A tiny village in the Austrian Alps, Grünau im Almtal is simply beautiful. Not usually found on must-see travel routes, a visit here had me feeling as though I’d uncovered a secret gem!
Set in the middle of the Totes Gebirge (the Dead Mountains), Grünau is a village of just over 2000 people. It’s very much a place for getting back to nature, and during a trip through Europe, was a welcome break from big cities and busy hostels!
I stayed a few kilometres out of the village, at the Treehouse Backpacker Hotel. Run by a guy called Gerhard (herby known as the friendliest man you’ll ever meet), the Treehouse operates more like a home than a hostel! It’s cozy, quiet and full of home-cooked meals. It’s a bit like being at your Grandma’s house. If your grandma was called Gerhard. And gave you beer. There’s also a stream out back, with water so clear you can drink straight from it! No hangovers here!
Besides sleeping in the kind of blissful quiet you only find when you get out of the city, Grünau is also a great place for outdoor activities like hiking! On my first day at the Treehouse, a group of us decided to hike to a nearby waterfall. It took a couple of hours and we got a little lost… And may or may not have ended up having to clamber over a makeshift bridge over a dried out river bed… But we got there eventually!
If you’re ever in Grünau and staying at the Treehouse, definitely ask Gerhard for directions to this place. It’s a pretty easy hike, and the waterfall is so pretty!
If you’re looking for stunning rather than pretty though, Grünau is also a great base for visiting Lake Almsee. Set in front of the Dead Mountains, Lake Almsee is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I can’t even… Just look at the pictures.
The lake is about a 15 minute drive, or a 35 minutes bus ride from Grünau… But driving’s no fun! Instead, a group of us rented bikes from the Treehouse and cycled. It wasn’t the easiest ride, but it was doable even for me who hadn’t been on a bike in over 10 years… Ok fine, I fell off. Once. But the ride was absolutely stunning, and even though it was longer (and more painful!) than a bus ride, the experience of cycling through the alps was more than worth it.
Before Summer 2015, Grünau im Almtal wasn’t somewhere I’d even heard of, let alone considered visiting, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip through Europe!
Have you ever stumbled across a place that ended up being a travelling highlight? Share it with me in the comments section!