Grundlsee - In the geographical middle point of Austria, at the center of the "Styrian Salzkammergut" (the lake district within the salt mine area), is the little town of Grundlsee, population 1,200. Approximately 56 miles (90 kms) from Salzburg, 124 miles (200 kms) from Graz and 240 miles (390 kms) from Vienna, this charming village overlooks a lovely lake of the same name (the word 'see' means 'lake' in German). If what you like is the mountains and a surplus of view, this is the place for you.
This region is characterized by steep mountains, lush pastures, quiet Alpine valleys, thermal springs, orchards and fields, castles and palaces. It is a lakes district, called Auseer Land, in the "green heart" of the country, also called (in German) the "green march" due to its deep forests.
The abbeys of Admont and Seckau, the palaces of Herberstein, Kornberg, Ehrenhausen and Trautenfels, Mariazell, a centre of pilgrimage, the Lippizan studfarm in Piber are all absolute musts for each visit to Styria-- you might have to come back again and again to see everything.
And then there are the cities of Salzburg and Graz and...
There are three lakes in the immediate area (Grundlsee, Toplitzsee and Kammersee), with Grundlsee being the largest, and you can take a tri-lakes tour in a very charming boat that is very much worth the trip. This tour begins at the west end of Grundlsee and takes you by boat to the small village of Goessl at the east end of the lake, where you leave the boat and then take a short walk to Toplitzsee. Here you take a ride in a flat bottom boat typical of the area (lots of fun!) to the other end of the Toplitzsee, with its spectacular waterfalls, then after another short walk you arrive at Kammersee, the origin of the river Traun.
The water in these lakes is pure enough to drink, and in the summer time people swim and even scuba in it-- but make no mistake: this water is cold!
In summertime at Grundlsee the main activities are swimming (brrrrr!), fishing, fly-fishing, sailing, sailboarding (courses are offered by the Sailing School Grundlsee), biking and mountain-biking, riding, hiking and mountain climbing in the "Dead Mountains", shooting and tennis. The village has bike and boat hiring facilities. In the nearby Altaussee you can even go paragliding if you have the stomach for it. And in the neighboring town of Bad Aussee, you can find the "Kurzentrum Bad Aussee", a health spa with salt brine swimming pool. Here you can enjoy a wide scope of therapies such as "moor baths" mud packs, massages, therapeutic training programs etc., etc. or just enjoy some time in the pool or one of the many different types of saunas. (In Bad Aussee the residents wear traditional Austrian clothes, not to impress the tourists but just because they want to.)
In spring, a special attraction is the annual Daffodil Festival when millions of daffodils are in full blossom on the mountain meadows at the end of May. An astoundingly beautiful sight!
In winter there is skiing, of course, as well as snowboarding, cross country skiing, skating, curling, tobogganing and ski-hiking in the "Dead Mountains". There are 6 chair lifts, 23 ski tows and 2 mountain roads available for the alpine skiing fans all within a short distance and without long queues. To quote the resort's Website, "Idyllic in Winter. The small wooden houses with their typical carved verandas are especially enhanced by the deep snow. On the lake here and there, a few ice skaters enjoy the unusual freedom of movement. On a lovingly prepared lane a group of men concentrate on the local version of curling. A hip flask with schnapps passes round the group, without lessening their accuracy. On the sunny side of the valley the cross-country skiers are gliding along, each at his own pace. The alpine skiers are either on the Loser or locally on the "Zloam" slope. And there's endless hours of fun for toboggan fans with our natural toboggan run close at hand, lit day and night."