The world is full of stunning natural wonders. You can travel miles to see the unbelievable size of the Grand Canyon, or you can go to the other side of the world to walk across the Great Wall of China. But have you ever heard of the world-famous disappearing lake?
Green Lake, Austria is a beautiful area that seems almost magical. In the winter, the shimmering lake shrinks and reveals a grassy park with a great view of the mountains. However, everything changes in the spring when ice from the towering peaks begins to melt. The runoff fills the park and completely submerges it. The water can get as deep as 30 feet and can completely cover what was once a dry landscape. As the end of the hot season nears, the water shrinks and stays that way for the entire winter. The cycle repeats itself each year.
This strange yet beautiful area is a great place to explore any time of the year. This travel guide can give you a general idea of what Green Lake, Austria, is, how to get there, and what you can do in the area.
How It Works
The lake sits at the bottom of the Hochschwab Mountains, which encircle the valley. In the winter, the clear, green water is only 3-7 feet deep. This reveals a beautiful park with benches, bridges, and plenty of hiking trails. However, when the temperature rises, snow and ice from the mountains begin to melt. In the hottest parts of the year, fresh water floods the valley. The lake becomes much larger, although the depth of the water can change due to the ranging amount of snowmelt.
What Makes Green Lake so Awesome
If you love the vibrant colors that nature can offer, you’ll love Green Lake, Austria. Also called Grüner See, this place is surrounded by forests and mountains. It’s a peaceful, serene location. However, many people think the lake is the prettiest part because of its turquoise-green color. The beautiful hue appears so green because of the mineral deposits in the water. The grassy bottom of the lake also adds to its vibrant color.
Many people have even said that Grüner See is the prettiest lake in the world. However, there is so much more to this natural wonder. From May to June, the park is completely submerged. Under the water, you can find park benches, bridges, and trees that are normally dry for most of the year. This underwater park is a surreal experience, with fish swimming through branches and leaves.
Although green, the water is very clear. This allows visitors to look into the lake and distinctly see the submerged park. It seems almost unreal to look into the clear body of water and see fish swimming in between the park benches.
Why People Love It
One of the biggest perks of this destination is that it is a great place to visit any time of the year. In the summer, people enjoy seeing the lake and the submerged trees. The water is very clear, and you can see everything that is in the water from above. It’s a phenomenon that is very rare and unique. If you plan on visiting during this time of year, consider going up to see the sunrise or sunset. The reflecting colors on the water and the beautiful sky above won’t disappoint travelers.
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In the winter, you can grab your hiking boots and travel through the valley that is now dry. Although there still is a small portion of the lake still there, you can go and see the trees, benches, and grass that are no longer submerged in water. Along with exploring the valley, the forests and mountains have many trails that are well marked and fun to explore.
How To Get There
This disappearing lake is in Austria southwest of Vienna. It’s basically in the center of the country, near a town called Tragoess. This resort town is only five miles from the lake. Hostels, inns, and guest cottages are available in the town for visitors and tourists.
Once you arrive in Tragoess, getting to the lake isn’t complicated. Buses can take tourists up to the lake, or you can rent a car and leave it in one of the car parks around the valley. From here, you can walk directly to the lake. There are also many trails around the area that lead to the outskirts of the water.
Other Activities Nearby
This area of the world is also known as the “green heart” of Austria, due to the many green landscapes and natural beauty. Because the area around Grüner See is so versatile, Tragoess has many recreational outlets that allow you to enjoy the outdoors. In the wintertime, there are various resorts open that allow you to ski, snowshoe, and dog sled along the trails. A few specific attractions in or near Tragoess include the following:
- Erzberg Adventure Park
- Lurgrotte Cave
- Planneralm Ski resort
Although camping is not allowed in the Green Lake area, you can find campsites nearby in Tragoess. There are also many viewing sights around that let you see exotic plants, animals, and rock formations.
Trails and Hikes
If you want a vacation full of outdoorsy events and exercise, the “green heart” of Austria is a great location. With great scenery, trails, and plenty of activity, this area is a hidden gem. Some of the most popular hikes near Green Lake include the following:
Green Lake Trail
This path is perfect for leisurely strolls, with many opportunities to stop and look at the view. It’s also a great trail to go on if you’re interested in seeing the bottom of the clear lake. The length of the trail is about 4 kilometers.
This path is about 5 kilometers and is a moderate hike. It has beautiful views of Bodenbauer and the nearby mountains. It’s a forest road and well-marked.
Grüner See to the Leobner Hütte Trail
Starting at Green Lake, this path leads through the valley and ends at Leobner Hut. Even if you don’t go all the way to the hut, this trail is a beautiful, moderate hike.
Reviews of Green Lake
Those who have explored this magical area agree that it is beautiful, serene, and almost ethereal. The combination of forests, towering mountains, and the green lake make it a beautiful destination. Some people recommend walking along the shoreline and taking a walk around the lake for the best views.
Because the lake is so different in the summer months compared to the winter months, it’s important to note that there are some distinct differences depending on the season you choose to go during. In the summer, you’ll have great views of the green lake. The water level will be high, and the temperature will be nice.
On the other hand, the lake will be very small in the winter. Instead, you’ll be able to see parts of the park that are normally under water. People who have gone during the winter have complimented the beauty of the landscape during this season. They also have said that there aren’t as many tourists, which can result in a quieter and more serene visit.
A Note About Scuba Diving
One important thing to keep in mind about Grüner See is that water activity is strictly prohibited. In 2016, Austria banned scuba diving, boating, and dogs from entering the lake. Before this time, scuba diving was one of the main reasons why people visited the lake. However, Tragoess residents were afraid that algae from these water activities would make the lake lose its clear and green qualities. Now, visitors can’t enter the water, but they can walk along the shore.
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If you were wanting to explore the waters of Green Lake, you’ll have to wait until they remove the ban. There has been speculation that this might occur. In the winter months, most algae are killed off because the temperature is so cold. Still, for the moment, Grüner See cannot be touched. Luckily there are many pictures on the internet of the surreal underwater park.
Green Lake, Austria may be the perfect travel destination for you. Along with stunning alpine and forest views, this naturally clear lake is worth being admired. The green hues of the water are wonderful to look at, too. You can spend hours hiking along the lake, sitting on the shore, or exploring other parts of Austria’s green heart.
Taking time to see the disappearing lake can be a great decision on your part. Approximately 100,000 people visit the lake each year and enjoy the scenic views that define this magical location. And hopefully, the water ban will be lifted soon so that people can play in the waters and explore the underwater park.
Although Green Lake isn’t in a high-traffic area, there are places, such as Tragoess, that can accommodate you and your fellow travelers. With plenty of places to stay along with resorts and other activities, you can make your trip to Grüner See worthwhile.