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Overview

From its fresh alpine air and lake water so clean and clear it is considered drinkable, Zell am See in the heart of the Austrian Alps emits an urban Zen, outdoorsy vibe. The 6,500-foot Schmittenhöhe mountain backing the town is Zell’s star attraction year-round. Between November and mid-April, it is a skier's paradise with almost 50 miles of slopes, stylish cable cars created by none other than Porsche (no joke — this makes an enviable Instagram photo) and plenty of après ski hut watering holes to relax in style between runs. In summer it becomes a hiker's delight with a number of trails beginning in Zell am See’s quaint central ...

From its fresh alpine air and lake water so clean and clear it is considered drinkable, Zell am See in the heart of the Austrian Alps emits an urban Zen, outdoorsy vibe. The 6,500-foot Schmittenhöhe mountain backing the town is Zell’s star attraction year-round. Between November and mid-April, it is a skier's paradise with almost 50 miles of slopes, stylish cable cars created by none other than Porsche (no joke — this makes an enviable Instagram photo) and plenty of après ski hut watering holes to relax in style between runs. In summer it becomes a hiker's delight with a number of trails beginning in Zell am See’s quaint central village.

Families are especially well catered to in summer, when little mountaineers can check out the “Schmidolins Feuertaufe” hiking trail — it boasts 11 adventure stations, such as the dragon slide and the fire bridge. There are also climbing opportunities — the visitor’s center can hook you up with qualified guides. Soaring above the mountain in either a paragliding or hang-gliding apparatus is another favorite summer pastime. Try a tandem flight for a unique aerial perspective of this magnificent region.

Aaron Anderson
About the Expert

Aaron Anderson is coauthor of Lonely Planet's Washington, D.C. City Guide, a contributor on western states to Lonely Planet USA, and he wrote the Austria chapters for Lonely Planet's Western Europe and Europe on a Shoestring.

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Aaron Anderson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Zell Am See is the administrative capital of the Zell am See District in the Austrian state of Salzburg. The town is an important tourist destination known as Zell am See-Kaprun and is a transportation hub for the region.
  • Language: German
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June-August for hiking, January-March for skiing