Alpine lake villages are seriously amazing. They’re like something out of a fairy tale, with all their charm and the beautiful nature surrounding them. It’s like stepping into a storybook for real.
In Austria, there are several of these charming villages waiting for you to explore. St. Gilgen, nestled on the shores of Lake Wolfgangsee with its mural-decorated houses, is among the most beautiful and should not be missed.
St. Gilgen is undoubtedly a perfect place for those who enjoy wandering and discovering beauty. However, there is more to do than just sightseeing. In my list of things to do in St. Gilgen, you’ll discover even more!
So, where is St. Gilgen in Austria? Looking at the map of Austria, it’s easy to tell where St. Gilgen is located.
You simply have to look for Salzkammergut region — the area which has a number of lakes in the central part of the country, north of the Alps.
Finding Salzkammergut requires no effort with its five big lakes that’s immediately visible from the map: Fuschlsee, Irrsee, Mondsee, Wolfgangsee, and Attersee.
St. Gilgen sits on the northwestern shore of Wolfgangsee, the southernmost lake of Salzkammergut.
At the same time, St. Gilgen lies also within the Austrian state of Salzburg.
Idyllic and only 36 kilometers from the city, it is one of the favorite day trip destinations of travelers staying in the city for days.
St. Gilgen is a wanderer’s dream come true.
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With its picturesque houses adorned with murals and flowers, tranquil green meadows, breathtaking lake views, and charming fountains, there’s no doubt!
Indeed, St. Gilgen is a must-see destination, especially when you’re already in Salzburg. The village’s pictures below should explain it very well.
Discover another beautiful day trip from Salzburg — Berchtesgaden Day Trip From Salzburg: Must Things to Do
Maximize your Salzburg adventure by checking out these Salzburg Travel Inspiration posts. They’ll help you find the perfect experiences to suit your preferences
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The Sound of Music in St. Gilgen
From the pictures, you’ll see that St. Gilgen is like a scene straight out of a movie… and it actually is!
The St. Gilgen bird’s eye view panorama is featured in the opening scenes of the beloved classic, The Sound of Music.
From the iconic onion-domed church spire of the village to the turquoise blue waters of Wolfgangsee and the beautiful mountains surrounding the lake.
And every year, thousands of fans flock to St. Gilgen to experience the stunning scenery for themselves.
If you’re one of the fans of The Sound of Music and you’re visiting Salzburg, you must join the Original Sound of Music Tour.
Here is a list of other tourist attractions in Salzburg that were featured in The Sound of Music:
- Nonnberg Abbey (entrance to the abbey). Learn more: Visiting Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg: Tips and Information
- Hellbrunn Palace (gazebo in the garden). Check out: 5 Things To Do in Hellbrunn Palace
- Mirabell Palace (Small parterre, and more). Discover: Mirabell Palace In Salzburg and The 5 Reasons Why You Must Visit
Mozarts in St. Gilgen
St. Gilgen is a charming village with a rich cultural heritage, particularly in relation to Salzburg’s musical history.
In fact, the Wolfgangsee Tourist Board promoted St. Gilgen as the “Mozart Village” in 2005.
Although Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart never had the chance to visit St. Gilgen as he had intended, his family has deep roots in the town.
His grandfather worked there, his mother was born there, and his sister Nannerl moved to St. Gilgen after her marriage.
You can even visit their house while you’re there – it’s one of the top attractions in St. Gilgen.
I highly recommend visiting Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg if you are interested in Mozart and want to see pictures of his family members.
7 Things To Do In St. Gilgen
Most people only spend a short time in St. Gilgen.
Like, after checking out the village center and snapping some photos of the landmarks, they usually head off to other attractions in the Salzkammergut region.
However, while a couple of hours may be enough for those on a tight schedule, to truly experience all that St. Gilgen has to offer, it’s worth spending a full day or more.
You might need two days if you want to discover St. Gilgen’s hidden gems and visit its off-the-beaten-path attractions.
1. Explore St. Gilgen: Wander in One of Salzburg’s Most Picturesque Villages
St. Gilgen is a special place because of its charming streets and houses decorated with murals. Walking through the town feels like strolling through a colorful book!
The murals are not just decorative, they also introduce you to the local culture of the village.
They depict scenes from everyday life in St. Gilgen, as well as historical events and religious stories.
If you have been to Bavaria (Mittenwald or Garmisch-Partenkirchen) or Tirol (Innsbruck), you may have seen similar murals. However, each place is unique, and so its murals are as well.
If you are interested in learning more about Tirol, you can start your exploration in the capital city of Innsbruck.
- 3 Different Ways to Spend 1 Day in Innsbruck Itinerary
- 9 Beautiful Things That Makes Innsbruck a Beautiful City
Interestingly, the murals are a means for locals to share their culture with visitors and to keep their history alive.
And indeed, exploring St. Gilgen village is a one-of-a-kind experience, especially if you reside in a concrete jungle or an archipelagic country like me.
So, which part of St. Gilgen’s village you must see?
St. Gilgen, like most European towns, is most beautiful in its town center. A stroll through its three most beautiful squares, Mozartplatz, Pichlerplatz, and Kirchenplatz, is a must.
The most famous landmark of the village and one of the most beautiful, the Rathaus or Town Hall, is located in Mozartplatz.
Definitely, with its charming oriel and beautiful line art decorating the top of each window on the building’s facade, St. Gilgen’s Town Hall is the perfect place to take a photo souvenir.
In front of the Town Hall is the fountain of Mozart, surrounded by intricate railings and colorful flowers.
If you like, you take a few minutes here to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the soothing sound of the fountain.
Across from St. Gilgen Town Hall, you can find Gasthof Zur Post, which has a mural across its façade. I believe it depicts the favorite pastime of the princes who ruled over Salzkammergut: hunting.
Raiffeisenbank, located to the left of Gasthof Zur Post, also has fascinating relief murals on its façade. I believe they depict the local way of life of the people of St. Gilgen.
Pichlerplatz and Kirchenplatz
After sightseeing in Mozartplatz, I invite you to go to Pichlerplatz and Kirchenplatz which are located just behind the Town Hall.
More of St. Gilgen’s beautiful murals, such as those in Hotel Kupferkrug, Gutjahr Clothing store, and Gasthof Kendler, can be seen in these squares.
This part of St. Gilgen is also home to a coffee shop named after Nannerl, Wolfgang Mozart’s sister. The coffee shop has been serving coffee since 1966.
The coffee shop was a converted house with furniture and portraits of Nannerl. Come inside to feel the cozy ambiance — it’s a nice place to relax with a coffee for half an hour or so.
After exploring St. Gilgen’s village center, why not take a stroll down to the lakeside promenade for some relaxation and sightseeing?
From the village center, head down Ischlerstrasse, which is right next to the church. Keep going straight until you reach Lienbachweg.
Along the way, you’ll come across the village’s two little gems.
The first is a monument honoring the victims of World War II. You’ll find it on the right side of the road, beside the village cemetery.
Just a few steps away from the WWII monument, you’ll find the Mozarts-Mutter-Brunnen.
This fountain is dedicated to the memory of Mozart’s mother’s childhood and is located to the left of the road, heading towards the lakeside promenade.
2. Imagine the Life of Anna and Nannerl in Mozarthaus in St. Gilgen
If you walk along Lienbachweg towards Wolfgangsee, you’ll pass by the Mozarts-Mutter-Brunnen.
And just beyond that, you’ll find the house where the Mozart family lived, “Mozarthaus”.
Today, Mozarthaus is home to a permanent exhibition dedicated to “Nannerl” Mozart, who lived in St. Gilgen for 17 years.
Step inside and explore the history of the former court and its famous residents. There’s even a children’s corner to keep the little ones entertained.
To give you some background (just in case you didn’t know yet), Nannerl was actually Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sister and was a talented musician herself.
She married Johann Baptist von Berchtold zu Sonnenburg, who was the caretaker in St. Gilgen.
And in this beautiful village they started to build a family. They had three kids together, but, sadly, only their son Leopold made it to adulthood.
After her husband passed away in 1801, Nannerl moved back to Salzburg and lived there until she passed away on October 29, 1829.
Overall, the Mozarthaus St. Gilgen museum gives a really interesting look into the family life of the Mozarts, especially Wolfgang’s mother and sister.
It’s a great place to check out on a rainy day, and it only costs a few euros
Mozarthaus’ visiting information is linked at the resources section of this post.
3. Unwind Along the Wolfgangsee Lakeside Promenade of St. Gilgen
St. Gilgen’s lakeside promenade is the second must-see location in the village.
With its crystal-clear water and majestic mountains in the background, this part of St. Gilgen offers a truly relaxing sight that you cannot miss, especially on a sunny day.
During your time here, relax and unwind on the shady seating while enjoying the stunning views of the lake.
Take a leisurely stroll along the beautifully laid out promenade and enjoy the tranquil sound of the fountain’s water feature.
Stop by one of the many restaurants and cafes for a bite to eat.
Treat yourself to a delicious ice cream from one of the local ice cream parlors. (There are plenty of ice cream shops!!!)
For families, visit the nearby park which offers a large playground for children to play and explore.
If you travel alone, enjoy the company of other tourists while taking in the sights and sounds of this charming spot in St. Gilgen.
Alternatively, you can simply watch the departing ships or be fascinated by other people engaging in water sports.
4. Take a Boat Ride From St. Gilgen
Imagine gliding across the tranquil waters of Wolfgangsee, surrounded by the stunning scenery of Salzkammergut.
This dream can become a reality with a boat ride from St. Gilgen.
The Wolfgangsee Schifffahrt company, which owns the traditional Lake Wolfgangsee fleet of boats, offers this unique experience.
They have this paddle steamer “Kaiser Franz Josef I,” which was first launched in 1873 and is said to have been a “technical achievement” at the time.
And yes, the 33-meter-long nostalgic vessel has starred in numerous films, like St. Gilgen.
If you want to make your trip to St. Gilgen romantic, exploring Wolfgangsee with “Kaiser Franz Josef I” is a good idea.
During peak season, there’s no need to worry about missing out – the “Österreich” (Austria) can accommodate 365 passengers, and there are several other boats operated by Wolfgangsee Schifffahrt and private companies.
From St. Gilgen, you can visit other parts of Wolfgangsee and villages around it, such as Fürberg, St. Wolfgang, and Strobl.
The farthest is Strobl, which takes an hour and 15 minutes to reach by boat.
You can learn more about Wolfgangsee boat services on the lake’s official website, which is linked in the resources section of this post.
5. Ride the Cable Car to Zwölferhorn for an Epic View of St. Gilgen
If you are seeking a breathtaking view of St. Gilgen, Wolfgangsee, and the Alps, similar to the scenes from the opening of the Sound of Music, then the peak of Zwölferhorn is the place for you.
This 1,522-meter-tall mountain offers the most breathtaking views in St. Gilgen, and it is a must-see, especially since it is accessible right from the village center via cable car.
Located just a 3-minute walk from Mozartplatz and a 5-minute walk from Mozarthaus and the lakeside promenade, reaching the Zwölferhorn cable car valley station and ascending the mountain is an easy task.
Once you’ve hopped into the cable car cabin, you’ll be ascending to the mountains, reaching Zwölferhorn in just 11 minutes.
If the weather is clear, you will be rewarded with stunning views as soon as you take off.
Fascinatingly, you will be able to see Mondsee, another lake of Salzkammergut, even before you reach Zwölferhorn.
The Voit’l Hütte am Zwölferhorn mountain hut awaits you at Zwölferhorn, where you can enjoy breathtaking views while eating snacks.
If you have plenty of time to spend in St. Gilgen, Zwölferhorn has hiking trails that you may enjoy exploring.
The Pillstein trail, which is popular with hikers of all ages, is the most popular hiking trail.
The scenery from the hiking trail’s viewpoint is breathtaking, with lakes and layers upon layers of blue mountains. Sometimes, a sea of clouds appears, which is simply stunning.
6. Explore the Musical Instruments Museum in St. Gilgen
The Musical Instruments Museum is an absolute gem in St. Gilgen.
This museum, located in the charming town of St. Gilgen, is a treasure trove of musical instruments from all over the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Australia.
Indeed, you’ll be amazed by the variety of musical instruments from around the world.
From fancy and unusual instruments from various countries in Europe to outrageous audibility and enchanting instruments from Asia, there are plenty to discover!
The museum also features instruments from Africa that are more than just wood, metal, and horn, giving you the feeling that there is something truly special about them.
You’ll also see archaic-looking flutes from America made of clay, bone, and convillage edders, giving you insights to what they believed in: the gods of fertility and the earth.
And finally, there are musical instruments from the land of the Aborigines from Australia. Their most famous instrument, the didgeridoo, is also in the museum.
But what really sets this museum apart is its owner and curator, who is described by visitors as a humble and talented man who collects and plays instruments from all over the world.
He is able to share his passion for music during your visit, making it an unforgettable experience for everyone!
Amazingly, he plays many of his 5000+ instruments from everywhere, and it can blow your mind.
Visitors have praised the proprietor for being incredibly friendly, talented beyond belief, and clearly loving what he does.
Overall, your experience at the Museum of Musical Instruments in St. Gilgen will be nothing short of inspiring, heart-felt, educational, cultural, and deeply human.
It is an amazing journey into a person’s lifetime worth of passion for music, and you are sure to be enchanted by every moment of it.
If you are interested in visiting the Musical Instruments Museum in St. Gilgen, it’s located along Aberseestrasse, a minute walk from Cafe Nannerl in Kirchenplatz.
Please check its official website linked at the resources section for the visiting information. The museum owner’s YouTube Channel is included.
7. Go Off-the-Beaten-Path From St. Gilgen: European Monastery of Gut Aich
Are you looking for authentic and unique experiences?
Then during your visit to St. Gilgen, visit its off-the-beaten-path destination: the European Monastery of Gut Aich.
This newly established Benedictine monastery, situated on an old pilgrim’s route between Mondsee and St. Wolfgang, offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty and serenity of monastic life.
It’s a place to find peace, tranquility, and spiritual rejuvenation.
With its church and peaceful atmosphere, The European Monastery of Gut Aich may seem like any other European monastery.
However, it has an impressive 3-part herb garden that sets it apart: the herb garden (since 1993), Hildegard herb garden (since 1996), Liqueur herb garden (since 2004).
At Gut Aich monastery, using herbs for healing is an important part of their medical care.
Since the monastery was founded in 1993, the monks have been dedicated to growing and using medicinal herbs.
Herbal medicine is a key part of their “specialty” — an approach to treating both the body and soul in a holistic way.
At the monastery, you can explore their herb gardens and join a guided tour to learn more about their herbs.
If you’re a Catholic, you can join the holy mass. Then, take a tour of the monastery’s cellar, taste liquor, and shop in the monastery’s shops.
The monastery’s shop offers a wide range of products, including herbal preparations, tinctures, ointments, and other locally crafted items.
You can also participate in midday meditation, and evening prayer, and there are opportunities for pastoral help and deceleration.
Every Thursday at 14:30 from June until October, you can also join a guided tour of the gold and silver blacksmith’s shop, lasting about 90 minutes.
To get to the European Monastery of Gut Aich, take bus #156 from St.Gilgen Busbahnhof to the hamlet of Aich still in St. Gilgen.
You can learn more about the European Monastery of Gut Aich by visiting their official website, which is linked in the resources section of this post.
How to Visit St. Gilgen
If you are now prepared to visit St. Gilgen, I am pleased to inform you that traveling to St. Gilgen from Salzburg is a simple process.
Take bus #150 from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (main station) to St. Gilgen Busbahnhof. The journey takes about 40 to 50 minutes, and buses depart every 20 minutes. To return to Salzburg, simply take the same bus.
To get to St. Gilgen from other cities, you must first travel to Salzburg by train or bus. Salzburg has the most frequent bus departures and the most convenient route.
Alternatively, you can join a tour that includes a visit to St. Gilgen for a stress-free experience. You can browse the various tours by clicking on this link.
Recommended tour for groups — Salzburg: Full-Day Private City & Lake District Tour
Need an idea how to visit Salzburg? Check my post(s):
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Resources: Visiting St. Gilgen
So, that concludes my list of the best things to do in St. Gilgen. I hope you found this post helpful.
Please refer to the links below for more information on planning your activities in St. Gilgen.
- Mozarthaus Museum (official website)
- Wolfgangsee Boat Service (official website)
- Museum of Musical Instruments (official website)
- European Monastery of Gut Aich (official website)
- YouTube Channel (Museum of Musical Instruments)
If you are interested in visiting more places in Salzburg, I suggest checking out Hohensalzburg Fortress, Hohenwerfen Fortress, Mönchsberg, and Kapuzinerberg.
They offer the most breathtaking views of the Alps and Old Town, which can be seen after a single funicular or elevator ride from Salzburg’s historic center.
- Visiting Salzburg Fortress Hohensalzburg: What to Do Inside
- 5 Reasons To Visit Hohenwerfen Fortress in Salzburg
- Mönchsberg: 5 Things To Do on This Hill in Salzburg
- Visiting Kapuzinerberg: Best Views of Old Town Salzburg
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