What to do in Zell am See in summer

Last Updated on 01/08/2023

There are a lot of things, that you can do in Zell am See in summer. Zeller Lake is a great option for holiday for ten days to a couple of weeks, especialy if the weather is expected to be rainless. Hikers will be at home on the lake: on the one hand Zell am See has the highest alpine massif after Mont Blanc (Grossglockner, Hohe Tauern), on the other hand, lower, accessible mountains. This is accompanied by several picturesque gorges, mountain lakes and reservoirs, the powerful Krimml cascade of waterfalls.

In this topic, we will focus on the lake itself, the city and the cable cars to the nearest mountain.

Tennengau, Pongau, Dachstein attractions map
Salzkammergut Lakes
Krimml waterfalls hike
High alpine road Grossglockner Strasse
Salzburg old town
Salzburg Hellbrunn palace, museums
Sounds of music filming locations in Salzburg and Salzkammergut
Inn valley attractions on the map – from Innsbruck to Kufstein

How to get to Zell am See. Guest card

Although Zell am See is close to the German border, the feeling of proximity is deceptive. There are several possibilities to come from Germany and all of them are quite lengthy when it comes to reality, and not to Google calculations.

We come from the north

The most highway option: Munich – Salzburg – A10 – Zell am See. Almost all the time you can drive on the autobahn, and then on a good high-speed road. One BUT – this is a rather long road just in terms of distance, plus there are traffic jams on the detour around Munich and on the Salzburg autobahn every time we find ourselves there.

The second option: Munich – Kufstein – S. Johann – Leogang – Zell am See. Again, on the way we spend some time in Munich. With the autobahn to Kufstein – as lucky. But then we find ourselves in the wild land of fearless tractors. Normal roads in this region are in the amount of one piece, so the tractors go exclusively on them and do not waste their precious time at least occasionally giving way. The most interesting thing is that they drive like this not to a neighboring village, but God knows why many kilometers away. The journey along this road from Kufstein to Zell am See in one direction can take two and a half hours only because you must drive after tractor.

The quality of the local roads along this route is not the same: trucks go along 178 and 311, there are no trucks on 164, so you can go relatively fast there, although you have to slow down in the villages. I suspect that option 170 – 161 (Kitzbühel – Mittersiel) would have been a little faster.

The third option: instead of Munich, go through Fernpass (Reutte – Imst – Innsbruck), then Zillertal (Zell am Ziller) – Gerlos Pass – Krimml – Mittersill – Zell am See. If you do not go at peak times (like the beginning of holidays or weekends), then this is a good empty autobahn to Reutte, then a fairly fast road through Fernpass and a convenient Austrian autobahn with heavy traffic. The road along the Zillertal is also fast and not very visited, but you need to cross the Gerlos: it’s a couple of serpentines at the beginning of the path, then many turns at the end of the path (plus a pass fee of 10 euros). But there is a beautiful view from the parking lot to the Krimml waterfalls.

We come from south

Roads from the south are toll.

The most harmless and fastest way (not on peak day) and the farthest from Zell am See is the A10 autobahn – 13 euros.

Grossglockner panoramic road: 39 euros per day.

Read about the High alpine road Grossglockner Strasse.

Tunnel Felbertauern: 11 euros. For 18 you can buy day card (round trip) with discounts.
Highway from Linz, no surprises. At the end, just before the tunnel, there is a valley full of waterfalls (however, no parking lots for viewing the area were noticed). On the north side there is a very fast and strenuous descent along the galleries with a decent slope.

The railway in Bad Gastein for 17.90 euros will take you to the other side with the car.

Public transport

The railway passes through the city. High-speed trains stop at the main station. If you plan to travel by public transport, it is better to settle in the main city, and not in the suburbs. Buses run fairly regularly, including on weekends, and take you to many attractions even without a transfer.

Guest card Zell am See

When choosing a place to stay in the summer, consider the Sommerkarte Zell-am-See – Kaprun discounts in the price, especially if you are traveling with a large family. The card is provided by participating hotels/apartments.

Not all hotels and apartments give a card, but many do. Unfortunately, I did not find an open list of participating housing. It remains to look for references to the card on housing sites. If the card is not mentioned, then this hotel / apartment does not give it. Or write a request to the hotel or tourist office (which has this list – I personally asked).

A hotel with a card may cost a little more than a hotel without a card, but discounts can make up for this difference many times over. For example, parents, children and grandparents travel. Climbing the nearest mountain in this situation can cost about 100 euros, a joint trip to the thermal pool – another 100 euros, and both will be free on the card! The booklet with discounts can be downloaded from the website of the tourist office.

Often apartments are offered in Schüttdorf, which is quite acceptable. Schmitten is less convenient, because uphill, as well as farms on the opposite slope, located significantly above the water level.

In the city itself, there are two grocery stores open until 19 (Saturday 18) hours. Larger shops are located outside the city towards Salzburg. For example, Maximarkt (something like Kaufland, but simpler), where you can also refuel cheaply. They work, however, not much longer.

What to do in Zell am See in summer Zell am See map
enlarge Map data ©OpenTopoMap, ©OpenStreetMap

Zeller lake

Zeller Lake is small. On a bicycle, an adult can easily go around it in an hour, with children and stops it will take no more than one and a half to two hours. You can walk from the edge of the lake to the city for 20-30 minutes.

Bicycle rental is inexpensive. In Zell am See, you can rent at Intersport opposite the station. Schüttdorf has a large bicycle shop.

I do not recommend making a full circle around the lake: on the opposite bank from the city, the entire shoreline is occupied by houses, the passage to the lake is possible in just a couple of places. The line drawn on the map next to the coast is a pure optical illusion. There is no pleasure in driving along the narrow sidewalk between the fences and the road (or, more correctly, but even more unpleasantly, along the roadway).

The northern part of the lake is occupied by camping, where you can go down to the water and swim. In the southern part, near Schüttdorf, the shore is overgrown with reeds, the reeds are fenced, there are no paths there. The approach to the lake is possible only where the pier and Strandbad are.

The shore where Zell am See is located is quite high, there is no descent to the water, with the exception of a paid bath (Strandbad). However, many manage to go down even vertically over the stones in any place to swim.
The water in the lake in mid-June is no more than 20 degrees.

Two pleasure boats run every half an hour, alternating (each of them – once an hour) for sightseeing tours. A small boat delivers from one coast to another according to its own special schedule.

Two pleasure boats sail from the main pier, they do not stop in other cities. They are depicted on the booklet of the shipping company, you can choose which one you like best. We were on a big one and regretted it (even such a fan of boats, ships and yachts as my husband). The open area on this boat on the second floor is small, packed very tightly with people. The second open area at the very top is larger, but has a VIP status, which is modestly silent in the booklets. If you want to go up, pay another 4.50. And since even 14.50 was a lot for a short trip, there are few people who want to pay extra, unless a group of wealthy pensioners appears. So it turns out that a couple of people are upstairs, the rest, like herrings, are crowded on the second deck, and those who have not found a place there are tormented by stuffiness at the very bottom.

South shore (Kaprun and Grossglockner massif)

Zell am See on the right

Zell am See lake

East Bank (opposite Zell am See)

North shore

Zeller Lake

West shore (Zell am See)

Lake Zell am See

What to do in Zell am See in summer

Zell am See old town

From historical buildings in Zell am See old town the most interesting are the Vogtturm (built, it is believed, before 1000).

and the old Catholic Church of St. Hippolyte. The church was built in the 11th century, mostly in the Romanesque style. Inside, the remains of frescoes and the old altar have been preserved.

Steam train to Krimml

The steam train runs in the morning on certain days. In the season it was Thursday and Friday (maybe other days – you need to look at the schedule).

The final station of the train is Krimml. But it is not very suitable for visiting the waterfall: you have to take the train for a long time, then transfer to the bus, then quickly see only the lower step of the waterfall, since after two hours you have to go back. The train returns at half past six.

Illuminated musical fountains

On Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 22:00, a light and music show is shown near the station. Every day of the week different themes and different music. They did their best on the classic theme on Sunday. With modern music, it is not always a good choice of songs – it is difficult to find a rhythm for fountains.

Every couple of minutes, the main fountains are turned off and a very powerful fountain is turned on, which creates a kind of screen on which the projector shows pictures of the region. Pictures are more or less clearly visible only if you are exactly in front of this fountain. But since nothing super interesting is shown, you can safely watch the show from the side, away from the crowd of people.

Zell am See cable car

From the city itself there is one cable car (many small gondolas) – CityExpress (number 1). It launches in mid-June.

The station of the other cable cars is located two kilometers from the lake in Schmitten (walk about half an hour up). Cable cars close periodically, so check which ones are open. There are three in Schmitten: Schmittenhöhebahn, TrassXpress (2) and Sonnenalmbahn (3). The first two are raised to the very top, the third to the middle (then you need to change to the Sonnkogelbahn 4 chairlift). Point 4 seems to be higher than the others, but this is an optical illusion, the highest point in the center.

The cable car from Schüttdorf AreitXpress (5) is open after a recent renovation.

Zell am See cable car

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From the entertainment at the top, we can name a couple of small lakes (cable car 1), playgrounds (cable car 4) and various original modern sculptures scattered across the mountains. One of the sculptures, for example, a wooden figure suspended on a parachute on a tree, from afar, seeming to be a hanging skeleton or a recent corpse.

I do not advise going down full distance, as we did: the elevation difference is more than 1000 meters, the path is gravel in many places and slips, and the slope is sometimes more than 45 degrees. If the first part is still acceptable (up to the upper CityExpress station), then further is a mockery. If you are thinking of hiking, take a better map of the mountain (free cable car map is not suitable). And definitely better without small children (although our five-year-old and 70-year-old managed), categorically without a stroller and in good (preferably mountain) shoes.

You can get a great view by going up from the city to the restaurant (small cafe) Ebenbergwald.

At the top station of Schmittenhöhebahn

Zeller Lake Zell am See cable car

View towards the Grossglockner. A cable car lifts from Kaprun to the nearest snowy peaks.

Let’s look north. The ridge slopes down to the lake. You can see the upper station of the chairlift (the second hillock on the right in the chain).

West towards Krimml.

We start descending.

A chain of lakes along another ridge serves, apparently, to add snow to the tracks in winter.

These mushrooms, unfortunately, are also modern art.

We went down from there…

… and there are still so many left.

Hard Descent Award

You can get this beautiful view by going up to the Ebenbergwald cafe (strudel and pancakes are good, by the way). It is better to go from below, and not to go down from above – your joints will thank you. The cafe is clearly visible from different points in the city. The trail starts behind the City Express cable car. Ascent – photo session – descent will take about 50 minutes.

Cafe from the water (this second upper house, which is worse visible)

Other posts about region – #Land Salzburg (federal state of Salzburg)

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