Europe: The Best of Zell Am See, Austria

The Drive to Zell Am See © Jessica Gatfield

The 15 hour drive to Zell am See was surprisingly wonderful. The journey consisted of sleeping, listening to music, eating numerous sandwiches and snacks and gazing longingly out of the window. We set off at 12.30AM from Suffolk to catch the 3AM Euro Tunnel departure from Dover to Calais. From France we drove through central Belgium, progressing through Brussels and beyond passing by the landlocked country of Luxemburg and into German territory.  We headed for Stuttgart, drove around the outskirts of Munich and headed Southeast for a scenic drive through Austria until we reached Zell Am See.

The View From Our Balcony Over Lake Zell © Jessica Gatfield

I was lucky enough to be staying in a beautiful house overlooking Lake Zell with Mount Schmittenhöhe to the right. I was greeted with this view every morning, a picturesque snapshot of what Zell Am See has to offer, skiers zooming down the mountainside to the right, the town and neighbourhoods below us. As I am not a keen skiier myself, we decided to base our itinerary for the four days upon Austrian nightlife, Lake Zell & a trip to Salzburg.

Zell Am See Nightlife

As it is currently skiing season in Austria, Après-ski nightlife was almost at it’s peak. Zell Am See is a relatively small town yet has it’s fair selection of clubs and bars. In terms of cocktails, Greens XL basement cocktail bar serves Mojitos that give the Cuban’s a run for their money. I was pre-warned about these delicious concoctions, not being a huge fan of the minty beverage myself, but soon drank my fair share. You can enjoy Happy Hour priced cocktails from 8pm – 10pm every night of the week paying no more than €5. The basement bar itself projects skiing and snowboarding videos on the back wall accompanied by loud music and a lively atmosphere. A great place to go for a couple of cocktails before hitting the nightclub scene.

Another popular bar with the Skiiers happens to be Insider Bar. This bar functions as a cafe by day & cocktail by night with more of a partying vibe. The music selection tends to fall under the category of Eurotrash and isn’t a place to go for a quiet cocktail and a chat with friends. However, if you are already drunk by 9pm and want to mingle with other skiier’s and holiday goers then Insider isn’t a bad choice. The drink of choice is a white wine spritzer by far, light in taste and strong in alcoholic content. Above Insider Bar is the K1 Nightclub. Newly refurnished, the nightclub is definitely a must go. The drinks are on the expensive side and the dancing girls in their underwear isn’t to everyone’s taste however the music is current and the dance floor is small enough to fill.

The most popular bar with the Après-skiing clique has to be Crazy Daisy. By day they offer food within their restaurant and cafe and by night they offer live music, sky sports and guest DJ’s. Anybody who visits Crazy Daisy cannot leave without playing the Nail Game. The game, which originates from the States, is a drinking game played with a tacking hammer, thin nails & a tree stump. Each player is given a nail and takes it in turns to hit the nail on the head with a thin hammer into the tree stump itself. The aim of the game is to hit the nail all the way into the stump with the least amount of hits. It is extremely sociable and interesting to watch and partake in after everybody has had a couple of alcoholic beverages.

Lake Zell © Jessica Gatfield
© Jessica Gatfield

 Walk Around Lake Zell

What best way to cure a hangover than a long walk in the fresh air with scenic views. Not the top on everyone’s list on a hangover but it sure blew the cobwebs. Lake Zell is a truly stunning fresh water lake, frozen in winter and a great place to swim in summer, stretching 4km in length.The train tracks heading towards Salzburg run alongside the lake which makes for a great view from the carriage window if travelling. To complete a circuit of the Lake you would need to allow yourself 3 hours, a task we did not complete due to the weather dropping below freezing. However, we walked over a third of the way around and stopped for a coffee by a wood fire before turning back. In the summer, a walk around the entire lake in addition to a lengthly swim would be more exciting and less cold on your nose and toes indeed!


See an Ice Hockey Match

You cannot visit Zell Am See without seeing an Ice Hockey match at the Zell Am See-Kaprun. For 10 Euros a ticket, we had access to the standing sector at the top of the tiered seating, gaining an elevated view over the whole pitch. We were lucky enough to see  Zell Am See play Munich, an intense match of three 20 minute interval bursts. Zell won by 2 points, leaving Munich defeated and Zell fans ecstatic. At half time grabbing a hot cup of Gluhwein is a must-do as their mulled wine is delicious and a distraction from the freezing cold stadium. Many locals washed down a Kaiser roll and sausage with a beer, an Austrian take on the traditional hot dog at a sports match.

Zell Am See was a small town that offered more than just the skiing and snowboarding experience. As it not so much of a holiday destination without divulging in those extreme sports, we enjoyed what Zell had to offer and would definitely in the summer to see the picturesque landscape devoid of snow!


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