St. Gilgen is just one of the many scenic villages on the way from Salzburg to Hallstat. Built on the edge of Lake Wolfgangsee, this enormous village is located in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, which is famous for its beautiful lakes. As we were on our way to Hallstatt, we suddenly came across a view on the highway and drove into the town to see the inside of this view. We are glad we did, because we loved it. Apart from the beauty of the mountains, hills and lakes, we also liked the color and liveliness of the village.
The name of the region comes from a saint. Saint Giles, whose Latin name was Aegidius, gave his name to the village and it became known as Sankt Gilgen. In recent years, this region has been called Mozart Village. Although the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart never set foot here, his grandfather Wolfgang Nikolaus Pertl worked here and his mother was born here. His sister Nannerl moved here after her marriage. Even though Mozart as we know him had no connection with the village, his family was not absent.
We mentioned that Mozart’s mother Anna Maria Pertl was born here. The cream-colored building where she was born is located next to the St. Gilgen International School and today it hosts cultural events and part of it serves as a museum. As you can see from the paintings on the building, there are many items belonging to Maria Anna Mozart (Nannerl), who is not so well known next to her world-famous brother. Nannerl played the piano as well as Mozart. She even accompanied Mozart in many of his concerts.
One of the museums in Sankt Gilgen is the Heimatkundliches Museum, a local history museum. The museum, which has received many awards for its museology, is a museum where you can get information about different fields such as fossilized shells, corals, marine life in the Wolfgangsee region, glass artifacts, zoology. Another museum is the Musical Instruments Museum, where you can learn about musical instruments and see them up close.
Lake Wolfgang is one of the most well-known lakes in the region. The second largest lake in Salzkammergut, known as the Lake District in Austria, Lake Wolfgang also has an important place in nature tourism. There are many water sports activities on the lake besides swimming. Boat tour is one of them. It is a great pleasure to sail on the lake and see the mountains and hills on the lake. We should look at these boats not as tours but as public transportation. St. Wolfgang provides transportation to other settlements around Lake Wolfgang such as Strobl. The farthest distance is 10€ and the daily ticket costs 20€. In the middle of this 10.5 km long lake, there are two shores that can get as close as 200 meters. The part to the west of the narrow pass at this close distance is also known as Abersee.
Around the lake, whether you are traveling by car or bicycle, there are many resting points where you can photograph the mountains, the lake and the town from different angles. Since there is not a single piece of garbage on the ground, you can lie on the grass and enjoy the moment with peace of mind.
One of the activities at Lake Wolfgang and St. Gilgen is to take the cable car up the Zwollerhorn mountain, which has an altitude of 1500 meters. The 2740-meter-long cable car reaches the summit in 15 minutes and offers spectacular views of the mountains of the Salzkammergut region. However, the cable car fares are a bit expensive, around 17€ one way and 25€ going up and down. Therefore, you may prefer to walk up and down.
Speaking of walking, Lake Wolfgang and its surroundings are a hiking trail. You can take St. Gilgen, Schafberg or St. Wolfgang as a starting point and follow various trails. You can also use the detailed hiking map you can get from the shop at the SchafbergBahn station. If you don’t want to walk uphill, there is another way to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Since 1893, powerful steam locomotives have been transporting people to the 1783 meter high summit of Schafberg Mountain. This beautiful experience runs from May to the end of September and the steam locomotive departs from St. Wolfgang. The one-way fare is 25€ and the round-trip ticket price is 38€. For boat transportation to Lake Wolfgang and train fares and timetables to Schafberg, you can visit the Wolfgangsee Schifffahrt website.
Where is St. Gilgen and how to get there?
It takes 30km (30 minutes) from Salzburg to Saint Gilgen with magnificent views. If you are coming by private car, you can leave your car in the parking lot directly opposite the Hannerl Museum (Mozarthaus). If you want to come by bus from Salzburg, you can use the bus number 150 that leaves every 30 minutes from Salzburg Hofwirt (Schallmooser Hauptstraße). The buses take about 40 minutes to reach St. Gilgen, passing through Lake Fuschl and the town of Fuschl am See.