Travel Editor Frank Baldwin explores the delights of natural swimming in the Austrian region of Innsbruck.
Swimming enthusiasts looking to combine their love of the sport with a holiday or a short break away can experience something a little bit different in the Austrian region of Innsbruck.
The region’s stunning natural lakes provide the perfect opportunity for outdoor swimming and a chance to enjoy the culture surrounding the Capital of the Alps.
Some mountain lakes reach up to 27 degrees in the summer and visitors can swim in a picturesque setting, close to nature, against a backdrop of beautiful mountain views.
Purpose built facilities, including changing and sunbathing lawns, as well as cafes on the shoreline, create the ideal surroundings for taking a dip and all the lakes can be easily accessed through Innsbruck’s public transport system which can be used free using a ‘Welcome Card’.
Three popular locations include Lake Lans, (Lanser See), Natters Lake, (Nattersee) and Lake Mieming (Mieminger Badesee).
Each offers a unique swimming experience, with the bonus of easy journeys from the city, and the opportunity to include castle visits, culinary delights and even mountain go-kart descents as part of the thrills.
Close to the Olympic mountain of Patscherkofel, Lanser See is accessible by a ‘Forest Tram’ line, which takes visitors through the picture postcard village of Lans.
After a dip in the clear waters, there’s the opportunity to see one of the Innsbruck region’s most popular attractions, Ambras Castle, which is a one hour walk from the lake. This Renaissance castle includes attractive gardens and bathing chambers dating from the 16th century. From there a bus or tram heads straight back into the city, or there’s the option to finish your journey on foot.
Surrounded by nature, Nattersee is the great destination for all ages, with a range of attractions including a water slide, trampoline and pedalos, as well as a popular restaurant and terrace bar.
In the background stands Mutteralm mountain, which can be reached by bus. From there, a cable car can take you up to 1,600m where activities include hiking trails with views over the city of Innsbruck and the surrounding mountains.
The journey to Mieminger Badesee is just as rewarding, with the opportunity to add an e-bike tour along the cycling path from Innsbruck, stopping at local farms and farmers’ shops before a dip in the waters.
Set in a spectacular location, on a plateau overlooking the Inntal Valley, the lake has two floating islands and even a Kneipp water therapy station.
Peter Unsinn, Markets and Insights Manager at Innsbruck Tourismus, said: “There’s something for everyone at the lakes around Innsbruck. People can lap up the lengths, or paddle and cool off in the shallower waters.
“Situated in the heart of beautiful Alpine countryside, but still close to Innsbruck, their location means that guests can also experience all the variety the region has to offer, from walking and biking in the forests and mountains, through to all the attractions in the vibrant city.”
Visitors from Britain can fly to the heart of Innsbruck from most major airports throughout summer.
The Welcome Card offers guests staying two nights free public transport in the city and the Innsbruck region, as well as free guided hiking and e-biking. For a stay of three nights you can add four free cable car journeys and a 50% discount on entry into the lakes.
The Innsbruck region covers more than 40 localities in the surrounding area, from the Inntal valley to the Mieming Plateau via Kühtai and as far as the Sellraintal valley. The city of Innsbruck offers a host of attractions but is only a stone’s throw from many sporting possibilities including swimming, biking and hiking tours, plus skiing and snowboarding areas in the winter.
• For more information on swimming in the lakes, plus other holidays in the Innsbruck region, and details of the Welcome Card go to www.innsbruck.info/en.