The Salzkammergut area in Austria is world famous for its role in The Sound of Music. While the entire area is stunning, it is also crawling with tourists whose only goal is to sing “The Hills are Alive” and run through every picture you try and take. However, in the less touristy lake of Fuschlsee (Lake Fuschl), the hills are still alive, but the singing tourists are almost nonexistent.
Located about an hour bus ride from the city of Salzburg (mark it as a stop on your European Interrail itinerary), the city of Fuschl is easy enough to add as a day trip, but also well worth an overnight stay. The Austrian charm that Georg von Trapp wanted so badly to protect is alive and well in this small alpine town.
On one side, the picturesque lake is lined with guesthouses and hotels. These offer everything from luxury spa experiences to cozy half-timber houses with private beaches. In most hotels, you can wake up to a delicious Austrian style breakfast before you spend the day swimming, boating, hiking, or visiting one of the nearby castles.
Hike the Trails in Salzkammergut
Fuschl has miles of hiking trails that both circumvent the lake and go into the mountains themselves. Perfect for any intermediate hiker, these trails offer a glimpse into several kinds of Austrian vegetation. Walk through both dense forests and green fields complete with grazing cows.
The forest surrounding Salzkammergut’s Fuschlsee region is old and well grown. In the summer, it is lush and full of greenery and wildlife. In the fall, the leaves burst into beautiful reds and oranges. While the paths are well maintained, you get the feeling that you’re walking in the land of fairies. The little frequented trails give you a chance to lose yourself to the forest.
Turn around a bend in the trail and suddenly you find yourself walking through grassy hills, just like the ones Maria sang about. These green hills are grazed by cows that wear the traditional Austrian cowbell. The tinkling sound echoes off the mountains and creates an atmosphere so idyllic you may find yourself spending a few hours just listening to it.
Adding to the scenery are several mountain chalets that pepper the trail. This traditional style completes the view, especially if you stay the night in one.
The hiking in Fuschl is a great snapshot of Austria. With both beautiful green hills and steep mountains, you can experience the best of Austria in a one day hike.
Swim in an Alpine Lake in Salzkammergut
Salzkammergut’s Fuschlsee has three public beaches and countless private ones. If you’re lucky enough to stay in a guesthouse on the lake, the private beach will offer a quiet place to take a swim in the crystal clear Alpine waters and possibly even a private boat to use. However, the public beaches are well worth a visit as well.
The beach in the town center is small but well kept. The natural pebble beach is surrounded by restaurants that offer a drink or delicious Austrian cuisine to enjoy while you soak in the serene lake views.
The beach in the middle of the lake can only be accessed by the hiking trail that goes around the lake. Therefore, it is quite secluded and you shouldn’t be surprised if you happen upon some locals or German tourists that are swimming in just their underwear!
The final beach is the largest and most picturesque by far. With a long dock and a swimming raft anchored in deep water, this beach offers fun for swimmers of all levels. The dock is by far the best feature, as it gives you the opportunity to sit surrounded by water and gaze up at the mountains that surround the lake. The clear water perfectly reflects the blue sky and mountains looming around you.
Feast on Austrian Cuisine in Salzkammergut
Fuschl offers authentic Austrian cuisine as well as freshly caught fish. For a unique twist on Austrian cuisine, The Schloss Fuschl Fischerei sells fresh, local fish and has outdoor seating right on the lake. Enjoy the freshly smoked trout and saibling while you eat on the lake they were caught in.
For more traditional Austrian food like schnitzel, the restaurant Holzknechtstube in Salzkammergut is situated near the lake and has a porch with stunning views. This restaurant provides hearty food and delicious local beer and wine. There is nothing better, or more Austrian, than drinking a beer while looking at beautiful Alpine scenery.
Explore an Austrian Castle in Salzkammergut
Schloss Fuschl, located right on the water, was built in the 1400s and is now a hotel owned by Marriot. As a hotel, you can stay the night here and bask in all the luxury an Austrian castle has to offer, as well as live out the dream of staying in a castle!
Fortunately, for those who cannot stay there, the castle is easily visible from the lake and surrounding trail and fits perfectly with the Austrian atmosphere.
The city of Fuschl gives you a chance to experience Austrian life without the throngs of tourists. By far Fuschl’s best quality is its serenity and beauty. While other cities in the Salzkammergut are little more than tourist traps, Fuschl is a beacon of authentic Austrian life. Refresh yourself in the peaceful alpine lake and sing alone on a hill as stunning as the one Maria chose in The Sound of Music.