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Nature meets history in Mauterndorf

© by Arnold Weisz

One of my favourite places in Austria is Mauterndorf, a little village in the middle of the Alps. Whatever I feel like doing, enjoying nature, diving into history or just hanging out, it is all here to indulge.

“Off the beaten track” has become somewhat of a cliché since fewer such places exist. In Europe, anyway. Mauterndorf is not entirely run over by large hordes of tourists as many other places in Austria are, not because of a lack of things to do or see. On the contrary, there are plenty of activities to engage in, whether you are a young couple, a family with children or seniors. Mauterndorf, located in the Lungau region at the southeastern tip of Salzburgerland, is an excellent destination for exploring the Austrian Alps.

Culture & History

Like many other villages in Austria, Mauterndorf has taken good care of its heritage. Take your time and stroll around the village to discover medieval architecture, traditional houses and the odd henhouse. After all, the village centre mainly consists of historic buildings that add great character to the place. An unmissable factor in Mauterndorf’s “skyline” is the medieval castle that towers over the village’s northern end. It would not be an authentic historical village without a castle. For a nice view of the village and the Mauterndorf Castle, walk up to the “Sky Lounge”. You can get there via the small alley (Lemonigasse) next to the Tourist Office or via Am Burgstall at the end of the Marktplatz, near the bridge.

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On two wheels

Lungau, the region surrounding Mauterndorf, is great for exploring on two wheels. Whether you like mountain biking or just staying on a firm surface and signposted roads, there are ample choices for everyone to get around. The valley between Mauterndorf and Tamsweg offers plenty of different routes. I like to pedal along the small partly paved and partly gravel roads towards Weisspriach and Göriach via Mariapfarr. Another lovely trip is up the valley from Tweng (on the road to Obertauern). Importantly, there is little vehicle traffic on the minor roads, and safe for children. Wherever you turn your head, I’m surrounded by stunningly beautiful nature. Moreover, you do not have to bike these routes; they are also suitable for hiking.

Up in the mountains

Catch a cable car ride up or down the mountain to access some high-altitude trails. Especially the Grosseck-Speiereck mountains are great for hiking. Moreover, the view from the Speiereck (2411 m / 7910 ft) is nothing less than spectacular. The visibility can be as much as 100 km if the weather is good. On the other side of the valley, Fanningberg offers brilliant hiking and a ski lift that brings you to the top or down.

Furthermore, there are some pilgrim trails in the Tamsweg area as well. Not very far from Mauterndorf, you can hike to the source of the river Mur (Murursprung), which flows for another 480 km before it joins the Drava in Croatia. Pick up trekking maps and necessary information at the local tourist office in Mauterndorf before you head out.


Eateries and nightlife

Plenty of eateries around the village serve primarily traditional Austrian cuisine, pizza, and other foods. For a snack, I recommend getting a sandwich (freshly made on order), either at the delicatessen shop at the Marktplatz or in the supermarket down the main road. The village also has a few bars, pubs and a disco. Nevertheless, if partying all night is what you are looking for, maybe Mauterndorf is not the right place. For a lively clubbing scene, I would guess you’d hit Ibiza rather than Austria anyway.

Other activities

Visit Mauterndorf Castle and step back into the Middle Ages. On a narrow-gauge track, the Taurachbahn Museum railway takes you between Mauterndorf and Tamsweg. On hot summer days, you can chill out in the local public pool in Mauterndorf. In addition, there is a golf course in St. Michael, just a few kilometres from Mauterndorf. Notwithstanding, these are just a few of the activities available in the region. Check out the links below to find further suggestions.

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Written by Arnold Weisz

Globetrotting multilingual communications specialist born in Vienna, Austria – with passion for scuba diving, golf and culinary delights! 15 years of experience as a scuba- and travel reporter for among others: X-Ray Dive Magazine and Dykking.