This month, I decided to take advantage of the week off I managed to get the first week of November, and head on over to Austria.
Anyways, I actually didn’t fly direct to Austria because American Airlines doesn’t fly there, so my parents and I flew into Zurich from JFK, rented a car, and drove the 6 hours to a little town near Salzburg. Grundlsee lake might be out in the middle of nowhere, and you probably have never even heard of it, but it sure is beautiful. We stayed at a wellness spa resort here for the week, and ventured out into nearby towns when we could.
Our first day at Grundlsee lake we explored near the hotel, walking around the 10 kilometer like and into the woods that led us to a smaller lake and cute little restaurant. Surprisingly for November, Austria really isn’t as cold as I expected, averaging about 40- 50 degrees the whole time we were here.
Day two we spent inside at the spa most the day as it was raining outside, only venturing out for a late lunch to a nearby town called Bad Ausee. Again, not much to do while its raining but it was nice to check out a new place and we had a delicious pastry at a small- but busy cafe-bar.
On the third day in Austria we decided to make the hour and a half drive over to Salzburg, one of the bigger towns nearby us. We parked at a “Hypo Park” and made our way towards the Fortress on a hill that overlooks all of Salzburg. On our walk over to the staircase we ran into a lot of cathedrals, horse drawn carriages and plenty of cute cafes. Entry to the fortress was 11 euros per person, and included a few free audio tours if you made your way all the way to the top, along with a museum with a lot of interesting history about Austria in general, and everything that has happened at the fortress. We spent a good 2-3 hours there, and eventually made our way down to the city again to find lunch. I had my mind set on a few lunch spots I had found on pinterest, but we stumbled across this restaurant Zipfer Bierhaus, which had traditional Austrian dishes, and it ended up being amazing. The Zipfer tavern is one of the last ancient taverns of Salzburg, and has housed at one point a famous historian along with Mozarts own sister. A few other places worth visiting in Salzburg include the Mirabellgarten and the street where Mozart lived.
Day four we ventured on over to Hallstatt, less than 40 minutes away from us at Grundlsee, to explore the world famous salt mines. Over 1/3 of the world’s salt is produced in Austria, with the majority of that being dug up in the world’s oldest salt mine in Hallstatt. The beginning of our tour started with us riding hundreds of feet up a mountain on a cable car to the entrance of the salt mine. The view from the ride was incredible, and it only took about a minute. Once up there they had us all change into these ridiculous looking outfits as not to get our clothes dirty and salty walking through the mine. Our tour guide was super informative and fun and the whole thing lasted about two hours start to finish. For more info on the salt mine check this out. At the end of the tour and on our way out we stopped by the world heritage walk which overlooks the lake and the town of Hallstatt.
On our last day in Austria we explored two more small towns nearby: St. Wolfgang and Mondsee. We walked around St. Wolfgang and explored the lakeside streets some before stopping to have a bite to eat at a cute waterfront restaurant, that was part of a hotel. After lunch we drove 20 minutes over to Mondsee, to see the St. Michael cathedral where Maria got married in The Sound of Music. It’s funny because much of Salzburg, and it’s surrounding cities have a lot of tourist attractions relating to the movie, but locals told us that most Austrians have never even seen the movie.
That wraps up my trip to Austria! Even though we went in November, when many attractions and hikes are closed to the public, we managed to see a lot and avoid the crowds.