The Gastein valley is one of the most popular skiing areas in Austria. With over 50 cable cars and ~200 km of ski slopes, the valley attracts thousands of skiing enthusiast every winter. There are ‘after ski’ cafes to have a drink after your day on the slopes. And then, there are spas to soothe the aching muscles. In the Gastein valley, winter seems to be the peak season.
However, we were visiting the spa town of Bad Gastein in July. The Alps were green and the sky was blue. There was a slight nip in the air, with made coffee in the sun a pleasant experience. It just seemed like the perfect day to explore Bad Gastein.
Bad Gastein is the ideal pit stop before you hit the Gross Glockner High Alpine Road. This pretty little spa town has some stunning views of Alps, facilities to let you unwind, refuel yourself (With delicious food) and your car and stock up on some goodies for the time on the road. This little town has played host to Hugh Grant and U2!
Here are the top three things to do at Bad Gastein on a summer day:
The suspension bridge called Stubnerkogel is built at an altitude of 2000 meters and is 140 meters long. It sure in an engineering feat, connecting two peaks in the Alps.
Crossing the bridge is fun, especially on a really windy day when you can feel it sway just a little… exciting! The bridge leads to a viewing platform called Glocknerblick that offers 360 degree views of the Alps, including the highest peak in Austria, Gross Glockner.
Getting to Stubnerkogel is easy – just hop on to the cable car that takes you on top. Keep your eyes open and maybe strain them a little; you might get lucky and spot a marmot. Breathe some fresh air at the top and grab a bite. The restaurant offers some delicious food (including a few vegetarian dishes) and has great views of the snow covered peaks. Remember to carry a jacket, regardless of the season. It can get cold and windy at that altitude.
We reached Bad Gastein at about 4 pm in the evening, a little tired after having spent the earlier part of the day walking around in Hallstatt. All that I wanted to do was to go to some place where that could help me unwind and relax a bit. The Felsentherme Spa was right next to our hotel and we thought of spending a couple of hour in the warm waters of the hot water springs and the heated pools. It was the perfect thing to do!
We splashed around in a couple of pools and then, let then went to the slide or the water tube. Oh… it was so much fun! We felt like little kids and were surrounded by little kids as well. But that did not deter us from going down the slide again! It was so much of fun!
If a little adventure is what you seek, Flying Waters is the thing for you. It is a zip lining activity that lets you zip over the waterfall that tumbles through the city.
I have done zip lining earlier, but always over valleys. This was even more interesting… there was the green Gastein valley and the ski slops, lots of pretty hotels for skiers who come during winters and then, there was the waterfall with its spray that I could see from the line. Ankur zipped by confidently. I followed, a little nervous initially, then woohooing all the way through!
Like all of Austria, summer months mean flowers all around. Bad Gastein is a great town to walk around and have unending cups of coffee on a bright sunny day. There are lots of restaurants that serve a variety of cuisines. We had a delicious Italian meal at Angelo’s pizzeria. Till date, all their fresh ingredients are sourced form Italy, which isn’t too far from Bad Gastein.
For those who are culturally inclined, there is the main church which was built in the 19th century. It houses many Baroque and Neo-Gothic sculptures, some of them are much older than the church itself. It is home to the 15th century Gothic wooden sculpture of Madonna on the high altar.
Catch your breath in Bad Gastein, relax your muscles and charge your batteries. Get ready for the Gross Glockner High Alpine Road… excitement awaits you!