In this article, we visit Austria and share how experiencing wellness in Saalfelden Leogang challenged and inspired us to live healthier and more wholesome lives. Saalfelden Leogang in Salzburgerland, southwestern Austria is a multifaceted, year-round destination with a rich culture of wellness that leaves a lasting impression. 

 

Painting a picture of wellness

Come imagine with us for a moment…

You wake up feeling relaxed after a good night’s sleep, in part thanks to the calming Swiss stone pine scent diffusing through your room.

Wrapping up in a plush 100% organic cotton bathrobe which embraces you like a warm hug, you walk towards the verandah doors. You draw back the curtains and bathe in the warm rays from the morning sunshine. Stepping out on your private balcony, Mountains greet you as playful clouds drift around their peaks.

Couple laughing on Balcony in Bio-Hotel Rupertus, Leogang

Einatmen (inhale)! Ausatmen (exhale)! Clean Alpine air fills your lungs, giving your body a regenerative boost before you head back inside to enjoy an invigorating shower.

Breakfast, a selection of seasonal items prepared from regionally sourced produce, leaves you spoiled for choice. Homemade butter melts on your still-warm freshly baked bread. Fresh orange juice fills your mouth with flavour. You would be right to conclude that the ingredients in your green salad may have been harvested only some hours before.

You spend the afternoon on a leisurely hike in the mountains, soaking in knowledge from an expert guide and boosting your fitness.

Mountains in Leogang, Austria

Dense pine forests surround you. Trees, herbs and colourful plant life all beckon you to see, touch and smell. Your guide points out some wild strawberries. You laugh as she assures you they are safe to eat. You take a bite and you feel like you have just tasted the earth.

You pause to look around and acknowledge that there is something about this place that agrees with your mind, body and soul. There is something about this place that leaves you feeling…well.

 

The pursuit of wellness in Saalfelden Leogang

The picture we painted above was our reality when we visited the municipalities of Saalfelden and Leogang, two towns located in the Alpine region of Salzburgerland, southwestern Austria.

Saalfelden Leogang (just one hour’s drive from Salzburg Airport) offers rich contrasts; from adrenalin-heavy sport to soft adventure, from ski slopes in the winter to verdant meadows and lush green forests in the summer.

View of Saalfelden Leogang, Austria while hiking

As spring and summer unfold, Mother nature transforms this popular winter holiday destination into a place with fantastic opportunities for outdoor adventures.

In this destination of contrasts, one day you could be hiking or mountain biking downhill and the next, you could be relaxing in a forest spa or enjoying an open-air jazz performance with rugged limestone mountains as your backdrop.

On this particular visit, our main interest was exploring the concept of wellness in Saalfelden Leogang.

Omo in garden at Bio-Hotel Rupertus, Leogang

Wellness means different things to different people. The Global Institute of Wellness (yes there is such a thing), a nonprofit organisation which promotes knowledge about preventative health, defines it as:

“The active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”

Travelling in pursuit of wellness or self-care is nothing new (even if travel industry researchers try to make it sound like the next big emerging trend!).

However, finding destinations with multiple elements – food, natural beauty, outdoor and indoor experiences – that promote wellness…now THAT is the real story.

Pursuing wellness in Saalfelden Leogang challenged our own lifestyle choices. Below we share a few examples.

 

Eating organic, seasonal and locally sourced food

An important aspect of wellness is making better choices about the food we eat.

These days, the ‘organic’ label gets slapped on a lot of food items by retailers looking to attract conscious consumers who care about the environment and healthy eating.

Marketing hype aside, there are obvious benefits to eating natural, pesticide-free foods that have not been pumped full of chemicals and where animal welfare is a priority.

Greenhouse on organic farm in Saalfelden Leogang

Adopting an organic food diet is much easier when you live in a place like Salzburgerland, a region considered to have some of the best organic farming in Europe. Leogang, in particular, is home to around 50 farming families of which almost 70% are organic farmers.

More sustainable farming practices means that farmers can specialise in growing a few items with a focus on quality rather than quantity. The principle is simple: less is more.

Many hotels in Saalfelden Leogang make organic ingredients a priority in their kitchens, for example, properties like Bio-Hotel Rupertus where everything on their menu is organic.

Organic food as part of wellness in Saalfelden Leogang, Austria

Eulanda with Najda Blumenkamp at Bio-Hotel Rupertus, Leogang

Going even further, the hotel’s co-proprietor, Najda Blumenkamp, works with her staff and a network of regional producers and growers to promote seasonality across the hotel’s bar and food menus. Items in season are after all more likely to be fresher, tastier and more readily available.

For us city dwellers, sourcing organic food requires a certain level of planning and commitment but this is something we consciously want to incorporate into our personal routine.

 

Improving fitness and mental wellbeing through nature

“Sometimes people forget what it feels like to walk barefoot on the grass,” Nadja said, as we chatted with her about activities promoting wellness in Saalfelden Leogang. Coming from a city like London, we could totally relate.

Hiking is part of wellness in Saalfelden Leogang

The hills and mountains in Saalfelden Leogang come alive in the summer, not with the sound of music but with the buzz from hiking, cycling and other outdoor activities.

A major highlight is the competition-grade Epic Bikepark Leogang which attracts mountain bike downhill thrill-seekers of all ages and abilities every year.

However, for visitors like us with lower adrenalin-related ambitions, Leogang thankfully offers a variety of soft adventure options including ‘Simply Hiking’.

This programme allows hikers to simply turn up to ‘pole-sharing stations’, grab a hiking pole fashioned from locally sourced wood and set off along clearly marked trails.

We met up with Birgit Battocleti, a local surveyor and hiking guide at Badhaus Leogang, the start of a hiking trail, where we began a three-hour wander through the forests of Leogang.

Birgit Battocleti, hiking guide, in Saalfelden Leogang, Austria

Picking wild berries while hiking in Saalfelden Leogang, Austria

Hiking to explore wellness in Saalfelden Leogang

View of Saalfelden Leogang, Austria while hiking

Surrounded by countless pine species, we learned that breathing in the natural forest scents was great therapy for respiratory illnesses and boosting immunity.

Strategically placed wooden benches offered panoramic views and a chance to rest. Cast iron forest swings were fun and added a carefree dimension to the experience.

Wellness also means improving our physical and mental wellbeing.

Away from the usual pressures and routine of our London lives, hiking in Saalfelden Leogang offered the chance to practice mindfulness – to pay attention to the present moment, to our own thoughts and feelings and to consciously reconnect with the world around us.

 

Relaxation and recuperation are important too!

Balancing our mildly exerting hiking adventure with some relaxation seemed like an appealing prospect.

Therefore, after we said goodbye to Birgit, we headed to the award-winning ErholPol Spa (‘erhol’ translates to ‘relax’), the wellness facility at Bio-Hotel Rupertus, to spend the rest of the afternoon.

ErholPol Spa (‘erhol’ means ‘relax’), the wellness facility at Bio-Hotel Rupertus

Image courtesy Bio-Hotel Rupertus

 

A highlight of ErholPol Spa is their use of 100% organic products. Najda, herself a Traditional European Healing (TEH) practitioner, shared about how she often picks herbs from the mountains and infuses them into the spa treatments.

Our spa experience featured a soothing massage session and facial treatments using a selection of aromatic oils and creams which helped to ease the tension from our tired muscles.

No discussion on wellness is complete without talking about creating the right conditions for our bodies to rest, recuperate and be renewed.

 

Wellness as a lifestyle

Couple laughing in room at Bio-Hotel Rupertus

So come imagine with us for a moment (again)…

You’ve come to a destination where wellness is not a mere fad but a culture.

In this destination, the local community are stakeholders working together in sustainable ways to harness their natural environment and promote this culture.

This is a destination where food, nature and holistic healing methods combine to reinvigorate and activate your mind, soul and body.

You leave this destination determined to make better choices so that wellness becomes your lifestyle.

There is no need to dwell in your imagination forever. You can find wellness in Saalfelden Leogang.

Disclosure: Our trip was organised by Saalfelden Leogang Touristik GmbH. We received complimentary hotel accommodation, meals, and activities during our stay. However, all photos and opinions expressed are our own.

 

Travel information

Getting there: The nearest airport is Salzburg (70km drive to Leogang). A summer holiday shuttle is also available at €44 per person.

Where to stay: Bio-Hotel Rupertus. Summer/autumn 2019 – Natural Room – €120 to €130 per person/per night. Half-board and family packages are available. Contact info@rupertus.at or call +43 6583 8466 for details.

Save money: Use the year-round Saalfelden Leogang Card (free for tourists, available upon check-in to a partner hotel) to gain access to local buses, cable cars, guided hikes, museums and selected activities.

Also, visit The family-friendly Sinne (senses) Adventure Park on the Asitz mountain to experience nature with your five senses.

 

PIN THIS

Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).