I wanted to do something special in December so I decided to make a new category called Christmas Destination where I’ll be sharing some of my favorite cities to visit in December! We visited this part of Austria last year just after Christmas. The main idea was to visit Salzburg and after a bit of research we decided to expand our trip and also visit Salzkammergut with small idyllic villages and many lakes. I would really recommend doing the same if you decide to go to Salzburg! I already posted a bunch about our trip last year (here and here), so I now I just want to show some pictures to get your wanderlust stronger. :)
Seewalchen am Attersee
Catle Ort, Traunsee
When visiting castle Ort or Traunsee you should also visit town Gmünden nearby – we actually walked from the castle to the town, it’s not very far. You can take a boat ride there. I’ve been once as a child and it was very interesting.
St. Wolfgang am Wolfgangsee
There are three interesting villages by the Wolfgangsee: St. Wolfgang, St. Gilgen and Strobl. We visited all of them and they all have New Year’s markets as well as Christmas markets, so you can stroll decorated streets and by homemade product until 31st December, not just until 25th! Also it is not so crowded if you decide to visit after Christmas.
Hallstatt, Hallstäter See
The most famous village in Salkammergut (probably even for the whole of Austria). I mostly remember how extremely cold it was. The sun was already gone when we arrived, but to be honest there are areas which sun doesn’t even reach for months (the white stuff is just frozen grass, that was damp because of the lake, not snow). The coffee houses were all full but eventually we managed to find a free table and had some coffee and a piece of homemade Schwarzwald cake.
Almsee is one of the smaller lakes in Salzkammergut. It’s under nature conservation. There’s nothing much except nature there. It takes about half an hour from the nearest village Grünau and you have to take the same road to get back, because there’s no other way into or out of the valley. I didn’t know what exactly to expect because I only look locations up quickly, and don’t do too much research. I prefer to be surprised and make up my mind about a place when I first see it. Don’t get me wrong, I plan a lot, I just don’t like to look at many pictures and have expectations in advance. So we were not sure whether this extra drive is even going to be worth it. Well, it was and we even ended up walking around the lake, which took another hour and a half.
When we arrived it was still dark and the sun was just about to get up from behind the mountains. Almsee was just slowly waking up and we were almost alone out there, it was so quiet and peaceful. When the sun came out, there were more and more people and the parking lots that were completely empty when we drove by, filled up quickly. However there were almost no tourists, which made this a nice authentic experience.
I have a young tradition that I always spend days between Christmas and New Year’s traveling. This year I was really busy with my projects so it was already late November when I started thinking about a destination. This December trips usually last a couple of days and I prefer to travel with a car, so transport doesn’t take too much of a short trip.
Salzburg and river Salzach
We decided to spend three days in Salzkammergut in Austria. On our way there we stopped in Salzburg for a few hours. We’ve been there before so it made more sense to just make it a day trip and spend the other days driving trough the countryside, making stops along the lakes and enjoying nature.
The weather was phenomenal, it was sunny all the time. Not so idyllic and christmasy, but it made driving and walking outside much easier. The only problem was, that the lakes are surrounded with mountains so the sun reached us only late in the morning and it went down quite early. Altogether there were only a couple of sunny hours.
Gossausee was the last stop. It was late and the sun went down already so I had doubts, if it was even worth to drive all the way to the lake. Well, it’s safe to say I was not disappointed. The reflection in the lake was astonishing and the dark water surface made it even better. This unexpectedly but without any doubt became the favorite destination of our trip.