Salzburg Outdoors

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Salzburg Outdoors
Salzburg and the SalzburgerLand region seem to provide endless possibilities for active travelers. As well as being a skier's paradise, they offer pristine lakes, rolling meadows, and delightful waterfalls.
By Zac Steger, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Tourismus Salzburg
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    The Ice Caves of Eisriesenwelt
    The largest ice caves in the world lie just 30 miles south of Salzburg in the Eisriesenwelt at Werfen. Only a portion of the roughly 20 miles of cave are open to the public, but what's here is impressive—a bizarre underground world of magnificent ice formations and frozen waterfalls. On the 75-minute guided tour, visitors will see, among other wondrous sights, Hymir's Castle—a huge ice sculpture named for the ice giant of the Edda, one of the oldest Germanic sagas—as well as the Ice Palace and the Mörk Glacier, on which layers of time can be seen, much like rings on a tree.
    Photo courtesy of Tourismus Salzburg
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    Beautiful Waterfalls
    Around 17 miles south of Salzburg, between Golling and Kuchl, is the Golling Waterfall, a popular image for 19th-century painters of the Romantic period. A path follows the Schwarzbach (Black Brook), leading to the lower falls and natural pools before following the roaring water to the upper falls via wooden footpaths and bridges. In total, water tumbles over more than 500 feet of rock, providing a wonderful introduction to the natural features of the Tennengau area, a beautiful district where much of Salzburg’s salt mining took place. Further afield is the Krimmler Waterfall, Central Europe’s tallest at 1,247 feet.
    Photo courtesy of Tourismus Salzburg
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    The SalzburgerLand by Horse
    Horseback riding provides a distinctive way to check out the countryside of the SalzburgerLand at any time of year. However, it’s particularly enchanting to trek across the snow-covered fields on a crisp winter morning. Beginners can relax on short, easy journeys along bridle paths, and more-experienced riders can voyage deep through the valleys using services provided by stables such as Scheickgut, in nearby Flachau. For the ultimate winter fairy-tale excursion, enjoy a private horse-drawn sleigh ride through the picturesque landscape, taking in the mountains, lakes, and small villages from beneath the comfort of several layers of blankets.
    Photo by Alessandra Sarti/age fotostock
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    Mountain Biking
    In addition to music, the hills are alive with the sound of mountain biking—a great way to explore the countryside and enjoy some clean mountain air. There are 14 bike regions to check out in and around Salzburg, with trails for both beginner and advanced bikers. Take a cable car to the Bikepark Wagrain, which features a mix of rugged paths, obstacles, and downhill slopes; ride alongside the clouds high atop Flachau; or gaze into the wide valley as you bike around Radstadt. All offer close encounters with nature and spectacular panoramic views. Guided tours are also available for individuals or groups.
    Photo courtesy of Austrian Tourist Office
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    Scenic Hiking Trails
    Salzburg and its surrounding region offer some of the most scenic hiking in all of Austria, and many beautiful trails are within easy reach of the city via public transportation. For casual hiking, take the cable car up to the Untersberg, Salzburg's closest mountain, which features a series of paths that are not too difficult. More-experienced hikers can start with the trickier trails at the bottom or go further out to Fuschl and enjoy the Fuschlsee lake at the edge of the Salzkammergut, a large resort region east of the city that's covered with lush forest, rugged limestone rocks, and glacial lakes. For a quick and easy trek, stay in the city and go up the Mönchsberg to be rewarded with commanding views of Salzburg.
    Photo courtesy of Austrian Tourist Office
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    Premier Skiing
    Skiing is deeply rooted in Austrian culture, and the Salzburg area is one of the best places to experience the sport in Europe. There is plenty of choice, with favorites like Obertauern (near Zauchensee) and Zell am See offering great skiing in picturesque surroundings. The premier destination is the so-called Skicircus of Saalbach-Hinterglemm/Leogang/Fieberbrunn, which is extremely popular for both skiing and snowboarding. Saalbach-Hinterglemm also features six- and eight-person chairlifts with heated seats and excellent views. There's a snow shuttle that provides transportation from Salzburg to the slopes for those not staying at a resort.
    Photo courtesy of Tourismus Salzburg
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    Tee Off in the Mountains
    Golf may not be the first sport that comes to mind when thinking of Austria, but with 17 Alpine courses, there are plenty of places to tee off in the picturesque SalzburgerLand. Here, it's possible to chip and putt at the edge of a glacier at Golf Club Zell am See-Kaprun, or to play a romantic nine holes in view of a stunning castle at Schloss Fuschl. One of the most beautiful courses in the region is found at the 18–hole, par-71 Urslautal course in Saalfelden, where the mountain vistas, lakes, streams, and flowered meadows provide a magnificent backdrop. Bad scores can always be blamed on the distracting scenery.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Kitzsteinhorn Glacier
    Snow and ice can be found almost every day of the year 3,000 meters above sea level on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier. It's one of the biggest snow parks in the Alps, and a paradise for skiing and snowboarding; it is also one of the most popular free-ride destinations. Those who aren't sporty can still enjoy the Kitzsteinhorn by relaxing at the Ice Camp, a hip igloo village with music and drinks. In addition to special exhibitions and an ice arena, there is the Gipfelwelt 3000 summit station, which offers visitors a spectacular panorama platform at the very top of the SalzburgerLand. Gipfel Restaurant is the highest in the region, serving up Austrian cuisine with breathtaking views.
    Photo by Himsl Leo/age fotostock
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    Historic Salt Mines
    Salt, the "white gold" that gave Salzburg its name, has been gathered from the deposits around Dürrnberg, in Hallein, for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest mines in the world. But it was Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau (1559–1617) who promoted a wet-mining method that allowed the extraction of large quantities of salt from the rock, and which resulted in considerable wealth for the prince-archbishops and turned the city into the magnificent baroque jewel it is today. Guided tours of the mines take around 70 minutes and include a train ride into the mountain, views of an underground lake, and a descent on a mining slide—a fun look at the region's salty past.
    Photo courtesy of Austrian Tourist Office
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    Alpine Lakes and Swimming Pools
    While there are indoor and outdoor pools in and just outside of Salzburg, the lakes of the Salzkammergut provide an opportunity to enjoy refreshing Alpine water. Fuschlsee is the lake closest to the city; it has four public beaches, all with breathtaking scenery. Its pristine emerald waters are the cleanest of the region and are even suitable for drinking. The prince-archbishops of Salzburg used the lakeside castle as their game lodge, meaning all the fish from the Fuschlsee ended up on their own tables. Within the city, the Paracelsus-Bad next to Mirabell Gardens is a modern recreation center, with pools and saunas boasting panoramic views.
    Photo by Wolfgang Weinhäupl/age fotostock
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