Day trip to St Wolfgang from Salzburg

Yet another charming Austrian town located on the banks of Lake Wolfgangsee, I visited St Wolfgang in the winter when it was draped in soft white crispy snow. Getting to St Wolfgang from Salzburg is easy by road or by public transportation. Board the bus from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to Bad Ischl and get down at St Gilgen, which is hardly 45 minutes away from Salzburg. From here, you can board a ferry which takes about 45 minutes on Wolfgangsee Lake, with gorgeous views of the lakeside villages and towns, before arriving at the pier at St Wolfgang.

Alternatively, you can take a bus all the way to St Wolfgang. However, St Gilgen is also a lovely little town where you can spend a couple of hours before you move on to St Wolfgang and thus, I recommend that you stop over at St Gilgen and then sail on the romantic lake, a unique experience as compared to taking the bus directly.

Of course, renting a car and driving in such amazing places is always the best option!

Click here to book your car.

St Gilgen

During the summer months, this scenic lakeside town is popular with visitors from Salzburg looking to enjoy some watersports on the lake, in a quieter and remote environment. This idyllic town is a hidden gem of Austria's countryside and is also closely connected to Mozart and his family. In the winter, visitors come to St Gilgen for its famous ski slopes, from one of the most beautiful peaks of the Salzkammergut region. There is also a cute Christmas Market here during the winter months (November - December) which is quite popular.

While you're in St Gilgen, whether you're a skiing enthusiast or not, do take the cable car to Zwolferhorn (cable car station is a 2-minute walk from the bus drop off) for amazing views of the sleepy town and the lake and also for the views once you get up to the mountaintop. A lovely restaurant offering superb views is located at the top, where you can enjoy the Gluhwein in the crispy cold winter months. There was a blizzard on the day I visited which did not spoil the experience at all. In fact, despite the immense snow and fog, the place was gorgeous!

St Gilgen Town

View of St Gilgen from Zwolferhorn cable car

Zwolferhorn Ski Slopes

Skiing at Zwolferhorn

Skiing at Zwolferhorn

Visiting Vienna? Read about what to do in Vienna in winter.

Ferry to St Wolfgang

From St Gilgen, you can board the ferry to St Wolfgang and sail over the romantic deep blue lake, as you watch adorable little lakeside towns of Austria go by. The ferry has a bar on board where you can buy your drinks (in the winter, you will get Gluhwein and a souvenir mug to take with you, free of charge). Do keep an eye out for the timings of the ferry to and from St Wolfgang.

St Wolfgang

The sleepy, romantic St Wolfgang

Once you arrive at the pier at St Wolfgang, you can walk through this picturesque town towards the town centre where you will find several cafes, restaurants and a very charming Christmas Market in the winter, right by the lake. The smell of baked apple is extremely enticing and the market extends from the centre of the town until the banks of the lake. Bonfires are lit at several junctions to keep yourself warm during the chilly months and these add to the romanticism of the little town.

Colorful houses, cobbled stone streets, horse carriages, narrow streets and a laid-back vibe - this is what you can expect from this delightful little town. A great way to enjoy some peace away from the hustle and bustle of a busy city, St Wolfgang from Salzburg makes for a great day trip for people looking to get an authentic Austrian countryside experience.

Pier at St Wolfgang

A walk through the romantic and sleepy town

St Wolfgang Town Centre

St Wolfgang Christmas Market

St Wolfgang Christmas Market

Tip: A lovely restaurant, SeeRestaurant at White Horse Inn, located right on the lake, with large glass windows offering views of the mountains beyond, is a great place to enjoy an authentic Austrian Schnitzel and Apple Strudel. If you're lucky, you will be able to catch a brilliant lake sunset here.

Sunset at Wolfgangsee

Wolfgangsee Lake

Optional: Hiking enthusiasts can take the 3-hour hike to Schafberg mountain.

If you are in Austria, you must also visit Hallstatt! Read here about my experience of travelling to Hallstatt from Salzburg.


116 thoughts on “Day trip to St Wolfgang from Salzburg”

  1. I really loved the detailed description of such a winter wonderland. I live in Munich and your blog compelled me to plan a trip to Wolfgang soon. Can I get your email address, I have some questions before planning the trip.

  2. Hi Medha,

    I am planning to visit Salzburg in October for 2 days. Have already planned for Hallstat for one day. But looking between Zell am See and Wolfgansee for one day. Could you help me which one would be better option Zell am See or Wolfgang See.

    1. Hi Ankit, I haven’t been to Zell Am See so I may not be the best person to advise you on that. However, from what I know, Zell Am See is better connected by train whereas Wolfgang has to be reached by bus or ferry (I recommend the ferry ride from St Gilgen because its scenic and St Gilgen is a nice little town to explore as well). I absolutely loved the cablecar ride to the top of the mountain from St Gilgen so you can add that experience in your list if you plan to go to St Wolfgang.

      1. Many Thanks Medha but would only be going to St Wolfgang as cog railway train is not going through the top, it is only going through the second station. So Zell am See seems to be good option now.

  3. Hi
    I am going to Salzburg in December post Christmas. 26 and 27th I ll be in Salzburg. 26th half day and 27th full day. I was planning for hallstat on 27th. Now seeing your pictures am so in love with Wolfgang. Please suggest how I should plan. Can Hallstat and Wolfgang and St Gilgen be done in one full day??

    1. Hi Priyansha, if you rent a car and drive instead of taking public transportation, it is possible. The drive from Salzburg to St Gilgen is about 30 min and St Wolfgang is another 20 min ahead by road. Hallstatt is less than an hour ahead of St Wolfgang. They’re all in the same direction so that helps! However, if you do this route with trains, buses and ferries, you’ll end up wasting some time in transit and may not get enough time in each of the towns to enjoy it to the fullest. Also, days are shorter in December and you’re likely to encounter a lot of snow at the time, making transit slightly slower, so you need to cater to that as well.

  4. Hi,
    I’ll be going to Salzburg next week, since you been both St Wolfang and Hallstatt. Do you think both scenery similar?

    1. I would not say they are similar but if you have to pick one, I’d go with Hallstatt any day 🙂

  5. Wolfgang looks so pretty in the winter! I’d love to visit Salzburg again and use it as a base to see Wolfgang and Hallstatt.

  6. Had never heard of St Wolfgang before but it looks so beautiful. I’ve been to Salzburg but I think I need to go back since there are so many pretty places nearby that I missed.

    1. The ferry ride from St Gilgen to St Wolfgang is a must-do. Even though you can drive all the way to St Wolfgang, I’d recommend to take the ferry instead 🙂

      1. I will be travelling in Feb. Is ferry operational during that season? If not, is it recommended to take a public bus to cover Wolfgang as well along with Gilgen? Which one of the two should I prioritize?

        1. I am pretty sure the ferry will be operational in Feb, I was there in December and there was a LOT of snow at the time, yet the ferry was operational. I would definitely recommend the ferry over bus.

  7. The landscape looks so different in winters. We always travel during autumn season so this time of the year is unfamiliar for us. I would love to visit St.Wolfgang, even if its during winters.

    1. This was my first winter trip too, and I went especially for the Christmas markets and the snow-laden landscapes. It was totally worth it!

  8. Wow that looks so cold! But so beautiful, and very picturesque over the lake. Great tips about the SeeRestaurant at sunset, that view is stunning!

  9. Yet another Austrian destination I have to visit in winter! I’ve heard so much about the Christmas market and unique winter atmosphere on the Wolfgangsee. Now I know it’s totally worth a visit. Thanks for the pictures and detailed guide. Maybe this winter?

  10. This place looks so picturesque especially during winter time. I love how there’s so many things you can do like take a cable car or go on a ferry.

    1. Austria is full of such beautiful Alpine towns. If you’re ever in Salzburg, I recommend you take a day trip to St Gilgen and St Wolfgang.

  11. So beautiful. As much as I hate the cold, European villages in winter have such a magical quality. I’m pretty sure eating that Schnitzel and apple strudel would be pretty amazing as the sun goes down. I bet the Christmas Market is wonderful too. Your photos are really pretty and show the beauty so well.

  12. Austria is high up on my bucket list, and I am planning to include it in my Europe trip next summer which is absolutely exciting! I doubt I will be able to tolerate the cold, as the lowest temperatures in my country are the low-20s. Spectacular scenery as expected, and definitely a great day trip out from Salzburg, the epitome of classical music and our favourite Mozart!

  13. St Wolfgang does look magical under all the snow. And the hint of blue skies made everything seems prettier.
    But what did you do during the blizzard? Did you get stuck in St Gilgen?

    1. The cable cars were still operating, thankfully. But there really wasn’t a lot to do up there, due to the blizzard. So I spent about an hour, had a cup of coffee and then came down to St Gilgen and onwards to St Wolfgang 🙂

  14. If everything’s went well, I wish to spend Christmas season here with my Amore. It looks fantastic and I think the experience would be more different than those in Paris. You are so lucky to experience it!

  15. It’s lovely to see these winter scenes, even though it’s finally spring where I am. I’ve also yet to travel to Salzburg, but would love to one day, and see St Wolfgang for myself. I have to admit, I’m over the cold weather for now, so would like to see this place in the glorious sunshine instead. As always, beautiful photos Medha, and a great read.

    1. Haha I get it, for those who live in cold countries, spring and summer are what they crave for. Grass always greener on the other side Lisa, I live in a desert 😉

  16. We should definitely travel more during Winter. Snow gives a touch of magic to every landscape. Those colorful houses and cobbled stone streets definitely look straight out of a fairytale!

    1. This was my first ever winter trip and I agree with you, I need to do it more too!

  17. St Wolfgang – what a wonderful place you visited. We did a day trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt. I liked the description of the old towns – Colorful houses, cobbled stone streets, horse carriages, narrow streets – almost felt like I was seeing them. Only the smell of baked apples was missing. 🙂

    1. Hallstatt is yet another charming Alpine town. St Wolfgang is a close second 🙂

  18. I did Salzburg and Innsbruck but could not go through St. Wolfgang. But this city looks very beautiful when covered with snow. I would love to take ferry and go around for having view of stunning Austrian landscape. It is good they serve hot drinks in ferry. Sunset at Wolfgangsee looks splendid. Going through Christmas markets must be fun and joyful.

    1. Absolutely Yukti. Although I loved Salzburg and Innsbruck, the smaller Alpine towns such as Hallstatt, St Gilgen & St Wolfgang were the highlights of my trip.

  19. This looks like the cutest and coziest little Alpine town! I’ve been to Salzburg a few times, but haven’t heard of this. Great option for next time I go. I really enjoy skiing, so I’ll have to bring my skies! The holidays look like a great time to visit.

  20. You had me at “christmas markets”! St. Wolfgang is officially on my bucket list, especially taking the cable car all the way up for that beautiful and snowy view. Thanks for sharing and I hope to make it to Austria soon 🙂

  21. Your photos of St. Wolfgang are dream-like. You wore great colors to add spice. I will be in this area in October. I hope I will see the same scenes.

  22. Austria is on my bucket list but I had never heard of these cities! It looks so dreamy! I thought I wanted to visit Austria in the summer, but might have to make a second trip in the winter to see it like this!

    1. I’m sure it’ll be gorgeous in summer as well. I’ll have to go back during warmer months to see the difference 😉

  23. Even though I live in Switzerland with similar landscape I cant get enought of it. St Wolfgang is beautiful I can imagine the smell of the baked apple at the christmas market and I get like a child again filled with christmas spirit! Or I could aswell imagine St.Wolfgang on the summer that must be equally as beautiful!

    1. Austria was probably the best place I could’ve chosen for a white Christmas. Everything about Austria was amazing!

  24. We always love places iced with snow and this one for sure is exceptionally beautiful. The clouds on the mountains are adding extra colors to it. Your pictures are gorgeous. Would love to visit St. Wolfgang fro sure. Adding it to our bucket list.

  25. Awesome. I can’t believe there is a place called Wolfgang. I want to go just for that reason. But the shots of St Gilgen Town are just so cozy. To be honest after the wonder we just had I can’t look at any more snow right now but I do love how quaint the town looks and the mountain scenery is breathtaking. I need to add it to my to go to list.

  26. I went from Salzburg to St Gilgen last June and it looks SO different in the winter! A winter wonderland. I would love to see it this time of year. It was so beautiful in June, so lush and green. We actually went there on my birthday which was such a memorable day!

    1. I can imagine it must be lush and green in the summer, it was so beautifully covered in a blanket of snow in the winter!

  27. Wolfgang seems picture perfect. Like you described, it might be sleepy but it sure gives out a mushy and romantic vibe. I am not sure if I would want to keep this for a day trip. I might just want to spend more time here. Beautifully covered, Medha

  28. St Wolfgang is so lovely in winter. Your photos look straight out of postcards. My favourite is that of Wolfgangsee Lake with the three swans neatly lined up as if engaged in a synchronised competition.

  29. Now that’s a winter wonderland I would love to explore too! The view from top of St Gilgen Town is mesmerizing and reminds me of a recent trip to Wengen…snow covered and cold, yet so easy to fall in love with 🙂

    I do need to plan a visit to Salzburg…I am sure it will be awesome in summers too 🙂

  30. Such gorgeous photography and what a charming little city. I love beautiful winter getaways and St. Wolfgang looks like the perfect place. Are there any local food specialties for the winter time? Great read.

    1. Oh yes, there’s the Apple Strudel, Schnitzel, Kaiserscharrm (a shredded pancake dessert), Maroni (roasted chestnuts), knödel (bread dumplings), käsekrainer (smoked sausage with cheese) and the most important – Gluhwein (hot wine). You’ll find these in every Christmas Market and they’re perfect winter food.

  31. What a beautiful little town. A winter wonderland. I really love the European Christmas Markets. They really tell a lot about the area, with their tiny shops, local trinkets and the fun shopkeepers. The sunset over the lake is so pretty.

    1. I actually loved the Christmas Markets in smaller towns and villages such as St Wolfgang more than the Christmas Markets in big cities like Vienna.

  32. St Wolfgang is a great place to add in my list for next Christmas. Especially when you said about the smell of baked apple, I was totally sold! It is great to find a destination combining picturesque cobblestone streets, lots of snow and these beautiful lake views.

  33. We were in Salzburg in September last year. We how ever hadn’t heard of St Wolfgang and pack it in our schedule :(.
    The place looks spectacular in Winter especially the view of village from the top.

  34. It looks really beautiful in the snow. We were there in the summer quite a few years ago as my brother married a girl from St Gilgen, after the wedding in the church we travelled across the lake to the White Horse Inn at St Wolfgang.

  35. How beautiful! I really need to dedicate a trip to Austria as I’ve been reading a few posts lately about some wonderful spots. St Wolfgang is another one, the white snow makes it superbly pretty. And I love cable cars, so great trip to do that even if you are not skiing. Loving your photos of Wolfgagnsee Lake!

    1. Thanks Kavita, I took the cable car as well because I love the views going up, and even though I don’t ski (and it was snow-laden at the top), it was an incredible trip!

  36. I looks really cold there, but the pictures turned out great with the snow in them. The SeeRestaurant t White Horse Inn sounds like the place I want to visit. Inside in the warm looking out on that beautiful view, while eating authentic Strudel!

  37. St Wolfgang looks quintessential Austrian to me. And I love schnitzel, so I’d be right there at the White Horse Inn. I like the idea of arriving by ferry too, it’s rather romantic don’t you think?

    1. Absolutely! And the ferry had a little bar, so I was sipping on hot wine all the way through 😉 The views are incredible!

  38. St Wolfgang looks so picturesque like it’s out of a fairy tale, I can it being and feeling even more special through winter – There are some places that just light up through winter and this definitely looks like one of them. the sun set at Wolfgangsee reminded me of watching the sun sets over the lake in Queenstown 😀

  39. This post really makes me thing of Christmas. I love your words with soft white crispy snow and the pictures of the cable car and lake with swan views. We are still contemplating going to Germany for Christmas markets for scenes just like this, fog and all. In fact, without a little frosting of fog, we might be a bit disappointed.

  40. I love this part of Austria and great suggestion to take the ferry. The town of St. Wolfgang looks super charming and I’d love to check out the Christmas market.

  41. These snow-covered towns are really beautiful. I’d love to visit Austria someday and perhaps in the winter time, thanks to these photos. Another thing that allures me to Austria is the charm of the buildings. Hopefully we’ll make it there someday

  42. Man, there are so many great places to see in Austria! St Wolfgang looks so cute! I don’t know that I’d want to visit in winter though…it looks cold!!

  43. I have been to Salzburg a couple of times and I could revisit it again and again. But I have never heard of St Wolfgang before. I am putting it now on the itinerary for my next Austrian trip. I love Austrian small towns , lakes, the Alps, Austrain countryside!

  44. I’ve been to Salzburg but I’ve never heard of these towns. They are so quaint and charming, especially in the snow. Austria just seems like a magical fairytale country in your photos. I would definitely want to go and experience the Christmas markets here.

    1. I am sure there are many more such quaint towns in Austria that I did not get a chance to visit. St Gilgen, St Wolfgang and Hallstatt were some of my favourites. I hope to return one day, maybe in summer this time.

  45. Gorgeous pictures! I’ve never heard of St Wolfgang before but it looks so picturesque. The ferry ride sounds amazing too. I’m sure you had to dress up really warm though 🙂 .

  46. wow all those pictures look so gorgeous and i loved the way you described everything in this post. I am planning to visit Austria next year and so am saving this post 🙂 Thanks for sharing your knowledge

  47. This looks absolutely beautiful! I was in Salzburg a few years back, wish I had known about St Wolfgang then. Can’t decide whether I would want to visit in Summer or Winter as your snowy pics look so beautiful!

    1. Austria is one of those destinations that I am sure would be equally charming in the summer, as in winter! I’d love to go back during spring 😉

  48. I’m in love with Austria and I would like to go to Salzburg, nice tips 🙂 Also I would like to try skiing there, a lot of Croatians are going there just for it 🙂

    1. There are some really nice Ski resorts in Austria. I went to one near Salzburg, will be writing about it soon, stay tuned 🙂

  49. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Austria, but this post brought me right back to its charm and beauty! These look like some lovely places to spend time. *sigh*

  50. I don’t do well with cold but if the view is something like this I would love to go even once in my life. Last time we were in Salzburg and we only had a day to tour. I promised myself that I was going back to other parts and this gave me more reason to do so. Those views are excellent.

  51. Sounds very festive with all it’s Christmas Markets! The lake looks absolutely stunning. Would love to go for a ferry trip around there. St Wolfgang looks like a super cute place to visit as well.

  52. Wow, that sunset at Wolfgangsee Lake is mesmerising! I’ve not been to this part of Austria yet, but my good friend is from Salzburg, and always inviting me to her place, so there’s still time! So nice to see photos of the snowy landscape there, and I would take that cable car to get a better view of the whole scene.

  53. Your photos are magical, Medha. We visited Austria last year and while Hallstatt was on the itinerary, we could not make it to St Wolfgang. All the more reason to go back to Austria. And now your photos have only made the urge stronger!

    1. I would rate Hallstatt higher but the ferry ride from St Gilgen to St Wolfgang and St Wolfgang itself was very amazing! What lovely views 🙂

  54. I have a thing for winter landscapes, and these are just amazing winter wonderlands. On another note I wish I had read your blog before going to Austria. While I’ve been to Salzburg, I missed a lot of these little towns on the periphery.

    1. I loved exploring St Wolfgang & Hallstatt while I was in Salzburg, they were just a day trip from there and such magical places!

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