The advantages of the Austrian summer
365-day Alpine experience.” That is what Austria can and does promise. This Central European country is known for its winter landscapes. But, some of its highest peaks stay cold almost all year round, which means you can go skiing 10 months in every twelve.
One enclave where the luxurious Austrian summer shimmers with the greatest splendour is Zell am See-Kaprun. Formally known as the Europe Sport Region, it is 85 km from Salzburg and under 200 km from Munich. It is actually two towns joined together, Zell am See (10,000 inhabitants) and Kaprun (3,000 inhabitants). On the foothills of the Alps, the first stands on the shores of Lake Zell, one of the cleanest lakes in Europe.
Other attractions in Kaprun
Besides the possibilities it offers lovers of winter sports, and being the entry point to Kitzsteinhorn glacier, Kaprun is also known for its castle. This 12th-century medieval fortress now plays host to festivals and concerts.
Here, lakes and mountains rub shoulders with glaciers such as Kitzsteinhorn, which is 3,029 m high. With 41 km of piste, its slopes remain open to skiers until well into July. From then until September, skis are put aside to make way for mountain boots and cycles. Hiking routes emerge through green meadows, to the peak of the glacier, eternally dressed in white.
The Gipfelwelt Platform stands 3,000 m high, with views of a further 30 Alpine peaks. It is the highest viewpoint in the entire Salzburg region, and open all year round. Even if you don’t know mountain climbing, you can get up there easily, by cable car. Gipfelwelt 3000 offers the finest views of the glacier and Hohe Tauern National Park. Further to the panoramic platform, you can complete your visit with a tour of the National Park Gallery, a trail created in a mine, which measures 360 m and crosses the peak of Kitzsteinhorn. You can also visit Cinema 3000, whose screen shows spectacular images of the area, as well as the film “Kitzsteinhorn—The Nature.”
Ice Arena will put the cherry on top of this Alpine experience. This space has a ‘snow beach,’ sun loungers, toboggans, a magic carpet and activities for visitors to explore the glacier. Temporarily closed, its doors will reopeon next July. With snow, of course.
For those not wishing to climb so high, another option is available at 2,000 m. The Schmitten Cable Car, designed by Porsche, climbs to that point. It departs from the town of Zell am See, whose charming old centre is home to a wide range of shops and restaurants.
The waters of Lake Zell are 23 °C during the summer months, so make sure you pack your swimming costume for your Austrian summer holiday. There are two artificial beaches, Zell am See Lido and Thumersbach Lido. The first has a swimming pool with a giant slide, a diving space measuring 5 m deep, and an 18-hole minigolf course. The second offers a heated swimming pool and restaurant area.
Besides swimming, Lake Zell is the perfect place to enjoy other water sports, like diving and kayaking. Another way to discover the Lake is to catch one of the boats that traverse its 4.5 km surface. And in the backdrop, you can enjoy the snowy peaks of the Austrian summer