Cycling like a Kaiser – From lake to lake in Austria's Salzkammergut

Bike Touring Collection by Tobias

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.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Intermediate
    02:10
    21.6 mi
    10.0 mph
    925 ft
    675 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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 first stage therefore ends at the Salzburg train station, where the entire tour ends after ten days. First you drive north on the Salzach, but after a short time turn onto the former Ischlerbahntrasse towards Eugendorf. Do not be confused by the signs, because the Salzkammergut cycle path initially runs parallel to the Mozart cycle path.You have already reached the highest point of today's route six kilometers behind Eugendorf - you probably did not notice the climb due to the extremely gentle slope. After you have crossed the hill, you now have the famous view of the striking, steeply falling Drachenwand, the ridge of which marks the border between the federal states of Salzburg and Upper Austria.You follow this view on a slightly sloping route until you finally reach the shore of Lake Mondsee, where today's stage ends in Gries. The view of the rugged Drachenfelswand, which is now exactly above you, is retained until the next day. If you look closely, you may even spot the mysterious dragon hole as it looks down on you.

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    Difficult
    02:55
    26.1 mi
    9.0 mph
    2,150 ft
    1,750 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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.You miss a night under the Drachenfelsen, but as compensation you get a mountain stage with pleasant, but demanding ascents, great descents and a stop at Fuschlsee, which is idyllic and turquoise blue in the middle of the picturesque mountain backdrop. The second variant is therefore particularly suitable for somewhat more ambitious cyclists who are not afraid of the mountains.The route to Lake Fuschl branches off in Thalgau from variant 1a to the south and leads via three hairpin bends to the mountain ridge from which the Drachenwand rises later. Then it goes on a panoramic descent - with a small break uphill - down to the Fuschlsee. Here you can take a generous break and relax your legs in the cool lake water.On a further, not too long climb you drive further southwest to the pass at 763 meters and then over a more than five kilometer long descent - also with a short break - directly to Sankt Gilgen on Lake Wolfgang. In Sankt Gilgen, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's mother, a visit to the Mozarthaus is of course particularly worthwhile, apart from a walk along the cozy waterfront.This variant ends in Sankt Gilgen. Alternatively, you can also spend the night at Lake Fuschl. From there it is only eight kilometers more and you will meet stage number 2 in Sankt Gilgen, which you can follow from now on. You save about the same distance at the beginning of the second stage.

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  • Intermediate
    03:03
    27.1 mi
    8.9 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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.Overall, today's route is quite flat. A short but crisp climb is still necessary at Scharflinger Höhe - just before Lake Krottensee. Otherwise, most of the time the path leads you comfortably along the lakeshore of Lake Mondsee and Lake Wolfgang. In Sankt Gilgen, the alternative route of the first stage combines with the official route, which gives an excellent view of the Schafberg over the next 15 kilometers. In addition, there are numerous swimming opportunities on the lake shore of Lake Wolfgang, where you can refresh yourself on a hot summer day.Your daily goal is in Bad Ischl, which, as part of the “Little Historic Cities”, is subject to Austria's special tourist criteria, which make exploring the city particularly worthwhile. The Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph l. once spent the summer months here. If you want to let yourself go as well as the imperial family back then, I recommend a relaxing visit to the Eurothermen Resort Bad Ischl for the evening.From Bad Ischl you also have the option to switch directly to stage number 6, which runs from Bad Aussee to Ebensee am Traunsee. If you would rather just take a "small" round in the Salzkammergut, I recommend you to follow the Traun northwards from here.

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    Intermediate
    02:07
    18.6 mi
    8.8 mph
    1,050 ft
    850 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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.A very special experience today is clearly the bike path on the eastern shore of Lake Hallstatt. This runs mostly directly on the lake shore and is replaced by adventurous routes and bridge structures where the slope is too steep.If you still have enough time until the end of the day, you can take a trip to the Dachstein caves about a kilometer southeast of Obertraun by cable car. Alternatively, there is a similar destination in Hallstatt, where you can also visit the oldest salt mine in the world with the Salzbergbahn and also experience the so-called World Heritage View over Lake Hallstatt.

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    Difficult
    02:32
    18.9 mi
    7.5 mph
    1,750 ft
    1,125 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    It's a bit mountainous today. From Hallstatt you work your way up the Koppentraun to Bad Aussee. From here you follow the gently rising Grundlseer Traun to the lake of the same name, at the end of which your day's destination is in Gößl.On the way you can make a detour to the Koppenbrüller cave as a little extra. This is located not far south of the suspension bridge over the Koppentraun, but on the eastern bank. Please note that the path up to the cave is very steep.In Bad Aussee you now have the choice: as an alternative to the route shown, the Salzkammergut circuit can be shortened here again. In other words, you either follow the route to Gößl or you end the tour here and continue with stage 6 the next day. Of course, if you want, you can cycle a little further towards Bad Ischl.Bad Aussee is also ideal for a short break: those with a sweet tooth can try the local gingerbread specialties or other delicacies here in the Aussee gingerbread shop. The gingerbread workshop is located about one kilometer northwest of the city center directly on Salzkammergut-Straße above the Daffodil Vital Resort. If you end the stage here, this invites you to relax in the evening.

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    Difficult
    02:55
    23.3 mi
    8.0 mph
    2,175 ft
    2,400 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Today's stage is almost the most demanding of the entire collection, with a climb of almost 500 meters on a gravel track. Therefore I would like to briefly remind you that you can alternatively skip stage 5. For the beautiful mountain panorama that awaits you today, the "small" excursion is definitely worth it.It doesn't take long - just a kilometer - and the ascent begins. Perhaps it is worth taking a little extra lap in Gößl to warm up, but then there is no going back: Aufi aufn Berg! On the way you will encounter wonderful panoramas, like from the picture book and here and there also some nice places to take a breather. Although the ascent is almost moderate with an average gradient of 7.5%, there are still passages of 15% that are aimed at you. Fortunately, these are quite short. The best way to brake is the path, which consists of gravel without exception over the entire climb.My tip: Even the highest mountain conquers itself with cosiness and full energy reserves. So take it slow and don't skimp on breakfast. Once the pass has been reached, here is the good news: a wonderful, extensive descent of over 13 kilometers at the end of which you can refresh yourself with crystal-clear, cool spring water from the village fountain in Obersdorf.The remaining 15 kilometers of the stage are also more comfortable. If present, increases are hardly noticeable. About a kilometer behind Kainisch you can consider taking a short detour to Lake Ödensee, where you can take a luxurious break in the Kohlröserl hut. At the end of the day I recommend a relaxing visit to the thermal baths of Bad Aussee after your top performance today.

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    Intermediate
    02:47
    24.2 mi
    8.7 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,900 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    On stage number 6 you drive from Bad Aussee via Altaussee and Bad Ischl to Ebensee am Traunsee. The day does not start unspectacular: after the first short but crisp climb, you can let your gaze wander over the Altaussee plateau on the plateau of Altaussee, with the Trisselwand majestically enthroned at its eastern end.You follow the Augustbach until you reach the Blaa-Alm shortly after its source. This is at the pass level of today's route, with which you have already reached the highest point of the stage. But the whole thing sounds steeper than it really is: Just 200 meters in altitude have to be mastered from Altaussee to here. Then it goes comfortably downhill through the fabulous Rettenbach Gorge to Bad Ischl.Here you briefly leave the official bike path to avoid the roughest city traffic on the eastern side of the Traun. Of course, you can alternatively take a break in Bad Ischl. In this case, you just follow the bike path signs.We continue along the Traun on the so-called Soleweg. In the past, the brine was conducted from the mines in Hallstatt and Bad Aussee to the saltworks in Ebensee on Traunsee, where your current destination is.

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    Intermediate
    02:23
    23.0 mi
    9.6 mph
    1,125 ft
    1,000 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    At least half of today's day is entirely devoted to Lake Traunsee, the western bank of which you follow to Gmunden to its northern end. From now on you part with the Traun and cross the northern foothills of the Höllengebirge to Seewalchen am Attersee.The route on the banks of Lake Traunsee leads mainly along federal road 145, but as a separate cycle path strip. The good news: In sections, the federal road has since been downgraded and moved into the mountain by means of tunnels, which gives bike traffic plenty of room to develop at these points - perfect for stopping and letting your gaze wander over Lake Traunsee.At the northern end of the lake you will reach the historic ceramic town of Gmunden. Gmunden, like Bad Ischl, is part of the Little Historic Cities and is subject to special criteria that give tourist exploration a special value: With a little time behind you, you should take a tour with the majestic "Gisela", the oldest paddle steamer, for example the world, not to be missed. A visit to Ort Castle is also absolutely worthwhile.The second half of the day is a bit hilly, but the climbs are mostly very moderate and therefore easy to master. Your destination is in Seewalchen am Attersee, where the day's stage ends at the local lido. In addition to a refreshing bath, you can also find out about the pile dwelling villages in Seewalchen, which were built in this region around 6,000 to 2,800 years ago, but have unfortunately since sunk into Lake Attersee.

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    Intermediate
    02:49
    25.8 mi
    9.2 mph
    1,275 ft
    1,250 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From Seewalchen you drive along the west bank of the Attersee to Unterach where the Mondsee merges over the less than three kilometers long Seeache into the Attersee, which is a little lower down. At Mondsee you follow the east bank of the second half of the day to its northern end.You start the stage with a small round around the Buchberg. After the accompanying climb, you leave the official bike path for a short time to visit the city of Attersee. It may be too early for a must breakfast in the Mostschenke Palmsdorf at this time of the tour, but the wonderful homemade bread is still a good argument for a short break. Alternatively, you can also enjoy a delicious, homemade ice cream in Attersee.After the passage at the south end of the lake over to the Mondsee you have the majority of the day's route behind you. So you can take your time and enjoy the magnificent view of the Drachenwand once more, stroll along the promenade in Mondsee or enjoy the afternoon sun in the local lido.

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    Intermediate
    02:16
    22.1 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,025 ft
    950 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The path now leads you further and further west, back to your starting point in Salzburg. On today's stage you drive from Mondsee to Irrsee and via Straßwalchen to Mattsee in the idyllic Salzburg Lake District.You will have noticed that you are leaving the large mountain lakes more and more behind you. The landscape is also becoming increasingly flat and the lake views are no longer as majestic as at the north, as at the last stages. It is therefore worth stopping now and then and letting your gaze wander south.Shortly before your destination you reach Ludwigshöhe, which, despite the comparatively flat surroundings, offers an excellent view of the lake landscape around Mattsee. So at the end of today's tour don't drive too fast to your destination, otherwise you'll miss the best part.

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    Intermediate
    01:53
    18.5 mi
    9.9 mph
    525 ft
    800 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    You can afford a little dangle to the north to pass the fascinating land bridge between Mattsee, Grabensee and Obertrumer See, then it goes southwards, back towards Salzburg.Shortly after Obertrum am See a small hill awaits you, but it is quite easy to master. Then it goes down to Salzach on the German-Austrian border. Shortly before you cross Antheringer Au, a former flood area of the Salzach. The bike path leads through a relatively light piece of forest, which also seems to be very popular with wild boars - maybe you will see a few along the way. If you hit them, be sure to keep enough distance and not disturb them, then nothing should happen. However, if you have kittens with you, be careful.Back on the Salzach you drive from the north into the city of Salzburg. Your tour ends here. Bravo! You have traveled to one of the most beautiful regions in Austria, which even the emperors already appreciated. If you want, treat yourself to a stress-free afternoon in Salzburg or even spend the night here. Alternatively, with the regular train connections from Salzburg you will surely get home quickly, where it is known that it still sleeps best.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    249 mi
  • Duration
    27:50 h
  • Elevation
    14,350 ft

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