9 things to do in and around Zell am See
Zell am See is an Austrian town that sits between Lake Zell and the Hohe Tauern mountains, just south of Salzburg. It’s a lively place full of narrow, cobbled streets, buildings decorated with colourful frescoes, and squares lined with cafés where you can sit and watch the world go by. To help you plan your time there, take a look at our top things to do on a holiday to Zell am See…
Hop on board a boat trip
Boats are one of the best ways to visit nearby hamlets. There’s a ferry service that loops the whole lake, stopping off at six different ports – including the village of Thumersbach on the opposite shore to Zell am See. And what could be prettier than watching the sunset on an evening cruise? You can even book an excursion with your resort rep, and you’ll get a free glass of wine to sip as you watch the sun go down and the town’s lights twinkling across the water.
Go walking for great views
There are no less than 83 walking trails around Zell, including the 12km path around the lake itself. It takes around three hours to walk and there are plenty of places to stop for coffee and cake along the way. Or you can catch the summer lifts up the peaks to find a whole network of routes. To really stretch your legs, pack a picnic and take on the 6-hour, 17km Pinzgauer Spanziergang hike to the village of Saalbach – it’s one of the best mountain walks in Austria and you’ll have incredible panoramic views up at 2,081m high.
Relax on a lake beach
Spend a day lounging at the Strandbad, one of our top lake beaches in Europe. You can soak up some rays on the bathing lawn, go for a swim in the pool or jump into the lake from the diving platform. It’s a popular place for families too, thanks to the toddlers’ pool, waterslide and minigolf course. And thrill seekers can have a go at watersports like paddle-boarding and water-skiing. There are also two other lidos with pools in Thumersbach and Seespitz, and you’ll get free entry to all of them with your Zell am See-Kaprun Summer Card.
Visit the Krimml Waterfalls
Feel the spray on your face from the 380m-high Krimml Waterfalls, the highest falls in Austria. They’re in the middle of the beautiful Hohe Tauern National Park and the tumbling waters are said to have healing powers. Take a seat at the bottom to enjoy the scenery with a coffee from Hanke’s Café, or follow the Waterfall Trail to the top – it’s a steep path and takes around 1 ½ hours to walk up, but there are several viewpoints and places where you can stop to rest. Or skip the faff and take a taxi to the top instead.
Have a feast at Villa Crazy Daisy
When you want a bite to eat, a visit to Villa Crazy Daisy is a must. This popular café in the centre of town is well-known for its friendly staff and menu full of Austrian and international favourites – think schnitzel, Tiroler gröstl, burgers and pizza. They do daily lunch specials too and, in the evenings, the house band sets up on the terrace to get the crowd going with live music.
Go on a day trip to Salzburg
Join an excursion to the home of Mozart, Salzburg. It’s known for its palace grounds, concert halls and walled old town, and the Hohesalzburg Castle watches over all of it from above. The Mirabell Gardens are a must-visit too, and film fans can ‘do-re-mi’ their way through the setting of one of the most famous scenes in The Sound of Music. You can also catch a train to the city from Zell am See, though it takes a bit longer to get there than driving.
Watch the Magic Lake Show
Three nights a week, the town puts on a 20-minute spectacle of lights, lasers, fountains and music out on the water. There’s a different theme each night and it’s completely free to watch, so just stroll down to the promenade on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Look out for the shorter daily shows too – they run on the hour between 1pm and 5pm.
Visit pretty Berchtesgaden
Take a trip to the Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden, with its glacial river and picture-perfect church. The area has two main claims to fame – you can tour the 500-year-old salt mines to learn the history of the ‘white gold’, whizz down the giant miners’ slide and see a cathedral made of salt. Or head to the heights of the famous Eagle’s Nest, up at 1,834m. It was built by Hitler as a meeting place and is now home to a restaurant backed by spectacular mountain views. If you’re on an excursion, you’ll get a visit to the salt mines or Eagle’s Nest included.
Make the most of trains & buses
Want to get out and explore by yourself? Well, Zell has a great local transport system. Trains run once or twice per hour to Salzburg and Kitzbühel – a small, sophisticated town with colourful buildings and beautiful natural scenery. There are also regular buses, so you can get to the pretty mountain town of Kaprun or the traditional farming village of Saalbach in less than 30 minutes.
Where to stay: Hotel Tirolerhof
One of our favourite hotels in Zell am See, the Tirolerhof is a high-quality pick with proper Austrian hospitality. It’s close to the lake and summer lifts, so you can be by the water or up on the peaks in no time. But the real highlights here are the excellent restaurant – which focuses on using fresh, local produce – and the stylish spa, where you can swim in the indoor pool or unwind in the Sauna World.
Now you’ve got a list of what do in Zell am See, have a look at our deals and start planning your Lakes & Mountains holiday to Austria.
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