Nuzzled along the shores of Wolfgangsee Lake is St Wolfgang, an alpine town that reflects the quintessential allure of Austria’s Alps. The Schafberg mountain provides the backdrop, and many of its slopes turn white in winter, creating adventurous ski fields. During summer the landscape is dominated by green, where cowbells tinkle on the pastures and thick forests stand resplendent in the cool mountain air. The town has been a setting for big-screen Austrian musicals and is one of many charming towns in the Salzkammergut region.
St Wolfgang is on the iconic route through the Austrian mountains and is on both the South of Music Trail and Austria’s Salt Trail. A couple of spas keep visitors relaxed throughout the year while a railway runs up the mountain to provide easy access to the ski slopes and walking trails. St Wolfgang Monastery has a history dating back to the 10th century and has been a pilgrimage site for almost 1,000 years.
The town is tucked away and can be difficult to reach with public transport as there are no services from the closest city, Salzburg. Many people visit on multi-day hiking and biking trips, journeys that weave through the mountains and connect the inspiring lakes of Salzkammergut.
The monastery is the source of a peculiar legend. Saint Wolfgang threw an axe off the Schafberg summit and wanted to build a church where it landed. He persuaded the devil to assist him with the building by offering to sacrifice the first creature to enter the church, which turned out to be a fox. After Wolfgang became a saint in 1052, the monastery became a place of pilgrimage and was mentioned in various deeds from the Vatican.