Zell am See lies on the western shore of Lake Zell – a bright blue lake squeezed between the grassy hills of the Pinzgau and the foothills of the rugged Hohe Tauern National Park - the most picturesque spot for a summer holiday in Austria. The Grossglockner (the highest peak in the country) is within easy reach and there are around 400 kilometres of marked walking paths locally - accessed by bus, train and mountain lifts - with routes ranging from pushchair-friendly promenades to day hikes on panoramic walking trails.
Summer holidays in Zell am See: life by the See
Zell am See is a beloved escape for the rich and royal – but the town lived many lives before becoming a luxury retreat. This lakeshore has hosted Roman settlements, a monastery of monks and a fortified market town over the years, before summer holidays in Zell am See became a favourite with the aristocracy in the 19th Century. Wander the medieval old town, a traffic-free zone with pavement cafés serving Austrian favourites like cheesy Pinzgauer kasnock’n dumplings. Pull up a pew in the towering Romanesque Church of St. Hippolyte which has gothic vaults and a baroque interior.
In summer, life in Zell am See revolves around the lake - the esplanade is the launch pad for boat cruises crossing the glassy waters. Explore by rowing boat, wakeboard, paddleboard or boat cruise. A glass-roofed ferry also crosses the lake, gliding between the tiny towns, footpaths, lidos and parks along the lake’s edge. Alternatively, the walk around the lake is an easy 11-kilometre stroll along a promenade with mountain views all the way.
Get Schmitten: walking on the Schmittenhöhe
A walking holiday in Zell am See will have you falling in love with the outdoors. Catch a gondola from Zell am See to Schmittenhöhe (1,965 metres) - the local mountain - for a bird’s eye view over the lake, town and a sweep of 3,000 metre-plus peaks. The Sissi Loop is an easy walk, following a route trodden by the 19th Century Empress Elisabeth “Sissi” of Austria. Make sure to peek in the wooden chapel dedicated to another Elisabeth – this time, the holy Princess of Thüringen.
The final stage of the 275 kilometre long-distance Hohe Tauern Panorama Walking Trail heads from the Schmittenhöhe back down to Zell am See – or you can follow part of it in the opposite direction, towards more challenging mountain trails.
Family holidays in Zell am See
From cycling and pedalos to lakeside lidos – there’s loads of things to do for families in Zell am See. Hop in the gondola up to Schmittenhöhe for a dragon-themed playground, mystical forest adventure trail and more. The fountains of Elisabeth Park perform their water dance almost hourly throughout the day, and three evenings a week, they light up for a night show to music.
Over on the Maiskogel mountain in nearby Kaprun, the mountain coaster is an exhilarating way to get down the hillside, and there are play areas and a slide park too.
Discover the Pinzgau region
The Alpine town of Kaprun is only a short bus ride south and here, cable cars connect adventurers to Kitzsteinhorn, where Salzburgerland's highest viewing platform, the "Top of Salzburg" reveals the summits of Hohe Tauern National Park. The Sigmund Thun Gorge is worth a visit too, with wooden walkways that traverse the dramatic rock walls above rushing waters.
Zell am See's railway station cemented the town as a sought-after summer spot and trains connect day-trippers to Krimml Waterfalls - the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world. Cities like Kitzbühel are within easy train reach too, and excursions to Salzburg, Grossglockner and Berchtesgaden (famous for the Eagle's Nest) are also available.
Why book a summer holiday in Zell am See with Inghams?
At Inghams, we do walking holidays differently. With no fixed itinerary, you have more time in your destination and the freedom to walk as much or as little as you like, discovering some of Zell am See’s best walking routes and activities at your own pace.
With over 85 years of outdoor travel experience, our holiday packages to Zell am See include flights, transfers, and accommodation, so you can relax and leave the small details to us. Our experts can help you choose the best holiday for you, and our team in resort can give you the inside scoop on how to spend your time away with us.