Tuesday, 17 July 2012 2:36 PM
Austria is well known for being home to some stunning mountain and lakeside scenery and one of the best ways to explore this is by bike. Taking to two wheels will allow you to travel much further on a week-long break than you can on foot.
Any good cycling tour in Austria should lead you to several of its lakes, each of which has its own charms and attractions. For example, you can follow a route that will take you via several lakes, including Mondsee, Attersee, Traunsee and Wolfgangsee.
Here are just a few of the things you can look forward to at each of these picturesque bodies of water.
Mondsee am Mondsee is where you will begin and end your journey. As you may have already guessed, the town is located on the shores of the lake of the same name. You should have some time to explore here before setting out on your bike. One of the most famous sights is St Michael's Church, which was the backdrop for the wedding in The Sound of Music. The square directly in front of the church is also incredibly pretty and features interesting zigzag paving.
Your next stop will be the town of St Georgen on the banks of Attersee. This lake is a vast expanse of deep blue water, stretching for around 20 km from north to south. In fact, it's the largest body of water in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. As well as admiring the natural beauty of Attersee itself, it's well worth exploring St Georgen and some of its landmarks.
The parish church has stood here since the 12th century, although it has been expanded and restored over the years. Its 72 m high tower is particularly impressive. You can also follow in the footsteps of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler who famously had his second home on Attersee.
Gmunden on Traunsee will be the next village you pedal to, passing stunning meadows of wildflowers along the way. A highlight of a stay in Gmunden is the chance to take a ride on the last coal-fired paddle steamer to operate on the lake - the Gisela. Alternatively, you can board the cable car that runs to the top of Grunberg, which provides an excellent vantage point from where to see the surrounding lakes, valleys and mountains.
The town is also famous for its ceramics industry and boasts a large ceramics factory (Gmundner Keramik), which produces around 10,000 pieces a day. If this is of interest, it's possible to organise a guided tour of the facility to see the artists at work creating unique ceramic pieces.
One of the final stops before you head back to Mondsee is Strobl on Wolfgangsee. The town has been a popular holiday resort since the turn of the 20th century, with its natural beaches still attracting travellers to the area. If you fancy a thrill, head to the summer toboggan run, which hurtles 1,300 m down a slope over a vertical distance of 153 m.
If you'd prefer to go sightseeing elsewhere, board the bus to Salzburg. The city is only around 80 minutes' drive from Strobl and its UNESCO World Heritage Site centre is well worth exploring on foot. Among its most notable buildings are the cathedral, the Nonnberg Convent and the Abbey of St Peter.