Traunkirchen – a Hidden Gem in Austria

Hopping around

Bunny just might live in the best city in the world but she is always on the lookout for exciting weekend trips from Vienna. Austria has plenty of natural beauty, mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys and vineyards.

The problem is that most of this beauty has positioned itself a tad too far from the capital for a simple weekend trip. There are some notable exceptions, such as the Wachau region but in terms of mountains and lakes, you do have to travel a bit further afield.

Images of pumpkins
Image of Bunny with sailboats
Image of Traunsee
Image of boat houses

Traunsee - Weekend Break from Vienna

Traunsee is the closest scenic lake to Vienna, with lofty mountains. Guidebooks all rave about Hallstatt - an idyllic little town approximately 40-minute drive southwest from Traunkirchen. Unfortunately, with the scenic location comes the usual downside: hordes of tourist aimlessly wandering the narrow streets with their smart phones. The Chinese are so enamored with the place that they have built an exact replica of the town in the Chinese province of Guangdong.

Not so much in Traunkirchen. It might lack some of Hallstat’s charms, but it certainly wins out on the quiet beauty. 

Image of Traunsee

Image of Traunsee

Image of sailboats

Where to Stay in Traunsee

Seehotel Das Traunsee is a typical family-run Austrian hotel right on the lake. All the rooms have lake views but the renovated suites and mini suites offer direct access to the lake from your own terrace/balcony. The view is fantastic with imposing mountains on the opposite shore of the lake. Because of the clever room design, you can even take a bath with a view of the natural splendor.

The hotel also has a small but fantastic a la carte restaurant which can get very busy. Bunny was able to secure a reservation at the restaurant for only one of the three nights she stayed at the hotel but oh boy what a meal it was! The restaurant does not have a separate vegetarian menu but Bunny was happy to trust the chefs to bring whatever creations they felt inspired to cook that night. The delicious meal ended up being one of the highlights of the short trip. If you enjoy the Michelin star TIAN in Vienna, this is your (slightly cheaper) alternative in the Salzkammergut.

Das Traunsee also has a small spa area which not might be as fancy as some of Bunny's favorite spa hotels in Austria but it does have a Finnish sauna with a window with a view to the lake. What more can you ask after a long day of hiking?

Image of Bunny at hotel Traunsee

Image of Traunsee

Image of hotel Traunsee

Good Hiking Nearby

Speaking of hiking, there a number of interesting hiking trails starting from, or going through, Traunkirchen. The weather was still a bit capricious when Bunny visited in mid-May, so she chose one of the easier hikes: an approximately 3,5-hour ascent and descent to Kleiner Sonnstein which offers excellent views of Traunkirchen and further afield. The hike was strenuous, including some rambling before reaching the small hut on the top of the mountain, but very enjoyable, well-marked and worth the trouble, even if Bunny got totally soaked on her way down in relentless rain.

Other Things to Do

Hallstatt house
Dachstein ice cave

The weather forecast for Bunny’s visit to Traunkirchen was horrendous, so much so that she actually contemplated cancelling the whole outing at the last minute. Luckily she didn’t as there is actually plenty to do on a short trip to the region.

In addition to Hallstatt (worth a wander for sure), there is also the Dachstein Ice Cave, which offers perfect entertainment on a rainy day.

The ice cave is less than an hour’s drive from Traunkirchen, with some scenic views on the way. You will have to take a ski-lift half way up the mountain and walk (scramble) uphill for 10 minutes to reach the cave. There are actually two caves but if you are short on time, you should just stick with the ice cave. You can only enter the caves with a trained guide and the tour takes about an hour. It's pretty cold inside if you don't have fur like Bunny so be duly prepared.

Exploring Hallstatt
Hallstatt scenery

Details at a Glance

Traunkirchen is an approximately 2,5h easy drive from Vienna. Watch your speed though - Mr. Bunny got dinged with a ticket. If you want to avoid driving, you can take a direct train (2,5h) from Vienna to Traunkirchen and ask the hotel to pick you up at the railway station. This option makes visiting Hallstatt and Dachstein ice cave more complicated but is certainly fine is you just want to enjoy the lake and maybe do a nearby hike or two during your stay.

By Traunsee
Italian vibes

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