The easiest way to reach Altaussee is by car—the drive is about 90 minutes from Salzburg, three hours from Vienna. The weather is rarely sweltering, even at the height of summer. It can become quite cool at night, particularly when it rains, so pack a light jacket or sweater and something to keep out the wet. Credit cards are infrequently honored, especially in restaurants, but it's easy to find ATM's accepting Cirrus-linked cards. Altaussee is much in demand during July and August; if possible, book at least a year in advance.
Hackerhaus Altaussee; phone and fax 43-3622/71249; houses $85 per night. The Beuchels, one of Altaussee's most prominent families, rent a collection of charming restored farmhouses and lakeside vacation homes.
Hotel am See 2 Fischerndorf, Altaussee; 43-3622/71361, fax 43-3622/713-4613; doubles from $60. Altaussee's oldest, grandest hotel doubles as the town's nerve center. Actor Klaus Maria Brandauer can often be spotted taking an afternoon cordial on the lakeside terrace.
Hubertushof 86 Puchen, Altaussee; 43-3622/71280, fax 43-3622/712-8080; doubles $60, including breakfast. The redoubtable Countess Strasoldo welcomes guests to her family's 101-year-old, eight-room former hunting lodge.
Seevilla 60 Fischerndorf, Altaussee; 43-3622/71302, fax 43-3622/713-028; doubles from $100, including breakfast. On the site of the villa where Johannes Brahms first presented his Clavier Trio op. 87 and Quintet op. 88, Seevilla offers inspiring lake views as well as a few more modern amenities, including an indoor pool and steam room.
Lewandofsky 144 Kurhausplatz, Bad Aussee; 43-3622/53205. Locals stop by this patisserie to while away the hours drinking espresso in the brick courtyard. Visitors will find the perfect souvenir: boxes of marzipan-topped gingerbread wrapped in bright cotton.
Loser Bergrestaurant Altaussee; 43-3622/71315; dinner for two $40. This chalet-style restaurant offers the best Austrian food around, along with a stunning view of the mountains and the town of Altaussee, 2,000 feet below.
Gasthof Ladner 1 Gössl, Grundlsee; 43-3622/82110; dinner for two $80. The timbers of this heartily traditional restaurant overlooking the waters of Grundlsee once reverberated with scandal: it was here that the archduke Johann met commoner Anna Plochl, whom he wed in 1829, much to the horror of his royal Hapsburg family.
Strandcafé Altaussee; 43-3622/71214; lunch for two $35. A 15-minute walk along a rustic path leads to this relaxed and casual waterfront café. Be sure to try the delicious pan-fried Saibling, a salmon indigenous to the lake.
Beim Rastl 2 Meranplatz, Bad Aussee; 43-3622/53278. Helga Rastl's shop seems to have every conceivable variety of dirndl. Just as big an attraction is Rastl herself, a seemingly bottomless reservoir of lore.
Christian Raich 59 Altausseerstrasse, Bad Aussee; 43-3622/52260. Behind Raich's lederhosen studio is his mother's dirndl shop, where authentic traditional dresses are made to order.
Der Instrumenten Bauer 28 Kirchengasse, Bad Aussee; 43-3622/50921. Proprietors Andreas and Kathrin Mayer carry on the ancient tradition of the musical instrument maker, with tools and techniques handed down through generations.
Leithner Hüte 129 Bahnhofstrasse, Bad Aussee; 43-3622/52818. Founded in 1532, Europe's oldest hatmaker sells a wide array of black and green wool hats. But 30-year-old craftsman Alexander Reiter isn't all tradition: the first person to paraglide from a balloon, he is now in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Stoffdrucke Elfriede Sekyra 153 Parkgasse, Bad Aussee; 43-3622/52688, fax 43-3622/55219. Marcus Wach uses print patterns that date back hundreds of years to decorate scarves, dresses, ties, and lederhosen suspenders.
A tub of soothing peppermint-scented foot cream from Hütter Kosmetik & Emballagen (251 Puchen, Altaussee; 43-3622/71143).