One of the most famous towns in Austria is Bad Ischl in the province of Salzburg. Its name is familiar to many because it is not far from Hallstatt. Ischl is a real spa town and a destination for many tourists who want to relax. Several hotels have spas, and many celebrities have visited this area.

The icing on the cake is that the Kaiservilla and Kaiserpark in the city once served as the summer residence of Franz Joseph and Sissi - now functioning as a museum.

The city is the former summer capital of the great Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and has been associated with the Habsburg Imperial Dynasty for at least 700 years. The city, the surroundings and the imperial villa were described as "heaven on earth" by  I. Francis Joseph.

Map - Where is Bad Ischl?

The city is part of the historical region of Salzkammergut, Austria. Ischl is located east of Salzburg, southwest of Linz, in Upper Austria. The area is part of the Alps.

  • Distance from Hallstatt: 20 minutes / 21 km
  • Distance from Linz: 1.5 hours / 100 km
  • Distance from Salzburg: 1 hour / 65 km
  • Distance from Vienna: 3 hours / 270 km
Bad Ischl map - Vienna distance

More about the city

Bad Ischl has been inhabited since the so-called Hallstatt culture. It was first mentioned in a 1262 charter as Iselen. The city is famous not only for Queen Sissi but also for the salt mines in the area.

In 1419, the Archduke Albert V of Austria established the Salzkammer (Salt Chamber) seat in the Wildenstein Castle. Later, in 1466 Ischl received market town privileges from Emperor Frederick III. The first salt mine was opened in 1563, and a salt evaporation lake in 1571.

Archduchess Franz Karl and Archduchess Sofia tried for a long time to have a baby. On the advice of the court doctors, the imperial couple visited the Salzkammergut region in 1828 to offer them a salt cure solution known for its beneficial effects.

This is how the Empress discovered the countryside for herself and, with it, Bad Ischl. The cure was beneficial, as several of their boys were soon born, the first being Joseph Franz.

The imperial brothers were called "salt princes" in German.
After World War II, Bad Ischl was the site of a temporary camp for displaced Holocaust survivors. Jews from Poland and other neighbouring countries found refuge here.

Kaiservilla

If you visit Bad Ischl, you will almost certainly see the Kaiservilla, the city’s most famous landmark. His mother, Princess Sophia, gave the palace to Emperor Franz Joseph Habsburg on his engagement with Sissi. The engagement occurred a year before, and the couple even met here earlier for the first time.

Kaiservilla

“Sissi,” as the family knew her, became known as the Austrian Empress Elizabeth, the beauty of the 19th century, and still impresses the public. Franz Josef built a personal hut in the Imperial Park in the English 16th-century “Elizabeth” style. The estate still preserves the memory of Elizabeth.

Marmorschlössl

There is also the Marmorschlössl Tea House, built for Empress Elizabeth, which is now home to a Museum of Photography.

Marmorschlössl, Bad Ischl

The imperial villa was also a stage where the great powers of the 19th century performed their diplomatic maneuvers. On July 28, 1914, Franz Joseph signed a war message for Serbia, which escalated into two global conflicts and changed the world.

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Few know, but the descendants of Franz Joseph and Sissi still own the villa - and stay here sometimes.

  • Season: April to October
  • Opening hours: every day from 19:30 to 17:00
  • Visiting: Group guided tour
  • Adult prices: between 5 and 22 euros. The price of the ticket depends on what we want to see. You can only visit the park, the photo museum, and the villa.
  • Unfortunately, both the villa and the garden are only partially accessible. The floor of the villa, washbasins, and garden part is not wheelchair accessible.
  • Dog friendly? Partly. The villa and other buildings are unsuitable for puppies. You can bring your dog into the garden.

Imperial Park and the Sissi Trail

The park belonging to the imperial villa is also a must-see if you are already here.

Sissi trail

Attractions in the area

#1 Parkbad Bad Ischl

For a splash, visit the Parkbad Bad Ischl water park, where not only children but adults enjoy the pools.

Parkbad Bad Ischl | Source: website

#2 Salzkammergut Radweg

The Salzkammergut cycle path runs through the city and the entire historic region. It covers a total of 360 km and an elevation of 1,850 m. It would take 27 hours to make it, which can be shortened to the area around the city. You can rent a bike for this here.

#3 Cable car Katrin

The cable car takes you to Katrin Mountain, located next to Ischl. From the lower station, you can reach the top in covered, panoramic cabins. The route takes only 15 minutes. At the top are magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. There is a restaurant at the top. Some come only because of the view, but many go on excursions on designated tourist routes.

  • Summer season: Mid-April - Mid-November
  • Winter season: mid-December - early March
  • Adult return ticket: 23 euros (16 euros one way)
  • The lift stops for one month at a time when changing music.
Bad Ischl cable car

#4 Hohenzoller Falls

A 7 km long hiking trail leads to the Hohenzollern Falls. The path, which can be completed in 2.5 hours, has a level difference of approximately 240 m. All hiking trails in the area can be found on the city’s website.

And for those who want more excitement, who can try canyoning at the waterfall for 80 euros!

Canyoning near Bad Ischl

#5 Rettenbach-Klamm

The gorge can be reached from the city on a hiking trail, which is about 6 km long. This trip will take about 3 hours.

  • Starting and ending point: Auböckplatz 5, 4820 Bad Ischl
Rettenbachklamm | Source