Bad Ischl is considered a spa town owing to its history of involvement with salt mining and also brine pools – During the 1500’s a salt mine was opened in the town which saw a boost to its economy and development, and then later in the 19th century when Brine became popular for medicinal purposes, Bad Ischl turned into a fashionable spa resort catering for famous and wealth Austrians.
The town is set against the backdrop of the mighty Katrin Mountain and remains a popular tourist destination in Upper Austria.
Lets explore the best things to do in Bad Ischl:
1. Kaiser Villa
Once described as Heaven on earth by the great emperor Franz Joseph, the Kaiser Villa served as the summer residence for the Habsburgs in the 1800’s and onwards and was also a place that several historical meetings of world leaders took place.
The delightful Neoclassical architecture of the Villa contains many columns and tympana, while there are also plaster sculptured above each of the three wings depicting various classical scenes.
This treasured home of the Austrian Royalty is a spectacular tribute to their power and prowess and is a highlight of any trip to Bad Ischl.
2. Katrin Seilbahn
Mount Katrin is considered the “Darling” of Bad Ischl and has amazing visitors with its breath-taking views and wonderful nature since imperial times.
To reach the top of this enticing mountain range, there is a cable car that has been operating since 1959 and takes approximately 15 minutes – Enjoy the scenery beneath you as you gently ascend.
Once you reach the top, you will be astounded by the expansive views of the seven lakes and the idyllic Austrian mountain landscapes.
Together with the views, there is also a café serving traditional and seasonal food and many different hiking trails to try your hand at.
This wooden lookout tower is perched on top of a hill just in the southern part of Bad Ischl – It stands out against the backdrop of the town and is covered by forest.
Enjoy a pleasant walk up the short (but steep) path that takes you to the tower and summit, and on the way engage with the different interactive stations that have been installed for a little fun.
At the top there is a children’s play area, a restaurant that serves a fine beer, and the commanding tower that gives you an unrivalled view of the little town below and the gorgeous countryside including Mount Katrin.
4. Salzkammergut Thermal Spa
If you want to take a step back, ease the foot off the pedal and enjoy some quality relaxation then the Salzkammergut Spa is the place to be.
This small thermal spa nestled away in the north eastern part of Bad Ischl is wonderfully designed complex with a diverse range of activities.
Float through the lazy river, relax in the warm brine pool, feel the jets of the whirlpools tickling your feet, or even just read a book on one of the outdoor lounges.
When you are all wrinkly from the water, you can make use of the sauna and spa facilities and maybe enjoy a pampering massage!
5. Fahrzeug Museum
Just over a 10 minutes’ walk from the centre of Bad Ischl, the Fahrzeug Museum has an assorted collection of automotive displays from different time periods and industries.
The building is a large hangar with huge wooden ceiling beams and the exhibitions are all given plenty of space.
Inside you will find anything from old fire engines, trials motorbikes, aeroplane engines, military jeeps and medical wagons, to diggers and pilot jumpsuits.
Outside is featured several jet fighters and helicopters from Eastern Europe.
If you don’t mind the walk, the Fahrzeug Museum will provide you with an interesting and fun trip.
6. Salzkammergut Golf Club
Not only does Bad Ischl have a great range of relaxing activities, for sports lovers you can make use of the Salzkammergut Golf Course which is conveniently situated a short 15 minute car or bus journey to the west of Bad Ischl.
The course is set in a wooded landscape, close to the river Traun and features 18 full sized holes with a par of 71.
7. Bad Ischl Flea Market
Flea Markets are often one of the most intriguing ways to see a slice of local life and culture and the Bad Ischl Flea Market is no exception.
This charming market is held on every first Saturday of the month and practically the whole town turns out for it! Expect a busy market with stalls ranging from crafts, natural oils and homemade schnapps to scrumptious fruitcake and mouth-watering chocolate.
8. Kaiser Park
The previously mentioned Kaiser Villa is surrounded by a stunning park and gardens which are worth a visit in their own right.
Starting with the baroque fountain outside the Villa, the park stretches outward and has much open land with which to walk through.
The park is split up into several sections all bordered by delightful trees, and scattered throughout are different flower displays and statues.
To make the most of the park it is recommended to also see the Photo Museum which is located in its grounds and obviously the Kaiser Villa.
9. Parkbad outdoor Pool and Park
If you want something a little more adventurous but still water based, why not try the Parkbad Outdoor Pool and Park as an alternative to the Salzkammergut Thermal Spa? The Park is literally 5 minutes’ walk from the spa and also right next to Kaiser Villa so it has a great central location.
The pools are split into several different areas serving different purposes including a sports pool for swimming lanes in, a twisting water slide, a white water slide and a general purpose pool with a couple of diving boards in.
All of this can be enjoyed out in the open and on a bright summers day there is no better alternative!
10. Bad Ischl Photo Museum
This quaint little museum is tucked away in the stunning grounds of the Kaiser Villa and can often go forgotten due to its fairly low-key location.
It is considered as one of the most attractive museums in Austria due to its setting and also the beautiful architecture of the building itself.
Contained within the museum is a fine collection of historical photos from Professor Hans Frank and an important insight into the history of Austria.
11. Elisabeth Forest Trail
Bad Ischl has an abundance of amazing countryside and natural landscapes and the Elisabeth Forest trail is one of such places – Perfect to experience the outdoors and immerse yourself in nature.
Located in the northern part of the town just below the river Ischl and easily accessible on foot from the town centre, this is an ideal trail to explore on a fine summers day.
The trail leads through a wooded forest and has clear footpaths and a map to guide you through.
The trail was one of the haunts of the Emperor Franz Joseph’s wife Sisi.
12. Rettenbach Wilderness
This gorgeous natural area is a fantastic place to visit and like the Elisabeth Forest Trail shows off the wonderful natural beauty of Bad Ischl.
The Rettenbach Wilderness lies roughly 30 minutes’ walk from the town centre in the smaller district of Hinterstein.
As you walk through this charming piece of countryside you can see pastureland, the striking Rettenbach Gorge that is split in two by a running river and also a great deal of forest.
The area is exceptional to explore and another perfect way to enjoy the natural environment.
13. Hire a bike to take in the scenery
Bad Ischl lends itself to outdoor and active excursions and is the perfect place to hire a bicycle.
With the large amount of outdoor areas to explore and the surrounding countryside, a bicycle will allow you to easily get to the different attractions and have some exercise at the same time.
The Salzkammergut tourist bike hire is the best option with a variety of different bicycles available at a reasonable rate.
Ensure you check what the price covers and when you have to have the bike back by, but otherwise enjoy the thrill and adventure that your bike journey will bring.
14. Enjoy a coffee and cake in the Konditorei Zauner
Sometimes it is a great idea to relax and have a rest from all the sights and tourist attractions and just sit and enjoy a quiet drink in a local café.
The Konditorei Zauner is an ideal place to do this and offers a wonderful selection of desserts and drinks.
This renowned café in the centre of Bad Ischl is well known for its scrumptious cakes including delightful meringue, and also serves traditional Austrian meals.
There is also an outdoor terrace to enjoy and the atmosphere of Konditorei Zauner is really inviting and cosy.
15. Take a day trip to the Altaussee Salt Mine
Aside from the fantastic variety of sights in and around Bad Ischl, there is also the option to enjoy a day trip to the wondrous Altaussee Salt Mine.
This unique experience is a must-do and will provide the whole family with some incredible memories – Explore the many tunnels of the active mine complex, learn about the history of salt mining in the area and see the amazing underground Chapel of St. Barbara.
Furthermore you can take a wild ride down a salt mine slide that leads to the unforgettable underground salt lake, which in turn has a sound and light presentation to accompany.
For an unusual but memorable experience, the Altaussee Salt Mine is an exceptional attraction.