Salzburg Day Trip - St. Gilgen aka Sankt Gilgen

On our last trip to Austria we decided to take a day trip from Salzburg to St. Gilgen (aka Sankt Gilgen), and we loved it so much we decided to rent a car and come back! (More on that later.) It was amazing, and the moral of the story is that if you find yourself in Austria you NEED to visit St. Gilgen; it’s a great place to visit for couples and for families. 

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St Gilgen

St. Gilgen is only a half hour drive from Salzburg, and it’s one of the most scenic drives I’ve ever been on. The views outside my car window were so picturesque they *almost* distracted me from the fact that we were driving on the wrong side of the road. The town borders Wolfgangsee Lake, which is also one of the most stunning lakes I’ve ever seen. It’s a glacier lake, so it has beautiful blue, crystal clear water, BUT it was actually warm to swim in, which we weren’t expecting! (It was a nice surprise.)

Down by the water there are a ton of cute restaurants and shops, and a really nice little plaza. They even have a ferry to take you to the other side of the lake. You could easily spend all day swimming and shopping and wandering around, but for those looking for a little more adventure there are also some fun activities as well.

Things to do:

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Toboggan run

We decided to do a toboggan run, 10 minutes outside of St. Gilgen. It was both the most amazing and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. You hook your toboggan up to a lift, and then you wait. And wait. And wait some more as the lift takes you higher and higher. I kept thinking we HAD to be at the top, but no...we kept going. But when we finally did reach the top, it was so worth it. The view overlooks the entire lake, and it’s so beautiful. All I could think about was that it was so nice to have such a pretty view as the last thing I see before I plummet to my death, but surprise! I survived and I would totally do it again. Thankfully the toboggan comes with a brake so you do have some control over how fast you go. Dylan and I had a blast, and it would be really fun for families to do as well.

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Zwölferhorn cable car

If speeding down the side of a mountain doesn’t sound like your idea of a  good time, but you still want to have an awesome view of St. Gilgen and Wolfgansee Lake, the Zwölferhorn cable car might be more your style. Ride the 12-horn cable car up to the top of the Zwölferhorn Mountain and experience nature like never before. You can sit back, relax, and take in the beautiful views of the lake and the mountains of the Salzkammergut. And when you get to the top, there’s even a restaurant serving up traditional food, delicious soups, ice cream, pastries and more. It’s the perfect way to experience St. Gilgen.

Side note:

It’s important to note that both of these activities are weather-dependent. The Toboggan rides shut down if it’s raining, and the cable car also shuts down for extreme weather events. However you are still able to explore the shops and restaurants, hike, and swim in the event of poor weather.

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Places to eat

We decided to eat at Brunnwind, and we didn’t regret it. It’s the perfect place to grab some food and drinks right next to the lake, so you don’t have to go far from your swimming spot. They have a huge selection of beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, coffee, and tea. Whether you’re in the mood for some fresh breakfast croissants and fruit, a burger, or some more traditional Austrain fare, Brunnwind has it all...and top it off with some ice-cream-filled crepes and covered in whipped cream and fresh fruit to complete the perfect meal with an even better view.

Wirt am Gries was also highly recommended by our hotel, and although we didn’t eat there, their reputation is for excellent schnitzel and stew.

Some other excellent dining options are: Restaurant Gimsenwirt, Hotel-Gasthof zur Post, and the Angusta Grill

St. Gilgen truly is an amazing place; whether you experience it via tobbogan or cable car, or your spend your time hiking the trails or just swimming in the glacier lake, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your time there. It’s definitely worth the short drive from Salzburg...we had so much fun we decided to come back another day! Check out our post on Salzburg Part 2: the Sound of Music Tour, coming soon.