This small town nestled in the mountains of Upper Austria features charming streets, cafes, and a spa, and was a prime holiday destination for 19th-century Habsburgs. Tucked away in the mountains of the picturesque Salzkammergut in northern Austria, under two hours from the German border, is the historic resort town of Bad Ischl.
Reachable by train, bus, or car, this charming destination boasts proximity to other Salzkammergut jewels, such as Hallstatt, Sankt Wolfgang, Gmunden, and Sankt Gilgen. Bad Ischl can be included on a day trip around the region if you’re staying in Salzburg and wish to spend some time exploring the Salzkammergut.
Bad Ischl’s Atmosphere
The town itself is fairly quiet; much of the architecture serves as a reminder of Bad Ischl’s heyday as a Victorian era resort town, with wrought iron lampposts, delicate white fences on villa balconies, and striped awnings.
While some of the main streets are made of cobblestones, most of the town’s architecture and design is less medieval than Victorian. One street is even reminiscent of a picturesque, classic, Main Street USA sort of scene, complete with lampposts, shops, and sidewalks lined with cars. A lovely park, posh hotels, and a spa are the finishing touches of this resort town.
Historical Significance of the Town
There is some Habsburg family history associated with this town; the emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth, known affectionately as “Sissi” by Austrians and others, vacationed there often.
The famous Cafe Zauner boasts Victorian charm, with everything from red carpets and elaborate wallpaper to chandeliers and portraits of Habsburg family members, including a large portrait of Sissi.
Getting to Bad Ischl
One of the easiest ways to reach Bad Ischl is via bus from Salzburg. Buses run fairly regularly, usually every hour, and the journey lasts about an hour and a half. From Linz, it’s possible to take the train, either direct or with a transfer in Attnang-Puchheim. This trip also takes about an hour and a half. Visit the website of Austria’s public transportation system (rail and bus) for more details. Of course, renting a car is also an option, and it provides you with the option of making your own schedule rather than depending on trains and buses.
IMPORTANT NOTE: On Sundays, and sometimes on holidays, the transportation schedules are irregular, so make sure you get a timetable specific to the exact day you want to travel.
Bad Ischl’s charm lies in its history, its architecture, and its overall relaxed atmosphere. The remnants of a Victorian-era resort town hang in the air, and guests will recognize that fact upon setting foot in the park, strolling along the main streets, or lounging by the river. Take the detour to Bad Ischl if you want to experience a charming, historically famous Austrian town.