This year (2020) we decided on an Austria summer holiday, principally due to the development of the pandemic situation across Europe.
It’s our first trip away from home since January and a great opportunity to experience first hand how travel will look like in the future, what we are comfortable with in terms of safety, and which great places the beautiful country of Austria has been hiding.
For those who don’t know us, we are molecular biologists at home in Vienna and passionate cultural family travelers. From the beginning of the current pandemic, we have decided to focus on spending family quality time at home and do day trips around Vienna, rather than undertake extensive travel projects.
We felt an Austria summer holiday will be a safe endeavor as long as we choose a less popular destination with plenty of options for outdoor activities and we do not travel during peak season. Below, a post from our Instagram account from earlier this year to get to know us better!
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🇦🇹🦋🌷🌿 Springtime in Austria! This is Helenental, our favorite outdoors location in the Vienna Woods, discovered a mere two weeks ago! 🚗🚝🛶⛵️🏝 As I’ve been implying lately, TRAVEL is such an important part of who we are, that the #dailydreamtravel takes on whole new meanings during this period. ⚓️✈️ We have taken the opportunity to look at our priorities and needs from a fresh perspective! And we’ll share these insights with you in the next weeks, as well as give you the opportunity to know us better! So far I can say that: – we will reduce all unnecessary air travel for the next year – we will focus on less crowded destinations as opposed to city scapes – we will favor outdoor escapes within reach by car From where we stand, this situation is here to stay and it’s time to adjust to the new reality, learn to dance in the rain, rather than wait for the storm to pass! Send us your thoughts on the subject and we’ll include them in our next blog post! . . . . .⠀ .⠀ #bookishblog #booksandtravel #dreambookandtravel #viennanow #viennagoforit #vienna_austria #instatravelblog #visitvienna #viennawaitsforyou #viennaaustria #viennasightseeing #bestvienna #passionpassport #mytravelgram #instapassport #travelfamily #mumpreneur #viennawoods #wienerwaldtrails #wienerwald #familytime #traveltrends2020 #traveltrends #newnormal #shetravels #shewrites #glasshalffull #outdoorsblog #outdoorsblogger
Our Austria summer holiday – a clarification
Please note that this article covers stays and experiences for which we have paid ourselves as private customers. The opinions stated about experiences and facilities encountered during our Austria summer holiday are our honest customer reviews and have not been influenced in any way.
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Our Austria summer holiday – Wagrain
Located at 850 meters above sea level in a high valley surrounded by the Salzburgerland mountains, the market town of Wagrain is a popular skiing destination. We chose it due to its picturesque location off the beaten path, as most tourists spend their holidays at the Salzkammergut lakes, one of Austria’s most popular destinations.
We hoped it would provide the right mix of peaceful nature exploration and sightseeing opportunities, such that we would not be pressured in overcrowding our agenda with things to do and to see.
We like to explore destinations in-depth and leave no stone unturned during our stays, thus locations that offer too much often end up exhausting us, as was the case during our Andalusia road trip with a toddler.
In this respect, I have to say Wagrain is the perfect destination for an Austria summer holiday.
As our faithful readers already know, we are adepts of doing thorough research before departure but allowing ourselves full flexibility at the destination, depending on moods, weather, and the toddler’s disposition. To this end, find below our list of things to do around Wagrain beyond the activities outlined in our daily itineraries. We are saving these for the next time.
Austria summer holiday – where to stay in and around Wagrain
Truth be fully told, we also chose Wagrain as our base because two all-inclusive hotels are located there – Hotel Wagrainerhof and Hotel Adapura. As a family with a toddler, we appreciate the comfort provided by not having to think about food during the holidays. In the particular case of this Austria summer holiday, an option with only breakfast and dinner included would have sufficed, as we were almost never around for lunch.
However, the area offers plenty of accommodation opportunities including rental apartments and bed and breakfast options. The popular resorts of Bad Gastein and Zell am See/Kaprun are also located nearby, offering more accommodation possibilities.
Austria summer holiday – Wagrain – things to do outdoors
There are three main attractions we did not get to explore during this stay, firstly and foremost the well-famed Wasserwelt Wagrain water park, featuring indoor and outdoor pools, four water slides, two baby pools, 4000 m^2 of lying area, rest areas, and outdoor restaurants.
Liechtensteinklamm is an impressive looking 300m high narrow gorge nearby, crossed by footpaths and footbridge that can be walked in any weather. Roaring waterfalls and torrential waters have been making their way for centuries deeper and deeper into this breathtaking ravine. Not a sight we were particularly keen on exploring carrying a cranky toddler.
The Giant Ice Caves in Werfen is the world’s largest ice cave, extending 42 km into the mountain. Traveling with a toddler is the main reason we left them out of our Austria summer holiday itinerary, as the temperatures inside are around 0 degrees Celsius and the climb needs good physical condition.
Austria summer holiday – Wagrain – culture addicts travel
You can actually experience the culture of the Wagrain-Kleinarl region during a guided walk with locals that will take discuss among other things the legacy of Joseph Moor, lyricist of the Christmas carol „Silent Night, Holy Night!“ who spent the last years of his life as a vicar in Wagrain.
The Silent Night Museum in town is an unmissable stop for culture aficionados (those without an impatient toddler, that is). The amazing ice cream at Bosek’s Salt and Sugar will hopefully keep Ilinca entertained long enough for me to drop by in the museum next door at some point. And just in case you are wondering, yes, ice cream is culture, at least where we are coming from! 🙂
The other famous museum in town is dedicated to Karl Heinrich Waggerl, one of the most renowned Austrian writers of the last century, a fierce promoter of Wagrain in his work and activities. Follow the signs leading to the Waggerlhaus Museum.
Austria summer holiday – around Wagrain
Popular destinations in the area include the Hochenwerfen Medieval Castle, which hosts the Austrian Falconry Museum and where visitors can see daily falconry demonstrations, have a ride in the funicular, get a guided tour, and enjoy several interactive exhibitions.
Visits in the popular spa resorts of Bad Gastein or Zell am See/Kaprun are also a good idea, the latter offering the great opportunity to stop at the Wild and Adventure Park Ferleiten nearby, which we did on our last day.
Our Austria summer holiday – Day 1 – Wagrain’s Grafenberg
We spent the first day of our Austria summer holiday in Wagrain in the Grafenberg Mountain and Nature Adventure World at 1700 meters height. We were fortunate enough that the weather allowed us to enjoy this experience without rain. The high-quality gondola ride up the mountain was a highlight for Ilinca and a pleasure for us.
Hats down to the security measures at the gondola station that include staff that is regularly tested for the novel coronavirus, the mandatory use of face masks everywhere, and the opportunity for each family to use a very well ventilated individual gondola. As a note, it was fairly easy to take the stroller along on the ride and all paths in the adventure park are stroller friendly.
We enjoyed taking the raft across the Grafenbergsee lake, the suspension bridge, the petting zoo, the playgrounds, as well as the Khubidu riddles, but families will older children can spend more time in the rope garden, swing forest, climbing arena, or watersports park. We are sure going to return here for our next Austria summer holiday adventure!
Our Austria summer holiday – Day 2 – Hallstatt
We did not get very lucky in terms of weather on our second day, which turned out rainy and cold. For this reason, we took a scenic 70 km drive to Hallstatt, which is on the nearest lake that offers a boat ride, the next thing on Ilinca’s agenda now that the gondola ride was checked.
Hats down to the team in the restaurant of the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt who not only promptly provided us a hot soup to warm up, but also kindly assisted with finding the next available boat ride and was very gracious about a mix up with our order. The hotel even provides special handles that can be open with one’s elbow, for those for whom safety measures are a big part of what defines the quality of service these days.
All in all, the second day of our Austria summer holiday was a success, although the drive to and from Hallstatt did not tremendously agree with Ilinca….ok, except the part where we stopped to buy some pumpkins at a self-service lot on the road.
Our Austria summer holiday – Day 3 – around Wagrain
The day was predicted to be half sunny, half rainy and thus we decided to forego an extensive trip and enjoy the sunshine in different areas of Wagrain, always having the option to withdraw to our room if the weather forced us.
After Ilinca enjoyed a two-hours playtime at the outdoor playground of the hotel, we headed for Jägersee an amazing mountain lake closeby, at around 1000 m altitude. It is a popular destination due to its surreal beauty and the option to walk/hike around it and to enjoy a meal at Gasthof Jägersee, where you can also rent small rowing boats during the summer months.
As the rain, unfortunately, chased us away, we headed for another location on our list, on the other (still sunny) part of Wagrain – the Farmer’s Home Museum, atop a mountain peak with breathtaking views, in the proximity of the Daarmoossee, another mountain lake used for the production of artificial snow for the Wagrain slopes during winter.
The museum itself is basic but very well maintained, and it provides access to a playground on its premises, as well as the opportunity to see a few farmhouse animals, which Ilinca thoroughly enjoyed. The afternoon spent there made the third day of our Austria summer holiday a complete success.
Our Austria summer holiday – Day 4 – Geisterberg Adventure Park
The most challenging, but also extremely rewarding, adventure of our Austria summer holiday was the hike we took on the 4th day to the Geisterberg Adventure Park in nearby Alpendorf. A stroller-friendly hike to the top of the mountain of friendly ghosts (Geisterberg) takes you from the gondola station to two restaurant huts, offering amazing panoramic vistas of the mountains in this area.
Over 40 play stations along the hiking paths such as the Geisterberg castle, the Geisterdorf village, water games, climbing towers, swings and slides are a highlight for little visitors. We returned exhausted, sun-burnt, but very happy with how the day went!
Our Austria summer holiday – Day 5 – Wild and Adventure Park Ferleiten
The Wild and Adventure Park Ferleiten is set on the glorious Grossglockner Alpine Road, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Austria’s highest peak. The crisp air and the multitude of entertainment options in the adventure park ensured Ilinca had the time of her life. Children can also interact with a multitude of forest animals in this natural park, which offers them a complete experience in an amazing setting.
We were lucky with glorious weather on our stay, thus this was probably the best day of our Austria summer holiday, allowing us to end in style our adventure.
Austria summer holiday – final thoughts
Travel is tricky nowadays and the way we are traveling is definitely changing and transforming itself. Did we feel at ease or safe traveling during our trip – definitely not. We enjoyed spending time outdoors and rediscovering our travel routines, but we did not feel 100% comfortable about it.
The decision to travel or not to travel during the current pandemic situation is a personal one, what we can advise is to always follow the safety recommendations and instructions of local authorities.
Shall you decide you need help planning an Austria holiday itinerary, we are happy to help you, contact us and we can chat!