When most people think of the Austrian Alps they think of skiing and snow. And it’s true, the Alps are a great place to visit in winter to enjoy all the sports and hot chocolate. The very same places though can also be a fantastic outdoor holiday in summer. Here’s a look at things to do in Saalbach-Hinterglemm in summer.
Summer in Saalbach-Hinterglemm
Located conveniently between Innsbruck and Salzburg, Saalbach-Hinterglemm is now officially opening for the summer season. That means when you get there, you will be able to find accommodation easily, the gondolas will be open to take you up into the mountains and there will be events and festivals to help celebrate the warmer weather.
No longer do you need to ask where to hike in Austria. There are dozens of hiking trails around Saalbach-Hinterglemm. They can be as simple as walking between the two townships, or you can climb a mountain. Some of the most popular hikes leave from the top of Schattberg mountain, and to get to the top, right in the middle of Saalbach township is the Schattberg Xpress gondola. Once at the top, there are again many options for hikes of all lengths and difficulties. One of the most challenging is the Seven Summits walk. Not for the faint hearted, this 24km hike visits all seven summits in the Saalbach-HInterglemm region. They are all over 2000m, so the views during the hike will be stunning. I only hiked to one during my visit, but would love to try the whole hike.
During the summer there are mountain bikes everywhere. There are many companies in town that offer bike hire, lessons, guides, group tours and much more. There are dedicated mountain biking paths, and it looked like the riders were having a fantastic time. There’s even a pump track that has been built to help develop mountain biking skills. The weekend after we left, there was the Glemmride Bike Festival with a whole weekend dedicated to everything mountain biking.
Biking for fun
If you are more like me and don’t know the first thing about mountain biking (I got a lesson from a nine year old as we hiked!) there are plenty of paths around for casual riding. If you are worried about the hills, then consider hiring an e-bike from one of the many bike hire stores for that little bit of extra help.
High Rope Park
Right down the far end of the valley is Europe’s biggest high ropes park, the Baumzipfelweg. Amongst the 8km of ropes, bridges and other stations, it is also home to a scary-looking zip line that is so high it can only be used when the weather conditions are just right. The park is able to be used by people of all ages so long as you have a basic level of fitness. There are some easier areas that are appropriate for younger children, who do need t one accompanied by an adult.
The park also includes the Golden Gate bridge and a treetop trail that gives spectacular views over the valley.
Right next door to the high rope park is a rustic playground. It’s not all swings and slides that are in most playgrounds, but wooden toys made by a local so that the children can really used their imagination. There’s a fort, an airplane, a pond, and my favourite, a small creek around the edge with a supply of rubber ducks for races. Each year more items are added and updated, so there is always something new for the kids.
Along side the main walking path from Saalbach to Jausern are various pieces of parkour-style equipment. There’s everything from balancing activities to group challenges, strength tests and dexterity. This is a great way to get out and about and practice some of those skills and build the body strength for the more vigorous outdoor pursuits. This is a great, free way for the kids to let off some steam too without having to venture far from the town.
Visiting the Alms
I have to admit I didn’t do my homework on what exactly an alm is and why they were built, so this is my take on them. Alms are these great places built up in the hills on the hiking and bike paths to provide passers by with refreshments. I imagine these were originally started out of people’s houses to provide respite in the harsh winters and to earn a little bit of extra money on the side. Now these are full blown businesses, providing not only drinks and basic foods, but full restaurant menus with large indoor and outdoor areas used alternatively in the winter or the summer. I suggest calling in to any you pass while walking or biking for a quick drink or bite to eat, or even search one out just for lunch. We got some delicious goulash soup at Lindlingalm for only a few Euros.
Festivals and Events
Almost every weekend in summer there seems to be a festival or event scheduled in Saalbach-Hinterglemm. I have mentioned Glemmride above, but there are also events such as the Lake of Charity event in July. Here a small lake – now called Lake of Charity – is set up with all sorts of water sports. There is live music, food, and of course, fireworks to entertain throughout the weekend.
Other weekends host farmers markets, beer festivals, outdoor concerts and more.
And There’s More
If that isn’t enough, there are multitudes of other activities throughout the area, such as golf, mini golf, archery, rock climbing, paragliding, tennis, swimming pools, more playgrounds, ski museum, horse riding and go-karting. How about taking the kids Geocaching or escaping them on a trail run? There’s restaurants, shops, cafes and bars to meet every budget.
The Joker Card
Still not convinced to visit the alps in summer? During summer there is a fantastic offering from the community called “The Joker Card”. This card cannot be purchased but will be supplied to you by your accommodation provider. It gives you free transport on the buses, cable cars, and the little train at the end of the valley. It also provides free or discounted activities at many of the local attractions. This means huge savings. Note that these cards are only valid during the summer season, so check the dates of your visit.
Saalbach-Hinterglemm is about 90 minutes drive south west of Salzburg.
It can also easily be reached by public transport. Take the train from any major centre to Zell Am See. Right outside the train station is a bus stop for the 680 bus which will take you into the valley and stops regularly along the main road. Most accommodation will be within a couple of hundred metres of the road, so should be easy to find.
The 680 bus makes it’s way regularly up and down the valley and will get you to most places you need to go.
At Lengau, the far end of the valley there is a little train that will take visitors even further up the valley to Lindlingalm, the High Rope Park and other activities in the area.
Many of the main cable cars and gondolas will be running to take hikers, mountain bikers and general sightseers up the mountains.
Where to Stay
We stayed at – and recommend –
Kollingweg 442, 5754 Hinterglemm, Austria
Starting from €95/night one bedroom apartment
On our second visit we stayed here, right in the centre of Saalbach
Apartment Residence Top 1
Schulstraße 341, 5753 Saalbach
Starting from €200/night
As opening for the summer season is still new for Saalbach-Hinterglemm, I suggest you check all information and dates carefully to ensure services are running. We found a couple of instances of services not being what they would be in the middle of winter. Most notably was one restaurant offered only a set menu rather than their full a la carte menu which was starting two weeks after our visit.
The best website for information is Saalbach.com Not only will it help you out with what is open, but there are up to date weather details and livecams showing exactly what the conditions are like. These are vital if heading up into the mountains. The website also provides maps of the area and safety information. Ensure you check all these out before heading out.
There are also information centres in both Saalbach and Hinterglemm townships. Call in to visit them to pick up hiking maps and other essential information. Opening hours and addresses are on the website above.
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Josie is a forty-something budget traveller. She only discovered travel in her late thirties, but since then has travelled extensively including taking an adult gap year. She is now based in Australia and loves sharing all she has learned about travelling on a budget but with the comforts a Gen Xer requires.