I always remind myself that “not only is the view from the mountains into the valley fascinating, but the view up to the peaks is remarkable too – especially where you are standing by the lake.” Emperor Franz Joseph I and his “Sissi” certainly also saw it that way when they chose the Salzkammergut to be their summer resort in the 19th century.
If you are a fan of lakes and mountains and enjoy relaxed cycling, then the Salzkammergut Cycling Trail is perfect for you. On the trail, you can explore 12 fantastic lakes (ten of which are included in the 20 largest lakes in Austria), impressive mountain peaks, and cliffs that hug the crystal clear water. You can reach these stunning landscapes with just 1,280 feet (390 m) of climbing on average per day.
And the best thing about it: there are an incredible number of possible variations on how you can ride this impressive route. The Salzkammergut Cycling Trail is a circular route, meaning you can start at almost any point. The trail also often crosses road junctions, such as in Bad Ischl, which allows you to shorten the stages if necessary. Furthermore, there is an official alternative route to the first stage, which I also present to you in this Collection. So, if you run out of time, you can easily split your adventure into two, three or even more stages.
The festival city of Salzburg is an ideal starting point, which is very easy to reach by train or other means of transport. From there, the route runs for almost 223 miles (360 km) past the Mondsee to the Wolfgangsee, through the imperial city of Bad Ischl to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Hallstatt-Dachstein, on to Bad Aussee, the Traunsee and Attersee lakes and finally to the Salzburg Lakeland. You can look forward to ten relaxed and varied stages with beautiful mountain panoramas, which Empress Sissi would once have enjoyed.
You cross three Austrian federal states on your journey: Salzburg, Styria and Upper Austria. The roads are mostly low-traffic and asphalted, but there are also occasional gravel sections. You rarely have to ride along busier federal roads. If you do, you can usually skip them by jumping on the train or a boat if you wish.
Since the Salzkammergut is a popular tourist region, you will find suitable accommodation almost everywhere. From campsites, guesthouses, and self-catering to luxury hotels, there is something for every taste and budget. Your food cravings will also be well catered for at the popular cafes and restaurants along the way. Here, you can try smoked trout or char, freshly-caught from the Salzkammergut lakes.
As the Salzkammergut cycle path is a circular route, you can, as already mentioned, get on at any point without any problems. The most affordable option is clearly in the city of Salzburg. If you want, you could even travel by plane. However, it is more environmentally friendly by train. Here you will find numerous direct connections from German and Austrian cities.
The slightly more demanding variant of the first stage on the Salzkammergut cycle path also leads you from the city of Salzburg via Eugendorf to the hill just before Enzersberg, from where you can see the Drachenwand in the distance. Before you turn five kilometers later from the cycle path, which here follows the Fuschler Ache to Gries (variant 1a), you still have enough time to enjoy this impressive sight.
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The second stage takes you from Gries via Sankt Gilgen and Strobl on Lake Wolfgang to the imperial city of Bad Ischl. If you want, you can make a detour to St Wolfgang in the Salzkammergut on the opposite side of the lake just behind Strobl. Alternatively, it is possible to take the ferry from Gschwendt. It takes you to Sankt Wolfgang without you having to double the four kilometer route on the north bank.
From Bad Ischl past Bad Aussee, you follow the glittering Lake Hallstatt on its east bank and make a small U-turn at the end to cycle a little further to Hallstatt. Alternatively, you can shorten the stage by ferry at various points: for example at the Uferwirt “Seeraunzn”; directly opposite Hallstatt (about three kilometers further south from Uferwirt); or at the ferry station in Obertraun.