Austria's stunning summer lakes & where to find them

Becki Enright

Becki Enright

Picture summer in Austria*: an outdoor haven that stretches from the sweeping eastern prairies to the soaring western peaks (with some pretty cities in between).

Emerald waters of Wörthersee
Emerald waters of Wörthersee © Pkazmierczak - Adobe Stock Image

A country almost half blanketed with countryside and around 60% mountainous, thousands of bodies of water also fuel adventure here.

Join locals who retreat to the more than 400 bathing lakes; choose from our pick of the best to dive into Austria's biggest and most beautiful lakes for bathing, boating and more.

Getting to Austria: find great value escapes with TUI Lakes & Mountains*, which offers fabulous experiences in the great outdoors.

Biosphere Neusiedler See

The easternmost area of Austria, Burgenland, is home to one of the country's enormous bodies of water, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Neusiedler See, a third of it shared with neighbouring Hungary*.

On average, its 320-sq-km span is only 1.5 metres deep, but you'll need to jump on the ferry to cross it. A scenic route is between the western side of the quaint wine village of Rust to the eastern lighthouse-famed town of Podersdorf; the Illmitz to Mörbisch ferry crosses the southern fringe of the lake.

The Lake Neusiedl Cycle Path is a 125 km cross-border loop around the lake, although shortened by combining with the boat or the lure of the vineyards.

Otherwise, find a spot on a wooden jetty or serene bathing beach or take advantage of the prime wind conditions for watersports, including wind and kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.

Animal lovers and birdwatchers can spot species amongst the lake's reed bed belt and meadows and in the wilds of Neusiedler See-Seewinkel Biosphere Reserve.

Lake District of Salzkammergut

The mountain hugged Salzkammergut lake district is a UNESCO site spanning three states and encompassing more than 70 lakes. Still, its famed five water holes in Salzburg* and Upper Austria, ringed by picturesque villages, are a good anchor.

Most visitors will beeline for Hallstattsee, the waters of the iconic postcard-perfect alpine hamlet of Hallstatt or for access to the Dachstein Ice Cave next to it, but venture further.

Pretty Hallstatt, Salzkammergut
Pretty Hallstatt, Salzkammergut © Jsk12 - Adobe Stock Image

Jump into the crystal teal waters of the meadow-mountain ringed, three-village encased Wolfgansee before gliding on the cable car up Zwölferhorn Mountain for a spectacular 908m-high view.

Head to Mondsee, whose lakeside town basilica, St Michael, featured as the church in the Sound of Music, and Traunsee, the deepest lake in Austria at 191 metres, best seen from the top of the spiralling treetop path observation tower (Baumwipfelpfad).

The region's largest lake, Attersee, sits in between, whose scenic boat trip stops at shoreline highlights, including the arty villa-filled 'Little Venice' village of Unterach and visits areas of the lake concealing the remains of the UNESCO World Heritage Prehistoric Pile Dwellings of the Alps, Neolithic and Bronze Age wetland stilt houses from 5000 to 500 BCE.

Sunny Wörthersee

The region of Carinthia has over 200 lakes, and Wörthersee is its largest, a 16.5 km-long slither of tropical turquoise water, bookended by the lakeside towns of the bougie resort town of Velden and the Renaissance city of Klagenfurt.

Wörthersee is the warmest of lakes, reaching some 28°C by the end of summer and heated by the sunniest climes. Carinthia has the most sunshine hours of all Austrian states, with around 2,000 hours per year; more time for sunseekers to lawn bathe, swim, water ski and wakeboard, accompanied by wine tasting and thermal spa retreats.

The Wörthersee passenger boat is a 10-stop journey through resort towns and villages, lake promenades and the world's tallest wooden observation tower, the 100 metre-high Pyramidkogel.

Nature seekers can get their fix on panoramic lake circuits connected by 500 km of hiking and running paths, a 50 km flat shore bike loop, and a section of the 750 km Alpe Adria Trail through Italy, Slovenia and Austria that passes Velden.

Adventure Achensee

Sandwiched between the Rofan and Karwendel mountain ranges is Tyrol's biggest glacier-formed lake, Achensee*; its near 7 sq-km, 133 metre-deep aquamarine expanse best seen on an elevated forest track or via the scenic Karwendel-Bergbahn cable car.

Achensee from a viewpoint on the Bärenkopf
Achensee from a viewpoint on the Bärenkopf © mRGB - Adobe Stock Image

The traditional shoreside villages of Achenkirch, Pertisau and Maurach make for pretty bases to enjoy the vast lake area via a leisurely boat cruise. But really, this is a lake fuelled by adventure.

Reliable winds make Achensee a hotspot for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing, and stand-up paddleboarding and instant access to the rugged Rofen Mountains primed for long hikes, Via Ferrata courses, mountain biking and rock climbing.

Cultural Bodensee

This 63 km-long lake bundles a three-country border intersection with Austria, Germany* and Switzerland*. Set to a backdrop of peaks, the Austrian shoreline of Bodensee (Lake Constance) in Vorarlberg is also a prime cultural setting.

Hohentwiel paddle steamer on the waters of Lake Constance
Hohentwiel paddle steamer on the waters of Lake Constance © Nikonmike - Adobe Stock Image

The port-to-port paddle steamer Hohentwiel has been cruising these waters since 1913, ferrying people from swimming spots to trailheads and mountain ranges connecting gorge-laden Dornbirn, historic Hohenems and medieval Feldkirch.

Arty Bregenz brings masses to the lake in July and August when Lake Constance hosts the annual Bregenzer Festspiele (Bregenz Festival), a world-renowned performing arts showcase held on a floating stage on the shores of the lake with a backdrop of the Alps.

Climate in Austria

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall

The above guide shows the climate in Klagenfurt. Find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the climate in Austria.

Ready to explore Austria's lakes? Check out the latest deals on holidays with TUI Lakes & Mountains.

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Becki Enright

Becki Enright

Posted on Friday 12th April 2024 in: Adventure Europe Nature

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