Travel report: Family hiking in the Salzkammergut

Small adventures become very big - out and about with kids in the Salzkammergut

"Experiencing the world from a child’s perspective” – previously I could never imagine anything like that. However since my son Aaron was born almost exactly 2.5 years ago, this expression actually started making sense to me. The hiking holiday Salzkammergut Rivers and Lakes for Families was also new for me and my wife: never before have the three of us been on a hiking holiday together. Easy hiking tours, crystal clear mountain lakes, plenty of spots for swimming fun – that sounded like the right holiday for us. So, bags packed and off into a hiking adventure in the Salzkammergut region.

Playground, train ride and the crystal-clear Lake Ausseersee

We start in Bad Goisern with a train ride. But before that there is still time for the giant playground conveniently located directly in front of the hotel. We could actually spend the whole day here, sliding, climbing and having fun on the adventure course, but the train is leaving on time. That is why the hiking backpack is laced up and we are off on foot to the train station. And here the joy in my son’s eyes could not be overlooked: for the very first time in his life he would be riding a train!

The spectacular train journey past Lake Hallstätter See into the Ausseerland region would also be a wonderful spectacle for adults. But Aaron’s excitement infects us all and so the train ride becomes a special highlight.

We continue with a short bus ride to Lake Ausseersee. With our son in the sling we hike to the other end of the lake on very easy paths, which by the way could also have been done with a pram, and look for a quiet place to swim there. Since everywhere around the lake is accessible freely and without constraints. The cool temperature of the crystal-clear mountain lake is forgotten with the first jump into the water. And the view of the snow-covered Mount Dachstein makes us look forward to the next few days with great anticipation.

Through the Koppental-valley to Lake Hallstättersee

Unfortunately, after a restful night, it is time to say goodbye to the unique Ausseerland. Aaron sits back in his child carrier and the hike begins. The scenery changes constantly along the Koppentraun river: first, we hike along the wonderfully clear river, slightly uphill on wide forest paths. We do not get bored because of the exciting signs on flora and fauna, and the breathtaking landscape and the wonderful view of the surrounding mountains do the rest.

After covering the first few kilometres, we suddenly feel like we are on an alpine pasture, the meadows featuring apple trees around us appear so green and lush. Then we descend again to the river Koppentraun and proceed through the Koppental-valley along what is probably the most beautiful hiking trail on the route. We take a break exactly halfway through today’s stage and enjoy local delicacies: apple strudel, slices of bread topped with cheese and cured bacon, naturally all local produce. Along the way we encounter countless animals, but we were particularly taken with a butterfly that followed us for minutes. When we stop, he cheekily sits on Aaron’s finger. If only we could keep it …

The final hiking kilometres are no less beautiful and so we hike happily to Lake Hallstättersee. With the last ferry we reach Hallstatt. You can guess who has never been on a boat before and is cheering with joy during the crossing!

Anyone who has never been to Hallstatt has missed something

Even though my wife and I grew up in Austria, we only have vague memories of Hallstatt from childhood days and school trips. We are all the more astonished by the beauty and uniqueness of this place, which we rediscover. We stay overnight in a room, where from the balcony we have a direct view over the lake, which makes it difficult for us not to simply cancel the planned hike and instead just enjoy the view from the room. But there are three of us and my boy does not agree with that. However before the hike we enjoy our breakfast right by the lake. Then we are off to Mount Salzberg.

You could also go up comfortably by cable car and avoid several metres in altitude. But of course inspired by the beautiful nature experiences of the last few days we walk up – the incredible view from the Skywalk wants to be earned. We could also visit the salt mine up here, which would be great fun, especially with children, but the weather is too nice for us during the day, so we hike back down to the lovely town of Hallstatt. In the evening we end the day with Wiener Schnitzel and delicious fish specialities. What a magical and comfortable hiking day.

The return home is bitter-sweet

We enjoyed marvellous days in the Salzkammergut, but today we have to go back home. However before we actually say ‘goodbye’, there is still the final hiking tour on the program: It leads us from Hallstatt along the eastern shore to Bad Goisern. Some locals describe this hiking trail as the most beautiful one there is. So today we can take the ferry again to hike on the opposite side of the lake on the most beautiful route to our Day Finish Bad Goisern.

The trail is perfectly designed and the bridge over the lake, built specifically for hikers, is reminiscent of Manhatten Bridge, albeit with a lot of imagination. But imagination is never a problem with a little boy on your back. One final look at Hallstatt and the shimmering Lake Hallstättersee and we continue hiking on a path over flat terrain until we finally reach Bad Goisern. Even if we have to say goodbye to the Salzkammergut today, it was certainly not our final visit. Since the Alp-world of the Salzkammergut still wants to be discovered. I doubt whether it can even come close to the beauty of the rivers and lakes.

My Conclusion

Overall, this part of the Salzkammergut is simply unbelievable: unbelievably beautiful, varied, cordial, down-to-earth … it is easy to understand why Empress Sissi also felt so comfortable here in the past. And the Salzkammergut has preserved this beauty to this day.

Our worries that the holiday might not be suitable for a first hiking holiday with a small child (our son is two and a half years old) evaporated after the first few minutes. Every little thing, no matter how small, becomes a great adventure. Every playground, every train ride, every boat trip, yes, every sign along the way suddenly becomes really exciting. The paths are very easy to manage and all stages are just the right length – even with a child on your back. For us it was eventful family hiking through fantastic scenery!

And this is the truth: our son said on the morning of the third day after waking up: “Dad, I love holidays.” If that does not speak volumes …

 

Tour character
Moderate Walking
Austria

Salzkammergut Rivers & Lakes for families

8 Days | Self-guided Tour
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Michael Kröll
Until the next hiking trip,
your Michael!
Michael Kröll, Head of IT & Marketing
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