Three night break in Austria? Salzburg City and mountain resort area.


Austria Pre-Christmas Trip Report

Friends and i went to Austria for a long weekend staying at the Austria Holiday Apartment in Kaprun, close to Zell am See. We found the accommodation on the web and got an early cheap pre-Christmas  flight with Ryanair from Stansted at a bargain £50 return!

 Salzburg a fantastic place to visit any time of the year

We flew to Salzburg in 1 hour 40 mins (arriving 20 mins early) and hired a car from Avis (100 Euro for 4 days) and spent the day sight seeing in Salzburg. The weather was perfect, crisp and sunny with clear blue skies.
Everywhere was  trimmed up traditionally for the festive season and very tastefully too with the white lights twinkling against the frost and snow in the background. There was plenty to see:-  Christmas market, ice rink in the square, food stalls.  Make sure you try the mulled wine or schnapps or both!  The goulash soup is worth trying too,  a local dish and the meat was excellent. 

There are shops galore all tastefully decorated for those of you who want to shop, we decided to look rather than
buy and spent our time exploring all the side streets. There was also Salzburg castle, museums, galleries and casino to visit perhaps on another occasion.

I recommend you walk down by the river and have a coffee at the roof top cafe / bar at the Hotel Stein which overlooks the town and river. Great views and rugs are provided for those who feel the cold.

 Austria holiday apartment in Kaprun sleeps from 3-9

Kaprun Apartment

We arrived at the apartment in Kaprun late afternoon after a 75 minutes drive from Salzburg. The apartment was new, well appointed, clean and warm with under floor heating.  Plus a store room for boots and skis etc. The rooms are en-suite and there are views of the mountains from the front windows.There is a supermarket close by for all your needs and it is only a 5 min walk into the town centre via the bridge.You park the car in the basement and the drive is heated so there is never a problem with ice and snow to hinder your entry/exit.

The next day we woke up to 4 inches of snow.  A picture perfect Christmas card, wunderba! everywhere looked magical.  It brought the child out of us all. The roads were cleared with typical Austrian efficiency. 

The snow plough and gritters had been out during the night, so driving was not going to be a problem. 

 Europa Ski Area cover  Zellamsee and Kaprun

Zell am See
We headed out to Zell am See for a look round. Beautiful town, again trimmed up tastefully for Christmas (white lights only) with a Christmas fair also that opened up at 4pm with brazier fires,surrounded by cabins and bars. We headed for the lake for a walk then a hot drink at the Grand Hotel on the lakeside with great views. We didn't have time to take in the 7 mile walk around the lake

 Bad Gastein fantastic thermal spa well worth a visit

Bad Gastein

For lunch we headed for Bad Gastien, the old spa town where the German Kaiser use to holiday.  Lots of snow and a stunning waterfall run through the town, as pictured in the poster.  We didn't visit but the Towns Spa areas are something special and are also thermally heated, very spectacular. Apple strudel is a must for lunch. 

Late afternoon we headed for Hofgastien spa  world in the valley floor. Another pretty town with an indoor and outdoor ice rink, with tasteful Christmas lights. The spa is quite something, an experience I will never forget.  To swim outside in hot spa waters, with snow on the ground, mountains and trees in the background and the snow falling on your face while you float on the warm waters, is magical. It certainly put a smile on my face. I managed to get a 1500m swim in another outdoor 25m pool.  Stainless steel with underwater lighting - very special.
We went late in the day to savour the lighting and atmosphere, which I highly recommend.. To finish off we tried the saunas and steam room ( nude area - not for the squeamish! ).  There is also a rest room with waterbeds and a ladies only area. We opted for the 2 hour session which was not long enough  (23 euro included towels). There was also a large family area for the kids with a pool cinema in the water dome, plus slides and chutes, one of which is very fast! so fast that we had to check it out twice!

Skiing on the Kitzsteinhorn, above Kaprun open most of the year for skiing

Kitzsteinhorn glacier ski area

For our last day we drove 10 mins away to the ski lifts for the Kitzsteinhorn mountain 3200m.  We headed for the summit to walk through the tunnel to the glacier and viewpoint. (You can check the weather on the web cams on the TV in the apartment) We were above the cloud level and could see for miles to the horizon. Spectacular. Don't forget your camera. Very cold so wrap up well. The cafe is excellent, or like us, you can take a picnic and eat where you like. The facilities are very good and warm.  We walked part way down the mountain, then used the lifts for the rest of the way. 

The views were stunning, the skiing looked great, catering for all abilities and boarders, with plenty of jumps and routes. Pity we weren't skiing ourselves - there is always a next time.

 We spent the evening in Kaprun wining and dining.  The food was very good, particularly the steaks. We had 'deer'- venison well it was the festive season!  We found the the hotel bars and après ski are excellent, with plenty of choice of venues.

Krampus  celebration  take  place  in early December

Kramprus  and St Nicholas celebrations

An interesting twist to the evening was the Krampus Celebrations.  A mixture of 'good versus evil' where St. Nicholas arrives at  on a horse drawn sleigh. The evil characters look like something out of Pans Labyrinth! - quite scary. Certainly frightened some of the younger ones!

Can't recommend the the  area more highly.  Will be back to try the skiing and hiking, water sports and biking in the summer.

Nick, Scarborough.

Looking for somewhere to stay then please consider  Austria Holiday Apartment