Make a splash in the clear waters of Gastein Valley’s swimming lake, which covers a massive 2.3 hectares. Sitting between Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein, next to the Achenpromenade and cycling path, the lake is a popular spot to refresh yourself after a day of hiking or biking.
The Gastein swimming lake doesn’t have a typical sand or pebble beach - instead, the water’s edge is lined with large sunbathing meadows. Here you’ll find a beach volleyball court, a diving platform, a range of watersports and a number of fun slacklines to wobble across.
At the lake, you can borrow parasols and sun loungers to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Kids will be furthered entertained by the slide and sandbox area. There’s a great little café on site, too, for food and drinks.
Take yourself off to the weekly farmers' market, which takes place on Thursday mornings in the centre of Bad Hofgastein. Here you can sample and browse delicious produce from the local agricultural scene.
During the summer months, the town of Bad Hofgastein holds Star:Shopping evenings across several Thursday nights in July and August. Instead of traipsing around during hotter days, the shops in the pedestrianised area stay open until 10pm, for a more pleasant experience.
Potter through the pathways of the pedestrian area on a dry, clear night, window shopping as you go. If the evening is too damp to venture out, enjoy a quiet drink in the comfort of your hotel instead.
For a bit of live music and a few drinks on a Friday, head to Hotelbar Nortica, just off the lobby of the main body of the hotel. There are all kinds of musical acts, from oompah to rock ‘n’ roll. There’s also the odd open-air summer concert in town, so keep an eye and ear out.
The charming streets of Bad Hofgastein are lined with inviting pavement cafés and atmospheric restaurants. Here you’ll typically find the traditional cuisines of the region – a mixture of Tyrolean, Italian and Austrian – though some places incorporate some American touches to their menus. A lot of eateries are located near the Alpen Therme or in the town centre, though you’ll also find some quaint huts up the mountains.
Inside a hilltop castle built in 1530 is Schlossl Weitmoser, a fine-dining restaurant with great views of the mountains. Sample their homemade sweet, Indianer – it’s meant to be amazing.
For vegetarians, or those looking for something light and refreshing, Kraut & Ruben is a great option for inventive meat-free dishes. All the food is beautifully presented and the restaurant itself is spacious and modern.
Close to the thermal spa is Gastein Alm, a rustic yet modern restaurant offering regional and Italian dishes and top-class hospitality. Their cherry strudel is highly recommended.
The centre of this old market town is made up of cobbled streets that lead out to mountain trails and paths. You can wander the picturesque pedestrian zone, browsing luxury boutiques, restaurants and cafés, or stop for a spot of people-watching in the main square.
The nearest station is 3km outside town, around a 45-minute walk, but there’s a local bus that will get you there in 11 minutes. From there you can catch a train to the castle in Werfen (1 hour), stunning Zell am See (1 hour 15 minutes) or Lake Wörthersee (1 hour 30 minutes), or historic Salzburg (1 hour 30 minutes).
The main stop is outside the Hotel Österreichischerhof and there’s a regular service between the local villages in the valley, including Bad Gastein (11 minutes) and Dorfgastein (5 minutes). Buses are discounted with your guest card and run every day, though times vary at weekends.
Your guest card also gives you a discount on summer lifts. There are five lifts in the valley that run through the season and you can either buy a one-day or 6-day pass, depending how often you wish to use them.
A lovely way to start exploring Bad Hofgastein is with a stroll around the town itself, along streets lined with charming shops and cafés. Marked footpaths lead out of the village, where 350km of walking and hiking trails await. Summer lifts will whisk you to the peaks, and you can ramble through flower-filled meadows and peaceful woodland, and past stunning glaciers. If you’re lucky, you might just spot eagles, vultures or marmots. There are also over 50 mountain huts where you can stop to rest your feet and sample homemade bread, cheese and meats.
An excellent route for a good-weather day, most of it is gentle but there are a few steeper sections. Catch the bus to Bad Gastein and take the Stubnerkögelbahn up to the mid-station. From there, walk up to the Zitrauer Hichalm and then follow signs down to Böckfeldalm – and take care on the steep parts. A forest path will lead you on to Altböckstein, which is famous for its pilgrimage church.
Take the bus to the Graukogel chairlift and ride it up to the top, before following route 527 around the peak. Turning off onto route 524A and then onto 526, will eventually bring you past Seekral lake and on to Reedsee lake - a beautiful place to stop for a picnic and take in the views. Afterwards, carry on down into the valley, to the Gruner Baum Hotel Village and hop on the bus back to Bad Hofgastein.
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