This bustling town is nestled between the Hohe Tauern Mountains and Lake Zell, so holidays to Zell am See give you two beautiful landscapes to explore.
Historic cobbled streets
Starting from the medieval St Hippolyte's church in the historical town centre, you can stroll through Zell am See’s cobbled streets and find plenty of friendly cafés to stop at for a coffee, slice of cake and some people watching. Or potter down to the waterfront to take a peaceful cruise around the lake.
Schmittenhöhe and Maiskogel
The peaks of the Schmittenhöhe and Maiskogel are just a scenic cable car ride away – and the views from the top are magical. You can catch the gondola back or amble down at your own pace on the pretty walking trails. If you’d prefer something a little gentler, the lakeside path is a peaceful place to stretch your legs, with lots of stops to take in the scenery.
Out and about
• Lake bathing
• Boat trips
• Cycle routes
• Indoor pool
• Outdoor pool
• Tennis courts
• Wildlife spotting
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Things to See and Do in Zell am See
Zell am See has a trio of bathing beaches to visit on the lake - Seespitz, Thumersbach and Zell am See lido. They all have a pretty similar offering, but Zell lido is much closer to the town of Zell am See than the other two.
Zell am See lido
The lido is a great place to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Zell. It comes with sun loungers and parasols as well as a solar-heated swimming pool, too. Refreshments can be bought from the onsite restaurant.
The beach is a thin, sandy strip with stones mixed in, but you can sprawl out on the wide bathing lawn, too. There’s a giant waterslide, a toddlers' pool, a trampoline, boat rentals and water-skiing. Another popular must-do is the 18-hole minigolf course.
From April to November, depending on the weather, Zell am See holds a town market in the main square. This is a great opportunity to get some holiday snaps and soak up the vibe. Plus, you might pick up some bargain souvenirs in the form of local and regional produce.
Zell am See has plenty of shops to wander round, everything from casual clothing stores to fashion-led retailers, plus sports shops and vendors selling unique shoes and accessories.
Choose between the fantastic ice cream stand by the right-hand side of the Hotel Grand, and the waffle stand next to Crazy Daisy’s, which sells freshly-made waffles with a choice of toppings. Enjoy your preferred sweet treat on a gentle evening stroll.
For a true spectacle, stick around the town until 10pm. Three times a week, the 20-minute-long Magic Lake Show takes centre stage, with an impressive display of water, lights, music and lasers. View the performance from the Elisabeth Park every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Most restaurants in Zell am See serve a range of international cuisines under one roof. Coffee houses are also very popular, as they’re cosy and perfect for a quick break. The restaurants and cafés are spread out across the resort - you’ll find a good few between Salzmannstrasse and Loferer Strasse.
Get a taste of the local at Steinerwirt
On the Dreifaltigkeitsgasse is Steinerwirt, a traditional restaurant serving Austrian food. The beautifully presented food, wine cellar and sophisticated setting make this a popular stop for hungry locals and tourists alike.
Villa Crazy Daisy is a must-visit
Nearing the lakefront is the infamous Villa Crazy Daisy. It always gets busy, and that’s probably because it’s known for its range of international dishes, as well as its friendly and attentive staff. And there's live music to relax to in the evenings.
Spoilt for choice at Traube Brasserie
Back towards town is the reasonably priced Traube Brasserie. The variety of exotic dishes, from Asian to American, means that people return again and again to experience something different each time – and they're never disappointed. The high demand does mean though that booking is a must.
Wander around authentic cobbled streets in the charming, traffic-free medieval town centre or walk down to the waterfront for calming views of the lake.
Boats cross the lake from Zell to Thummersbach and run every half an hour between 9.30am and 6pm. Or, if you want to explore the area further, you can catch a round-trip boat that stops off at six locations around the lake. This boat runs once an hour between 10am and 5pm.
The train station is situated on the Bahnhofplatz 1 near the lake. From here you can journey to Kitzbühel in just under an hour and Salzburg in 1 hour and 40 minutes. These trains run once or twice every hour, so don’t worry if you miss one.
From the two main bus stops at the railway station and the Postplatz terminal, you can jump on a bus to the nearby town of Kaprun (20 minutes) or Saalbach (30 minutes). Buses are very efficient, with some departing two or three times every hour.
The CityXpress gondola, the Schmittenhöhebahn gondola and the Sonnenalm gondola are just a few of the lifts that run throughout the summer. Most are open between June and September and run between the hours of 9am and 5pm. If the lifts aren't operating, the resort offers buses from neighbouring Kaprun up to the Maiskogel instead.
Zell am See is dominated by its beautiful lake, but there are plenty of things to do on solid ground too – 83 walking trails, in fact. The 12km walk around the lake itself is an excellent place to start – and if you get tired, you can always catch the ferry back to town. Summer lifts will whisk you to the Schmittenhöhe and Maiskogel peaks, where a network of marked trails and mountain huts awaits. You can also take the bus to Kaprun and follow the valley paths along the riverside, for wonderful views of the Hohe Tauern National Park mountains.
This walk is one of the most beautiful in the Eastern Alps, with incredible 360-degree views over valleys and snow-capped mountains. Catch the Schmittenhöhebahn up and then follow the trail past the Elisabeth chapel. The walk along the top can be tricky, so take your time. At the end, you can choose to take the Schattberg lift down into Saalbach or follow the path to Hinterglemm. From either, you can catch the bus back to Zell.
Ascent up to the Schmittenhöhe
There’s no better way to appreciate the Schmittenhöhe than by getting up close. There are several routes that lead from the base of the Schmittenhöhebahn to the peak – though they can get pretty steep so they aren’t for everyone. On the way, look out for people playing Disc Golf and try and spot examples of Art on the Mountain. There are also plenty of mountain restaurants to stop at, and the views from the top are well worth the effort.
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