Farm Vacations in Traunsee
Experience the Charm of Austria’s Lake District
|The town of Traunkirchen juts into the lake before the imposing backdrop of Erlakogel mountain. © Volker Poelzl. All Rights Reserved.
A steep cone-shaped mountain rises straight from the shore of the deep blue lake. On the opposite bank, a small peninsula juts into the lake, the white façade of a baroque church reflected in the water. Near the shore,
the pointed tip of a rowboat emerges from behind a wall of reeds. And out in the middle of the lake, a sailboat slowly moves across the water. This is a snapshot of Traunsee, one of several dozen lakes situated in Austria’s picturesque
lake district known as Salzkammergut —located at the northern rim of the Alps in central Austria and in many ways the country’s heartland. Human settlement here is traced back to the late Bronze Age, some 3,000 years ago, and one
archeological site dates back to the Paleolithic age, 50,000 years ago. What attracted early settlers to the region were the abundant salt mines, which eventually gave it its name: Salzkammergut means “salt chamber estate.”
|A view from the top of Traunstein mountain, which rises straight up from the lakeshore. © Volker Poelzl. All Rights Reserved.
Despite its exceptional beauty and fjord-like scenery, the lakeside is not lined with large hotels and restaurants. Accommodations are modest and rustic, mostly in small pensions, private homes, and farms. Competition from
other countries of the European Union and other economic pressures have led farmers to look for alternative ways to generate additional income. A growing number of farmers provide accommodations for visitors, with friendly, personalized service
and a familiar atmosphere that make farmstays a great alternative. Farmers are the backbone of regional culture here, and staying on a farm is a first-hand opportunity to experience a slice of local culture and traditional small-farm life while
visiting a region largely unspoiled by high-profile tourism, industry, and urban development. On most farms guests also have the opportunity to participate in the daily activities, from feeding animals to turning hay. Many farms also have their
own cottage industry of farm products—a variety of farming activities ranging from organic produce to jams, preserves, pear and apple cider, handcrafted brandies, honey, fruit juices, cheese, and other dairy products.
|Many hiking routes lead past mountain pastures and herdsmen’s huts. © Volker Poelzl. All Rights Reserved.
In addition to experiencing Austrian farm life and contact with the host family visitors will also find a region rich in local history and culture. All around Traunsee the celebration of local culture and festivals still
plays an important role in the lives of the locals. In addition to weekly farmers' markets, there are craft fairs, a popular annual ceramics fair, and the summer performing arts festival “Gmundner Festwochen” (July and August). A
Catholic procession in boats across the lake has been held as part of the Corpus Christi celebration every year in late May to early June since 1632. Ask your host or the tourist office about festivals, country fairs, and other celebrations held
in the villages in the vicinity. An annual "Seefest" (or Lake Festival) in Altmünster in late July is a typical showcase of regional costumes, music, folk dances, and other traditions. Locally caught fish such as trout, perch,
pike, carp, eel, as well as waterfowl and venison, are popular specialties found at restaurants around Traunsee. Don’t miss out on the delicious “Stanglfisch,” a locally caught fish grilled on a skewer, sold during summer festivals.
The Outdoor Playground
Besides the plethora of cultural events, the Traunsee region offers an incredible wealth of recreational activities in an unspoiled natural environment. Within a half hour’s drive, bus, or boat ride, there are
easy family hikes as well as serious challenges for those fit enough to conquer one of the imposing peaks that rise straight up from the lakeshore. There is also an extensive network of mountain bike routes, and the lake beckons to take out
a kayak or sailboat, or, for the hearty, to go for a swim in the clear and cool waters. There is hardly a trace of high-impact mass tourism to be found, unlike some other lakes in the Salzkammergut region. Hiking trails and forest paths have
existed for hundreds of years, and it is sailing and paddling, not motor-boating, that are the main activities on the lake. Since many farms have horses, horseback riding is another great way to explore the hills and forests around the lake.
|Hikers take a rest at a mountain hut. © Volker Poelzl. All Rights Reserved.
Farmers have been the stewards of the land for centuries here, and by supporting local farms, visitors help preserve the region’s unique beauty, traditional farming activities, and local culture. The increasing
popularity of farm vacations sends the encouraging message to farmers that the pristine ecosystem, the diverse local customs, and traditional farm life are important assets that are worth preserving and that make a visit to Traunsee a special
For More Info
Choosing a Farm
Before making a reservation, it is a good idea to find out about the different farms and what they have to offer. You will find a good selection of apartment, room, and house rentals which are either part of the main
farmhouse or are located in separate buildings nearby. Rooms are extremely affordable, around €20 per day per person including breakfast. Vacation apartments range from €40-80 per day for up to eight people, and vacation homes
are available for around €100 per day. If you have children you might want to inquire about a farm with a variety of small domestic animals and perhaps a playground.
Getting There and Around
Traunsee is about an hour’s drive from Linz or Salzburg, the nearest cities with airports and intercity railroad connections. A regional railway connects the Traunsee towns to Attnang-Puchheim with railway connections
to Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna. Buses operated by the Austrian Railway ÖBB and the Postal Bus Service (Postbus GMBH) connect all towns around the Traunsee, and most buses stop at trailheads and boat stops. From spring through fall there is regular boat service on the Traunsee connecting various towns and hiking trails (schedules
at www.traunseeschiffahrt.at). There is only one car rental agency in the vicinity, so if you plan on renting a car, it might be best to make arrangements for pickup in Salzburg
When to Go
The summer is the best time for water sports and swimming, with water temperatures a little higher. September and October are the best months for hiking, since the weather is more stable and the views are spectacular.
Farm activities are at their peak until late September. With reliable snowfall and several ski areas, the Traunsee region also invites a winter visit, especially during the holiday season when a lot of regional traditions are celebrated.
Addresses and Websites
Salzkammergut Tourismus - Marketing GmbH: Wirerstraße 10, A-4820 Bad Ischl, Austria; 011-43-6132-26909; fax. 011-43-6132-269-09-14; email@example.com, www.salzkammergut.at.
Tourismusbüro Gmunden is the main tourism office of the Traunsee region, providing information about the townships of Gmunden, Altmünster, Traunkirchen, and Ebensee, located around Traunsee.
You can also get information about guides and teachers for many of the mentioned outdoors activities: Toscanapark 1, 4810 Gmunden, Austria; 011-43-7612-64305 or 011-43-7612-74451, fax. 011-43-7612-71410; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.traunsee.at.