Mondsee, Austria is a charming lakeside village and a popular place for both native Austrians and tourists to visit. For those looking to truly experience the town and take in its delightful appeal, one of the best things to do in Mondsee is simply to relax!
This guide to visiting Mondsee, Austria includes the best things to do in Mondsee, where to stay, and how long you’ll need in the town.
Situated about 30 minutes outside the city of Salzburg, the town of Mondsee makes for a great weekend lake escape for Austrians looking to spend a relaxing day on the water. However, Mondsee is also a favorite place in Austria for many international tourists. It is a popular stop on The Sound of Music tour, and fans of the musical classic definitely will want to add Mondsee to their Austrian itinerary, as Mondsee was a filming location for one of the movie’s famous scenes. But even if you don’t consider yourself a lifelong fan of the 1965 classic film, Mondsee offers an inviting, small town atmosphere with picturesque views of the Austrian Alps.
About Mondsee, Austria
Mondsee is located in the Salzkammergut region of the Vöcklabruck District of Austria, nestled on the northern shore of Lake Mondsee. With less than 4,000 residents, this small town is a popular destination for weddings. It should come as no surprise, since one of the most famous weddings ever depicted in a movie also took place in Mondsee. Mondsee is best known as the filming set of the Maria and Captain Von Trapp wedding in The Sound of Music.
The top things to do in Mondsee, Austria
With brightly colored, neoclassical buildings and outdoor cafes lining the streets, the minute you arrive in Mondsee you will be taken aback by its charm and beauty. While there are not a lot of things to do in Mondsee, Austria, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy for a day or even a weekend. It is worth visiting Mondsee for a few hours, if not for one full night, to enjoy some relaxation surrounded by stunning scenery.
Enjoy a meal on an outdoor patio in the main square
It is hard not to relax and just be in the moment when you are in Mondsee, Austria. Sit outside and enjoy lunch at an outdoor cafe. If you aren’t hungry, simply unwind and savor an afternoon cup of tea, a glass of wine or beer, or indulge in some delicious, refreshing ice cream. Mondsee is the type of place where you won’t want to have a strict schedule.
We completely forgot about our day’s itinerary and everything else we planned to see and just got lost in the delightful atmosphere of this small town. Sometimes you just have to do that on a trip, and it was wonderful.
Along the main square, there are several cafes and restaurants in Mondsee that offer outdoor seating which is perfect on a warm summer day. You will also find a variety of little shops selling everything from Edelweiss trinkets to lederhosen. The Edelweiss is a popular white flower in Austria found in the alps, and perhaps more notably, the name of one of the songs in The Sound of Music movie.
Tour the Mondsee Abbey (Basilica St. Michael)
In the heart of the town of Mondsee Österreich (Austria) is the prominent Mondsee Abbey. The beautiful church, formally known as Basilica St. Michael, is a must-visit for guests to the town. It is free to enter, and is just as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside. The exterior of the church is painted a muted yellow color and has two large clock towers flanking the entrance on the front corners of the church.
The Mondsee church dates back to the mid-700s when it was a monastery for monks. It underwent major renovations and reconstruction in the 18th century. Nowadays, the ornate cathedral serves as both a church and a tourist attraction.
You may recognize the interior of the church from The Sound of Music. As mentioned earlier, it was the setting for Maria and Baron von Trapps’ wedding in the world-famous film. Although the iconic wedding scene was filmed inside the church, the outside of the Mondsee Basilica never appeared in the movie. For fans of the movie, it is awesome to finally see both the interior and the exterior of the church featured in one of the most notable movies of all time.
The inside of the church features a ribbed, vaulted nave with pale pink pillars on either side of the central aisle and pink embellishments on the ceiling.
View one of the most interesting church altars in the world
When inside Basilica St. Michael, be sure to walk all the way to the front altar as it is the most fascinating part of the church in Mondsee. The altar contains the mummified remains and complete skeletons of martyrs and saints.
At the center of the altar, holding a staff, decorated in jewels, and wearing a golden halo is Abbot Konrad II, who died in 1145 defending the abbey from noblemen who were trying to seize the land, according to historical church accounts.
Along with the jewel-encrusted Konrad, there are 4 other skeletons entombed in the altar. Flanking Konrad II’s sides, the bejeweled remains of the four saints are posed in relaxed, reclined positions, appearing almost like they are laying back in their eternal resting place without a care in the world.
Go for a swim at Lake Mondsee
With its pristine turquoise water, Lake Mondsee is a beautiful alpine lake in the Austrian Alps. It is one of 76 lakes in the Salzkammergut region. The lake, known for its warm water, is just a short walk down a shady tree-lined road or a lovely nature path. Kids and adults alike will enjoy splashing and swimming in the calm water at Alpine Beach.
If you don’t want to go for a swim, you can sit at the edge of the lake, dangle your feet in the water, and watch the swans and ducks swim by. On a nice day, the aquatic birds seem to enjoy the weather just as much as the people with whom they gracefully share the lake.
The crescent-shaped lake, sometimes referred to as Moon Lake because of its shape, is also a popular place for paddle boats, windsurfing, and sailing.
Relax along the lake shore and people watch
Along the shoreline of the lake, people can sit at tables and have a drink or a light lunch. There are also grassy areas under the trees that are perfect for shade-seekers or a family picnic. On a warm day, kids can play in the small splash fountain by the lake. The splash fountain is convenient for families with young children who want to play in the water, but are too little to swim in the lake.
You’ll often find teams of people playing beach volleyball, one of the popular things to do in Mondsee, Austria on a nice summer’s day.
Go on a family-friendly hike
There are some beautiful hiking trails around Mondsee, Austria that range in difficulty from a leisure, family-friendly walk to extreme mountaineering. There are trails that run along the lake, through the town, or to mountain viewpoints overlooking Mondsee and the lake.
Many of them are suitable for children, so if your family enjoys the outdoors and you are looking for great things to do in Mondsee with kids, consider giving yourself enough time in Mondsee for a nature hike. For some of the longer hikes, it’s a good idea to bring along a hiking carrier or a baby carrier for younger children.
Learn about ancient history at the Pile Dwelling Museum
One of the most fascinating things about Mondsee, Austria isn’t what you can see – but what you can’t. The lake was once home to a large pile dwelling community that dates back to between 5000 and 500 BC. These prehistoric stilt houses were built over the water to protect from flooding. But overtime, due to the rising water levels, most of what was left of these structures now sits beneath the lake’s surface.
The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings in Mondsee and around the Alps have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and in the last decade, archaeologists have done countless dives to discover artifacts from the region’s prehistoric time. You can see some of the artifacts on display at the Pile Dwelling Museum in the former monastery adjacent to St. Michael’s Basilica.
Where to stay in Mondsee, Austria
Many people visit Mondsee, Austria as a day trip from Salzburg or Vienna. But if you enjoy slow travel or simply just want to give yourself more time in this small, charming village, there are several hotels in the town that make for a great place to stay in Mondsee, Austria. Schlosshotel is located directly adjacent to the Basilica of Saint Michael. The hotel looks like a palace on the outside and has been recently renovated, making it an ideal place to stay for a luxury experience.
Hotel Krone is another highly rated hotel in Mondsee, Austria. Also centrally located in the small town, Hotel Krone offers a smaller, more boutique hotel experience, and is within a short walking distance from Mondsee’s main square, the basilica, and the lake.
Why you should visit Mondsee, Austria
Mondsee was one of the highlights of our trip to Austria. While both Vienna and Salzburg offer unique cultural experiences and are wonderful cities to visit, if you are looking to escape the larger cities and the crowds, Mondsee is definitely a great Austrian alternative.
With plenty of events and activities in summer and a thriving Christmas market in winter, Mondsee, Austria is a great place to visit any time of year. Even if you only decide to spend an hour or so in the town, Mondsee, Austria is worth the slight detour to experience the lakeside charm and the beautiful setting of this small village!
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This post on the best things to do in Mondsee Austria was first written in April 2017 and was updated in March 2022 for accuracy and current information.