Only 30 miles east of Salzburg, Austrias Lake District is a bewitching contrast of soaring mountain peaks and undulating lowlands, laced with necklaces of sparkling rivers and lakes. It is known as the Salzkammergut, literally the "Treasure Trove of Salt", and as a result it was spectacularly wealthy in the 17C when salt was as valuable as gold. Rich in architecture, history and culture, this is where Kaisers and Empresses traditionally came to take the waters and enjoy the famous Summer Opera season - still celebrated in Bad Ischl today.
Near Lakes Mondsee, Attersee and Traunsee, the gentle landscape is sprinkled with Tyrolean homesteads and tiny fields of rustling corn and wheat, interspersed with rows of colorful tulips where passers by pick their own flowers and drop money into honesty boxes. Further south this open country collides spectacularly with the dramatic ragged mountain peaks of Zwolferhorn (1521m) and Schafberg (1782m), whose shimmering reflections can be seen in the surfaces of the cleanest and bluest lakes in all Austria – Wolfgangsee and Fuschlsee. The famous composer, Gustav Mahler, was so inspired here he declared he had "Set the landscape to music"; Gustav Klimt painted local castles, and Mozarts mother, was born in tiny St Gilgen. Pilgrims come to pray in St Wolfgangs medieval lakeside church, while others follow in the footsteps of Julie Andrews in "The Sound of Music", with locations for the film scattered throughout this beautiful area