A couple of months ago, during the summer, Max and I decided to go on a road trip around Austria. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see more of this beautiful country that I call home. To be honest, we really didn’t have a solid plan on where we would drive or even how long we would go for-we kept things very spontaneous and in the end that was the reason the trip was so great.Max’s grandpa has a massive van that he kindly allowed us to use for our little adventure. A few years ago, the car was fitted with some framework so that a mattress could go on top and underneath could have storage. This is absolutely perfect because it meant that every inch of the car was being utilised. We stayed at different camping grounds and decided day-by-day what we wanted to do next.
(Excuse the messy van) this is basically what our setup looked like. We had our mattress (Which was surprisingly very comfortable and we slept great) and underneath had a built-in draw which we used for our clothes, shoes, toiletries, towels, a pack of cards, etc. Also underneath, we stored our food/snacks, camping chairs, cooking utensils, our electric camping stovetop, torch and extra power cords. We cooked quite a lot for ourselves to save on costs, which worked out great because we then had plenty saved for sightseeing.
Max and I started our journey in Freistadt, in upper Austria, which is where his family comes from and decided to head to Wolfgangsee first. The drive was not very long and we were very excited! We arrived at the town St.Gilgen which is on the Wolfgangsee lake, parked the van and had a look around the town. While there, we called different camping grounds to see if they had a spot for us. We booked two nights at a camping ground right on the lake, it was a perfect location because the weather was warm and it meant that we got to swim every day.
The camping grounds in Austria are very clean, modern and sanitary with big bathrooms and areas where you can wash your dishes. Most places we found had a little shop which usually had fresh bread every day and free wifi too, which was great for us to be able to google information about each place we were staying in. For the most part, we swam, looked around the township, ate ice cream and hired a little boat to go out on the water. We loved our time at Wolfgangsee and our next stop was Hallstatt.
We packed up the van and headed off to the next destination early in the morning. The drive was only 45 minutes to Hallstatt, so we decided to stop at the gorgeous town Bad Ischl for breakfast and to have a little look around. The town was very quiet because it was Sunday (every Sunday in Austria, shops are closed as it is a day for being with family and to have a break.)
I have always wanted to visit Hallstatt and I got to finally see what all the fuss is about. The town is tiny, with only 859 inhabitants (yes I’m serious.) The town, however, is crowded with tourists. No surprise, as it is an absolutely stunning town, situated on a crystal clear lake and surrounded by huge mountains, but I was still taken by surprise with just how many tourists there were.
The town is gorgeous and I could finally see why people from all around the world come to visit. Max and I booked a camping ground for two nights here (but ended up staying for three.)
Hallstatt is home to the oldest and still fully functioning Salt mine in the world! The tour wasn’t cheap- 30 euros for an Adult ticket but we decided to do the tour anyway because it is something you should defiantly see and we weren’t disappointed. The view itself is protected by UNESCO and you can instantly see why. You can either hike to the top of the mountain or take a funicular to the top. I didn’t take many photos of the salt mine because it was so dark inside, but it was incredible. We walked far, deep into the mountain and you are pretty much instantly hit with a much cooler temperature, it was very cold. The tour was in both English and German, it was very informative and I highly recommend it if you’re interested.
The weather was not the best while we were in Hallstatt but we made the most of it. It rained all throughout the first and second nights, which we both loved actually because it meant that it wasn’t too hot in the van.
On our second day, we woke up before the sunrise to beat the crowds and really see the town without a million tourists all over the place. This was the best decision ever (even though at the time we didn’t feel like it was) it was so quiet and peaceful, all you could hear was the rain and our footsteps. It may have been raining but that did not bother us, as we came prepared with umbrellas. We were the only people on the streets and the only ones who went to the famous lookout. We had the view all to ourselves.
On our last day, the weather had warmed up nicely so we went bike riding. (Completely forgot to mention, but once the van was packed up we managed to fit in our bikes as well.) We rode around the town and followed a track to a little waterfall close by.
Hallstatt was very expensive compared to the rest of Austria and there was only one supermarket in the town- double the price of a normal chain supermarket by the way. Despite that, we had a really great time.
Next stop; the edge of Austria! Bregenz. Stay tuned for part two.
– CC xx