7 places for amazing wild swimming in Austria
Pristine blue waters, epic Alpine mountain views and the absolute bliss of wild swimming. Sounds idyllic right? Right. It was. I like to plan at least a few spots to wild swim while I’m on holiday and I wasn’t short for choice of amazing wild swimming in Austria. Our trip was in early September and we hit a good spell of weather, which meant blue skies and amazing wild swimming!
I swam in a lake and reservoir while I was staying in the Tirol Valley and did some research before I went to make sure I wasn’t breaking any rules. You just can’t beat the feeling after swimming in cold water so it’s always high on my priority list when booking a holiday. So, here’s my list of amazing wild swimming in Austria.
Speicher Durlaßboden, Tirol
A beautiful reservoir right in the heart of the Tirol Valley, not far from Gerlos, the popular après-ski town. There are lots of walks in the area so you could spend the whole day soaking in the atmosphere with your family or friends, with multiple beaches or rest areas to pick from when choosing a swim spot.
The amazing wild swimming in Austria doesn’t get much better than this in my opinion. Blue waters and spectacular mountains coming right out the side of the lake.
Lake Zell, SalzburgerLand
This lake is right next to the popular, beautiful town of Zell am See. It is a small lake compared to lots of others in the Alps, at just 4km long and 1.5km across. The water is fed directly from the surrounding alpine mountains and so keeps cool all year, with a stunning blue-turquoise colour.
On one side sits the town, and the other has lots of private lands, however you can access the lake from a few different beach clubs around the lake. Convenient and beautiful, what more could you ask for in amazing wild swimming in Austria?
The Lobau River, Lower Austria
Amazing wild swimming in Austria isn’t all about lakes, there are some beautiful creeks and rivers that you can get your cold water fix in too. Just east of Vienna, the Lobau River runs through the Donau-Auen National Park. The park, and much of its flora and fauna, is protected so there are specific spots that are approved for swimming and bathing. The water is a beautiful blue colour and is popular in the summer as a quiet escape from the city. It’s especially popular with nudists due to its private setting.
Wolfgangsee Lake, Upper Austria and SalzburgerLand
Set in an idyllic valley, straddling the boarder between Upper Austria and SalzburgerLand, Wolfgangsee Lake is an incredible location that really showcases amazing wild swimming in Austria.
Surrounded by thick forest and impressive mountains means you’ll never be bored of the scenery. There are two main towns around the lake, St. Wolfgang and St. Gilburn, plus Strobl which also has lots of hotels and camping options. This is SalzburgLand’s largest lake and still a great place for wild swimming in Austria.
This lake is set in some classic Austrian mountain forests, near the border with Bavaria. There’s plenty of swimming to be had here and in the summer there’s even the opportunity to play beach volleyball, water volleyball, table tennis plus lots of facilities for families so everyone can enjoy a great day out.
It’s a little harder to access these out of the summer season but the lake isn’t going anywhere – even in the darker seasons, the lakes are great for those needing a cold water fix. Hechtsee actually translates to ‘Pike Lake’ but don’t be put off, it’s the perfect location for family-friendly summer wild swimming in Austria.
The beautiful blue waters of Zachensee, set 1,350m above sea level, are very popular in the summer with families and solo swimmers. You can dip straight into the lake with a stunning mountain backdrop.
However, wild swimming in Austria doesn’t just happen in the summer. As with the rest of the world, winter swimming and ice swimming is becoming more and more popular. Zauchensee has been used over the past few winters, during COVID, by locals looking for that cold water fix. Don’t underestimate how good it can make you feel but if you’ve never done it before, maybe start with a refreshing mountain dip in the summer to build up resilience!
The Danube, Vienna
Maybe not your first thought for beautiful wild swimming in Austria, the Danube is the second longest river in Europe, flowing through nine countries! It can seem a little daunting but in Vienna it’s even one way office workers can commute to work in the city.
The Danube is popular in the summer for families and there are plenty of spots in the city, or just outside of the centre, that have diving boards, specific swimming areas and facilities.
A lot of these are accessible by public transport and so you could plan your trip away to be full of the culture, art and historical knowledge of Vienna, plus some wild swimming in Austria, without even using your car!
So there we have it, seven great options for amazing wild swimming in Austria. Whether you are here to enjoy the mountains with your family in the summer, want your cold water fix, or a city break, Austria has it all. Being outside has been used as a way to improve your mental and physical health since the Ancient Romans but now wild swimming is doing that and MORE! Plus, why not do it in the beautiful Austrian Alps!