Zell am See with Kids in Summer

Author: Dan Brewer

Last Updated:

The Austrian Alps are some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. This means that no matter where you travel in Austria with kids, the scenery is going to be stunning. How do you improve on this scenery? Simple – add a  beautiful lake to the mix!

The dazzling Lake Zell makes an already magical mountain landscape even better. And, with so many fun family-activities to enjoy, a visit to Zell am See with kids in summer is a perfect destination for you Austrian family holiday.

An 8-year old boy on a hike during a family trip to Zell am See in summer.
Our son takes in the incredible Austrian scenery on a family hike near Zell am See.

This post contains compensated links.

8 Things to do in Zell am See with Kids in Summer

We made the best use of our 5 days in Zell am See with kids. We tried hard to find the best kid-friendly activities near Lake Zell and in the mountains. Here is a list of the kid-friendly activities we enjoyed on our family holidays to Zell am See in summer, starting with our favorite activities.

1. Krimml Waterfall – Hohe Tauern National Park

Celine and I have been fortunate enough to have visited some of the world’s most iconic waterfalls – most of them before we had kids. Collectively we’ve been to Angel Falls, Victoria Falls, Iguazu Falls and Niagara Falls. So, it’s no small statement to say that our family hike at Krimml Waterfall was one of our favorite waterfall experiences ever.

The beauty of the Krimml Waterfall can be easily seen on a day trip from Zell am See in summer.

At a towering 380 m / 1,250 ft tall, the Krimml Waterfall in Hohe Tauern National Park is the highest waterfall in Europe and the 5th tallest in the world. What makes this world-class waterfall special is the family-friendly hiking trail which follows the route of the waterfall all the way to the top.

Officially 8.2 km / 5.1 miles long (4.1 km each way), the Krimml Waterfall Trail is easily one of the most beautiful family hikes we’ve ever done. From bottom to top, there are 11 official viewpoints to stop and admire the waterfall from a wide variety of vantage points.

a 10-year old girl on a family trip to Zell am See in summer, goes on a family hike at the Krimml Waterfall.
Our daughter stops to admire the power of the Krimml Waterfall.

Some viewpoints allow you to admire the Krimml Waterfall from a distance, while others get you so close to the water that you get soaked. We hiked the Krimml Waterfall Trail on a hot summer day in July, so we loved the viewpoints where the waterfall spray cooled us down!

The first Krimml viewpoint is quite possibly the most impressive. The spur trail takes you down to the riverside, just downstream of the very bottom of the Krimml Waterfall. From here the power of this mighty Austrian waterfall is on full display, with a massive mist cloud forming at the base of the falls. We recommend you hike the full loop down here to get a good variety of viewpoints.

an 8-year old boy from the Family Can Travel blog, sits on a rock near the base of the Krimml Waterfall on a family trip to Austria.
Our son at the base of the Krimml waterfall.

After the first viewpoint loop, the hiking trail begins a steady uphill ascent which doesn’t really let up until you get to the top. It can be quite steep in spots, but our kids were able to manage without any issues. The Krimml Waterfall Trail is a popular family hike near Zell am See, and we saw plenty of families and their kids at the top.

The hiking trail is hard-packed and groomed, and we saw several families with strollers. Although strollers are possible, it looked like it would be a struggle. If you have small kids, a good backpack hiking carrier would be a significantly better. Also note, that many of the spur trails to the viewpoints are not stroller friendly.

An 8-year old boy leaps off a rock while on a family hike at the Krimml Waterfall, Austria.
Our son always finds adventure on our family hikes.

Along this fun family hike, we loved the beautiful, lush forest with towering trees and a carpet of moist moss. Ferns and clover grow in the dappled sunlight, adding to the beauty of this Hohe Tauern National Park forest. Most of the trail is so close to the Krimml Waterfall that you can feel the mist through the trees. Our kids found several mountain critters including caterpillars and a cute black salamander.

It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to hike to the top of the Krimml Waterfall Trail, including stops at each and every viewpoint. The trail down was all downhill and went significantly faster, taking us only 45 minutes to return to the beginning of the hike.

a 10-year old girl pauses on her family hike at the Krimml Waterfall in Austria.

Download the Krimml Waterfall Trail Map with AllTrails

2. Hiking Pasterze Glacier and Gamsgrubenweg Trail

We really wanted to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (see below) as we heard it was one of the most beautiful drives in Austria. But we didn’t just want to go for a drive – we wanted to go on an adventure, so we searched for the best family-friendly hike on Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

The Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe visitor center is the end of the Grossglockner Road scenic drive. This destination in Hohe Tauern National Park is extremely popular as it provides breathtaking elevated views of Grossglockner Mountain (3,798 m – the tallest mountain in Austria) as well as the Pasterze Glacier (the largest glacier in the eastern Alps).

The view of the Pasterze Glacier from the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hehe visitor center near Zell am See, Austria.
The views of the Pasterze Glacier from the visitor center are amazing!

But, there is much more family-fun to be had than just soaking in amazing vistas of the Alps – there’s an amazing family-friendly hike too! The hike we did at the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe visitor center is actually two hikes, put together to make a loop. Here’s what we did:

Leg 1: Pasterze Glacier Trail

The Pasterze Glacier Trail takes you from the main observation area, down to the shores of the glacial fed Sandersee Lake below, along the lakeshore to a viewpoint very close to the toe of the Pasterze Glacier. If you’d like, you can take a funicular halfway down, but the hiking trail is a better choice (you may choose to take the funicular back up though!).

a red funicular at the Pasterze Glacier, Austria.

The stunning views of the glacier and surrounding mountains were incredible, although the summit of Grossglockner Mountain was obscured by clouds at the beginning of our family hike. That didn’t bother us as we saw a marmot, as well as thousands of beautiful, delicate wildflowers. The sound of waterfalls pouring into Sandersee Lake is your constant companion during this family-friendly hiking trail.

The hike to Pasterze Glacier is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about global warming. There are signs along the trail showing where the glacier used to be, starting in 1980. It’s a little shocking to see how much ice has been lost in just over 40 years!

an 8-year old boy stands at the sign marking the position of the Pasterze Glacier in 2015.
The position of the Pasterze Glacier the year he was born.

The 1.2 km / 0.75 mile descent down to the lakeshore didn’t take us very long. From here, it was a reasonably flat hike to the viewpoint for the Pasterze Glacier. We had fun looking at tiny icebergs floating in Sandersee Lake, which had recently broken off of the glacier.

Celine Brewer hikes the Pasterze Glacier Trail during a family trip to Zell am See in summer.

As we neared the glacier, we had to put our fleece jackets back on as the wind blowing off the massive sheet of ice was noticeably colder. We all jumped a bit when we heard a loud “BOOM!!” – which was the sound of the Pasterze Glacier cracking and settling. If you’re lucky enough to hear it, it’s a sound your family won’t soon forget.

At the end of this section of hiking trail, you’ll get a great view of the Pasterze Glacier. During our visit, there was a massive tunnel at the toe of the glacier, formed from water flowing out.

a river flows from a tunnel in the Pasterze Glacier into Sandersee Lake.

Leg 2: Pasterze Glacier Trail to Gamsgrubenweg Trail

When you reach the lookout point of the Pasterze Glacier Trail we recommend that you turn around and go back the way you came, unless your family are experienced mountain hikers. The hike from the glacier toe up to the Gamsgrubenweg Trail is steep, hard to follow and has an element of via ferrata to it. On our way up the Gamsgrubenweg Trail we passed many hikers who started the climb. but gave up and came back down (most of them said they were lost and couldn’t find their way).

Dan Brewer hikes with his son on a challenging hiking trail near the Pasterze Glacier in Austria.

As we made our way up the mountain we could see why so many hikers gave up – it was really hard to follow the trail of red & white painted trail markers. Quite often you couldn’t see where to go next. Thankfully, we had downloaded the hiking trail map on our AllTrails app, so we were able to find our way with very little issue.

We are raising our kids in Banff National Park in Canada, so they are experienced mountain hikers. They had no trouble with the very steep ascent, and they loved the via ferrata element of the hike. There were chain ropes bolted to the mountain for safety in several spots, which are a lot of fun for the kids (ok, and us adults too!)

a 10-year old girl on a challenging family hike near the Pasterze Glacier in Austria.

Leg 3: Gamsgrubenweg Trail

Eventually the steep ascent met up with the Gamsgrubenweg Trail – one of the very easy hiking trails from the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe visitor center. This trail is super kid-friendly as it’s flat, easy and goes through a series of six long tunnels. There’s art and music all along the way, along with many excellent viewpoints of the epic Grossglockner Valley scenery.

two kids walk through a fun tunnel on the easy Gamsgrubenweg Trail near the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe visitor center.
Kids of all ages love hiking through mountain tunnels!

Tips for Parents Hiking with Kids at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe:

  • It will be noticeably colder here than in Zell am See, so bring some layers. We each had a fleece jacket, which we took off and on throughout our family hike.

  • If you feel confident you have the skills to do the full hiking loop, we strongly recommend you download the trail map on AllTrails while you have Wi-Fi at your Zell am See hotel.
Celine Brewer and her kids enjoy the Austrian Alps scenery on a family hike on the Gamsgrubenweg Trail.
The family hiking is epic in Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hohe!

3. Pinzgauer Spaziergang Hike – Trassxpress Cable Car

One of the primary reasons we planned a family trip to Austria in summer was to do some amazing hiking in the Alps. There are many reasons why Zell am See ended up on our Austria itinerary, but one of the main reasons was to enjoy the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike with our kids.

Celine Brewer, from the FamilyCanTravel.com blog, enjoys a family hike on the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail near Zell am See, Austria.
Enjoying the epic scenery along the kid-friendly Pinzgauer Spaziergang Hike.

Often described as one of the most beautiful hikes in the Alps, the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike is easily reached via the Trassxpress cable car in western Zell am See. A bonus of taking a ride up the Trassxpress cable car is the amazing views of the town of Zell am See and Lake Zell.

Given its pedigree as one of the most scenic hikes in Austria, the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike is surprisingly also a family-friendly hike. The full distance of the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail is roughly 17 km (10.5 miles), running from the upper Trassxpress cable car station to the nearby town of Saalbach. But, families don’t need to do the full Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike – you can simply turn back to the Trassxpress station at any time.

The only challenging part of the entire hike is the initial section of trail from the Trassxpress gondola station to the Eder Hutte restaurant. At the beginning of the hike, it’s a nice downhill stretch, but it kinda stinks to end the hike slogging back up this hill. Over 500 m / 1,640 ft feet of trail, you’ll gain roughly 90 m / 300 ft of elevation – it’s a steep 20% incline, but it’s short enough to be doable for most.

Celine Brewer enjoys a family hike with her kids near Zell am See, Austria.
The downhill was nice at the beginning of our hike…

Once on the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail, it’s a remarkably flat hiking trail for a very, very long time. The Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail runs along the southern side of a mountain range, near the ridgeline, but not on it. This vantage point on the southern face affords hikers stunning views of the many 3,000 m+ peaks in Hohe Tauern National Park.

At first we were disappointed that the peaks of the Hohe Tauern National Park were obscured by clouds, but just before our halfway point, the clouds started to lift. The vistas of the most beautiful mountains of the Austrian Alps were simply incredible. It was worth every Euro it cost to take the Trassxpress Gondola up.

Celine Brewer, from FamilyCanTravel.com, enjoys hiking with her kids near Zell am See in summer.

After we had hiked along the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail for about 5 km / 3 miles, we reached a trail junction at the ridgeline. From this vantage point, we could see the Austrian Alps to the north, which are not quite as high, but are equally impressive.

The trail needed to go through a field of horses and grazing cows, some of which were getting… ahem… ‘romantic’. We decided that rather than interrupt the cow romance, it was probably safer to make this our turn-around point.

two horses graze along the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike near Zell am See.

On our way back to the Trassxpress cable car station, we stopped at the Eder Hutte restaurant to treat ourselves after a wonderful family hike near Zell am See. The strawberry and cream parfait cake was a cool treat on a hot July day, but we thought the carrot cake was the best. There’s plenty of toys to keep kids happy at the Eder Hutte restaurant, including a long ball course (which our kids love).

Although we rank the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail behind the Krimml Waterfall trail on our list of things to do in Zell am See with kids, it’s still an incredibly enjoyable family hike in Austria.

Download the Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail map on the AllTrails app

Tips for Parents Hiking the Pinzgauer Spaziergang Trail with Kids:

  • Although it will be cooler up top than down in the valley below, it can still get very hot up top. The Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail doesn’t offer much shade, and being on the southern face, you’ll get a lot of sun. Bring lots of sunscreen and plenty of water. We had 5 litres / 1.3 gallons of water in our hydration bladders and nearly finished it all.

  • The Pinzgauer Spaziergang trail is along a real hiking trail with rocks and roots to contend with. If you are traveling light, you could probably get by with normal walking shoes, but real hiking shoes are recommended.
The FamilyCanTravel.com team enjoys an easy hike near Zell am See, Austria.
We couldn’t get enough of the scenery around Zell am See.

4. Grossglockner High Alpine Road

As an active travel family, we normally we wouldn’t include a scenic drive as part of our top things to do in Zell am See list, but the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is so amazing, we had to include it. Ok, to be fair, we drove the Grossglockner Road to go hiking (see the Pasterze Glacier Trail above), but this scenic Austria drive is a world-class attraction in it’s own right, even without the hike.

We began our adventure driving our rental car south from Zell am See towards Hohe Tauern National Park. It’s a pretty typical drive until you pass the gate to pay the admission fee to Hohe Tauern National Park.

a rugged mountain of the Austrian Alps as seen on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in summer.

From here, the road starts to become very exciting, ascending the side of a mountain in an endless series of tight turns, switchbacks and viewpoints. Almost immediately, the scenery becomes breathtaking as you venture higher up the mountain and deeper into the Hohe Tauern National Park. The towering mountains are the star attraction, but the countless waterfalls are a close second.

There are many pullouts where you can stop and soak in the vistas of the Austrian Alps in Hohe Tauern National Park. There are too many to stop at all of them, but we made a point to stop whenever there was a beautiful waterfall, or a stunning view down the length of a valley. The stop at the very top of the mountain pass was likely our favorite stop along the way.

a 10-year old girl on a family road trip in Austria checks out the views from the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

After crossing the pass, Grossglockner High Alpine Road starts to descend again as it makes its way toward the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Hehe visitor center – a major tourist destination in Hohe Tauern National Park.

Here, most visitors will admire the Pasterze Glacier and Grossglockner Mountain from the elevated viewpoints, but as you read above, it’s also the trailhead for an incredible family hike in the Alps.

Grossglockner Road has been called the most scenic drive in Austria. We drove a lot on our family road trip through Austria and can tell you the competition for this title is fierce, but in the end, we must agree – Grossglockner High Alpine Road is so beautiful, it’s a must do kid-friendly attraction in Zell am See.

a 10-year old girl on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria.
The Austrian Alps are stunning mountains!

5. Zell am See Beach

During our recent family vacation to France, we visited Lake Annecy with our kids. Lake Annecy is a beautiful mountain lake resort town, which we thought was one of the nicest lakes we’d ever seen. Zell am See gives Lake Annecy a run for its money!

The Zell am See beach is a ton of fun and is a must-do activity for your family vacation to Austria. Located on a scenic peninsula on the eastern edge of town, you could spend all day simply soaking in all of the beautiful lake and mountain scenery. But, of course, you won’t, as your kids will be having too much fun!

An elevated view of the Zell am See beach facilities in summer.

There’s no real sandy beach at the Zell am See lido. Instead, the main areas are large grassy lawns, with large, flat rocks lining the waterfront. To swim in Lake Zell, you can take the steps down into the water, or jump off one of the diving platforms.

There are tons of kid-friendly activities at the Zell am See beach. For starters, our kids loved playing in the huge swimming pool, complete with a water slide and some splash park fun. If your kids are little, there’s also a fun little wading pool near the main swimming pool.

There’s two inflatable Wibit platforms in the water. The little one is like a wet climbing rock, which our daughter had fun on. But what she really loved was the main Wibit inflatable – a large floating trampoline. She swam all the way out and stayed a long time. She ended up making some new friends from Scotland and spent the rest of her day with them.

 a10-year old girl sitting on top of a Wibit inflatable at the Zell am See lido in July.

While his big sister was off with her new-found friends, our son spent a lot of time on the diving platforms. He worked really hard on perfecting his cannonball.

An 8-year old boy does a cannonball into Lake Zell while on a family trip to Zell am See in summer.
Our son must have done 100 cannonballs into Lake Zell.

We had so much fun at the Zell am See beach, with so many fun things to do with kids, that we visited the beach twice. Our two visits to the Lake Zell beach were a ton of fun. We highly recommend it for your family holidays to Zell am See as well!

Tips for parents visiting the Zell am See Beach with kids:

  • There’s plenty of change rooms at the Zell am See beach. There are rental lockers for your valuables as well.

  • There’s a cafeteria on site with a kid-friendly menu (chicken fingers, hamburgers, etc.).

  • There’s also a huge playground just north of the Zell am See beach. Our kids were having so much fun at the playground that it was a struggle to get them to leave to go to the beach!
the Family Can Travel kids play at a lakeside playground while on a family trip to Zell am See in summer.
Our kids loved the lakefront playground in Zell am See.

6. Mystic Forest Trail – Trassxpress Cable Car

After we bought our tickets for the Trassxpress cable car, the ticket lady gave our kids two little activity books and pencils. As it turns out, the activity books were for the Mystic Forest Trail, a kid-friendly hike which begins near the Schmittenhohebahn cable car station (a short uphill walk from the Trassxpress station).

A father enjoys a fun family hike with his daughter on the Mystic Forest Trail near Zell am See in summer.

The Mystic Forest Trail is lined with many wooden statues of woodland creatures and plant-life which are native to the area. Kids are supposed to find the statues hidden along the hiking trail and write the displayed letter down in their books. Once they find all the statues, the accumulated letters will spell a special message. Kids who complete the activity book can claim a little prize from the information desk at the valley station below.

Our kids wanted to hike the Mystic Forest Trail, even after we had completed our 11 km hike on the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike. This shows the power that getting a free gift has over kids. Our kids had a lot of fun hiking the Mystic Forest Trail – they practically ran ahead to find each new statue.

a 10-year old girl takes a silly picture with a marmot statue along the Mystic Forest Trail near Zell am See, Austria.

As for us parents, we simply walked and enjoyed the stunning mountain views from the easy hiking trail. This time the views are eastward facing, so they were much different than the mountain views from our morning family hike. The explosion of wildflowers along the trail was pretty special too.

The FamilyCanTravel.com team enjoys a family hike on the Mystic Forest Trail during a summer trip to Zell am See, Austria.
The views from this easy hiking trail were stunning.

7. Lake Zell Promenade

As a family who loves to go hiking, the temptation is always great in a mountain lake town to walk around the lake. There’s a very easy 11 km / 7 mile walking trail all the way around Lake Zell (also known as Zell See or Zeller See).

Our family walk around Lake Zell was not originally part of our Zell am See itinerary, but when we awoke to rain and heavy cloud on one of our beach days, we decided to go for a walk around the lake instead.

Celine Brewer, owner of FamilyCanTravel.com, enjoys a family walk around Lake Zell with her kids while on a summer holiday to Austria.

We started our family walk at the Zell am See beach and headed north. Cycling around Lake Zell is also a popular activity, so we were happy there was a dedicated walking path separate from the busy cycling path.

The ever changing views are beautiful as you walk the lakeside trail. There are many little parks with benches to sit on and soak in the views along the way.

Swans near the walking trail around Lake Zell, Austria.

We had intended to walk all the way around Zell See, but by the time we got to the northern end of the lake, the sky was blue and the sun came out, so we quickly turned around and headed back to the Zell am See beach.

8. Konigsleiten Cable Car Hike (Yodel Trail)

While we were in the Gerlos area, we wanted to check out a family-friendly hike called Jodel Wanderweg, the Yodel Trail. I had seen pictures of this family-hike and it looked so fun that we had to try it.

It was hard to get any real information on the Yodel Trail in English online, so we drove to the Zillertal Arena cable car station in Konigsleiten to get more information. The ticket attendant said you begin the hike at the top of the Konigsleiten gondola and then follow the Yodel Trail all the way down to the base. He estimated it would take 3 hours to complete.

a 10-year old girl from the FamilyCanTRavel.com blog poses for a funny picture atop the Konigsleiten Cable Car, near Zell am See, Austria.
There’s plenty of fun stuff for kids atop the Konigsleiten Cable Car.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have that much time, but we decided to go to the top anyways and do what we could. As is typical with cable cars in Austria, there was a ton of fun activities for the kids at the top, including ball courses and water courses.

The main reason I wanted to do this kid-friendly hike near Zell am See, is that they had a giant alphorn you can yodel into. I thought this would be a hilarious family activity, and a very Austrian one at that. But to be honest, it was pretty lame. You could yodel into a small hole at the opening, but the huge hole at the other end of the alphorn was too high off the ground to hear any noise coming out. In fact, it didn’t sound like the sound was coming out the other end at all. A pretty big disappointment.

An 8 year old boy from the Family Can Travel blog pretends to yodel into a giant alpenhorn atop the Konigsleiten Cable Car, Austria.
Too bad we couldn’t actually yodel into the giant alpenhorn.

But, as luck would have it, as we were standing near the lakeside alphorn, we noticed a bunch of families hiking to the summit of a nearby hill. The views of the Alps (many with massive glaciers) across the valley were stunning from up here, so we decided to do the short hike to the top.

The hike to the top of the Falschriedel Mountain (2,420 m – 7,900 ft) was short and steep. We estimate it only took us about 20-25 minutes to hike from the alphorn to the summit. The wildflowers along the way were so beautiful and the mountain views from the top were epic!

The Brewer family enjoys a laugh while enjoying incredible mountain scenery on a kid-friendly hike from the Konigsleiten Cable Car.
Enjoying epic mountain scenery and a a good laugh on our family hike.

I wouldn’t recommend a trip to the top of the Konigsleiten gondola for the Jodel Wanderweg, but the mountain views from the Falschriedel trail were pretty incredible.

5 Day Zell am See Itinerary with Kids

 To help you plan your summer holiday to Lake Zell, here is how we spent our 5 days in the area:

Day 1 in Zell am See with Children

After spending a few days in Zillertal with kids, we drove our rental car through the Gerlos area towards Zell am See. We enjoyed a few kid-friendly hikes in the Gerlos area:

Hiking the Krimml Waterfall with Kids

Our first stop on our way to Zell am See was the Krimml Waterfall in Hohe Tauern National Park. This stunning waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls in the world and has an incredible family-friendly hike all the way to the top.

Celine Brewer, from the Family Can Travel blog, admires the Krimml Waterfall on a hike with her 8-year old son.

We spent about 3 hours (including breaks) hiking the Krimml Waterfall Trail with our kids. The waterfall was so powerful and so impressive, that it’s sure to be a lasting memory for our kids for years to come.

Konigsleiten Cable Car Hike (Yodel Trail)

After hiking the Krimml Waterfall, we backtracked a little bit to the town of Konigsleiten to try out the kid-friendly Jodel Wanderweg Trail (the Yodel Trail). As it turns out, this family hike was a little longer than we had time for, but we went to the top anyways to try out the giant alphorn near the upper gondola terminal. It was a pretty big disappointment.

But, we made the most of our visit to the top of the Konigsleiten cable car with a short, but awesome hike to the top of Falschriedel mountain. The vistas of the Austrian Alps from the top of Falschriedel mountain were unforgettable, especially the two peaks directly across the valley with massive glaciers on their upper reaches.

the entire team from the Family Can Travel blog poses for a picture on a family hike near Zell am See in summer.
The entire Family Can Travel gang!

Day 2 in Zell am See with Kids

The weather forecast for the first full day of our summer holiday in Zell am See was sunny and hot, with a high of 33°C / 91°F. On a beautiful summer day in Austria, there was really only one thing we could do today:

Zell am See Beach

The Zell am See lido (beach) is located on a peninsula at the east end of town. We arrived shortly after the 9 AM opening and we stayed until mid-afternoon. There are so many things at the lido to keep kids busy, that we barely sat still our entire visit.

The Zell am See lido in summer is a popular family activity.

Zeller Seafest – Air Show

We needed a break from the intense sun, so we went back to our apartment rental for a bit. It was a nice break, but we soon headed back out. As it happens, the Zeller Seafest festival was on this day, so we headed back to the Zell am See Beach to watch the air show. (Our beach tickets allowed for re-entry).

The first few planes were pretty boring, but before long the action started and the kids got really interested. There were people jumping out of helicopters into the water and two stunt planes doing loop-de-loops, and other nerve wracking aerial stunts.

a stunt airplane leaves a smoke trail during the Zeller Seafest festival in summer.

Day 3 of our Family Holiday to Zell am See

Our plan for the third day of our Zell am See family trip was to go hiking. The weather forecast was cloudy and we were concerned about paying to get up the Trassxpress gondola, and not getting the views.

But one thing we have learned on our family travels is that you always need to give yourself a chance to succeed. So, we went up the Trassxpress gondola, and we’re very glad we did.

Pinzgauer Spaziergang Hike

Considered by many as one of the most scenic hikes in Austria, the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike is also a moderately difficult family-friendly hike near Zell am See. You can pick your own distance for this kid-friendly hike – we chose to hike for 11 km / 7 miles and were rewarded with some outstanding views of the many 3,000 m peaks in Hohe Tauern National Park.

Two paragliders soar above the 3000m peaks of the Austrian Alps as seen from an easy hike near Zell am See.

Mystic Forest Hike

We would have been happy ending our day of family hiking after the Pinzgauer Spaziergang hike, but our kids were motivated to get a prize for finishing the activity book for the Mystic Forest Trail. This fun kid-friendly hike added about 5 km / 3 miles more to our day of hiking. Our kids were quite happy with their reward for completing the Mystic Forest Trail activity book.

two kids show off their rewards for completing the activity book along the Mystic Forest Trail near Zell am See, Austria.

Day 4 in Zell am See with Children

We don’t have many beach days planned for our summer vacation to Austria and Slovenia, so when the kids begged us for another day at the Zell am See beach, we gave in. The only problem was that we woke up to heavy cloud and rain.

Lake Zell Loop Trail

Rather than hide from the rain in our rental apartment, we decided to go with Plan B – a walk around Lake Zell. The walking trail around the Zell am See lake is very flat and easy and we enjoyed walking a good portion of it. We would have completed the circumnavigation of Lake Zell, but the sun came out and we hoofed it back to the Zell am See beach to keep our promise to our kids.

the kids from the Family Can Travel blog have fun on a floating raft on Lake Zell in summer.
What a fun activity for the kids on Lake Zell!

Zell am See Beach

Thanks to a clear blue sky, we enjoyed spending another 4 hours at the Zell am See beach. The kids spent nearly all their time between the diving platform and the water slide. It was so hot that we treated ourselves to a nice ice cream snack.

a 10-year old girl jumps off a diving board into Lake Zell in summer.
Our daughter loved the diving board at Lake Zell.

Day 5 in Zell am See with Kids

For our final full day of our family holidays to Zell am See with our children, we hit the road in our rental car for an incredible scenic drive through the Austrian Alps.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

It took us 75 minutes to drive from our Zell am See vacation rental to the Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Hohe visitor center. The second half of it was one of the most scenic drives we have done anywhere in the world – it was truly incredible.

An aerial view of the winding road on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road scenic drive in Austria.

The Grossglockner Road led us deep into the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park, to the base of the tallest mountain in Austria and a massive, yet beautiful glacier. Along the scenic drive, we marveled at all the 3,000 m+ mountains and the towering waterfalls thundering down their slopes.

Pasterze Glacier Trail to Gamsgrubenweg Trail

Upon arriving at Grossglockner Mountain, we ventured down into the valley to enjoy an excellent family hike to the Pasterze Glacier. We then had an adventure climbing back up the valley wall to the Gamsgrubenweg Trail (not a recommended hike for beginners), before enjoying an easy walk back to the visitor center via the many fun tunnels along the way.

two kids on a family hike on the Pasterze Glacier Trail in Austria.
All smiles on the Pasterze Glacier Trail.

Where to Stay in Zell am See with Kids

Zell am See has one of the most scenic locations of any resort town in all of Austria. Situated on the shores of a beautiful mountain lake, and surrounded by the Austrian Alps on all sides, Zell am See is a stunner. The town of Zell am See is relatively small and has a compact, walkable and charming town center.

For our family holiday, we rented a two-bedroom apartment with three beds just a few blocks outside of the town center. We liked that we were able to walk nearly everywhere from our centrally located vacation rental. In fact, our rental car sat unused for 2 days during our visit. We enjoyed our views of Lake Zell from our apartment, especially the night with fireworks for the Zeller Seafest Festival.

Fireworks explode over Lake Zell during the Zeller Seafest Festival.
The view of the Zeller Seafest Festival from our apartment.

Most of the family-friendly places to stay are Zell am See vacation rentals. We prefer vacation rentals when traveling with kids as we prefer everyone to have their own beds – everyone is happier when they have a proper night’s sleep. We also enjoy having kitchen facilities to make healthier meals, in-between our restaurant meals.

a healthy meal at our Zell am See apartment rental.
It’s nice to skip restaurant meals every now and then.

Although we stayed in a vacation rental, there’s a few family-friendly hotels in Zell am See as well. The lakefront Grand Hotel has the best location in town, but there are other, more budget-friendly options as well. When we stay in hotels, we start our search with Booking.com as they have a very useful Top Picks for Families search filter.

We thoroughly enjoyed our 5 days in Zell am See with kids in summer. We had so much fun at the Lake Zell beach and found lots of family adventures high up in the surrounding mountains. There are so many fun things to do in Zell am See with kids, that we are sure you will have an amazing family vacation too!

The beach at Lake Zell in summer.

If you’d like to continue following along with our family holiday in Austria, our next stop after Zell am See was 2 days in Hallstatt with kids.

+ posts

Dan Brewer is an intrepid family travel blogger with a passion for exploring the world's most captivating destinations. With 58 countries under his belt and a sense of wanderlust that knows no bounds, he has made it his life's mission to share his travel experiences and insights with fellow families who love to travel.

When Dan isn't traveling with his wife and kids, he's either out enjoying the Canadian Rockies he calls home or working on one of his three travel sites (Family Can Travel, Travel Banff Canada and Ultimate Sports Road Trip).