Summer in the Alps

Cars drive along the main street that runs through Schladming, AustriaTourists walk on the “stairway to nothingness” atop the Dachstein GlacierA bear made of ice is lit up inside the ice cave at the top of the Dachstein GlacierA view of the Alps can be see from the gondolaA different gondola takes visitors up to the top of a mountain from the main street

Quaint Austrian town is a quick, cool summer getaway just across the German border.

Kids and kids at heart will enjoy an active vacation in Schladming, Austria. This Alpine town is situated at the base of the Planai and Hochwurzen mountains, and while it is famous for its skiing in winter, offers many activities year-round. Besides being a prime location for hikers of all skill levels, Schladming is a great place to unwind and have a little adventure. Whether your group is seeking night-life or family-friendly entertainment, Schladming is a destination sure to please.

If you didn’t make it during ski season, the summer season offers activities such as summer sledding (thrilling downhill rides on wheeled carts), downhill mountain biking, glacier hikes (bring a parka and boots, even in July), an ice castle, waterfalls and stunning views of the Alps.

Shops, restaurants, and bars dot the brick-paved pedestrian mall in the center of town. In the evenings, visitors will find an array of live music, schnapps tasting and a local wine festival in early August.

During the day, kids can play on the many elaborate playgrounds built into the landscape around town and outside various restaurants (a win for parents). Or take a short drive to some of the family-owned restaurants just outside of town that are located on the family’s farmland. Some of these restaurants have playgrounds that house animals such as pigs, cows, rabbits and sheep that children can pet and feed.

Indoor and outdoor swimming is also available in walking distance from many hotels. For a reasonable price, families can enjoy recreation facilities with water slides. Check with your hotel about a Summer Card, which will get you discounts for local attractions as well as free gondola rides.

A hike to the Dachstein Glacier begins at the base of the gondola on the nearby city of Ramsau’s main street. A bus from Schladming picks up hikers and meanders up the mountain to the base of the gondola that makes the final journey to 8,858 feet (2700 meters) where on a clear day visitors can see across the Alps from the suspension bridge and the stairway to nothingness, then walk through a cave full of ice sculptures. This is where that jacket and boots will come in handy; it is quite cold even in summer, and the glacier can be slippery.

After taking the gondola back down, it is possible to forgo part of the bus ride and hike by trail (petting friendly cows along the way) to various restaurants serving typical regional fare and of course reward yourself with a hearty wheat beer.