Choose a holiday to St Wolfgang to explore a beautifully rustic market town on the shores of the Wolfgangsee lake, known for its picturesque lakefront church.
Life in St Wolfgang is pretty laid back. You can wander around a maze of cobbled streets at your own pace - admiring the artistry of the frescoed houses as you go - stop in at the pavement cafés or head down to the lake for a stroll along the promenade. For the best views, hop on the rack-and-pinion railway to the peak of Schafberg.
According to legend, the site of St Wolfgang village was chosen by the saint himself. After searching the slopes of Schafberg in vain for a suitable site on which to build his church, Wolfgang threw an axe down the mountain to find the spot and it landed on the edge of Wolfgangsee. Over the years St Wolfgang’s church became a pilgrimage destination for many around the world. Paddle steamers have the run of the lake these days and will take you over to the pretty villages nearby.
Out and about
• Lakeside promenade
• Lake bathing
• Boat trips
• Local ferries
• Rowing boats
• Mountain railway
• Horse-drawn carriage rides
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Things to See and Do in St Wolfgang
The village of St Wolfgang lies in the middle of Lake Wolfgangsee. Many of the beaches in this town are privately owned by the hotels, but there are a few public beaches to relax on, too. Lake Appesbach and Badestrand Intermezzo are both nice places to spend a day by the water.
Lake Appesbach is a 30-minute walk or 1-minute bus ride away. The beach area is attached to a camping site but non-residents can swing by to use the facilities. Here, they offer paddle boarding, boat hire, kayaks, opportunities for fishing, sun loungers and parasols, plus a restaurant and beer garden.
Like Appesbach, Badestrand Intermezzo is part of a private resort property but the public has access to it. It’s small and quiet, with a patch of sunbathing lawn, and is peppered with sun loungers and parasols.
The neighbouring towns of St Gilgen and Bad Ischl hold weekly farmers' markets on Fridays and Saturdays. They're great for taking holiday snaps and picking up local produce or gifts.
There's a little capacity for shopping in St Wolfgang, but not much. You can browse a few clothing stores, sports shops, speciality retailers and souvenir shops if you want to treat yourself.
Spend a peaceful evening people watching from local haunt Café Wallners. They do range of tasty sweets and special drinks - Aperol spritz being a popular choice - to accompany sitting back and soaking up the town’s nighttime atmosphere.
For a true taste of Austria, get yourself to the town square. Some nights, they hold shows with Austrian dancing, where locals don their traditional dirndls and lederhosen. Other evenings could host brass band performances or music concerts. Keep an eye out each week to see what’s on.
Restaurants and cafés line the shores of Lake Wolfgang, many of them specialising in freshly caught fish and delicacies from the forest. Eating out here is usually a high class affair, though prices remain reasonable – so expect delicious food and drinks without breaking the bank.
Treat yourself at Konditorei Wallner
The family-run Konditorei Wallner is a household name in St Wolfgang. Situated in the centre of town and open since 1908, this café offers a variety of homemade cakes, pastries, sandwiches and drinks – including the Aperol Spritz. It’s a beautifully decorated building, so you’ll know it when you see it.
Fresh fish at Gasthof Franz-Joseph
Set on the lakeshore, Gasthof Franz-Joseph offers pleasant views over Wolfgangsee, friendly staff and delicious traditional Austrian food. They specialise in fish, creating dishes from the day's fresh catch. Their outdoor terrace is pretty popular so make sure you book in advance if you want to sit outside.
Bag a burger at Krastoff
Above the lake, near the entrance to the village, is Krastoff, a small American-style bar. It’s known for its friendly owners and for being a great place to grab a burger or snack in the evening, so it's no surprise to see locals, as well as tourists, enjoying themselves there.
You can take a stroll along the lakeside promenade to absorb the charming atmosphere of this gorgeous town, or admire the frescoed houses on a meander through the cobbled streets.
There are two types of boat that operate on Lake Wolfgangsee, the regular ferries and, during July and August, the Kaiser Franz Joseph Paddle Steamer which runs every 2 hours and links St Wolfgang to three villages around the lake as well as to St Gilgen in 45 minutes.
The nearest station to St Wolfgang is in Bad Ischl. The station can be reached by bus 546. From Bad Ischl you could get on a train to Gmunden to visit the K-Hof ceramics museum.
Lots of buses depart from the main bus stops next to the Michal Pacher Haus or beside the Schafbergbahn. They'll take you to nearby towns like St Gilgen in 30 minutes and Bad Ischl in 45 minutes.
Jump onto the Schafberg Mountain cog railway to admire the excellent scenery. There’s an ascent every hour and it takes 45 minutes to get to the top – more time to relax and enjoy the ride. In nearby St Gilgen you can take the cable car up to the summit of the Zwolferhorn mountain for stunning views of Wolfgangsee and the surrounding areas. There's also a chairlift which runs out of Bad Ischl.
There are 130km of marked trails around St Wolfgang, but newcomers should start with a leisurely stroll through the maze of cobbled streets and along the lakeside, to take in the charm and elegance of this rustic town. A gentle 2-hour walk to Strobl will give you an even better view over the town and lake. For the explorers among you, St Wolfgang is linked by trails to many other areas in the Salzkammergut, making it easy to get out and about on foot. Taking the Schafberg mountain railway is also an excellent way to reach lovely trails higher up.
An easy route to start you off, and take in incredible views too. It starts from the centre promenade in St Wolfgang, and follows mainly flat, paved pathways to the Zinkenbach – and remember your camera, as the views are surely something you’ll want to capture. The route is well marked and, at the end, you can rest your feet and catch the ferry back to town.
If you really want to stretch your legs, this route is perfect. Follow the well-marked route 28 from the tourist office, along a paved road and then up into the woods. Wind through the trees until you reach the idyllic Lake Schwarzansee. From there, it’s up to you what you do next – stroll around the lake shore, stop for a drink at the Alm Stadl, or even do a spot of fishing.
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