Last updated on May 1st, 2022 at 01:42 pm
Lake Attersee is the largest of the chain of lakes in the Salzkammergut region of Upper Austria.
In fact, it has a claim to be the largest lake in Austria, as the two bodies of water which are officially counted as bigger – Lake Constance and Lake Neusiedl – both share the shoreline with other countries. (The Attersee does share its shore – but just a short southern section with the neighbouring province of Salzburg.)
The lake is only separated from neighbouring Lake Mondsee by a short stretch of land and is mostly fed by the water which runs via the Seeache into the Attersee at Unterach on the southwestern end of the lake.
The southern end of the lake is surrounded by the low mountains of the Salzkammergut region and can be seen from the Schafberg peak above the well-known summer resort of St Wolfgang and the Wolfgangsee.
The area is very popular during the summer months both for hiking in the surrounding mountains and for water sports on the beautiful lake, which is protected by its status as part of the European Natura 2000 scheme.
It is also on the UNESCO World Heritage list of sites of prehistoric pile dwellings.
History of the Attersee
Lake Attersee and the surrounding area (the Attergau) are first mentioned in documents in the middle of the 8th century and the names are thought to relate to the flow of water between the Mondsee and the Attersee.
As mentioned above, however, the lake had been settled in prehistoric times and was also the site of a number of Roman settlements and a Roman road to the east of the lake and several remains of hill forts from the Bronze Ages have been discovered.
Much of the economy of the area was based around the timber industry, with the salt production at the nearby Traunsee needing great quantities of wood for the facility from the 17th century onwards. Timber was transported from the southern end of the Attersee lake across the mountains between the Attersee and the Traunsee.
Timber was also needed for shipbuilding and the larger logs were floated to the northern end of the lake and then down the Ager and Traun rivers to the Danube. The rafting finally came to an end with the building of the rail links into the area.
The Salzkammergut region became a popular destination for artists and writers in the Belle Époque period at the end of the 19th century. Gustav Klimt spent many summer months in the early 20th century at the lake and some of his paintings from the Attersee region are among his best-known works.
Composer Gustav Mahler had earlier finished his Second Symphony and composed the Third Symphony in his lakeshore cottage.
- The Gustav Klimt-Centre at Schörfling on the northeastern lake shore. Open in the summer months, it gives an idea of the artist’s life on the Attersee. There is also a Gustav Klimt Trail which explores the locations that Klimt used for his subjects.
- Take a ferry ride around the lake. The lake ferry runs from Seewalchen to Weyregg on the eastern shore and then over to Attersee on a northern circuit, while the longer southern round trip includes Steinbach, Weissenbach, Unterach and Nussdorf.
- Take a look at the pavilions explaining the prehistoric pile dwellings at Seewalchen and Attersee. The open-air pavilions detail the life of the ancient inhabitants of the lake shore.
How to get to the Attersee
The northern end of the Attersee is easily reached by road as the A1 motorway running between Salzburg and Linz passes close to the lake, with an exit to Seewalchen the easiest access point.
The southwestern lake shore at Unterach can be reached via St Gilgen and the Mondsee, while the southeastern shore at Weissenbach can be accessed from the road between Bad Ischl and Ebensee on the Traunsee.
A narrow-gauge local railway called the Attersee Bahn connects the town of Vöcklamarkt and the main Austrian rail system to the town of Attersee on the northwestern side of the lake. The similarly-named town of Vöcklabruck is connected with a regular, if infrequent, normal train service to the Kammer-Schörfling train station on the northeastern side of the lake.
The closest international airport for the Attersee is at Salzburg, although the motorway running to the north of the lake puts the airports at Linz and Vienna within reasonable reach.
Where to stay on the Attersee
Accommodation is available all around the lake shore, with Seewalchen, Attersee, Weyregg and Schörfling popular destinations at the northern end, and Nussdorf, Steinbach and Weissenbach the larger settlement on the middle and lower end of the lake.
Accommodation Availability Map
Check the accommodation availability for your dates on the map below (please note that many places are only open in the summer months, so summer dates will have to be entered to see the hotels, guesthouses and apartments available). The map can be zoomed in and out using the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ symbols and more information about the accommodation is available by clicking on the prices.