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Zell am See
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrZell am See, a lakeside town with a charming old center, is a pleasant year-round destination. This lovely town got its name from the monks' cells of a monastery founded there in about 790 AD. It is located in the west Salzburg region and bordered by a lake on one side and Hohe Tauern National Park on the other. This advantageous location means that you can enjoy the excellent opportunities for both summer and winter sports. You can dive into the blue lake, cycle its leafy shores, hike, ski in the mountains and drive on the famous Grossglockner High Alpine Road.
With its medieval center, it creates a calm, rustic, and adorned atmosphere, somewhat typically Austrian. The main ski season in Zell am See runs from late November until mid-April, but the 3,203 m Kitzsteinhorn glacier is skiable all year round, except from July till mid-September. The town is famous for its nightlife in winter. It is generally considered a party town for more mature skiers. During the winter, the lake sometimes freezes over, enabling you to walk from one side to the other and even try some ice skating too. The impressive Schmittenhöhe mountain is easily accessed from the resort center and is the starting point for long, cruising runs back to Zell.
The car-free town center has a picture-postcard feel about it, with quaint cafés and restaurants alive with both locals and tourists. Famous lake festivals, featuring spectacular firework displays, take place on 13th July and 4th August. During the high summer season there are also weekly town festivals and lakeside brass-band concerts. June and July are traditionally the warmest months in the town, and summer activities are best planned for these months. Winter months can be very cold, so pack carefully.
Things to Do
HikingWhatever your walking preference, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to walking. With over 83 marked mountain trails, there’s a lot to choose from. You can hike the Schmittenhöhe and Maiskogel peak which is easily accessible by foot or cable car. Well worth the trip for the stunning views. Gentle walks are mainly along the lakeside. You can also explore the high alpine trails of the Hohe Tauern National Park or Grossglockner mountains.
Water SportsIn summer, the crystal-clear lake is the perfect place for swimming and water sports like boating, sailing, stand up paddling, kayaking, diving, fishing and water skiing. The lake is warm, maintaining an average temperature around 21°C in summer.
SkiingSnow conditions in the area are usually ideal from December to the end of April. Zell am See mostly attracts beginner and intermediate skiers. The neighboring resort of Kaprun, included in your lift pass and a short bus ride away gives you access to the vast snowfields in the Kilzsteinhorn glacier, popular among free-riders and freestylers with more advanced skiing up to 3,000 m and guaranteed snow.
Kastnerturm TowerThe oldest building in town dating from the 12th century is also a local history museum and the office of the county's archives. There are four floors of over 2,500 items of local heritage, like traditional costumes, furniture and handicrafts. There is also information regarding the evolution of the entire region, the lake, the Alps and the surrounding fauna.
Großglockner RoadA scenic drive up to Austria's highest mountain for some amazing views is unforgettable. Venture deep into the Hohe Tauern National Park on the High Alpine Road which leads to the glacial base of Austria's highest mountain, the 3,798 m high Grossglockner. The road is open from May to September.
Kaprun Alpine ReservoirsThe high mountain reservoirs in Kaprun are a perfect day-trip. Embedded in between the breathtaking rocks of the High Tauern Mountains, at an altitude of approximately 2,000 m, are the storage lakes of Mooserboden and Wasserfallboden. A visitor center presents a modern exhibition on the geography, history and technology behind the Kaprun power plants.
Food & DrinkWith over 40 restaurants, cafés and bars in the region, you're sure to find some to your liking.
Almost all of the restaurants feature local beer, coffee and snacks, in addition to full course meals. The best place to enjoy local cusine and the country’s hearty hospitality are the rustic inns on mount Kitzsteinhorn and Schmittenhöhe.
Getting AroundYou can explore Zell am See simply by strolling the paved path that stretches around the entire lake. Since it is not a very large lake, the entire hike will take approximately 3 hours. If you don't feel like walking you can enjoy a cruise around the lake on one of the town’s ships. The Postbus is the best way to visit nearby towns and attractions, and the main bus stop is conveniently located just across the road to the train station of the town.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Dec 18, 2014