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Austria - What To Do When The Snow Melts
For many of us, our image of Austria is of stunning mountain ranges, covered in snow. That's probably the reason that the ski season is the peak time for tourists to visit Austria. But if you want to see a different side of Austria, and avoid the worst of the crowds of tourists, why not visit in summer?

Vienna is certainly a beautiful city, with something to offer almost every traveler. But there's another area of Austria that is worth visiting in the warmer months - the Salzkammergut, or Lakes District. It's located east of Salzburg, and is a picturesque region dotted with more than 80 lakes amongst the mountains. If you want to do some hiking, indulge in some water sports or just relax, then this is the place for you to go.

Bad Ischl is at the heart of the Lakes District, and so makes a great base for you to explore the whole region. It's easy to access from other parts of Austria and Europe, and there's a wide variety of accommodation to suit every taste and budget. Once there, it's also possible to get around the district by either bus or train, although having your own car does make it easier to explore any out of the way places.

Bad Ischl has always been a spa resort, and nowadays is also a very popular place for retirees. Interestingly enough, it's also the place where World War I was declared in 1914, which hardly seems in keeping with its laid back and relaxed image. Still, Emperor Franz Josef had his summer residence here, and he was visiting when events took a turn for the worse at that time. Nowadays you can still visit his villa on a guided tour, or visit the photo museum that used to be his wife's teahouse.

Hallstatt is also worth a visit, mainly because of its interesting history. It's now a UNESCO World Heritage site, with evidence of human occupation from as long ago as 4,500 years having been found there. It's also a breathtaking location - the village clings to the side of a mountain, right beside a beautiful lake. Salt mining in the mountains above the village was the main source of industry for the village for many centuries, but nowadays tourists are a more common sight than miners. It's a great destination for a day-trip, but it can also be interesting to stay overnight and see how things change when all the visitors are gone.

There are also some interesting places to visit close by, including the Beinhaus, or Bone House, which is located near the village parish church. It contains a collection of decorated skulls from around the 15th century. You can also visit the Giant Ice Caves, although these are mostly stone, but they are magnificent anyway! You can also take a funicular ride to the Salzbergwerk (Salt works), which is worthwhile just for the ride.

There's plenty more to see in the Lakes District of Austria, including Wolfgangsee, a very popular lake close to Salzburg. So give yourself plenty of time to explore, and you'll return home having experienced a side of Austria that most people never get to see.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gordon Philips. If you want to find out more about great places to visit in Austria, click over to Gordon's site at Travel Austria Info Zone.
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