As you already know, we’re a family that shares homes between Switzerland and Austria. This summer, we thought we would like to explore our home countries in a special way. So we decided to go on an easy-going road trip in our car from Zurich to Vienna, and along the way, make a few spontaneous stops in the Salzburg area. Beyond expectations, this trip was an absolute blast! It was the perfect mix of breathtaking nature, fascinating history, and thrilling adventures. From the magical landscapes of the Alps to the cultural gems of Austrian cities, this journey also gave us a chance to create precious family memories and experience the joy of discovering new places together.
Start: Zurich – we packed our bags, loaded up the car with our stand-up paddles, sun umbrellas and a lot of warm clothing (below you will find out why) and embarked on an already potentially incredible road trip through the mountains. Let`s go!
Stop 1: Salzburg – Jewel of the Alps, the Birthplace of Mozart and Beyond! With its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking landscapes, this relatively small city offers so much to every type of visitor. Our daughters were thrilled to discover a treasure hunt through the historical city that led us to the Mozart Residence and Museum. Finding ourselves inside his house was a truly special experience. We learned about his life, childhood and work, and felt such a close connection to him as an individual. We also explored the Salzburg Cathedral and the picturesque Mirabell Gardens, which are famous for their beauty and the iconic scenes from “The Sound of Music.” And of course, we absolutely loved visiting the Hohensalzburg Fortress and taking in its spectacular panoramic view of the city.
Stop 2: Mattsee – A Hidden Gem of SalzburgerLand! What we didn’t expect about the Salzburg area is that it’s packed with beautiful lakes. We chose to stop near Mattsee and spend a few days at the nearby lakes. We had such a nice time – just blew up our stand-up paddles, and off we went!
Stop 3: Eisriesenwelt – the World of the Ice Giants! And our absolute highlight of the trip. Located in Werfen, near Salzburg, is a natural wonder and one of the most impressive ice caves in the world. At first, it starts as quite a normal hike through a breathtaking landscape of mountains. Then you arrive at the entrance to the cave which is very imposing, with a massive portal leading into the depths of the mountain. Once inside, you are transported into a surreal subterranean world! Over the centuries, dripping water and freezing temperatures have sculpted stunning ice formations that vary in size and shape, resembling everything from grand chandeliers to delicate crystal curtains. One of the highlights of the cave is the “Eispalast” or “Ice Palace.” This chamber features towering ice columns and icy sculptures that almost look like frozen waterfalls. Illuminated by carefully placed lights, the Ice Palace sparkles and glistens, creating a magical and otherworldly ambience. The cave stretches for over 42 kilometres, while only the first kilometre is accessible to tourists and lasts around 1 hour, it still leaves visitors in awe as they are met with a mesmerizing display of ice formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. At times, I was a bit worried that our children get scared, but they absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. The temperature in the cave is officially around 0 degrees Celsius, but somehow it felt much colder. So if you decide to visit the cave, be dressed up really warmly. Here is Eisriesenwelt website!
Final: Vienna – A Cultural Extravaganza and an Incredible Family Destination! We were absolutely fascinated by how much this city has to offer, and it turned out to be a fantastic destination for children too. The historical areas and stunning architecture were amazing, as well as the vibrant Museumsquartier with its museums, shows, restaurants, cafes, and an incredible vibe. The ZOOM Children’s Museum provided us with plenty of hands-on activities that the kids loved, and exploring the vast gardens of Schönbrunn Palace was a delightful experience. Another cool thing was visiting Prater, one of the best amusement parks in the world, where we spent an entire day filled with fun and excitement. However, the ultimate high point for us, especially for our horse-loving children, was attending the performance of the Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School. This iconic and revered institution, located in Vienna, is one of the oldest and most prestigious equestrian schools globally. During a guided tour, we had the incredible opportunity to explore the stables and get up close to the majestic horses, even being able to touch them. Learning about the history and training of the Lipizzaner horses was a captivating experience. In fact, we loved the show so much, that we decided to attend it twice! A little tip for those planning to visit: to ensure the best view for enjoying the show, make sure you book your places in advance – Spanische Hofreitschule – https://www.srs.at.
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