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How to enjoy summer like a true Austrian

Amanda Previdelli
Amanda Previdelli -[email protected]
How to enjoy summer like a true Austrian
A woman enjoys basking in the sun on the swimming pier in the Buchau, in Achensee, Tyrol (© Achensee Tourismus)

Despite the long winters (or perhaps because of them), people in Austria are very good at enjoying the summer months to the fullest. Here's what you should do to have the best summertime in Austria.


Even though Austria is known for its winter offers (hello, ski resorts!), the country is also a fantastic summer destination (or staycation) during the summer; when the sun is out, the lakes are full, and parks are green.

Austrians genuinely know how to enjoy their country in all seasons, and summer is no exception. Even the concept that there are no beaches in Austria - a landlocked country in the middle of Europe - gets challenged by the locals, who ask you to check the shores of lakes and visit some trendy bars and restaurants by the Danube River. 

If you want to experience summer in Austria like a local, here are a few things you should experience.

Head to the Austrian Alps for beautiful lakes

Even if the Alps are viewed as the place for winter tourism, the beautiful mountains in eastern Austria are also excellent for a summer visit as well. The lack of a coastline is more than made up for when you reach the crystal-clear Alpine lakes (Attersee and Wolfgangsee are popular options during summer).

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If you want to explore more stunning lakes in Austria, add Hintersteinersee to your itinerary. This hidden gem is nestled in the Wilder Kaiser National Park in Tyrol. The water is incredibly clear, thanks to its formation during the ice age. While it might also be icy, it's the perfect spot to cool off and immerse yourself in nature on a hot summer day.

Another option is the famous Schwarzsee in fancy Kitzbühel. It's known as the warmest moor lake in Tyrol, but brace yourself for crowds during the peak summer months of July and August. Families love this lake because it offers water slides and a children's play area that guarantees fun. If you're up for an adventure, there's also a section without any facilities, known locally as "the wild side," where you can enter for free and enjoy nature at its wildest.


And amazing hikes

When it comes to summer in Austria, a hiking adventure in the Alps is a must-do for many nature enthusiasts.

One highly recommended option is the Salzburger Almenweg, which Lonely Planet recognised as one of the best hut-to-hut walks in Austria. This epic hike spans approximately 350km and can be tackled in a month by completing all 31 stages or enjoyed individually on shorter trips.

For fans of The Sound of Music, this area holds special significance as some scenes from the iconic movie were filmed here. So, if you're up for it, you can channel your inner Maria and skip through the picturesque meadows.

(Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Another fantastic long-distance hike to add to your bucket list is the Adlerweg (Eagle's Trail), stretching through Tyrol's breathtaking alpine landscapes from St Johann to St Anton am Arlberg. This trail typically takes around four weeks to complete. It's best to plan your hike between June and September when the tracks are snow-free, and the mountain huts are open, ensuring a comfortable journey.

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If you're looking for a shorter day hike, the Pinzgauer Spaziergang from Zell am See to Saalbach is worth exploring. This 17km route offers stunning vistas as it takes you across the majestic Schmittenhöhe at 2,081 meters above sea level. To make things even easier, you have the option to access the starting and ending points via a convenient gondola ride.


Or swim near the big cities

The Alpine lakes are beautiful but are far from the only options for those who want to swim during Austrian summer.

When it comes to swimming, some of the best spots in Vienna are found in natural areas, like the Old Danube (Alte Donau) river and its surrounding recreational zones. These areas offer plenty of green spaces, shady spots, and designated swimming areas.


For a more structured bathing experience, you can head to Gänsehäufelbad, one of Vienna's public swimming pools. With an entry fee of €6.20 for adults, this bathing spot, located on an island in the Alte Donau, has something for everyone. From beach areas to sports pools, wave pools, high rope climbing gardens, and many other activities and amenities, you'll find no shortage of entertainment.

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Vienna boasts several other public pools with various offerings, including water slides and saunas. These are easily accessible, though they require payment for entry. Two popular options include the pool at Schönbrunn (because who wouldn't want to swim on old palace grounds?) and Krapfenwaldbad, which offers a fantastic view over Vienna.

Moreover, many city bars embrace the summer by setting up beach chairs and sandy floors, creating the perfect ambience to enjoy a refreshing caipirinha or an Aperol Spritz. In the Copa Beach area, you'll find places that exude a Rio de Janeiro vibe (fun fact: Copa Beach was previously called Copacagrana, paying homage to the famous Brazilian shore).


Enjoy some outdoor dining

If you're longing for strolls along the "beach" and visiting trendy bars, the Donaukanal in Vienna is the place to be. This vibrant area offers an endless array of cool spots to explore right alongside the canal. For those on a budget or just feeling like a picnic, the site is great for sitting down and enjoying the Radler and sandwiches you bought at Billa.

Throughout Austria, you will find great restaurants, ice cream shops and bars with outdoor areas set up for summer - full of people. After months of cold and dark winter, people in the Alpine country are more than ready to fill up their vitamin D supply by enjoying their coffee and cake (or local beer) out in the sunny courtyards.

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From traditional beer gardens to trendy rooftop bars, savour local delicacies and toast with a refreshing glass of Spritzer or a cold Austrian beer.

Austria's Donauinselfest (Foto: Alexander Müller - Fotokurse, Fotografie, Fotoreisen | www.alexandermü

Discover the summer events and festivals

Austria comes alive in summer with a vibrant cultural scene. 

In Vienna, you can enjoy open-air concerts, film screenings, and theatre performances in amazing locations such as the Vienna State Opera, Rathausplatz, or the iconic Schönbrunn Palace.

Besides the Donauinselfest, Europe's largest free open-air festival, with music, activities, drinks and foods, several pop-up exhibitions and events exist. 

In addition, open-air cinemas all over town are pretty popular, and of course, the Rathaus summer festival, with concerts shown on the large screen outside of the town hall and many food trucks surrounding the square. In many Austrian cities, the main square becomes an ongoing summer fair where locals meet with friends and family.


Austrians are also very sporty, and during the warmer months, its parks and squares become a point for a plethora of sports activities - many of them paid or on a donation basis. In Vienna, you can find Yoga on rooftops, spinning classes by the Donaukanal, HIIT in the Stadtpark, stand-up paddle or wakeboarding in the Donau and much more.


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