Zell am See is a picturesque medieval town situated on the shores of Lake Zell in the heart of the mountainous and beautiful Hohe Tauern National Park. It is 242 miles south west of Vienna and 53 miles south west of Salzburg.
The town was founded by monks around the middle of the 18th century. The old part lies on the shores of Lake Zell under a backdrop of mountains. Lake Zell is a deep, glacial lake filled with clear blue alpine water.
Zell am See is crowded and fashionable in both summer and winter. It is an ideal base for travelling along the Grossglockner Alpine Highway.
The town was about 1km away from our campsite, so only a short drive for us. There are plenty of car parks - we found one on the lake shore where parking is free from midday on Friday right through until Monday morning. We visited the town on Sunday and Friday, so did not have to pay for parking.
We spent an afternoon just strolling around the lake shore. The scenery is beautiful and the path next to the lake is flat and wide and ideal for walking or cycling.
The town centre is small and compact. The Kastnerturm is the oldest building, dating from the 12th century. It was once used as a grain silo. The church is 11th century Romanesque and inside is a late Gothic choir from the 16th century. Castle Rosenberg, also 16th century, was once an elegant residence and now houses the town hall.
There are lots of touristy shops selling souvenirs plus plenty of coffee shops with delicious cakes.
The lake at Zell am See is surprisingly warm - 24 degrees in summer and the water is apparently drinking quality (we never tried this!). Thousands of metres above are the glacier and the year round snow fields of the Kitzsteinhorn Mountain.
Fresh air and unspoilt countryside make this town a perfect place to have a holiday - framed by the snow capped Schmittenhohe Mountains, it is as pretty as a chocolate box.