Zell am See-Kaprun
For adventure lovers of all ages
Produced in Partnership with SalzburgerLand
A glinting lake, snow-sprinkled mountains, Alpine cabins that invite you to stay for hot chocolate after hot chocolate, little towns where you’ll find designer boutiques next to outdoor outfitters – Zell am See-Kaprun, part of the SalzburgerLand, is the Austria most photographed, the Austria of the imagination. It’s the kind of place where you can stand-up paddleboard wearing a swimsuit in the morning and sledge at the foot of a glacier in the afternoon. It’s the kind of place that we can’t imagine not wanting to visit.
The joint towns of Zell am See and Kaprun centre around the 4km-long Lake Zell. Mountain streams falling from all around empty their cold snowmelt into the water. In the summer it’s a majestic setting for stand-up paddleboarding, paddling, and bathing. An early morning dip in the lake is the only way to start a day of adventure.
Most people visit the lake, but there is so much more: mountains with narrow ridges and expansive glaciers, Alpine meadows, log huts with verandas filled with smiling people chinking glasses. More than 400km of hiking routes linking 48 huts criss-cross these mountains. It is one of the best places in the Alps for hiking. And then there’s the cycling. Road cyclists and mountain bikers make use of more than 2,000km of trails, many reached by cable car. Tie on a rope and you can stare down the dam from its via ferrata – or perhaps splash out on a helicopter ride. But it doesn’t have to be all adrenaline. Relaxing pastimes include sunrise yoga sessions on the mountain or guided meadow meanders collecting aromatic herbs. You may even want to let your inner minstrel free by taking a yodelling lesson high in the hills.
Families will find plenty to do. Cable cars zoom up to busy stations, there’s sledging by the glacier, watersports on the lake, and the best ice cream in Europe (officially!) at Alpz Cafe.
And after the day’s excitement, it’s to dinner at one of the town’s established restaurants.
Still looking for things to do? Visit the ‘Top of Salzburg’ after riding up the Kitzsteinhorn cable car to 3,029m, drive up to 2,000m on the Mitterberg mountain for sunset, relax in Tauern Spa, or enjoy a romantic breakfast in a gondola.
The Austria you’re looking for is here.
Zell am See-Kaprun has one of the most vibrant events calendars in the area. Cultural activities include the Line Dance AlpFestival in June, Peak Sounds Kitzsteinhorn with Alphorn music groups in July, and light shows on the lake. Sports events include the Grossglockner Ultra Trail, Women’s Trail, and an Ironman.
TOP 5 HIKING ROUTES
From your first 3,000m peak to calming walks around Lake Zell, there’s something in Zell am See-Kaprun for everyone.
1/ Thumersbacher Höhenpromenade
An easy 4.3km hiking trail with magnificent views over Lake Zell.
2/ Top of Salzburg
Take a ride up with the Kitzsteinhorn cable cars to the ‘Top of Salzburg’ at the Kitzsteinhorn Gipfelstation at 3,029m – then bag your first 3,000m summit.
A beautiful 13km circular tour with fantastic views – a summit experience with 977m of ascent for advanced hikers.
4/ Alexander Enzinger Path
In summer, this 7.9km path is painted with Alpine flowers. Ride up to the Alpincenter with the Kitzsteinhorn cable cars, then take a hike along the Alexander Enzinger path to the Maiskogel and back into Kaprun.
5. Plettsauberg Circular Path
A short 2.2km path around the Plettsauteich reservoir and to the children’s playground ‘Schmidolin’s pond’ – the perfect place to relax, laze around, and just enjoy the fabulous views.
TOP 5 BIKE TRAILS
With more than 2,000km of cycling trails around Zell am See-Kaprun, there’s something for everyone from balance bike beginners to downhill daredevils. Here are five brilliant trails.
1/ Wüstlau Trail at the Kitzsteinhorn
This downhill mountain bike trail drops 1,000m in 6.8 white-knuckle kilometres. It leads from the Häuslalm through the forest down into the valley – a demanding and technical course boasting plenty of tight curves, elevated turns, and some rocks and tree roots.
2/ Tour Erlhofplatte
This 21.3km tour with 847m of ascent starts by Lake Zell before climbing to Erlhofplatte. It then sweeps through the valley past the Enzianhütte – a great place to take a break.
3/ MTB Trail Mitterberg
This switchback-laden 4.5km trail climbs steeply from the centre of Thumersbach to the Mitterberg guest house, treating the rider to spectacular views along the way.
4/ Lake Zell e-bike trail
This gentle route – even easier on an e-bike – circles 11.2km around Lake Zell. It traverses a preserve area, Shüttdorf, and has great views over the Hohen Tauern mountains and the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier.
5/ The Romantic Track
The ‘Romantic Track’ is an easy 6.2km ride for the whole family. Featuring a mere 43m of ascent, this circular tour leads through Kaprun and the moor back into the village centre.
TOP 5 HUTS IN THE REGION
Staying, eating, or just having a drink in an Alpine hut is an amazing Austrian experience and one that adds a dimension to any hike. Here are five of our favourites.
As if some of the most spectacular views in Europe weren’t enough, this modern lounge has an open fireplace, a panoramic terrace, and an ‘Austrian tapas’ menu.
2/ Gipfelrestaurant at Kitzsteinhorn
Visit the highest restaurant in Salzburg at a lofty 3,029m. The food from the self-service restaurant refines regional classics – and mountain-lovers will find it easy to imagine just how great those views are.
3/ Maiskogel Alm Ranch
If you have children in tow, this restaurant is the place to come. Yes, there’s great food, but there’s also a petting zoo with cute alpacas, bunnies, and very woolly pigs.
4/ Fürthermoaralm at the Kaprun High Mountain Reservoirs
This is the archetypal Austrian hut, but what makes it unique is that it produces its own tea and cheese, not forgetting its own herbal garden beside a mountain lake. It’s idyllic.
5. Ebenbergalm in Zell am See
This woodland lodge is famous in the region for its hearty Ripperl (ribs) and Haxn (knuckle of pork) – even better when savoured with the panoramic views over the town and lake.
WHERE TO STAY
There are more than 800 hotels in the region with some 17,000 beds. You’ll find something for all needs and budgets, from classic hotels such as the Grand Hotel in the town centre to cosy huts, relaxing spas, and ultra-modern residences.
Many hotels are ‘Friends’ of the Tauern Spa, allowing guests to visit the SPA Water World – one of Austra’s most modern spas. The ticket is either included in the hotel price or bought separately. The ‘Best Friends’ ticket allows guests unlimited access to the SPA Sauna World.
Alongside dozens of free attractions, including the cable cars, holders of the Zell am See-Kaprun Summer Card get unbeatable extras at partner accommodations. New from Summer 2019 is the Mobility Card for all guests which, as well as the Summer Card, entitles you to unlimited free use of all public transport services (train, buses, Pinzgau Railway) across the whole Pinzgau region for the duration of the stay from 1 May to 31 October 2019. Find your perfect accommodation in Zell am See-Kaprun here: zellamsee-kaprun.com/en/accommodation
Photography: Zell-am-See-Kaprun Tourismus GmbH // Schultheiss // Finisher Magazin // Doerk // Heuckeroth // Betriebs AG // Greber
ZELL AM SEE-KAPRUN FACTS
Closest airports: Salzburg: 80km (1h 15min) // Munich: 200km (2h 45min)
Closest train station: Zell am See train station
All transport in the Pinzgau is free
Kilometres of hiking routes: 400
Kilometres of bike trails: 2,000
Number of open lifts: Schmittenhöhe has five cable cars, Kitzsteinhorn six cable cars and a train, and Maiskogel has one cable car
Number of huts: 48
Number of hotels: 800