Best Lakes Near Salzburg

jana meerman wolfgangsee salzburg austria (2)

I have been living in Salzburg for nearly three years now and, in that time, I've made a conscious effort to try and visit as many of the beautiful lakes in the area.

Salzburg is right on the border with Germany, in the middle of Austria. It is surrounded by mountains, making it seriously stunning when it comes to nature, access to adventure and pretty little lakes to discover. If you're visiting Salzburg or are a local in search of new spots to explore, I've compiled a complete list of all of my favourite lakes to visit. I hope you enjoy!

This list gets updated as I visit more lakes; last updated 1 July 2024.


1. Hallstatter See

Hallstatt is Austria's truly quintessential fairytale town. The moment you arrive, you feel as though you've stepped into a picture-perfect postcard, where idyllic streets, quaint houses and absolutely breathtaking landscapes make you feel as though there's a touch of magic around every corner. I visited Hallstatt on a very wintery day in January - it snowed heavily as the train chugged in from Salzburg and the visibility on the ferry crossing the lake was very limited, so when the skies parted in the early afternoon showing off the magnificent mountain surrounds blanketed in fresh white snow, it was surreal.

I then was lucky enough to come back to Hallstatt on a hot summer's day in July and enjoy the stunning contrast under the blue sky. The flowers were out, the sun was warm, the luscious greens of the surrounding mountains were in full colour and the slow gentle day unfolded before us.

Get here from Salzburg: trains run from Salzburg to Attnang-Puchheim and then transfer to another train the rest of the way to Hallstatt. The train station is across the lake from the town, but a convenient little ferry (€7 per person round-trip, cash only) aligns with the train schedule and ferries passengers back and forth on the fifteen-minute crossing between the train station and the main harbour in Hallstatt.

Check out my guide to visiting Hallstatt in winter!

Check out my guide to visiting Hallstatt in summer here and hiking up to the Hallstatt Skywalk Welterbeblick!

jana meerman hallstatt winter snow (16)

In winter

jana meerman hallstatt austria (18)

In summer


2. Zeller See

Zell am See is a world-class ski resort in the winter and stunning hiking destination in the summer rising high above the Zeller See. Although the visibility was low for most of the day that I skiied here given the continued snowfall, in the afternoon the lake became just visible and I spent my last run of the day with my camera out capturing the stunning views.

Get here from Salzburg: trains run from direct Salzburg to Zell am See in just under two hours.

Check out my guide to skiing Zell am See!

jana meerman zell am see austria skiing snow (1)

3. Traunsee

I have yet to actually stop in Traunsee, but this lake is also really beautifully seen from the train as you ride to Hallstatt. This incredible lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains and is the deepest and by volume largest lake located entirely within Austrian territory. The idyllic Schloss Ort juts out into the middle of the lake.

Get here from Salzburg: trains run from Salzburg to Attnang-Puchheim and then you transfer down to Traunsee.

jana meerman hallstatt winter snow (24)

4. Mondsee

Mondsee is one of the closest lakes to Salzburg and is a beautiful destination for summer swimmers and boaters seeking a cool lakeside escape. The town itself is also pretty. Mondsee is an 11km long lake, part of the Salzkammergut. The beauty of Mondsee - as with most lakes around here - is that there are so many perfect spots to pull over all around the lake as you drive along.

Get here from Salzburg: Mondsee is about twenty-five to thirty minutes away from Salzburg by car, depending on where you stop. You can also take bus 140 from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof directly to the village of Mondsee in under an hour.

Check out my guide to visiting Mondsee here!

jana meerman mondsee salzburg austria
jana meerman mondsee austria-25

5. Fuschlsee

This is a stunning blue lake that is very popular in the summer to swim and sunbathe by along its rocky shores. I have been to three different spots along the Fuschlsee.

Get here from Salzburg: depending on where around the lake you stop, it is about half an hour from Salzburg by car. You can also take bus 150 from Salzburg to Fuschl am See.

jana meerman fuschlsee salzburg austria-1
jana meerman fuschlsee salzburg austria-1
jana meerman fuschlsee salzburg austria-1

6. Königssee & 7. Obersee

The Berchtesgaden National Park is perhaps most famously home to the Eagle's Nest, a Nazi building on the summit of the Kehlstein, used by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings. However, it is the exquisite natural landscapes that draw many visitors to this incredible region, home to alpine lakes, hikes, mountain ranges and wonderful views.

Two of the best places to visit in the national park are the lakes of Königssee and Obersee, the first of which is popular with ferry trips to the opposite end of the lake at Salet Anlegestelle, from where you disembark to hike up to Obersee and beyond up to Röthbachfall on the other end of Obersee both for the views back across the lake and for the impressive tumbling water that comes down.

Get here from Salzburg: from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, take bus 840 to Berchtesgaden, and from there bus 841 to Schönau am Königssee - or you can do it as I did and bike the 31km there alongside incredible landscapes in under two hours.

Check out my guide to hiking Königssee, Obersee and Röthbachfall!

jana meerman konigsee berchtesgaden (5)

Königssee

jana meerman obersee berchtesgaden (2)

Obersee


8. Wolfgangsee

This is one of the prettiest lakes (in my opinion) near Salzburg, with the wonderful mountainous backdrop. The little town of St Gilgen on the lake provides an idyllic escape, and plenty of small grassy strips along the lakefront are the perfect spot for a sunny afternoon picnic.

There is also excellent hiking along and above Wolfgangsee - I have hiked both Falkenstein and Schafbergspitze and can wholeheartedly recommend both.

Get here from Salzburg: the 150 bus runs from Salzburg to St Gilgen in just under forty minutes - or you can do it as I did and bike the 28km there alongside incredible landscapes in about 1 hour 45 minutes!

Check out my guide to hiking the Schafbergspitze!

Check out my guide to hiking Falkenstein!

jana meerman schafberg hike wolfgangsee austria (16)

Schafbergspitze

jana meerman falkenstein austria hike-081

Falkenstein

jana meerman falkenstein austria hike-081

9. Chiemsee

Chiemsee is one of southern Germany's prettiest and most popular lakes. In the heart of the lake lies the Herreninsel, home to the glamorous Neues Schloss Herrenchiemsee. The little town of Prien offers lakefront restaurants and one of the best ways to spend the afternoon is to rent a small motorboat and lazily make your way around the lake. Bring a bathing suit, jump off the boat and enjoy the sunshine.

Get here from Salzburg: the train runs direct from Salzburg to Prien am Chiemsee and takes just 50 minutes.

jana meerman chiemsee

10. Leopoldskroner Weiher

The Leopoldskroner Weiher freezes in winter and is a popular ice skating spot. In spring, once the ice has melted, the baby ducklings, cygnets and goslings suddenly seem to appear in abundance, filling the lake with their fluttering wings. The spring light reflects so beautifully at this time of year around the lake.

On one end of the lake, you can also see the Schloss Leopold, now a hotel but also famously used as the filming location for the scene in the Sound of Music where the Von Trapp children and Maria row in a wooden boat on the lake and fall in, as well as as the back of the Von Trapp family home.

Get here from Salzburg: it's only about a half hour walk from the Altstadt!

jana meerman leopoldskroner weiher salzburg austria-1

In spring

jana meerman leopoldskron sound of music salzburg austria ice skating (1)

In winter


11. Wallersee

Wallersee (exact location on Google Maps) is a small local hangout spot with pretty views, walking paths and inviting calm water for swimming in. I spent a sunny Sunday in June 2023 here with one of my best friends Ina for her birthday.

Get here from Salzburg: you can get directly to Wallersee Bahnhof by train from Salzburg in about fifteen minutes, making this one of the easiest and closest lakes to access.

jana meerman wallersee salzburg austria-2
jana meerman wallersee salzburg austria-2
jana meerman wallersee salzburg austria-2

12. Jägersee & 13. Tappenkarsee

With a group of close friends from Salzburg,we trekked our way from Jägersee up to the Tappenkarsee, hung out with the cows, ate our weight in heidelbeerschmarrn, played countless rounds of cards, jumped in the cold lake, basically had a gigantic sleepover in our shared dorm room on the top floor of the little hut and took hundreds of photos of the epic views.

The return hike from Parkplatz Jägersee is 21km including the section on the road from Parkplatz Jägersee, which took us 5.5 hours roundtrip including an overnight stop at the Tappenkarseehütte.

Get here from Salzburg: you can take the train to Saint Johann im Pongau and then catch the 530 bus to Kleinarl Jägersee; we took this journey from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof which took about an hour and forty minutes. You can book the full journey on OBB.

Check out my guide to hiking to Tappenkarsee!

jana meerman tappenkarsee hike austria (7)

Jägersee

jana meerman tappenkarsee hike austria (86)

Tappenkarsee


14. Attersee

I visited Attersee with Ina and we had lunch first at the Mediterranean-inspired Das Attersee, a delicious restaurant situated right on the water's edge. Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Freibadeplatz enjoying the sun and the water. Attersee is the largest lake in Salzkammergut, so there are plenty of lakeside options to stop at.

Get here from Salzburg: Attersee is about forty-five minutes away from Salzburg by car, depending on where around the lake you stop. You can also take the S-Bahn (S2) from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof to Vöcklamarkt and then transfer to the train to Attersee, which goes directly to Attersee Bahnhof. This journey takes about one and a half hours.

Check out my guide to visting Attersee!

jana meerman attersee austria-08
jana meerman attersee austria-08

15. Waldbad Anif

Waldbad Anif is a manmade lake just south of Salzburg in Rif. It is a pretty little spot to hang out for the day, featuring a small cafe and, if the weather is good, summer dance parties on Sundays, the legendary Sonntagstanz - keep an eye on their Instagram to see when the next one is!

Get here from Salzburg: Waldbad Anif is a half-hour bike ride south of Salzburg's Aldstadt along the Salzach which is definitely the best way to get here. You can also take bus 160, 170 or 175, each of which involve about ten minutes of walking at the end.

jana meerman picnic waldbad anif salzburg
jana meerman waldbad salzburg austria

16. Tegernsee

Tegernsee is widely regarded as one of the most affluent areas in Bavaria, southern Germany. We visited here in January 2024 - actually, on the five-year anniversary of me leaving Canada - and it snowed as we sat in a lakeside cafe before we went for a little wander around the lake and it was simply lovely.

Get here from Salzburg: we drove to Tegernsee which took about an hour and a half; you can also take the train to Tegernsee but you'll need to transfer in Munich so it is a bit of a longer trip.

jana meerman tegernsee bavaria germany snow winter lake (5)
jana meerman tegernsee bavaria germany snow winter lake (5)

17. Thumsee

Thumsee is in Bad Reichenhall in southern Germany, a quiet and peaceful little lake, tinged a gorgeous shade of green and tucked just back from the road. A walking trail all around the perimeter was popular with runners, dogwalkers and bikers alike and the cool water bubbled with fish. We didn't swim, but apparently it's one of Bavaria's most popular bathing spots in the summer!

Get here from Salzburg: we drove to Thumsee which took about half an hour; you can also take the train to Bad Reichenhall and then bus 2 out to Thumsee, which takes about an hour and a half.

Check out my guide to visiting Thumsee!

jana meerman thumsee bad reichenhall germany-08
jana meerman thumsee bad reichenhall germany-08

18. Hintersee

Hintersee, in Germany's Berchtesgaden National Park, is surrounded on all sides by the mountains of Berchtesgaden, nestled in the mountain village of Ramsau. As you walk around the Hintersee, you'll spot a themed trail highlighting the works of the Romantic painters of the 19th century including Carl Rottmann, Ferdinand Waldmüller, Friedrich Gauermann and Wilhelm Busch. It's seriously a fairytale lake.

Get here from Salzburg: we drove to Hintersee which took about forty minutes; you can also take bus 846 from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof to Hintersee.

Check out my guide to hiking around Hintersee!

jana meerman hintersee berchtesgaden germany-159

19. Wöhrsee

Wöhrsee, in the heart of Burghausen, and based at the bottom of the Burg von Burghausen, is a beautifully clean and peaceful swimming lake. Burghausen is on the border between Austria and Germany, nestled against the quiet banks of the Salzach River.

Get here from Salzburg: Burghausen is about an hour drive from Salzburg.

Check out my guide to Burghausen here!

jana meerman burghausen germany-22

Wöhrsee from the Burg


20. Salzachsee

This manmade lake is north of Salzburg, surrounded by what feels like a massive field of grass which is perfect for kicking a ball around or having a picnic. There are also beach volleyball spots on site. It's very family friendly and the Untersberg can be seen in the distance. I wouldn't say this was one of my favourites, but it's very lowkey which might be just what you're after.

Get here from Salzburg: it is about twenty minutes bike ride north from the Altstadt, or you can take bus 7 straight here.

jana meerman salzachsee salzburg austria-1

21. Mattsee

Mattsee is a small town of barely more than 3000 people, so you can easily wander around on foot and enjoy the village vibes. The best views of Mattsee are from Schloss Mattsee, and the best swimming spot is at Strandbad Mattsee. There is a big stretch of grass and floating wooden docks to lie down on, read and snooze in the sun, before diving in to the refreshing waters of Mattsee.

Get here from Salzburg: Mattsee is just a twenty minute drive from Salzburg, making reaching here so easy. There is no train station in Mattsee, but buses are well-connected; the 120 and 121 run from Salzburg to Mattsee in less than forty minutes.

Check out my guide to Mattsee!

jana meerman mattsee austria-21
jana meerman mattsee austria-21

22. Bürgerausee

Bürgerausee is the perfect lake for a day out. You can swim in the clear turquoise waters and jump off of the many floating docks. A lakeside food stand serves up tons of drinks and meals to keep you going. There are clean, free toilets on site and also a free cold water refill station. A playground for kids and beach volleyball courts seal the deal.

Get here from Salzburg: I rode my bike here from Salzburg which was a seriously beautiful one hour ride south along the Salzach. Alternatively, you can drive in about twenty-five minutes or, easiest of all, hop on the S-Bahn direct from Salzburg and get off at Kuchl; the lake is just a short walk away.

Check out my guide to visiting Bürgerausee here!

jana meerman lake burgerausee kuchl salzburgerland salzach austria-03

23. Bluntauseen

This pair of lakes near Golling boasts absolutely exquisitely clear turquoise water - which you can't swim in - but you can bike or walk around and admire the postcard-like views. If you're lucky, you can spot the miniature horses that call this place home, too, as well as plenty of other wildlife. Quite the dreamscape.

Get here from Salzburg: I rode my bike here from Salzburg which was a seriously beautiful one and a half hour ride south along the Salzach. Alternatively, you can drive in about thirty-five minutes or, if you are up for a bit of a walk, hop on the S-Bahn direct from Salzburg and get off at Golling-Abtenau and hike the rest of the way (3.7km or about 50 minutes) to the lakes.

Check out my guide to visiting the Bluntauseen here!

jana meerman bluntauseen golling salzburg austria lake-17
jana meerman bluntauseen golling salzburg austria lake-17

24. Almkanal

Okay, it's not a lake. But it deserves a mention on this list as perhaps my favourite local swimming spot in Salzburg. The Almkanal is an icy cold rushing canal. In the spring, it seems to be the spot for swimming lessons for all the baby goslings and it's a delight to watch them learn against the currents and I come here as often as I can in the summer to laze along the riverbank and swim in on hot days.

Get here from Salzburg: it is just half an hour walking, or a short bike ride, from the Altstadt - here is the exact location on Google Maps.

jana meerman almkanal salzburg austria picnic
jana meerman almkanal salzburg austria-1
jana meerman almkanal salzburg austria-2

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Jana Meerman

Hi! I’m Jana, a British-Dutch-Canadian with a dream of seeing every country in the world. I am a storyteller, photographer and adventurer passionate about documenting and sharing my travels.

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