Bad Gastein Austria: The Belle Époque Town

Bad Gastein in Austria is a town that will take you back to the wonderfully charming Belle Époque period.

Here you will learn everything to help you plan your trip to Bad Gastein.

Bad Gastein Austria: The Belle Époque Town pin image

🗺️ Where is Bad Gastein?

Bad Gastein is a town in the Gasteiner valley, located Pongau in the Salzburg region in Austria.

The town with its unique architectural buildings, sit on a steep downwards slope and some viewpoints are offering a breathtaking view of the whole area.

The Gasteiner river flows right through town, creating unmissable waterfalls in the town center.

Other towns and villages in the Gasteiner valley bordering Bad Gastein, include Bad Hofgastein, Angertal, Anger, Böckstein, Badbruck, Kötschachdorf, Sportgastein, Dorfgastein and Nassfeld.

Bad means bath in German and Gasteiner might have had roots in the Celtic language of the natives that lived there.

⛲ What is it known for?

Bad Gastein, also formerly spelled Badgastein, is a famous historical spa center in Europe. The local history is very intriguing!

Week long treatments were already the norm in medieval times, yet it mainly gained on popularity during the belle époque period, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Noblemen, including the emperor of Austria, and well-known personalities, such as Sigmund Freud, came to stay for a wellness trip in Bad Gastein.

A hotel and visitor boom was the result of this at the beginning of 1900. One of the most well-known hotel buildings still standing from the period is the Grand Hotel de l’Europe, which served as an inspiration for the Grand Budapest Hotel movie.

Unfortunately, many old buildings have been crumbling over the ages, giving the town a morbid feel of a time long gone. Many hotel buildings have closed down and have been standing empty for decades but some are being renovated.

Generally speaking, the area is also known for summer and winter sports, and it’s a popular hiking base. Locals are very welcoming, and you definitely should get to know them when in the Gasteiner valley.

Bad Gastein old town
The town sits on a steep slope
View of the Gasteiner valley with waterfall and old buildings of Bad Gastein
View of the Gasteiner valley with waterfall and old buildings

🏰 Things to see and do

No matter if you are looking for a rejuvenating experience, to heal, to connect with the historical region, for a mountain adventure or some fun, the Bad Gastein valley has something for everyone!

Here are some of the top attractions:

Gasteiner Waterfall

You literally can’t miss the waterfall of Bad Gastein! There are about 7 spots where you can see and experience the power of this waterfall.

You will first encounter the Gasteiner waterfall on a stroll through the inner-city area on the Straubingerplatz road, next to the former hotel buildings, Altes Hotel Straubinger and the Kurhotel Austria.

You can’t really miss it! Just follow the sound.

Some of the most popular photo spots and views include the road above the inner city and the spot below the inner city.

Bad Gastein Waterfall
Waterfall

Wellness and Spa Treatments

You will find that the Gastein valley has some of the best choices of wellness on offer. The mineral rich hot spring thermal waters are known for their healing properties to the body and mind.

The Felsentherme Bad Gastein is a thermal spa built into the rocky sides of the Bad Gastein mountain. It’s located on top of the town, opposite the railway and the Stubnerkogel cable car station.

The specialty of this thermal bath is their radon therapy. The 111 Fahrenheit (ca. 44 °C) hot springs, from the Hohe Tauern mountains, are rich in minerals and radium.

Small quantities of this radiation treatment, in combination with hot water and the right climate, can have healing effects on the human body, and it may benefit the immune systems.

The Gasteiner Heilstollen follows a similar principle with their radon therapy. It’s a radon curative tunnel treatment, and it’s an experience in itself!

For a mere €85, you get a medical practitioner checking you up before you wrap yourself into a towel.

What proceeds is the 30-minute-long adventure train ride, which takes you through tight warm tunnels where you breathe in radon.

At the end you get to relax for another 30 minutes in one of the galleries, deep in the mountain.

In a neighboring village, called Bad Hofgastein, is another much larger Thermal spa known as the Alpentherme Gastein.

This thermal spa offers a good choice of indoor and outdoor pools but the true reason why we loved this public spa was the sauna village.

The sauna area is of course a nude only area, and what makes it special are the small natural lakes. It’s hard to find that in a spa anywhere in the world.

So, you can bathe naked in a natural environment and the themed sauna rooms are of course spot on!

One of the specialized treatment centers in Bad Gastein
One of the specialized treatment centers

Museums

The region has a vivid past and every museum covers a different topic.

  • Gasteiner Museum – Tell the story of Bad Gastein as a spa town. It’s located in the former Grand hotel d’Europe.
  • Montanmuseum Altböckstein – Tells the local gold and silver mining history. It also includes the show power plant museum in Nassfeld and a river gold washing session. They are closed in winter and each museum/activity costs about €4 per adult.
  • Technische Sammlung Breyer – Located in Bad Hofgastein, this little hidden gem, displays a collection of electronic devices from the last century.
  • Burg Klammstein – a fortress located at the entrance of the valley and the oldest building in the valley. 400 years of restoration of a pretty unique fort. The owners offer guided tours and a medieval dinner.
Former Mirabell spa hotel crumbling with duke of Bismarque plaque
Former Mirabell spa hotel crumbling with duke of Bismarque plaque

Hiking

You can take a long walk or hike to your heart’s content in the Gasteiner valley! Here are some of the most popular trails:

  • Redsee lake hike – An advanced hike to one of the most beautiful spots in the area. Plan for at least 4 hours to get up there.
  • Zirbenweg hike – A family-friendly trail with plenty of chill out areas and places for kids to play. You can continue from there to the Graukogel summit.
  • Stubnerkogel Felsenweg hike – A cliff sidewalk. You can get to the Stubnerkogel by cable car, do the hanging bridge there and enjoy the easy walk of the Stubnerkogel Felsenweg. Look out for the many observation decks!
  • Gasteiner Höhenweg hike – A 3-hour-long hike from Bad Gastein to Bad Hofgastein. A part of the trail takes you through a cave system known as the Katharinastollen and Gedauner Schlucht valley is a heritage protected area. Look out for the old water mills on the way.
  • Drei Waller Kapelle hike – A not that well known hiking trail to the Waller chapel, a cute wooden chapel. Here you can expect a picture-perfect view of the entire Gastein valley.

If you are looking for a short walk, Bad Gastein is sitting on a slope so going up and down the town is an exercise in itself.

Straubingerplatz Bad Gastein
Straubingerplatz inner town

Winter and Summer Sports

The area is fun in summer and winter. Sports and activities are always popular reasons for tourism in this valley in the Salzburg region.

Summer activities:

  • Bicycle rides – Plenty of cycle trails, and you can hire E-Bikes too.
  • Paragliding – One of the most popular activities.
  • Rock Climbing and via Ferrata – You can book a professional experienced local rock climber for a guided tour. Currently, there are 7 via Ferrata (climbing trails) on the Schlossalm that you can explore.
  • Golf – Spend the day at the Golf club Gastein or plan a fun afternoon at the mini golf course with family or friends.
  • Flying Waters – a Zip lining experience across Bad Gastein with stunning views

Winter sport:

  • Skiing – The ski resort counts as one of the highest in Austrian alps. Especially Sportgastein with the Goldbergbahn is a popular ski resort for skiers and snowboarders. A winter skiing bus shuttle can take you for free to the slopes. The slopes are suitable for beginners and intermediates and a piste map can be helpful.
  • Ski Touring – They prepare special ski touring trails every winter.
  • Horse Sleigh Rides – can be found in Angertal.
  • Sledge Run – can be found at the Bellevue Alm.
  • Country cross skiing – well-prepared trailes connecting villages and towns.
View of Badgastein with waterfall
View of Badgastein with waterfall

🚗 Getting There

The nearest international airports to Bad Gastein are located in Salzburg, Innsbruck, and Munich city.

To travel by car from Salzburg to the start of the Gasteiner valley takes about 1 hour, from Innsbruck and Munich about 2 1/2 hours.

If you are coming from Zell am See it’s just a 30-minute drive and from the Grossglockner High alpine road it’s about 1 h.

Keep in mind that the drive takes another 30 minutes from the Gasteiner valley entry point to Bad Gastein.

Parking isn’t that straightforwards because of the ongoing works. We just park next to the train station, which isn’t that cheap.

By train, from Salzburg it’s about 1 h and 20 mins, from Innsbruck over Kitzbühel and Zell Am See with a change in Schwarzach St.Veit it’s between 3 and 4 h and from Munich it’s 3 h and 20 mins.

The train station in Bad Gastein is located at the top of the town, so you might have to walk downwards to your accommodation. You can also get out at the Dorfgastein station and Bad Hofgastein.

railway station Bad Gastein
railway station

🛏️ Where to stay?

You will find plenty of hotels and apartments to stay in when in the Gasteiner valley.

For budget-friendly options you can look out for a room in Dorfgastein or in the village of Bad Hofgastein. The higher you travel in the valley the more expensive it gets.

If you come for a multiple day hiking or trekking trip, then staying in a hut high up in the mountains might be a great idea. Just imagine getting up with the first sun rays over the snow capped alps.

To experience the old world Belle Époque flair, I recommend you get an apartment in the former Grand Hotel D’Europe. It has a dark vibe to it, so it’s really great for all those looking for a special accommodation experience.

For a decent 4-star hotel you can expect to pay about €120 per adult in the summer months. Winter rates are different and usually more pricey.

Long term rentals in the Bad Gasteiner valley are not the norm at all but you might find someone who’s ready to give their Airbnb rental for more than 1 month.

View to the Grande Hotel d'Europe in Bad Gastein
View to the Grande Hotel d’Europe

💭 FAQs

Is Bad Gastein good for families with kids?

Yes, the valley offers many family-friendly activities in summer and winter. The Alpentherme in Bad Hofgastein is known to be super children friendly. There is a lake to go swimming to in the summer and countless children-friendly interactive trails. They also offer skiing classes for small children and ski lifts and carpets appropriate for all ages.

Is Bad Gastein snow sure?

Bad Gastein is located in one of the highest skiing areas in Austria and is more snow sure than most resorts. Especially Sportgastein is known for good snow conditions already in December and up to mid March.

Bad Gastein Austria: The Belle Époque Town pin picture
 

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