Bad Ischl was originally famous for its healing waters; that's why Emperor Franz Josef spent his summers here in the 1800s. Today it's a time capsule of old-world Austria, with operetta festivals, famed coffeehouses, and a modern spa that's one of Austria's best.
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- There's no shortage of treats in Austria, but Bad Ischl's Café Zauner isn't just delicious, it was the Emperor's favorite. Franz Josef used to stop here everyday during the summer for a slice of the Zauner's lemon sponge cake, called guglhupf.
- Built in the 1880s, the Kaiservilla was constructed to honor the Empress Elizabeth—hence the shape, which, from above, looks like the letter "E." These days, the ornate drawing rooms serve as a storehouse for all kinds of Hapsburg memorabilia.
- The hills ARE alive here; tickets to performances at the Kongress und Theaterhaus are slightly more than a song, but it's worth the cost of admission.
- Bad Ischl's Operetta Festivals are in July and August.
- The Narcissus Festival is held in nearby Bad Aussee in June; the town is covered in flowers.
- St. Wolfgang, about 10 mi/16.1 km to the Southeast, is a picturesque lakeside village, perfect for a stroll or a nosh on some of their famous lake trout.
- St. Gilgen, 15 mi/24.1 km west of Bad Ischl, is the center of the area's sporting activities, including skiing and hiking. Salzburg is Mozart's birthplace and an opera lover's paradise.