A day by the water
The stunning Lake Wolfgangsee is undoubtedly one of the main reasons that visitors on holidays to Austria choose St Gilgen. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of this Austrian lake is by walking or cycling along the shores and exploring the waterfront villages, including the picturesque St Wolfgang.
There’s also plenty of water-based activities on offer, including regular boat and ferry rides which transport passengers to some of the lake’s most scenic spots. Other leisure pursuits include paddleboarding, windsurfing and rowing. If you prefer something a little more relaxing, there are a few beaches and jetties scattered around the coastline where you can hire sunbeds and work on your tan.
Unmissable mountain views
A trip to the summit of Schafberg Mountain – on the steepest cog railway in Austria – is a must for anyone staying in St Gilgen. To experience this thrilling ride, catch the ferry to St Wolfgang and take a short walk to the station. As the historic train climbs the side of the mountain, you’ll get unbeatable views across Lake Wolfgangsee and the wider Salzkammergut region.
For more breathtaking views, the Zwolferhorn mountain cable car operates throughout the year and gives passengers a unique vantage point of the area’s lakes and surrounding mountains. At the summit, there’s a variety of paths for those feeling adventurous.
Part of St Gilgen’s charm is its unique musical heritage. The village is the ancestral home of Mozart’s family, and you can even visit the house where his mother lived and look around the museum dedicated to the famous composer. In the centre of the village at the Mozartplatz, you’ll also find a statue of Mozart playing the violin, as well as a number of shops, restaurants and pretty buildings.
Adding to the area’s music credentials is the fact that St Gilgen and Lake Wolfgangsee also feature in the background of the iconic Sound of Music film. The mountains and valleys that surround the lakeside village were the setting for the opening shots where we saw that iconic picnic scene with Maria and the Vonn Trapp children.
Where to eat and drink
Low-key evenings in St Gilgen can be spent enjoying a relaxed meal and taking a casual stroll through the village and along the waterfront. There’s a number of restaurants and bars dotted around the shores of the lake with stunning views across the water, as well as a few places to eat in the village. On Friday nights, there’s often a brass band playing on the bandstand – ideal for some post-dinner entertainment.
For those with a sweet tooth, you can grab an ice-cream or after-dinner treat at the popular Cafe Nannerl, which stays open late on weekends. The Cafe Dallmann at the Mozartplatz is also not to be missed, with its excellent array of cakes and award-winning torte.
For a unique chance to sample local food and drink during your Austrian holiday, St Gilgen hosts a village festival every year in June with live music and entertainment.