ICH LIEBE AUSTRIA!
And let me tell you why...
Situated roughly a 45 minute drive outside of Salzburg, Saalfelden features a "beyond gorgeous" mountain-glacier-storybook town; with close access to Croatia and Bavaria as well as Hungary. Austria has some of the nicest, welcoming, hospitable, and adventurous people you will ever meet! Perhaps it is the rich mountain air or the fact that they live (in my opinion) in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
We have visited Saalfelden in both the winter and summer months; both seasons are extremely beautiful in their own way.
In this blog post we will break down the reasons why we love this tiny town so much - both in summer and in winter!
SUMMER IN SAALFELDEN
Saalfelden has endless possibilities in the summer months. With hiking trails, biking trails, lakes, and one of the largest mountain bike parks in Europe; Saalfelden is an outdoor playground for everyone!
We visited during the Leogang mountain bike world cup. I don’t know if you have ever exeprienced mountain bikers literally flying over your head - but I would definitely recommend it. Mountain bikers come from all over the world to hit the dirt tracks and master-crafted jumps.
The summer months in Saalfelden actually become quite warm with average temperature between 20 to 25 degrees Celsius; this provides a perfect opportunity to take a stroll through the small roads, grab an ice-cream, or visit the local hiking trails.
WINTER IN SAALFELDEN
The winter season is obviously where this small town shines the most! Austrian alps like Kitzsteinhorn and Zell Am See are just 20 minutes from your doorstep. You can have an incredible time snowboarding, skiing, sledding (or sledging as a local Austrian might call it) or relax with a beer and a pretzel on a mountain patio.
Something in the past that always made us hesitant to commit to snowboarding in Austria was that we always had the impression it would be out of reach financially; but I am here to tell you that it is TOTALLY do-able. It even surprised us how - compared to other mountains we have snowboarded at - it was relatively inexpensive.
A 7 day pass will run you around 244 Euros($301 USD) which gives you flexible use of to 2 large mountains - Kitzsteinhorn and Kaprun / Zell Am See. We opted for a 3 day pass as we were only there for 1 week. What we absolutely loved to do was alternate between a day of snowboarding and a day of mountain sightseeing. Besides hitting the slopes, there is so much to see and do on the mountains.
When you are up at Kitzsteinhorn, you can also visit the lookout point Gipfelwelt 3000 that offers an unobstructed 180 degree view of the tops of the alpine range. Kitzsteinhorn glacier also has plenty of culinary experiences (including the nicest and largest mountain cafeteria I have ever seen) - fresh baked apple strudel with vanilla pudding anyone? There are also ice museums to tour! For more extreme snow sports, Kitzsteinhorn has 2 awesome adventures. The first is the Black Mamba - a serious slope that proudly boasts a 63% steep grade, is 10b00 meters long, and covers 290 meters in altitude. The second adventure is made up of some of the 3 best freeride parks in Austria which are available for use from October to May featuring a superpipe, easy park, and central park.
ZELL AM SEE:
Zell am See mountain has the coolest vibes that I’ve ever experienced at a mountain! You know that feeling of 70’s European ski resort - with groovy jams and sheep-skin throws? Well - Zell am See does this perfectly with a modern twist! They have the raddest outdoor lounge area’s (yes plural) with sweeping views and big comfy loungers. The cafeteria - which does not feel like a cafeteria at all - has plenty of fresh made Austria plates at a very reasonable price; which makes a lunch on the slopes both delicious and fun.
The altitude at Zell am See is lower than that of Kitzsteinhorn, so it is both warmer in temperature and is made up of easier riding slopes.
Our most favorite part of Zell am See mountain was chilling on the patio and soaking in the sun views... with beers and pretzels of course!
In the summer months, we opted to stay at a local AirBnB in Saalfelden. As it is their lower season, you can find beautiful AirBnB’s for $70 to $150 CAD per night.
We absolutely love the flexibility of AirBnB’s - with the option to cook your own meal, or just feel more at home. We have always enjoyed our experiences. Plus, the hosts always give you the best travel advice!
Our favorite AirBnB's were these ones :
Marlene is the host of this Air B&B. What we loved about it was the fantastic modern style and high-end amenities. It was also in a perfect location for seeing Saalfelden and Marlene gives you many wonderful travel tips! She has quite a few apartments in one building, so feel free to ask her for various room options.
Karlien is the host for this Air B&B. She was beyond kind and helpful! Her rental is the perfect location for seeing Leonang mountain and outdoor activities.
PS. The bed is SO comfy!!
During the winter we stayed at CLC Alpine Center. We totally enjoyed our stay there; and to say that the staff were professional and kind would be an understatement! They are extremely accommodating and we love that they arrange various activities during the week. Our favorite arranged activity was a sledding experience. It includes a 45-minute hike up a gorgeous mountain at sunset, a delicious dinner at an Austrian restaurant on the top of the hill followed by a 6 km sled-ride down a curvy and exhilarating track! CLC Alpine Center also offers spa treatments, snowboard/ski equipment rentals, lots of local advice, and shuttle transportation to both Kitzsteinhorn and Zell am See for a small extra fee.
When visiting Saalfelden, we highly recommend renting a car as it opens up your ability to see and explore so many gorgeous areas!
Thank you so much for visiting our blog post about Austria's Alps!
If you have any input or would like to say hello, we would love to hear from you :)
Sending so much love!
- Katrina + Jason