Think of Austria as a great dessert – a mountain creamy landscape, a three-level castle, a royal rise and fall like a sponge cake in an oven, history like a layered cake that goes back to Roman times. A German speaking country, Austria has a sweet touch, Gemütlich-ness. Traveling with children in Austria, the big decision is what to choose next.
Boat ride on the Danube – Boat rides on the Danube are fun for everyone in the family. The most beautiful stretch is the Wachau Valley, between Krems and Melk, where you will pass castles and monasteries along the river, and the city of Durnstein, where Richard the Lionheart is imprisoned. To really see the sights, cycle along the river (there are good bike paths), and the scenery is spectacular. This is the ship’s schedule.
The salt mine (Salzwelten) – “white gold,” salt, has been mined in Austria for thousands of years. Salt is a valuable commodity and a source of wealth for this region. Today the salt mine has been beautifully restored and has lots of fun for the family. My tour is for children aged 4 years and over.
Salzwelten Salzburg – Located right outside of Salzburg (which literally means “salt palace”), Salzwelten Salzburg must be visited. On the mine tour, you will glide on a wooden “raft” across an underground salt lake, glide under the miner’s glide, ride the miner train and visit the open Celtic settlement that was reconstructed to find out how the miners lived and worked. There are also special family activities and events.
Salzwelten Hallstatt – Saltzwelten Hallstatt is the oldest salt mine in the world. For 7,000 years salt has been mined here, and continues to this day (salt water is transported through pipes to processing plants).
On the tour, you will hear about “Man in Salt,” (found in 1734, a man, his clothes and equipment were perfectly polished in salt), climbed into an underground lake, and glided on a very long wooden slide, more than 200 feet (this is really fun for kids).
To get to the mine from the village of Hallstatt (located on the shores of Lake Hallstattersee), follow the journey with a short cable car to the entrance, which is guarded by a tower, Rudolfsturm. From the tower, there is a beautiful view of the village and lake below. If you want to climb back to Hallstatt village, take Soleleitungsweg, a trail that follows a pipe to the lake (takes more than an hour to go down).
Salzwelten Altaussee – In Salzwelten Altaussee, the tour takes you into the great salt mountain Sandling. Take the deep mining train, where you will see rock salt formations and layers of rock. This salt mine was also used in World War II by Nazis to store art, and you will tour “art galleries,” with reproduction of art stored during the war. Slides take you from one level to another. In July and August, there are guided tours specifically for children (more than once).