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Where to stay in Salzkammergut?

My family of four (including two kids, age 9 and 13) will have four or five days in Austria at the end of July/beginning of August before we drive to Riva del Garda in northern Lake Garda. We're keen to spend those days focused on the Salzkammergut region as the kids are interested in summer toboggan rides, dramatic mountain cable cars with stunning scenery, visiting a salt mine and ice cave, and so on. (Because we'll have a week at Lake Garda afterward, water sports and swimming are not high on the list. Also, we like gentle walks but not vigorous hut-to-hut hiking.) Time allowing, I'd also like to try a thermal bath and we'd all like to sample as much traditional Austrian cuisine as possible (so perhaps we'll need to plan more than a few gentle walks :-)).

My question is, where should we base ourselves? I keep going back and forth between St. Wolfgang and Hallstatt. Initially, I thought we'd just stay in Salzburg and take day trips but it looks like hotel prices will be inflated then because of the Salzburg Festival.

Our hope is to rent a car (if we can find a reasonably priced company that won't penalize us for picking it up in Austria or Germany - if we fly into Munich - and dropping it off in Italy).

Thank you in advance for your help.

Posted by
6570 posts

First thing I'd do is get a good road map and look for alternative cities outside of Salzburg. Then look at for accommodations. There are possibly some cities along the rail lines with accommodations.
As far as picking up a car in Austria or Germany, you will have to pay drop off fees to have the car driven back to its home country. If you picked it up in Austria, you could drop it in Innsbruck and take a train thru the Brenner Pass and down to Verona or close to where you'll be staying. Note: Not all cities in Italy have car rental agencies--just the larger cities.

Posted by
1524 posts

Nicola you can base yourself in the town Strobl Austria. It has a long toboggan run. Your kids will love it. It is close to St. Wolfgang, St. Gilgen , Bad Ischl, and Salzburg. You will have all the amenities to enjoy during your 4 days stay in that region.

For an affordable car rental company check autoeurope

Posted by
4372 posts

I also have similar aged kids and we enjoy staying in and visiting St. Gilgen. It is located on the lake with wonderful views, but is within walking distance of a cable car as well as a summer toboggan run. There is also a lovely park and boat rentals. We've had really good luck at the restaurants in town as well. I am not a fan of St. Wolfgang as it is totally overrun with tourists these days and kind of tacky. Sounds like you'll have a car, which is a big help. Look into a farm stay as well, as these can be very lovely and fun for kids. Here's a link to the main search engine for farm stays in Austria -

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks so much for the suggestions. In particular, Emily, I didn't realize St. Wolfgang has become overrun with tourists. That was precisely what was giving me pause about Hallstatt!

Posted by
24 posts

Hi Nicola, my family absolutely loved Lake Garda. We stayed at Torbole and walked or ferried around to Riva. Its a very picturesque walk between the two towns. I spent 9 nights in St Wolfgang in mid August last year and did not find it overrun at all. The lake was clean and very swimmable. The ferries were easy to use and lots of restaurants and cafes. The highlight is taking the steepest cog wheel train in Austria up the Schafberg mountain. Also so much fun in the electric boats you can hire there. The ferry will take you to St Gilgen from St Wolfgang too. Easy to catch a bus from St Wolfgang to Bad Ischl as well. Have a fab time, cheers Virginia

Posted by
479 posts

Good suggestions, above. Visit Hallstatt, for sure, but I'd pick one of the other suggested towns for a more central base. We stayed in Mondsee (found an AirBnB that suited our needs and budget), but St. Wolfgang and St. Gilgen were charming. The funicular to the Skywalk above Hallstatt will help satisfy the "stunning scenery" item. I agree that staying in one of the villages will be a better choice than Salzburg, for both economy and convenience.

I think you'll be well served with a rental car if you can find an acceptable rate. Driving through in Salzkammergut is a great pleasure. Even if you don't take the train to Hallstatt, buy RT tickets for the short boat ride (the Stephanie) across the lake to/from the RR station. The views of the town from the lake are terrific.

Posted by
55 posts

St. Gilgen is wonderful. As others have noted, St Wolfgang is very touristy and while St Gilgen still gets some tourist buses coming through, they seem to flow in and out quite quickly. I stayed there for five days in August 2017 and loved it. The lake is perfect for swimming (and popular!) and there are so many beautiful walks/hikes and places to see in the region. The walk around nearby Fuschlsee is especially perfect for families. As for cable cars, there is one right in town to go up Zwölferhorn (sadly closed while I was there) or you can take the ferry to St Wolfgang and catch the Schafbergbahn for truly spectacular views.

If you don't end up renting a car, St Gilgen is right on the Salzburg-Bad Ischl bus line and service is excellent. Hallstatt would be a longer day trip but could still be done.

Posted by
73 posts

We're staying on a farm B&B walking distance into St.Gilgen(Bio Archehof Eislbauer) complete with animals. Cable car to the top of the nearby mountain Zwolferhorn is very close too.