Austria is one of our most favourite countries to visit with a caravan. Vienna may have been well traveled for a long time, but this beautiful country offers more than just that city. With crystal clear lakes, majestic mountains and unique historical monuments, there is still much to discover.
Uncover the secrets of the Salt Chamber
Instead of exploring Viennese parks, our friends and family prefer the surroundings of Mozart’s birthplace, Salzburg. There is an area called Salzkammergut or Salt Chamber, which is characterized by an abundance of beautiful hiking and biking trails surrounding crystal clear lakes. We would recommend late spring or early summer for long walks around the lakes, which is when you will definitely not encounter stuffy hot weather. At the peak of summer, the Salt Chamber is an ideal place for a much cooler swim for those who don’t shy away from cold water and other activities.
Where to go in and around the Salt Chamber, you ask? The first stop for us is always Traunsee lake, which has crystal waters running through an intertwined network of hiking trails – but there is more. You will find a unique castle on the lake in the town of Gmunden which looks like it fell out of a fairy tale. Additionally, the stalactite cave Gassel is worth visiting. There are several campsites nearby offering many opportunities for sports activities directly on the lake. However, a small campsite that appeals to us the most around here is Strand Camping, which is the only one that offers the possibility of camping right on the lake‘s shore. You can also find the popular so called Stellplatzes (places to park overnight legally) here, especially around Gmunden.
From the camp you can take a trip to Ebensee, where – if we travel – we usually take our bikes with us on a trip with a steamboat. From Ebensee we then lift the anchors of our caravan (pun intended!) and often head towards either Mondsee (also known as the Moon Lake) or to Attersee, where we have our favorite camp See-Camping Gruber (one of the more luxurious ones). We consider the Attersee surroundings to be the best place in the whole Salt Chamber area to visit with small children. Simply because you can handle a large number of hiking trails in the area with a pram, and additionally, the camp we recommend has fully equipped facilities, including a heated outdoor pool (not just for the kids).
But what if you are unlucky with the weather and the surface of the lake mirrors falling raindrops instead of the sunshine rays? Don’t despair as we’ve got a plan for that too! You are in a Salt Chamber area afterall and a visit to the local salt mines is a must. We particularly liked the ones in Hallstatt. Your kids will appreciate the opportunity to use the mine‘s very own slide. However, whether they are big or small, they will enjoy the unforgettable experiences and the adventure from visiting the salt mines themselves.
Go hiking – alpine style!
Let’s move from the lakes to the mountains and straight to the most beautiful ones in Europe – the magnificent Alps. This mountain range, which covers Austria, Germany, Italy and France, among others, is a real gem of Europe’s natural wealth. In Austria, the largest share of the Alpine landscape can be found in Tyrol region, which is worth visiting during both winter and summer seasons. Just be mindful and don’t expect to be walking on flat surfaces very much. The whole area of Tyrol consists of an inexhaustible number of peaks and steep valleys.
There are several hundred (yes, hundred!) peaks rising above 3000m above sea level around here. The highest mountain in all of Austria, Großglockner, lies on the border of Tyrol and Carinthia regions. Even if you don’t fancy a really good hike, definitely head here. Luckily for you, at the bottom of this mountain you will find a 48 km long scenic route, thanks to which you can see one of the most breathtaking panoramas in the whole country – and all of that directly from the comfort of a car or caravan.
Our absolute favourite spot in all of Tyrol, especially during the summer, is the Alpbachtal area. It can be described as a peaceful green valley filled with picturesque villages. We find that it is much more comfortable to visit than the more famous Zillertal valley. So if you are looking for a pure, genuine “Tyrol experience“ without unnecessary tackiness and anything fancy, head here.
However, if you have kids onboard and want them to get the most out of your trip here, then head towards the border of the Inn Valley and Ötztal. There is a recreation area known as Arena 47, where you can enjoy an abundance of water sports, slides or rock climbing.
Parking your caravan in the Tyrol region is easy in many places. We would definitely recommend Camping Grubhof or St. Martin Bei Lofer. This is a superbly equipped 4-star campsite, where you will be welcomed with open arms even if you bring your furry pet (pets get their own special showers here). The camp is located on a former hunting park and it’s location offers access to a large number of hiking trails and the nearby modern family ski park Lofer (2 km distance from the camp).
How about camping in the wild?
But what about if you don’t want to stop over in either luxury campsites or in stellplatzes? Camping in the wild is difficult in Austria and only allowed in selected areas. With a little luck there are opportunities to sleep outside a camp around Salzburg, i.e. the Salt Chamber. However, be careful, as you absolutely must take maximum care for the surrounding nature and wildlife, which is strictly protected. Unfortunately, you can’t sleep in the wild in Tyrol region anywhere, not even in parking lots. To avoid any inconveniences, you can only stop your caravan in campsites or on stellplatzes.