Zell am See in Austria: A Travel Guide
Zell am See is a beautiful holiday destination in Austria, located in the south of Salzburg. Situated in a magnificent idyll with high mountains and a crystal-clear lake, this holiday region is considered to be one of the ultimate spots for summer holidays in Austria. And that’s not without reason: Here, around the Zeller Lake, you can experience some unforgettable activities and amazing things to do. For example, on a Summer holiday in Zell am See, countless beautiful sights, exciting attractions and really amazing excursion are waiting for you. Whether swimming, hiking, cycling, sightseeing or just relaxing – for sure you won`t get bored there. This is ensured by the Zell am See Card, with which you can visit most of the attractions in Zell am See and Kaprun free of charge.
In This Travel Guide we will show the best things to do and the most amazing tourist attractions of Zell am See. In addition, you will get many information and tips about where to stay in Zell am See, getting there and what the best day trips are.
Best things to do in Zell am See
During a summer holiday on Lake Zell, many activities and things to do are waiting for you. With this huge selection of activities, you can almost lose track of it. Don’t worry, here we’ve put together the ultimate highlights of the region Zell am See. Perfect for your next holiday in Zell am See.
The old town of Zell am See
Built on a peninsula at the Zeller Lake, the old town of Zell am See is a popular place for vacationers as well as and locals. There are plenty of boutiques, bars, restaurants, a casino and also shops where you can buy local specialties. During a stroll through the historic old town and the pedestrian zone, you will discover a lot of things to see: the more than 1,000-year-old Vogtturm, which today serves as a local museum, or the impressive parish church of The Holy Hippolyte and the castle Rossberg, today’s town hall are just some of the best things to visit in Zell am See.
While exploring the town of Zell am See don´t miss the famous Grand Hotel. This beautiful snow-white hotel has been open since 1896 and is one of the most famous landmarks in the village. While having a delicious coffee on the lake terrace you can enjoy a fantastic view of Lake Zell. If you are planning a very special stay, consider a night at this dream hotel.
Mitterberg – Viewpoint of Zell am See
Visiting the Mitterberg you will experience the ultimate most beautiful view of Lake Zell and the village of Zell am See. Whether by hiking or quite comfortably by car, from up here you will see a panorama like out of a travel magazine. Particularly recommended is the viewpoint next to the Mitterberghof, a popular mountain hut with a beautiful viewing terrace. This place is one of the ultimate must-sees in Zell am See and a visit is highly recommended.
Visiting the Schmittenhöhe Mountain
The Schmittenhöhe is the local mountain of Zell am See and at the same time the most famous attraction of the holiday destination. In winter a popular ski area, in summer a picturesque destination for beautiful panoramic hikes. With the Schmittenhöhen cable car, it goes up to almost 2,000 meters above sea level. From up there you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Lake Zell and the spectacularly beautiful mountain worlds.
Tip: The Schmittenhöhe is a popular spot for paragliding. In the summer months you will have the chance to take paragliding flights with experienced tandem pilots.
Mirror Lake at Plettsaukopf
A hidden gem is the incredibly beautiful mirror lake, a wonderfully beautiful reservoir at the Plettsaukopf. It is nestled in a breathtaking mountain panorama and not only photographers will be amazed. To get there you can take the cable car of the mountain railway “City Express“, which starts directly at village of Zell am See. Once at the top, after a short 15-minute hike, you reach the beautiful Plettsaukopf lake. Another possibility would be to hike from Zell am See to Plettsaukopf (2 hours).
Boat trip at Lake Zell
Another popular activity is a boat trip at Lake Zell. With the MS Schmittenhöhe or the Empress Elisabeth you will experience by a boat tour a spectacular sea scenery. In addition, there is also the possibility to make lake crossings by shuttle boat from one town to the other. With the Zell am See Card all these trips are free of charge.
Swimming in Zell am See
When it is hot in summer, a dip in the quite fresh Zeller Lake will help you cool off. Around the beautiful lake there are some really lovely places for bathing. Also, water activities such as stand-up paddling, pedal boating, water skiing and windsurfing are offered here at Lake Zell. Perfect for those who like to get active in summer. One of the most popular baths is the Thumersbach Beach, which delights its guests with an infinity pool with scenic views to the opposite Zell am See village.
Excursions around Zell am See
In the surroundings of Zell am See, really spectacular excursion destinations are waiting for you. If you are on holiday in the holiday region Zell am See – Kaprun, then the Zell am See Card is usually included during your stay. With this you get discounts or even often free access at many excursion destinations. Here is a selection of the best excursion highlights:
One of the most important things to see in Kaprun and Zell am See is the Kitzsteinhorn, the famous glacier of that holiday region. With the cable car it goes up into the mountain to an altitude of 3,000 meters. From the Skywalk you have a breathtaking view over the gigantic mountain worlds, the eternal ice and you will experience winter even if you are there in summer time. An unforgettable excursion, which you should not miss during your holiday in Zell am See – Kaprun.
Tip: Don`t miss to check out the summer slide in the Ice Arena, which is located just below the summit. Great fun not only for families with children.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Another popular thing to do is a panoramic ride over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road at the High Tauern National Park. It is undisputedly one of the most beautiful Alpine roads in Austria and no matter if you go there by bike, car or motorbike, a ride over the High Alpine Road should not be missed during any summer holiday in Zell am See. Visitors also have the opportunity to observe the sweet marmots in their wild.
However, the absolute highlight of the tour is the visit of the Pasterze, the gigantic glacier and the Grossglockner view, which is with 3,798 meters the highest mountain in Austria.
Kaprun High Mountain Reservoirs
The high-mountain reservoirs in Kaprun are located at an altitude of around 2,000 metres and supply the region with electricity. During the summer months, this huge power plant, which is beautifully embedded in nature, is a popular excursion destination from Zell am See. The mountain views with the 2 huge turquoise-blue reservoirs are amazing, and visitors are amazed by all the scenic impressions. Those who love hiking will find here some amazing trails, but also for non-hikers this reservoir is really worth seeing.
Sigmund Thun Gorge
A trip to the Sigmund Thun Gorge is truly a special experience. On robust wooden paths it goes up through the gorge, you will pass thunderous waters and beautiful waterfalls. At the end of the hike there is a picturesque turquoise-blue lake, which is a perfect spot for having a picnic. Since the gorge only has a length of 320 meters it is relatively easy to hike and at the same time a wonderful nature experience. That’s why it is definitely one of the most popular sights of Zell am See – Kaprun.
The Krimml Waterfalls are one of the most beautiful and impressive excursion destinations not far from Zell am See. On a hike along the waterfall trail you will enjoy the roaring waterfall and have the opportunity to take amazing pictures. With a drop height of 3 steps of 380 meters, it is even the 5th highest waterfall in the world, the highest in Europe and therefore also the highest waterfall in Austria. The Krimml waterfalls are located about 1 hour by car from Zell am See and a day tour for a visit is very recommended.
How to get to Zell am See
Car: Zell am See is less than 1.5 hours away from the city of Salzburg. From Zell am See to Munich it takes about 2.5 hours by car. If you arrive from Innsbruck, plan about 2 hours of travel time. From Vienna to Zell am See it takes about 4.5 hours.
Train: Zell am See has excellent train connections to many Austrian cities. Conveniently, the train station is located right in the centre of the city.
Flights: The nearest airport is in Salzburg; the largest airport is Munich. You can find cheap flights on various online flight portals, such as Skyscanner.
Where to stay in Zell am See
At Zell am See and Kaprun there is a huge range of beautiful guesthouses, accommodations, b&bs and hotels. Here are our top places to stay in Zell am See.
- Apartments: Very nice and cozy apartments in a perfect location to Lake Zell. The large apartments of Haus Gandler are perfect for families with children.
- Modern Hotel: A beautiful, modern hotel in a perfect location. The view from The Senses Violett Suites to Lake Zell is breathtaking. Also the breakfast is really delicious.
- Grand Hotel: The snow-white Grand Hotel is the absolute prestigious hotel in Zell am See. It enchants with a lot of old splendour and the unique location directly on the lake.
- Castle: The Prielau Castle spoils its visitors with an ultimate fairytale stay. The incomparable charm of the old castle is a guarantee for a romantic holiday in Zell am See.
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