and definitely saved the best till last. The birthplace of Mozart and backdrop to The Sound Of Music I knew it was going to be special but it completely stole my heart. The old town is encased by hills and steeped in history. Walking down its narrow cobbled streets browsing the boutiques and munching on pretzels felt authentically Austrian. Salzburg is also within a half an hour drive to some of Austria’s most beautiful lakes which we drove out to most days to hire boats and eat picnics. Next time we visit I will definitely be adding on an overnight stay at Lake Wolfgangsee. Such a quaint little town, it has the elegance and beauty of Lake Garda minus the pretence.
Here are The Grown Up Edit’s tips and favourite bits….
Rent a boat. At first I wasn’t sure if it was a bit James Bond wannabe but the little motorboats are only 15 Euros an hour and give you the best experience of the lakes.
Go to the markets. We only managed to make the Salzburg Saturday market but loved the traditional Austrian cuisines and music on offer there.
Travel around to enjoy the full extent of what the Austria has to offer. Each town and lake is unique in it’s own way and worth checking out even if it’s only for lunch or a quick dip.
Go on a Sound Of Music Tour. If you’re a fan of the movie or not it’s a great way to see the city the Von Trap way.
Stay at The Glas House. By far the best villa we’ve stayed at from Air B’n’B. It’s usually rented as a ski lodge so it’s summer prices are very reasonable and the views are jaw droppingly good.
Rent a decent car to make the most of the scenic roads and rent bikes to explore the lakes.