A week of skiing in Zell am See, Austria

There are few places in the world where I can feel my heartbeat slow the moment I arrive. Zell am See was one of those place for me.  

It is a tiny, quaint town on the edge of a cold, glassy lake. It is nestled between forested and snowy mountains on all sides. Clouds gathered and dispersed between the peaks like ancient Chinese calligraphy paintings, bringing intermittent snow or sun depending on their moods. Church bells echoed between the steep gables of the medieval chalets, and people clomped up and down the cobbled streets in their ski boots with looks of anticipation and excitement on their faces. 

As I walked through the narrow medieval alleys, I took deep breaths of sweet mountain air that made my toes tingle.  

Zell am See is about 1 hour from Salzburg and the perfect destination for both skiers and non-skiers.  {which is why we chose it, because I was going to spend the week looking after Little M and relaxing}

I had intended for this to be an encyclopedic post all about all the things to see and do in the Zell am See area. However, I've been completely defeated by a lethal combination of illustration workload and Little M's teething. So, I'll rather make some observations in list form...

Thoughts on our stay in Zell am See (or skip these and just look at the pictures...)


We stayed at the Grand Hotel, as they had all inclusive meals.

We didn't want the extra stress of having to go to restaurants with our little four month old baby. Their food and service were excellent. Included in the price were breakfast, an après ski snack in the bar/lounge, and dinner.  They accommodated us with our baby in every way they could. 


For non-skiers, there is a lovely walking path that circles the lake.

Should one want to make the full circuit, one could walk for 10km.  I did almost daily walks to the small village of Schüttdorf and back. I watched the ducks and swans paddle in the open water between ice sheets, and trace clumsy footsteps across the snow. 


For skiers.

You can walk to the main lift station in Zell am See, which is 5 minutes from the town centre, or take regular buses to various other lift points.  If you want a bit of an outing, there is the nearby Kitzsteinhorn glacier, with offers amazing skiing at high altitudes. 



The food at our hotel was classic and tasty, but not excellent. There were three set menus to choose from, always including a vegetarian option.  After a few days we realized that we could mix and match choices from the various set menus, which gave us a huge selection of dishes to choose from. Austrians seem obsessed with putting knödel in everything.

Dumplings here, dumplings there, dumpling dumplings everywhere.

I was incredulous when the evening menu at our hotel listed tiramisu with dumplings (how was that even possible?). 


It was surprisingly difficult to find a good cup of coffee.

In the most popular tourist cafe in town, right on the town square, I ordered a decaf cappuccino and was served a very weak instant coffee topped with fake whipped cream.  My husband's hot chocolate was similarly dire. At last, we found

Café Seegasse

, that served amazing coffees and cakes (though receiving friendly service was a bit hit and miss). 

Travels to other German Speaking destinations:

Sketching in Berlin

Summer Sunday Sketches in Steinbach

A wonderful weekend Wedding in Windhoek, Namibia

Christmas in Namibia

Adventures in Salzburg

Zell am See

{The mountains peek between the rooftops}

St Hippolyte's church zell am see

{St Hippolyte's Church, which houses some gorgeous medieval frescoes}

The Grand Hotel Zell am See

{The Grand Hotel}

{Beautiful ornaments in the festive Friday market}

Zell am See

{View from our hotel room at night}

Zell am See

{The lake in a blizzard, and duck footprints on the bottom right}

Zell am See

{Medieval windows}

Zell am See

{The city square}

Zell am See

{Swans in love}

Zell am See

{Mountain top experiences}