Far off the beaten track for most American tourists are Badgastein and Bad Hofgastein, in the Gasteiner Valley straight south of Salzburg. Though they are about as different as two Austrian towns can be, because of their proximity we are considering them together.
Badgastein reeks of another time - the late 19th century - when its pretty setting, hot springs and radon tunnels attracted Europe's royal families, especially the Habsburgs. Its situation, a few hundred feet above the valley floor, laid out along the curve of the valley's end, is especially appealing. The main street hugs the crescent-shaped hillside like a horseshoe and in the heart of town, slashing through the middle of that horseshoe, a roaring waterfall blasts it way wildly down the steep hillside. Continue on around the horseshoe and the road becomes Kaiser-Wilhelm Promenade, a wide, flat walking path that meanders past hotels, shops and crumbling Belle époque buildings.
Though it lacks the faded, but genteel charm of its higher neighbor, Bad Hofgastein, on the valley floor is a less expensive but livelier alternative.
• Kaiser Wilhelm Promenade
• Walk the Kaiser Wilhelm Promenade to the Gasteiner Hohenweg and follow it along the flank of the mountain to Bad Hofgastein. Return by bus.
Places to Stay:
Places to Dine:
• Villa Solitude, Kaiser Franz Josef Str. 16, Badgastein, A-5640, tel. + 43/06434/25 160, fax 25 16 25
• Hotel-Café Austria, Bad Hofgastein, tel. 06432/6223