On my recent trip to Austria, I wanted to go somewhere different without the crowds of Hallstatt. After reading about the charm of St. Gilgen, a small town outside of Salzburg, we drove a scenic route to reach Sankt Gilgen, which certainly delivered on its promises of charm. Keep reading for things to do in St. Gilgen and where to stay in Sankt Gilgen.
Where to stay in St. Gilgen
For those looking to access the beauty of the region surrounding Salzburg without the prices of Salzburg, St. Gilgen is a great alternative with reasonable accommodation. (If you’ll be driving, check to see if your hotel includes parking).
One of the most picturesque hotels in town that we loved was Gasthof Zur Post. This stunning hotel sits right along the main square with a view of the most beautiful buildings in town. Expect the hospitality of a traditional Austrian guesthouse with some modern amenities.
Stoll through the picturesque town
Strolling around the picturesque town will make you forget almost about Hallstatt. You’ll find plenty of stunning wooden buildings decorated with elaborate floral arrangements as well as cute wooden balconies. The great thing about St. Gilgen is that it doesn’t have the crowds of Hallstatt, so you can wander around without bumping into numerous selfie sticks, even in peak season, for now.
It’s hard to miss the stunning city hall, the building above with the red roof, which is easily one of the cutest buildings in town! This main square was my favorite part of town, so consider stopping for an ice cream or a coffee to take in the relax atmosphere. As you walk down Ischlerstraße towards the water, you’ll discover cute shops as well as the historic church.
Have an ice cream
I was thrilled to find a ice cream booth by the lake that had vegan ice cream at ICEZEIT. I had a chocolate and ginger ice cream, which was delightful. You’ll have quite a few choices although I found a really lovely booth close to Schiffsanlegestelle St. Gilgen. There are benches to enjoy the view of the Wolfgangsee.
Enjoy a leisurely meal with a view
You’ll find a number of restaurants in the town serving up traditional Austrian food as well as Italian food with a view. We stopped of at a cozy family-run restaurant for some drinks although be warned that not all restaurants accept credit cards. Cafe Nannerl came recommended. Guesthouses often serve lunch or dinner and generally accept cards.
Learn about local history at Heimathaus
For a few euros, you can learn about the traditions of the region, which is housed in a stunning historic building. Here, you can learn about glass blowing as well as woodturning.
Go swimming in the pretty blue-green water of Wolfgangsee
We forgot our swimming suits, however you’ll find a very small public beach along the beach next to Schiffsanlegestelle St. Gilgen. There’s a pier perfect for curling up with a book at–as well as some water to wade into. On a hot day, the cool water from the lake felt fantastic and we really enjoyed sitting out here. Otherwise, you can head to the city beach at Strandbad St. Gilgen, which is only five minutes from the pier.
Go antiques shopping
While in town, we discovered a few interesting antique shops. I especially loved Altwaren und Raritäten Meichle (Ischlerstraße 2), which had a few fascinating pieces… The entire shop was stuffed with rarities, oddities, and everything you can imagine. They accept credit cards.
Take the ski lift for hiking in summer or skiing in winter
We didn’t end up taking the ski lift up the mountain, however quite a few people decided up taking the ski lift up the mountain order to do hiking near the top of Zwölferhorn. Expect stunning views of St. Gilgen from above as you glide above the town.
You can also paraglide from the top if you so choose… The cost of the lift is about 26 euros per adult round-trip although you can save a bit by hiking up one-way!
Rent a boat
We discovered this too late, but there’s a boat rental station (Wassersportzentrum Engel) near the ferry station where you can rent banana boats, stand-up paddleboards, and boats in sumer.
Seasonal: Enjoy the Christmas Market
We only heard about the Christmas market, but the Christmas market here is supposed to be delightful. It’s easy to image the atmosphere in the peak of summer…
How to get to St. Gilgen from Salzburg
It’s approximately thirty minutes by car from Salzburg to St. Gilgen. We found parking to be a bit difficult, so you might have more luck purchasing some items from the Spar–and leaving your car there. Alternatively, we found parking on Salzburgerstraße behind Paracelsus Apotheke. Finding an entrance into the town can be a bit tricky as a warning as we drove in circles for at least 20 minutes as our GPS routed us to dead ends.
If you’re without a car, you can take bus 150 towards St.Gilgen Mozartblick. From here, it’s a short walk into town.
You can also take the ferry from St. Wolfgang. From St. Wolfgang, you can take the Schafberbahn, a cute cog railway, that climbs the nearby mountain that was featured in the Sound of Music. Similarly, you can take the ferry from Fürberg.