Austria has so many wonderful regions full of incredible natural beauty. But perhaps the most spectacular is the Salzkammergut, or, in English, the Property of the Salt Chamber.
Once upon a time, it was used for salt mining, but today it has become a popular destination for local and foreign tourists keen to enjoy the lovely lakes, lush greenery, giant mountains and charming local culture.
What makes it such a good tourist destination is the surprisingly easy access from cities located in the Salzkammergut to the natural wonder of the lakes.
This region was originally mined for salt way back in Roman times, before local Germanic tribes known as the Bavarii and Otakari began to dominate.
During the age of the Viennese Empire, Salzkammergut’s salt mines were considered vital to the financial affairs of the Emperor.
These ancient salt mines are now thought of as relics of former days now that tourism has taken over and transformed Salzkammergut's economy.
When you gaze in awe at the numberless Alpine lakes, mountains and charming villages, you can understand why people flock here.
The renowned Emperor Franz Joseph I built his Kaiservilla here, so taken was he by the brooding and romantic tranquility of Salzkammergut.
If you are thinking that the landscapes seem oddly familiar, you have the famous backdrop for the classic movie, The Sound of Music, in mind. It was filmed here.
Lots of the stunning sights here have hardly changed since that superb motion picture was shot in 1965.
Those who come here try to fill their time with long walks and car rides around Salzkammergut to try and make the most of the sensational scenery.
The most sublime views can be taken in from the Krippenstein peak, which is reached via a cable car that starts in Obertraun.
There is also a train journey you can make from the Wolfgangsee banks up along the Schafberg. This is a great way to see some of the more memorable vistas, particularly if you are not up to being on your feet the whole time.
Perhaps the most satisfying place you can visit in Salzkammergut is the pretty town of Hallstatt.
Though it’s a quite traditional little village, there are plenty of things to see and do here. For example, you can take a tour of the ice caves, which reveal underground lakes and rivers.
The handsome architecture of Hallstatt is typical of biscuit tin Austria. The Markplatz is the perfect place here for you to do some essential souvenir shopping.
From Hallstatt you can take a rewarding coffee while sitting down and beholding the lakeside views. If you are feeling adventurous you could also rent a boat and sail the gentles waters. Some people even swim in the lake when the weather is warm.
A popular walk you could enjoy is a 6-mile hike known as the Koppentalweg. This starts from the banks of the Hallstatter See and takes you over the Traun River Valley.
The glacier lakes may be too cold for it during most of the year, but there is still plenty to do on the water besides swimming. Whether you prefer boating, kayaking or even a nice fishing afternoon, the lakes are so inviting - you’ll surely want to do something.
Salzkammergut has been around so long that there are many curious architectural surprises in store for visitors. The Seeschloss Ort stands out for me. It’s a 17th Century Gothic castle built on an ancient Roman fortress.
You can take guided tours into buildings like this one, and the Emperor’s Kaiservilla too. Inside you’ll see a lot of wonderful antique collections.
There is also a quite unique cemetery in Hallstatt. Known as the Beinhaus, this funerary ground is home to thousands of bleached, stacked and decorated bones.