Gmunden is a small town that sits at the edge of the large Lake Traunsee in the Salzkammergut area of Upper Austria. It is generally considered a tourist town but is also used as a summer health retreat for Austrians owing to its variety of brine and salt related treatments available.
The town has existed in some form since the 1100’s and had fortified wall defences. During the 17th century Battleships were constructed in Gmunden and it has served as an important military base too. The stunning surrounding Alpine scenery and mountain ranges provide fantastic hiking opportunities and the numerous parks and public spaces make Gmunden the perfect place for the adventurous and active types.
Lets explore the best things to do in Gmunden:
The Traunsee is a large lake in the Salzkammergut area of Austria and has a depth of 191m. Gmunden is nestled right on the banks of the northern edge of the lake and has great accessibility to its waters. The 145 road runs through Gmunden and down the western side of Traunsee and leads on to other areas in Austria.
There are a wide variety of activities on the lake and also several quaint villages to visit such as Traunkirchen and Ebensee – The Lake is a major tourist destination and has great facilities for boating, water sports and dining. You can take a ferry to one of the smaller towns across the lake or take advantage of the many hiking trails that surround it.
2. Seeschloss Ort
This charming castle sits proudly on a small island on the northern side of Traunsee and is a major tourist attraction in Gmunden. The castle has stood in some form since the 11th century and has been governed by many owners during its illustrious history.
A characteristic onion domed tower stands at the castle entrance and the white washed walls form a beautiful courtyard in the centre – The castle is accessible by a long wooden boardwalk in the Toskana Park and provides a stunning backdrop for photographs of the Traunsee. Photographers will love this iconic castle and the opportunities it gives for an epic shot – It really is a photogenic place.
Gmunden is surrounded by several large lakes and also some small gems like Laudachsee. This peaceful and tranquil lake is hidden away at the eastern edge of the Traunstein mountain range and is the perfect place to escape from the world.
The surrounding area has many hiking trails that stray onto the mighty Traunstein and there is also a path that runs around the lake. The crystal clear waters of Laudachsee create some stunning reflections and the grassy banks provide a lovely setting to relax and maybe enjoy a picnic.
The highest mountain on the banks of Traunsee is the Traunstein and its summit stands at a staggering 1691m high. Also known as the guardian of the Salzkammergut, the Traunstein offers three challenging climbing routes – Hans-Hernler-Steig, Naturfreundesteig and Mairalmsteig.
These routes are cabled and have difficulty grading between II and III. Aside from the climbing opportunities you can hike around the whole mountain and see the picturesque Gmunder Hut and admire the fantastic Alpine scenery that is presented before you. Look across to the Traunsee and see Gmunden far below, or gaze across to the fantastic Grunau Nature Park to the east.
You can access the Grunberg mountain range via the Grunberg Cable Car which is just off of the Traunsteinstrabe which is on the eastern side of Gmunden and the Traunsee. This wonderful cable car will take you over 1000m above sea level to the top of Grunberg and once you are at the top you can enjoy some memorable views of the landscape below.
Grunberg is a hikers dream with a network of well-developed footpaths that snake around the mountain and onto the neighbouring Traunstein. You could literally spend hours exploring the paths and this amazing part of Gmunden.
The town hall of Gmunden is a striking building that takes pride of place in the delightful Rathausplatz. The exterior of the building has a green and white striped façade that has much decoration and also the central bell tower which displays emblems of Austria and Gmunden.
The most entertaining feature of the town hall is its ceramic bell display that plays periodically through the day – Make sure you stick around to hear this musical treat, there is even a lullaby at the end of the day to prepare you for bed!
7. Toskana Park
This superb park is right next to the walkway that leads up to the Seeschloss Ort and has an excellent placement right on the shore of the Traunsee.
The scenery in this park is second to none and it offers magnificent views of the castle, the surrounding mountains and the expanse of Lake Traunsee.
There is also an old historical building from times of the monarchy and several paths right down to the water.
8. Boat trip on the Gisela
The Gisela is one of the oldest remaining paddle steamboats in the world and was constructed in 1871. This wonderful mode of transport provides boat trips on Lake Traunsee and you can even watch the steam engine in action from the top deck.
There are numerous different cruise options including a full circuit of the lake that lasts 3.75 hours or a shorted cruise that takes just 1.75 hours. Also on bord is a buffet, music and toilet facilities. Although there are other boating options on the Traunsee, the Gisela is by far the most memorable and historic.
9. Naturtierpark Grünau
Also known as the Cumberland Wildpark, this unique parkland covers over 60 hectares of natural landscape and is a fantastic area to explore to the east of Gmunden.
There is a welcoming combination of wildlife and hiking trails to involve yourself in – Here you can see Bison, Lynx, Wolves and the Brown Bear, or march through the sturdy footpaths that wind through meadows, woods and past streams and ponds.
There is also an adventure playground for children and a buffet style café that serves homemade food and pastries.
10. Kayaking on Traunsee
What better way to enjoy the beauty of Lake Traunsee and take an adventure on the waters than on a Kayaking experience? There are numerous kayaking tour operators around the lake, one of the most reliable and well known however is Kajak-Kanu.
This business offers a variety of different kayak sessions all with experienced professionals, they also do paddle boarding for something a little more challenging. With reasonable prices, Kayaking is one of the prime ways to experience Traunsee for the active-minded individual.
The Rathausplatz is the main square in Gmunden and is situated right down next to the promenade. Here you will find plenty of activity as it is one of the main tourist areas and you can enjoy lovely views onto Lake Traunsee and of the various boats and ferries that are docked here.
There is also the stunning town hall and some high quality cafes where you can sit outside and enjoy people watching or just taking in the pleasant ambience of Gmunden. The Martktplatz is not far from the main square and also several worthwhile restaurants.
12. Walk along the Scharnsteiner promenade
The main promenade in Gmunden runs parallel to the Scharnsteiner road and starts at the end of the Rathausplatz and concludes neat the Union Yacht club with a distance of over 700m.
This tree-lined walk way is a nice place to stroll during pleasant weather in Gmunden and has been developed into a fine stretch of public space.
Starting at the Rathausplatz you can make your way down past the small jetties and then onto the expanded lawn area that pushes out into the lake, finally arriving at the Yacht club to admire the various sizes and shapes of boats moored there.
13. Miesweg Hiking Trail
Another of the amazing hiking trails in the Gmunden area, the Miesweg trail meanders alongside Lake Traunsee and then winds around the base of the Traunstein Mountain for approximately 13k total distance. The trail is signposted and starts near the small village of Hoisen on the east banks of the lake.
While parts of the trail do stray onto the road it is quite easy going and shouldn’t prove too challenging even for inexperienced hikers. Enjoy the fantastic scenery of Traunsee and the surrounding mountains on this well-trodden hiking route.
The smallest of the bodies of water surrounding Gmunden is the Krottensee which lies to the northern part of the town just across from the river Traun. It is not a lake as such, more of a circular stream with a pond at one end – In the centre of the stream/pond there is a wooded area and some walking paths.
The lake is seldom trodden by tourists and has an almost secretive air about it – The ducks and birds love the tranquillity and the abundance of plant life.
15. Gmunden Slow Train
When we say slow train, we mean slow train! This is by no means a hair-raising fast paced thrill ride – It is a leisurely train that ferry’s passengers from the Rathausplatz to the Seeschloss Ort. Tickets are only 1.50 Euro or 2.50 Euro for a full day pass so this makes a great mode of transport to see the castle especially if you have mobility issues.
The train travels at a steady pace and has a lively paint scheme that makes it recognisable and the carriages have a wonderful old style. You could split your journey by maybe taking the train to the castle, and then walking back up the promenade on foot to have the best of both worlds.