By Danielle Pruger
Photos courtesy Austrian National Tourist Office
The Salzburg Lake District (Salzkammergut) is said to be one of the most charming regions in Austria: blue lakes, high mountains, green meadows and forests—a storybook landscape. The former emperor Franz Josef and his wife Sissi spent many holidays in this area and hence coined the term “Sommerfrische” (summer health resort).
Aristocracy was easily persuaded, and it was not long until half of Vienna passed the hot summer months in the “healthy” region of the Salzkammergut. The artist Gustav Klimt was yet another regular, spending time on the lakes and trying to capture this stunning natural scenery in his paintings. This area is also known as both a cycling and hiking paradise.
One way to experience this region is through self-guided tours through the company Bike Tours Direct. Trails are well-marked and well-maintained, and the terrain varies from flat lakeside trails to hilly meadows to outright mountains. The region is dotted with gorges, waterfalls and other natural wonders, but it’s also filled with culture and history—quaint villages, medieval towns and imperial villas where the Austrian emperors spent their summers.
The self-guided tour is seven nights long. Highlights of the tour include a bike tour of Lake Wolfgangsee, a train ride into Salzkammergut and a stay at the Hallstatt lake resort.
Although the tour is self-guided, van support is available for transfers and shuttles.
For more info, go to Bike Tours Direct