Austria can be an expensive place to visit if you stick to the well-worn tourist paths around Vienna and Saltzburg, but dare to be different and you can have a truly authentic experience without breaking the bank. Gmund is a hidden gem in the Carinthian region that is well worth your time. Easy on the eyes and the budget, this little town is a fantastic place to spend a few days soaking up some traditional Austrian culture. Rent a car and leave the southbound A10 and follow a road with stupefyingly beautiful views down the mountainside to find this well preserved, medieval town tucked into the Lieser River Valley.
Over the past few decades, Gmund has been transformed from a sleepy village into a vibrant town of art, artists, galleries, and studios. Whether you are happy just to explore the art and history or you are looking for something a little more adventurous, Gmund has it all.
Read on to find out about the best things to do in Gmund, Austria
1. Explore the Fritz Russ Sculpture Garden and Gallery House
Nicknamed “Kunstlerstad” or “Artist Town”, Gmund has many interesting studios and galleries that are open to the public and most of them are free. Fritz Russ is an extremely well-known local artist whose works adorn the Autobahn heading south to Italy. His sculpture garden is filled with a striking array of metal sculptures of all shapes and sizes. If art is your thing, grab yourself a coffee and a pastry from a local Baeckerei and spend a happy hour or so wandering around this riverside garden admiring the sculptures. Open from 9 am until 6 pm, it’s free and beautiful!
Alternatively, if the weather is inclement and you’d rather be inside, you can find the gallery house of Fritz Russ and Birgit Bachmann down a tiny laneway called the Kirchgasse, in a quirky building that is part of the old town. Also free to visit, this gallery has three distinctly different exhibits and is one of the more well-known galleries in Gmund.
Fritz Russ and Birgit Bachmann Gallery House
Address: Kirchgasse 44, 9853 Gmund in Kärnten, Austria
Fritz Russ Sculpture Garden
Address: A-9853 Gmund in Kärnten, Riesertratte 7a, Austria
Website: Fritz Russ Sculpture Garden
2. Take a guided tour of the medieval town center
Starting from the Rathaus (Town Hall), you will spend approximately 90 minutes walking around the surprisingly well preserved walled section of the medieval town. Your guide will regale you with stories of the past, from the bizarre “Split Church”, to the execution of Eva Faschaunerin, the last person to be executed in the town. With a history stretching as far back as 1252, Gmund officially became a town in 1346, so there is a lot to hear about!
Tours are very affordable, but need a minimum of 10 people to run. The guide is usually trilingual - happily translating from German to English and Italian. This is a not a strenuous walking tour, but it does involve some stairs and uneven medieval cobbled road surfaces, so those who are less able may not be able to participate fully in the tour. The Gmund Stadtgemeinde also offers art gallery tours and resident artist studio tours. These change seasonally, so there are plenty of alternatives to chose from if medieval history doesn’t float your boat.
Address: 9853 Gmund, Hauptplatz 20, Austria
Website: Guided Tours
3. Visit the Porsche Automuseum
Austrian, not German as many people think, Ferdinand Porsche began the automobile company that is so synonymous with speed, luxury, and precision, in Gmund. The first 52 cars to ever be branded with the name ‘Porsche’ were hand built in small Gmund garage before the enterprise was moved entirely to Stuttgart in 1950. The museum is located not far from the original workshop and is a private collection including exhibits that show the craftsmanship and process involved in the construction of these beautiful cars. You can also see some of the earliest models ever created by this automotive giant.
A perfect family outing that won’t break the bank. The opening hours are shorter during the winter months but, with the exception of November 1st and December 25th, it is open all year round.
Address: 9853 Gmund, Riesertratte 4a, Austria
Website: Porsche Automuseum
4. Hang around at the Innerkrems High Ropes Park
If you are more of an adventurer or have children who aren’t so much into history and art, then this is the place for you! Unleash your inner Tarzan and climb, swing, jump and balance to your heart’s content. There are a range of courses available offering varying degrees of difficulty, depending on your ability. If you are a worrier, be assured that the park meets the highest safety standards, and your children (and you) will be led around the park by qualified instructors.
With two zip lines and some challenging tree top routes, this park has enough to entertain even the most skeptical of teenagers. The park recommends that you allow 3 hours for this activity and age restrictions apply. Children 6 to 14 years old will need an accompanying adult or sibling over 16. This is a little more expensive than other activities you can choose to do around Gmund, but it is well worth it if you are looking for something a little bit different. Opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm.
Innerkrems High Ropes Park
Address: Sportschiffer, 9862 Innerkrems, Austria
Website: Innerkrems High Ropes Park
5. Be amazed at the Pankratium
Affectionately dubbed “The House of Amazement” by the locals, this attraction is definitely a must-see. A cross between an art gallery, science museum, and park, you can easily spend several hours here and not notice the time going by. Participation from young and old is encouraged and there are all kinds of experiments to try. You can create visual art from sound, generate gigantic bubbles, play bizarre instruments, and make water dance, to name just a few.
After exhausting the wonders inside, you can follow the sounds of the wind harp down the winding garden path to discover hidden sculptures and an apery, which you can inspect with a stethoscope and learn the secret language of bees. For the amount of time you can spend here, it is well worth the admission price at 9.50 EUR (10.60 USD) for adults, and 5.90 EUR (6.60 USD) for children under 15. Opening hours are 10 am to 5 pm for most of the year, except for the high summer months of July and August when it stays open for an extra hour, closing at 6 pm.
Address: Hintere Gasse 60, 9853 Gmund in Karnten, Austria
Website: The Pankratium
By sticking to the usual tourist routes, most people miss the spectacular scenery, beautiful valleys and stunning traditional towns that Austria has to offer. Make the effort to venture away from the typical tourist destinations and discover an entirely different Austria, full of charm, tradition, and hospitality. Gmund is a perfect example of this lesser known Austria, and whether you decide to book a guided tour, or simply stroll around on your own, there is plenty in this picturesque town to keep you occupied.
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