Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit for your next trip to picture-perfect Salzburg.

On the edge of the Eastern Alps, this gorgeous city offers numerous choices when it comes to beaches and places to enjoy a swim. The 76 lakes of the staggeringly beautiful Salzkammergut region lie right on Salzburg’s doorstep, for a start, with plenty of other lakes and rivers nearby. There are even places to swim within the city limits.

Almost all of the lakes in the region are great for swimming with kids, with most of them easy to reach by public transport as well. From paddling among sandy shoals to wild swimming in breathtakingly beautiful mountain lakes to secluded beaches backed by forest, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to the best places for a swim in Salzburg.

Join Salzburgers for a dip at the popular Salzachsee (Lieferinger Badesee)       

On the north side of the city, out past the A1 motorway but still only a short trolleybus (take the number 7) or bike ride away, you’ll find Salzburg’s largest and most popular swimming area. Lieferinger Badesee is the smallest of the three Salzachsee lakes here (though at 22,000 sq m it’s still pretty big), and is surrounded by spacious lawns that perfect for sunbathing. There are showers, toilets and changing areas, a beach volleyball area, and a couple of food kiosks. Better still, bring a picnic.

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Jump in to the narrow but delightful Almkanal

For something a little more quirky, try a swim at this city beach with a difference: Salzburg’s 13th-century canal, which runs mostly south from the foot of the Festungsberg. The green banks of the Almkanal offer some good swimming spots, especially in the suburb of Gneis. The canal is quite narrow, but that doesn’t stop locals from having a summer dip – or practicing their surfing moves at the Almwelle, a permanent wave created by a sluice gate near the Weidenstrasse bridge. 

The Almkanal also includes extensive underground sections (not for swimming in, obviously), which are drained once a year for cleaning, at which time they’re open to the public for tours.

A black dog swims by a beach with Schloss Fuschl in the background at Fuschlsee, Salzkammergut, Austria
No matter how you paddle, you’ll want to stop for a dip during the three-hour hike around Fuschlsee © David_Pastyka / Shutterstock

Stop to swim during your hike around Fuschlsee

Fuschlsee is the first of the Salzkammergut region’s lakes you’ll encounter on bus 150 from Salzburg toward Bad Ischl. This beautiful little lake is easily to hike around (allot three hours), with plenty of scope for a swim against a backdrop of forested mountains. The southeast shore is a good place to start if you’re looking for a beach – it’s just a 10-minute walk from Fuschl am See, near the Brunnwirt restaurant and bus stop. There’s also a beach at the western end of the lake (adults €4.50/$4.80; kids €2.50/$2.70), with toilets, changing cabins and a small cafe.

Enjoy all the waterside amenities at Mondsee

The Alpine Beach in Mondsee is the largest developed beach area in the Salzkammergut region, complete with a sandy beach, water slides, toilets, a buffet, water skiing and more; full-day entry costs €6 ($6.40) for adults and €3 ($3.20) for under 15s. For something a little quieter, head to the southern part of the lake: St Lorenz has some lovely swimming areas, against the spectacular backdrop of Schafberg. The pretty town of Mondsee is famous for its large St Michael’s Church, used in the wedding scene of The Sound of Music. Take bus 140 from Salzburg, or bus 156 from St Gilgen. 

Savor the fresh air along with the fresh water at Offensee

Offensee lies just outside Salzburgerland, in Upper Austria – southeast of Traunsee, below the vast sprawl of the Totes Gebirge. It’s an absolutely gorgeous spot, its beaches and coves surrounded by forest, reed beds and breathtaking mountain scenery. You won’t find any water slides or water skiing here – just plenty of peace and quiet, and deliciously fresh air. There’s a nice little snack-bar/cafe(vegetarian options available) on the southern shore of the lake, which has toilets and is open in the summer every day except Wednesdays. You can walk around the lake in 90 minutes.

Fixed fare taxis run from Ebensee to the car park at Offensee – book in advance, and agree a pickup time beforehand  since there’s no cell service at the lake. From Salzburg take the 150 bus to Bad Ischl, then the train to Ebensee Landungsplatz. 

A bather sits on a long dock jutting out into the water with dramatic rocky mountains in the distance at Altausseer see, Upper Austria, Austra
Stunning rocky crags surround the rocky beaches of Altausseer see © Shibo.Wang / Shutterstock

Altausseer see might be the most beautiful lake in a region full of them

Like Offensee, this is technically just outside Salzburgerland – but it’s only slightly further on the train than the standard day trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt. Altausseer see is one of the most beautiful lakes in the whole Salzkammergut region – less than three hours to walk around, and dotted with exquisite little stony beaches and coves surrounded by jaw-dropping mountain scenery. 

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in the small town of Altaussee, and a mountain inn at the far end of the lake which might look familiar, since it was used as a filming location in the Bond film Spectre. From Salzburg take the 150 bus to Bad Ischl, then the train to Bad Aussee. 

Go back to basics with a swim at low-key Hintersee

This little lake in the mountains east of Salzburg is another local favorite on weekends. There’s not much here – just a small beach and a cafe with toilets – but the setting is lovely, surrounded by the rolling green foothills of the Salzkammergut mountains. Take bus 155 from Salzburg to Faistenau, then bus 157 just a few more stops to Hintersee (get off at the Vordersee stop, just before the lake). 

Mountains are seen in the background as a girl and a boy are semi-submerged as they jump into the water of Zell am See, Salzburgerland, Austria
The whole family will love a day of fun in the water at Zell am See © a4ndreas / Shutterstock

Take your pick of water sports at Zell am See

Just 90 minutes southwest of Salzburg by train, Zell am See sits below the green slopes of the Schmittenhöhe and the soaring Kitzsteinhorn, on the shore of Lake Zell. The lake has beaches and lidos aplenty, or you could rent a rowing boat, try stand-up paddleboarding or set off in a kayak.

Channel your wild side along the Salzburger Saalachtal

The Salzburger Saalachtal is a dizzyingly beautiful spot in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, close to the border with Germany. This is one of the best regions in Austria for wild swimming, at one of any number of places along the River Saalach. Try a refreshing dip near the Grubhof bridge in Lofer, swim in the rock pool at Innersbachklamm or hike up to the Seehornsee, a small mountain lake. For something tamer and more suitable for young children, there’s the bathing area at Vorderkaserklamm. You can reach the river via bus 260 from Salzburg.

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