Wolfgangsee, Austria: Mountain, Culture & Lake Experience

The Lake Wolfgangsee is simply unique in Austria. Located in the picturesque Salzkammergut region and surrounded by fascinating mountain scenery, this idyllic lake attracts visitors from all over the world with its incredible beauty. However, the area is not only known for its natural wonders, but also for the many attractions and charming villages that surround the lake. These include the famous St. Wolfgang with the White Horse Inn, the Mozart village of St. Gilgen and the legendary Schafbergbahn, a steam cog railway that takes you to the top of the 1,782-meter Schafberg mountain. Boat trips on the Wolfgangsee are also popular, and in summer, the crystal-clear lake invites you for swimming, relaxing, and all kinds of water sports. But what are the most beautiful things to do around Lake Wolfgang, where are the best places to go, and what are the insider tips not to be missed?

In this travel guide, you will find all the important information and tips about the Lake Wolfgangsee in Austria. We show you great pictures, the best attractions, popular excursions and where to find recommended accommodations in the area.

Good to know!

If you are still looking for a very special place to stay at Lake Wolfgangsee, we can recommend the wonderful Villa Alma Boutique Hotel right on the lake.

The best time to visit Lake Wolfgang is during the warm months of May through September. The temperatures are mild, and you can count on a lot of sunshine.

Yes, you can go swimming in the Wolfgangsee, which is especially in summer wonderful. Around the lake, there are about 10 bathing places that invite you to take a dip and relax.

The Lake Wolfgang has been used as a movie location several times. Well-known classics like “The White Horse Inn” or the world-famous movie “Sound of Music” were filmed here.

General Information about Lake Wolfgang

The Lake Wolfgangsee, originally called Abersee, is a particularly beautiful lake in Austria and the vacation region of the same name is an absolute holiday highlight. This magnificent alpine lake is mostly located in the province of Salzburg, with a smaller part belonging to Upper Austria. With a size of almost 13 km², it is one of the largest lakes in the Salzkammergut, the so-called 76 lakes region. The length of the shore of the Wolfgangsee is 27 kilometers, and at its deepest point it is an incredible 114 meters deep. Around the lake, there are several picturesque towns such as St. Gilgen, Strobl and St. Wolfgang, which are perfect for a vacation. The only island in the lake is the romantic Metzgerinsel, where the popular photo motif “Ox Cross” is to be found.

Lake Wolfgangsee is famous for its boat trips, which have connected the most beautiful places on the lake for over 150 years. Even today, a ride on the historic paddle steamer “Kaiser Franz Josef I” from 1873 is a highlight of any trip. In addition, the lake impresses with its high water quality, which has earned it the current status of “EU reference water”. With an average water temperature of 22 °C, there are numerous beautiful beaches and bathing spots for swimming as well as many opportunities for water sports such as SUP, kayaking, sailing, water-skiing and diving. Moreover, the region around the Wolfgangsee is also very fascinating. The cog railway to the Schafberg, the Zwölferhorn and the Postalm are just a few of the best destinations.


The Best Things to Do at Lake Wolfgangsee

A vacation at the Lake Wolfgangsee is well worth it, as there are a number of attractions worth seeing. Most of them are located around the lake, but there are also many highlights in the surrounding area. To help you keep track, we’ve rounded up the best things to see and do around the Wolfgangsee at a glance:

St. Wolfgang

The charming village of St. Wolfgang is a true pearl on Lake Wolfgangsee. Strolling through this village of 2,800 inhabitants, you will be amazed by the many pretty buildings with ornate facades and the countless colorful flowers that give the center of town a fairytale flair. One of the most famous attractions is the 12th century pilgrimage church of St. Wolfgang, whose bell tower dominates the panorama of the village. The interior is also worth seeing, where you can admire the so-called “Michael Pacher Altar”. Close by is the next attraction, the Weisse Rössl (The White Horse Inn), a hotel and the setting for a world-renowned operetta. In addition, there are a number of excellent restaurants and traditional inns in St. Wolfgang, where you can sample the delicacies of the local cuisine.

Tip: St. Wolfgang offers many great places to stay for a Lake Wolfgangsee vacation, including the beautiful Hotel Peter and the chic SEE Moment Apartments ADULTS ONLY.

SchafbergBahn (Steam Cog Railway)

A ride on the SchafbergBahn up the majestic Schafberg is definitely one of the best things to do at Lake Wolfgang. This historic railway is located on the edge of St. Wolfgang and the 35-minute ride on Austria’s steepest steam cog railway is not to be missed. Its history goes back more than 130 years and still today this red nostalgic train is one of the top tourist attractions of the region. The 6-kilometer ride offers the best views of the picturesque Lake Wolfgangsee and surrounding villages such as Strobl and St. Gilgen. Moreover, an unbelievable 360° mountain panorama with views of 13 different lakes awaits visitors at the 1,783-meter Schafberg summit.

Tip: It is a good idea to reserve your tickets for the Schafberg railway in advance, especially during the high season. This avoids having to wait, as the SchafbergBahn is very popular!

Schafberg Mountain

The Schafberg is one of the most spectacular natural highlights of the Wolfgangsee region and is known as one of the most amazing viewpoints in the Salzkammergut. This 1,783 meter high mountain is a popular destination for excursions and hikes. There are several beautiful ways to get to the top. One of the most popular is the hike from St. Wolfgang to the Schafbergspitze, which can also be reached by the above-mentioned nostalgic rack-railway! But no matter which way you choose, on foot or by train, from the top you can enjoy an incredible panorama. Especially the “Himmelspforte”, a former mountain hut that rises directly above a high rock face, gives the Schafberg its iconic backdrop.

Tip: If you like, you can even stay at Hotel Schafbergspitze, Austria’s oldest mountain hotel, and experience spectacular sunrises in the morning.

St. Gilgen

On the northern shore of Lake Wolfgang lies the enchanting village of St. Gilgen, often referred to as Mozart’s Village. The village owes its nickname to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s mother, who was born in St. Gilgen, and his sister Nannerl, who lived there for many years. The picturesque ambiance of this popular vacation spot is particularly charming. Here, sophisticated flair and culture meet an extremely romantic natural idyll. The lakeside promenade, where you can enjoy a delicious ice cream while admiring the magnificent view of the lake, is absolutely charming. In addition, you can discover many of the most beautiful attractions of Lake Wolfgang during a visit, such as the museum in the Mozart House, the legendary Ochsenkreuz Island and the Zwölferhorn cable car. Moreover, the Sankt Gilgen bathing beach is also highly recommended for summer swimming.

Tip: The Villa Alma Lakeside Boutique Hotel is a real insider tip! This boutique hotel is located right on the lake, has a unique design, and the breakfast is top-notch.

Ochsenkreuz (Ox Cross)

The Ochsenkreuz (ox cross) is a real gem on the beautiful eastern shore of the Lake Wolfgangsee. It is located on the so-called Metzgerinsel, the only island in the lake, and is a popular destination for boating, kayaking and stand-up paddling. There is also a beautifully landscaped path with a viewing platform along the shore from which you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the picturesque island. Built in 1667, the Ox Cross has been renovated and rebuilt several times over the centuries. Today’s masonry wayside shrine, with a mural painting depicting the legend of the Butcher and his ox, is now a protected historical monument.

The White Horse Inn at the Wolfgangsee

The White Horse Inn at Lake Wolfgang is a legendary hotel and, on top of that, one of the most famous landmarks on the shore of St. Wolfgang. With a fascinating history of over 500 years, it still attracts visitors from all over the world. The so-called Weisse Rössl became famous through the operetta “The White Horse Inn” by Ralph Benatzky, which premiered in 1930. Later, this traditional hotel also served as a backdrop for numerous films. Today, the Weisse Rössl offers its guests the finest hotel experience. Despite ongoing modernization, the hotel has managed to retain all the unique charm of days gone by. From the rooms you can enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Wolfgang and the surrounding mountains, and the spa in the lake with its floating pool is also a real highlight.

Tip: Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, the Rössl terrace is worth a visit. Here you can enjoy a delicious apple strudel and a magnificent view of the lake.


The village of Strobl is a beautiful and quiet vacation spot on the shores of Lake Wolfgangsee. It is particularly captivating because of its charming setting and the extremely relaxed atmosphere that invites you to unwind and enjoy yourself. Magnificent country houses and nostalgic Art Nouveau villas mingle with modern hotels and restaurants, creating a delightful blend of old and new. The history of the village dates back to the year 739, and later, Strobl became a popular tourist destination during the imperial era. Today, Strobl is home to several swimming areas and offers a wide range of attractions and activities. Some of the highlights include the Bürglstein Hiking Trail, the Blinklingmoos Nature Reserve and the famous Postalm.

Boat Trip on Lake Wolfgangsee

A romantic boat ride on the Lake Wolfgang is almost a must-do during a vacation in this region! Here, visitors have the opportunity to take a dreamy hop on and hop off tour across the turquoise blue lake, with the famous “WolfgangseeSchifffahrt” stopping at seven different locations. Among them, of course, the most picturesque places on the lake, such as St. Wolfgang, Strobl and St. Gilgen. A special feature and a real insider tip is a trip on the nostalgic ship RMS Kaiser Franz Josef I. This paddle steamer was built between 1872 and 1873 and is still in operation today. The 33-meter-long nostalgic ship has also been featured in numerous movies!

Hiking Plateau Postalm

The Postalm is certainly one of the most scenic destinations in the region of the Wolfgangsee lake. This picturesque hiking plateau is located about 12 kilometers from Strobl and is the largest contiguous alpine area in Austria and the second largest plateau in Europe. A visit to the plateau is well worthwhile, as once at the top, there are several hiking routes and easy walking trails that lead through magnificent landscapes. The lookout point over the Wolfgangsee is also spectacular and can be reached by a short hike. A real highlight are the rustic huts on the Postalm, where you can enjoy a traditional snack and soak up the romantic mountain atmosphere.

Zwölferhorn Cable Car

The Zwölferhorn Cable Car is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Wolfgangsee region. This modern cable car, built in 2020, takes visitors up to the Zwölferhorn, an impressive 1,522-meter mountain with breathtaking views of Lake Wolfgang, in just 11 minutes. The bottom station is located in St. Gilgen, and just getting to the top is a wonderful experience that shouldn’t be missed. Once at the top station, active vacationers will find several fantastic hiking trails to look forward to. There are also viewing platforms from which to enjoy the best panoramic views. For culinary well-being, there are several excellent mountain huts in magnificent locations.

Bathing Spots & Beaches at the Wolfgangsee

The lake beaches at the Wolfgangsee offer the best conditions for a pleasant and successful summer vacation in Austria. Especially in the hot months of the summer, the crystal clear water of the lake is a welcome refreshment. The 10 lidos and bathing areas around the lake are idyllically situated, with well-kept lawns and an average water temperature of 22 to 24 degrees. Access to some of the beaches is even free of charge, but there are also some places you will have to pay a small entrance fee. The resorts also offer a variety of fun lake activities such as stand-up paddling, kayaking, pedal boating, sailing, water-skiing and electric boating.


For hikers and active vacationers, the Wolfgangsee is a true paradise. The region around the lake offers a variety of hiking trails and routes for every taste and level of difficulty. From leisurely walks along the shore to challenging mountain hikes and even via ferrata climbs, the region has something to offer for everyone. If you’d like, you can even hike around the entire lake. This tour is almost 27 kilometers long and takes about 6–7 hours. Moreover, there are also a number of beautiful mountains around the lake, with the Schafberg, the Zwölferhorn and the Postalm being some of the most popular hiking areas.

Best Day Trips from Wolgangsee

Also in the surroundings of the Wolfgangsee there is a real variety of wonderful attractions. We have put together a list of the absolute best excursions and activities for you here at a glance:

A day trip from Wolfgangsee to Salzburg is just wonderful. In the city of Mozart, there are numerous interesting sights and museums to visit.

There are other beautiful lakes in the area around the Wolfgangsee. The Mondsee, Attersee, Fuschlsee and Traunsee are all well worth a day trip.

During a vacation at the Wolfgangsee you can also visit Hallstatt and its world’s oldest salt mine. A detour to nearby town of Bad Ischl is also worthwhile.

A visit to the giant ice caves in Werfen is also highly recommended. These are only 70 kilometers away and can easily be visited on a day trip.


Where to Stay at Lake Wolfgang

There is a fantastic range of beautiful accommodations in the Wolfgangsee vacation region. From gorgeous lakeside hotels, cute guesthouses, fabulous apartments, boutique hotels and top-notch campsites, it’s all here. Here are our recommendations and tips for the best places to stay around the Wolfgangsee in Austria…It’s worth a look!

  • Unique Boutique Hotel: The Villa Alma Boutique Hotel is a real insider tip! Located right on the lake, it has a unique design and a great breakfast.
  • Beautiful 3-Star Hotel: The Hotel & Gasthof Fürberg is a charming 3-star hotel on the shores of Lake Wolfgangsee. Guests love the location and the beautiful surroundings.
  • Apartments for Adults Only: The SEE Moment Apartments offer beautiful, well-equipped apartments with a magnificent view of the Wolfgangsee.
  • 4-Star Romantic Hotel: The Weisse Rössl is a guarantee for an unforgettable vacation. The ambience is unique, the location on the lake is ingenious and the pool is a dream.

Find the best accommodation at Wolfgangsee:


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  1. You have totally convinced me to visit this area. The hotel is gorgeous and just as stunning are the views. I really like that little village too! The architecture is so colorful and cute 🙂

  2. Living in Europe, the Wolfgangsee is, of course, the romantic epitome of Austria – referring to all the folk movies from the fifties and sixties. But those places are so iconic for a reason – and your post shows how beautiful that region is.

  3. Love your pictures! It’s all so pretty. I think one of my favorite things to do would be to jump into that heated pool with that amazing view. But simply walking around all these places would make my heart happy!

  4. I just love the Alps, the scenery and culture is just something else. We’ve yet to visit this region in Austria yet but have in Switzerland and loved it so much. It’s somewhere we will hopefully head to in the future.

  5. That hotel is ADORABLE. There’s certainly a lot to do in Wolfgang!

  6. Oh, what a beauty land. Austria is simply stunning. I love the architecture, the mountain and lake scenery, and the cows. I adore the boat ride. What a unique looking boat. And I am a big fan of cog railways. I have to get to Wolfgangsee

  7. All of this is in AUSTRIA?! Wow! I really need to explore that beautiful country. I can’t get over the gorgeous views at Kalvarienberg. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. The railway looks insane, how did you get those photos of the carriages. I would love to see the views from the top and that little island in the lake looks so cool. In the summer months it would be lovely to go swimming in the lake, I bet it is refreshing!

  9. Wow! Swimming at Wolfgangsee looks like a bucket list opportunity for sure. I had no idea how much there was to do in Wolfgang. Thanks for sharing!

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