It is now several years since I last stayed in Zell am See, one of Austria’s most famous lake resorts. Its proximity to Saalbach Hinterglemm and Kitzbuehel coupled with excellent public transport links have though enabled me to visit it on several occasions since.

Framed by majestic peaks and on the cusp of the Tirol, Salzburgerland-based Zell is very much a gateway to higher altitudes and can be used as a base to explore an area that includes the Grossglockner region, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier experience, and the Glemmtal’s deceptively challenging terrain. It is even possible to connect on foot with Saalbach via Zell’s Schmittenhoehe cableway and the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail, albeit without the assistance of any mountain huts or refreshments stops en route.

Zell is also a popular location for vacationers who like to take life more slowly. To walk around the whole lakes takes anywhere between 2-3 hours depending on fitness and urgency. Assuming this is undertaken from Zell’s promenade, for example near to the Grand Hotel, I would recommend walking clockwise past the camping site and hospital. On the far side of the lake the path moves away from the water’s edge and hugs a rather busy stretch of road, but at the point where an alternative option is to continue through the forest to Bruck, a right turn will bring walkers back to the lake, with a bird reserve on one side of the path, a golf course the other. Eventually taking walkers past tennis courts and through a well-to-do residential area before returning to the starting point, I find this way around Lake Zell to be more satisfying, or less dissatisfying, than the alternative.

Perhaps a decade ago the local tourist association struck upon how their pristine lake set amidst towering, snow-capped peaks mirrored the Koran’s description of paradise. Clever marketing in the Middle East has seen Zell become extremely popular with travellers from that region, who are able to escape the extreme heat of their homelands whilst visiting what appears to be heaven on earth. I believe that some travel insurance policies also pay out if there is no rain during the holidays of those who travel from the Gulf states.

The following is a small representation of my personal photographs from when staying at Hotel St. Georg, owned and operated by the personable Sauper family. I found the food and service to be outstanding.

Lake Zell from the Schmittenhoehe, with Thumersbach in the background.
The Pinzgauer Huette, accessible from the Schmittenhoehe lift.
The lakeside Grand Hotel, once the place to be seen in and to stay.
My accommodation – the slightly out of the way and good because of it Hotel St. Georg.
Glowering June weather which delivered late snow at altitude, with cool and often rainy weather at lower levels.
A surprising array of walks from the Schmittenhoehe summit, which includes the signposted 6-hour Pinzgauer Spaziergang trek to Saalbach.
The iconic Hotel(and cafe, bar, restaurant) Lebzelter, situated within Zell’s pedestrianized centre.

Further information:

Zell an See-Kaprun Tourismus: http://www.zellamsee-kaprun.com/en/service/press/pictures/tourist-information-centre_pi-97134

Pinzgauer Spaziergang trek: http://www.schmitten.at/en/Summer-on-the-mountain/Hiking-area/Pinzgauer-Spaziergang

Hotel St. Georg: http://www.stgeorg-hotel.at/en/rooms-suites/

Inghams Lakes & Mountains: http://www.inghams.co.uk/destinations/austria/zell-am-see

TUI Lakes & Mountains: http://www.tui.co.uk/destinations/europe/austria/zell-am-see/holidays-zell-am-see.html

*PLEASE NOTE: ALL PHOTOGRAPHS WITHIN THIS POST AND MY BLOG IN GENERAL ARE COPYRIGHT OF C. BOWMAN AND MUST NOT BE USED OR COPIED WITHOUT PERMISSION AND DUE CREDIT GIVEN TO THEIR OWNER*