Bad Gastein was my first real stop in the Alps. This Austrian spa town (“Bad” means “spa”) sits nestled in a valley of the High Tauern mountains, and is known for its thermal baths, unique architecture, and skiing in the winter. It was a quick train ride from Slovenia to Bad Gastein, and a short walk from the train station to Selina Bad Gastein, my home for the week.
Stay: Selina Bad Gastein
Selina is a well-known hostel brand — they’re all over Central and South America, but have recently been making inroads to Europe, opening locations in Portugal, Greece, Israel, the UK, and Austria. The brand’s positioning is at the intersection of travel and work; most of their properties have dedicated co-working spaces included or available for an additional fee. Naturally, this was exciting for me as a solo traveler who is also working full time.
I had a good experience here, although I think the Bad Gastein location faces some unique challenges when it comes to *vibe*. Ski towns in the alps can be quiet in the summer — many restaurants and hotels are closed for the season. Fewer lodging options means a wide range of ages and travel styles at the options that are available. This normally would be fine, but it was clear that Selina wants to curate a *particular* vibe. They hosted an electronic music “festival” over the weekend (to mixed success) and tried to attract young, hip people from nearby Salzburg. I don't think
That said, I did meet some cool people here, and it was a pleasant spot to work. The converted "ballroom" has plenty of tables/couches/etc to set up and work. The windows have a great view of town and the mountains, and the internet was fast. The cafe is also quite nice to work from in the morning with a cup of coffee and a pastry.
Trail Running in Bad Gastein
There’s a plethora of trails down the valley, or easily accessible by ski lift (or a taxing climb directly from town). Bad Gastein also hosts the Adidas Infinite Trails races in the fall.
Graukogel Loop - 4.5 miles, 2,000 ft gain
I had a great morning doing a loop up to Huttenkogel, over to Graukogel, down a spicier than expected ridge line (video here), and looping back to the ski lift. Big fan of taking ski lifts on the way down to save the knees 😂. Stunning views. For the less exposure-inclined, the out and back to Graukogel is a better option.
Sportgastein to Stubnerkogel - 12 miles, 5,900 ft gain
The highlight for me was a long day starting at nearby Sportsgastein (a short bus ride), and then traversing the mountains back to the top of Stubernerkogel, a lovely, 12-mile, 6,000 ft run. The trails were spectacular. Runnable sections on grassy ridge lines, steep climbs, panoramic views, and even a few more exposed sections with a bit of snow. All in all an excellent day in the mountains.
Finishing the run at a hut with some Käsespätzle is never a bad idea.
Bad Gastein to Bad Hofgastein - 7 miles, 400 ft gain
The ultimate chill morning run. While there is a bit of climbing, this route is mostly downhill on excellent trails. From Bad Gastein, you'll follow trails down to the river and back up the north side to the Gasteiner Hohenweg. Enjoy beautiful views of the valley as you wind along the mountainside. When you reach Bad Hofgastein, make your way to the bus station and catch one headed back to Bad Gastein.
- La Pizzeria Napoletana has incredible, well priced, pizza. I ate here several times while staying in Bad Gastein. You can also order for takeaway. It's right by the waterfall.
- For a bargain meal, Euro Fast Food (near the train station) can't be beat. Generous helpings, good prices, cheap beer. Try the kebab.
- I couldn't make it work with my schedule, but Gamskarkogelhütte looks like an amazing spot to spend the night.
- If you're looking for dinner with a view, make a reservation at Wirtshaus Windischgrätzhöhe. If you have a car, you can drive -- or it's also a pretty short hike from town.