The lakes of Austria are renowned worldwide for their beauty… and so they should be with their spectacular blue-green expanses, fresh, clean water and warm summer temperatures! Whether you’re sightseeing, swimming or just relaxing nearby, they’re a must-do for every Austrian summer. And it’s not all about swimming and sunbaking either – many of the lakes are set up like mini-recreation-parks, so even though you generally have to pay an entrance fee, you are paying for something.
In – swimming
Swimming is the most obvious thing to do at lakes. With clean (most are drinking water quality, though I wouldn’t say with confidence that all parts are), fresh water that is in summer between 24 and 30 degrees it’s barely worth going to the local swimming pool. Some of the bigger lakes also feature blow-up, adventure obstacles that you can climb up, jump off and slide down. Lots of fun!
On – boating
Depending on the size of the lake, you can hire a variety of boats and enjoy it that way. Be it a motor, foot-paddled, hand-powered or sailboat, there’s plenty of relaxing options available. And at some lakes there’s even more options like water-skiing, wake-boarding and windsurfing etc.
Under – fish abound
If fish is you point of interest then there’s definitely plenty of those! You can snorkel and learn how to dive, though I have been told that there’s not much under there to see – other than a few crustaceans and thousands of slimy brown carp. Of course you can also try your hand at catching those fish, and again, depending on the lake, there’s some great species to be caught. Just remember to look into a fishing license before you throw your tackle in!
Next to – eating & drinking
At all the designated swimming areas (that is, places you pay an entry fee) there will at least be a small café selling Austrian fast food (schnitzel-semmel and wurst, etc.), but quite often they’ll also have additional cafes and restaurants where you can purchase everything from an ice cream sundae to a full meal. In fact, all around the lakes sit various bars and restaurants overlooking the water – so if you’re not up for being in the lake, just hanging out next to it is also amazing.
Around – lake festivals
Lakes are hot spots for festivals and concerts in the summer: plenty of room, plenty of parking, all the facilities and an expanse of beautiful, blue water. Think of a multi-day festival like Falls Festival, set at a picturesque lake, and you get some idea of what a great event that would be.
And on the subject of the entry fee, which, as an Australian I find astounding (paying to go swimming is ludicrous) – it’s just standard practice here. When you go into these areas, you’re not just paying to swim, you’re also paying for the infrastructure… toilets, showers etc. Sure, there are places you could just jump in for a quick swim, but you have to know where these are and how to access them.