After the fjords of Norway and the lakes of Finland we were pretty sure we’d seen enough large bodies of water to last a life time, however after a few weeks exploring Eastern European cities we found ourselves eagerly looking forward to Austria and the prospect of diving into some ice cold mountain water.
We entered via Vienna to the East, with a plan to make our way across the country to Tirol in the West. We didn’t waste much time in going for a dip, in fact we were only a few hours into our Austrian adventure before we found ourselves paddling around in the Danube, the awesome river that cuts through the capital city. Floating down river in a capital city was certainly a novel experience, especially coming from London where along with your swim in the Thames, you’ll likely receive a complimentary dose of dysentery.
Sunset over the Danube
The following day, we begun our journey West. Our first stop was the relatively small Grüner See, which translates to ‘Green Lake’. As we were approaching the end of summer the lake was quite small in size, apparently it’s formed every year from melting snow, during the winter when empty, it’s a park with benches and walkways that are submerged for the rest of the year.
A short drive away sits Leopoldsteinersee, this incredible place holds the record for not only being one of the most beautiful lakes we’ve visited but also by far the coldest. We went for an early morning run followed by a dip, watched by bemused locals and tourists, most likely due to our yelps of pain as we entered the icy water.
After drying off and attempting to warm up we headed to our next destination, Hallstatt. This quaint lakeside village is probably one of the most famous in Austria. This was clear from the swarms of tourists lining the busy streets, despite this though the village itself was incredibly picturesque.
Picturesque Hallstatt, nestled between a crystal clear lake and mountains.
The next morning we carried on the theme of lakeside villages by visiting the small town of St Wolfgang, nestled into the side of the huge Wolfgangsee. This lake offered some of the clearest and bluest waters we’ve ever seen.
Later in the day we headed to Fuschl am See where the shores were packed with rows of sun worshippers. We took the sights in by walking the seven mile track around the perimeter of the lake, from this vantage point we got a flavour and an eye fall of the area, from the fancy hotel located in a castle to the nudist beaches tucked away on one of the lakes many shores. After a sweaty hike we decided to cool off at one of the non naturist beaches.
The turquoise waters of Fushl am See
Our final Austrian lake was probably one of our favourites and came from a tip by a local we met at our free camp spot near by. Weissensee, sits very close to the border of Slovenia and the Julian Alps, despite being surrounded by mountains on all sides it was by far the warmest lake we’ve swum in, with water temperatures getting as high as 25 °C. It is also known to be the lake with the cleanest water in the Alps, so clean you can drink it. We spent a good couple of hours on a local campsite’s private beach, bathing in the warm water and working on our cannonball’s from the diving board.
The beautiful and warm Weissensee