The beautiful Baroque city of Salzburg is forever associated with the epic Sound of Music, but its goes back long before the Von Trapp family.
It’s the centre of the “Salzkammergut”, literally the land of salt, since the glistening white stuff has been mined here since 800BC. In the 19th century the healing properties of the saline waters led to the development of high end spa resorts, but these days the major draws are the stunning lakes and mountains.
I’m all set to explore the region on a traditional cycle but looking at the map and examining the contours I decide that it’s far easier to hire an e-bike. Now I’ve only used these for the odd day’s outing so am slightly sceptical about how they would work over a week but my fears prove unfounded. The latest batteries easily manage over 100kms on one charge and I never run out of juice. Of course I carry the charger, just in case.
Day 1: Salzburg – Seeham 50km
It’s a bright sunny day as I leave Salzburg following the River Salzach to the town of Oberndorf where the Christmas carol, Silent Night was composed. There’s a small chapel here, built on the sight of the original church and also a museum where you can listen to the carol in many different translations.
I leave the river and continue through gently rolling hills, glad to have the assistance of electricity. Around lunchtime I spot my first lake, the small Grabensee, before plunging downhill to the much larger Obertrummersee. I have a quick dip here before settling for the night at Seeham, about half way along.
Day 2: Seeham – Mondsee 50km
I slightly backtrack to reach my third lake, the Mattsee, and stop to examine the huge gothic abbey church in the town of the same name. I follow the lake for a mile or so then climb steeply through the forest before emerging into open country where farmers are cutting the hay.
I pass through a succession of tiny villages and soon on my left is the Irrsee, a long thin lake which I follow for its length.
Another short climb and I drop down to the town on Mondsee at the head of the lake of the same name. This is a sizeable town, with the twin towered church of St Michael dominating the market square. It was also the location for the wedding scene in the Sound of Music.
Day 3: Mondsee – Traunkirchen 80 km
An early start today as a big distance to cover. The first 16km follows the banks of the Mondsee then reaches the adjoining Attersee. At 20km long, this is the largest of the Salzkammergut lakes and I cycle all of it, rewarded with good mountain views with the clouds touching the tops. I turn off at Kammer and climb gradually into the forest.
Villages here are often not much more than a single farm and the nearby motorway has taken away all the traffic. Finally I arrive at the Traunsee, my third lake of the day, and cycle south to the attractive village of Traunkirchen. It’s perched on a promontory and across the lake is the Traunstein, the highest mountain in the area at 1,691m.