© Herbert Rohrer

Bad Ischl – the loveliest of all summer retreats

Few historic towns have the knack of using their tradition as a springboard to the future in such a charming way as Bad Ischl. With its winning way of conveying history to the present day, the heart of the Salzkammergut offers each and every guest a multifaceted setting for adventures. Perfect for leisurely idleness, athletic challenges, intellectual and cultural flights of fancy, and much more.

You don’t have to browse through the history books to envision Bad Ischl’s royal past. Taking a walk through the town, you encounter it afresh every step of the way. The royal villa (“Kaiservilla”) is a prime example of this. It bears witness to a heartfelt connection which brought Emperor Franz Joseph to his fog-free Bad Ischl every summer for over six decades. Yet it also attracted many other characters who helped to turn the town into a cosmopolitan heart of Austria which, with its population of around 14,000, approximately 2,300 hotel beds and almost 100,000 overnight stays a year, retains this character. By winning the Entente Florale in 2016, it also proved that the town is the most florally adorned, most worth living in, in half of Europe. By being awarded the title “European Capital of Culture 2024” with the motto “Culture is the new salt”, the Salzkammergut with Bad Ischl as the candidate city is developing into a cultural region that stands for innovation, courage and the desire to reshape its own future.

From the Lehár Festival to the imperial festival

In the era of the emperor, artists such as Franz Grillparzer, Johann Nestroy and Franz Lehár and other celebrities strolled along Ischl’s esplanade on the waterfront of the River Traun, leaving their mark on the present. The Lehár Festival, held annually between mid-July and late August, is considered one of the most exciting operetta experiences in Europe. A host of other events ensure a jam-packed calendar of events in Bad Ischl. Daily concerts held in the health resort gardens or in the historic pump room, contemporary art highlights in the Congress and TheaterHouse, the wine festival, the “Imperial days“ series of events featuring a royal festival, a royal mass and a royal stroll are only excerpts from this calendar. The royal stroll (“Kaiserbummel”) in particular is a good example of the spirit with which the Bad Ischl locals go about making shopping and eating out into pleasant encounters, supported by a great deal of local character and busy informality.

Like an open-air shopping mall

The town resembles a spacious, outdoor shopping mall adorned with flowers where you can find many lovely things, especially prize exhibits typical of Bad Ischl. This includes local traditional costumes as well as modern hand-crafted jewellery through to traditional hats by the most famous, longest-established manufacturer in Austria. Not to mention the sweet specialities by Zauner, the confectioner and former purveyor to the court. Yet the town, with its mild, stimulating climate at an altitude of 468 metres above sea level, undoubtedly interprets enjoyment also in the form of a balanced mental and spiritual feeling and circulation-boosting activity. This is achieved on the one hand by means of the extensive health and wellness services on offer including salt water applications in the EurothermenResort Bad Ischl. It is achieved on the other hand by a wide range of various sporting activities and outings in the town and in the unique mountains and lake district around the town. A few facts and figures give you an idea of the diverse, multifarious offers.

Sports and congress centre

The wanderlusty guest can look forward to around 200 km of well sign-posted hiking paths around Bad Ischl. The local mountain, the Katrin, affords a 360-degree vista of the Salzkammergut. Incidentally, you can access Ischl’s very own mountain by cable car as well as on foot. Mountain bikers can look forward to a total cycling network of 1,200 km accessible directly from Bad Ischl. New: Salzkammergut BergeSeen eTrail (640 km and 14,000 hm). The crystal-clear mountain spring water of the Salzkammergut’s 70 lakes in the immediate vicinity invite swimmers, sun worshippers and hobby anglers to tarry a while on their shores. Tennis courts, two indoor climbing walls, one 18-hole golf course and horse-riding round off the range of sporting activities on offer by the town, which also has a very vibrant intellectual scene. The Kongress & TheaterHaus in Bad Ischl serves as a remarkable stage for the transfer of knowledge and decision-making in the form of conferences and congresses. Both sides of Austrian industry exchange views here, EU youth ministers confer, leading medical authorities from practically all fields as well as renowned, internationally active companies come here for meetings. Its favourable location has ensured Bad Ischl’s success as a congress destination.

In the heart of the Salzkammergut

As the heart of the region, Bad Ischl has at its disposal everything guests from both near and far to the Salzkammergut could possibly desire to have a fantastic stay. The World Cultural Heritage site of Hallstatt, with the oldest salt mine in the world, is but a 20-minute drive away. The porcelain town of Gmunden is not much further. The same is true of Bad Aussee and Altaussee, where an impressive mountain panorama road takes you up to the Loser. Naturally, the Mozart city of Salzburg suggests itself as a destination, located only 55 km away as it is. As a guest once put it so beautifully: “Wherever I go, I am always accompanied by the feeling that Ischl is waiting for me to come back.”