Pampered, pummelled, purified… life is bliss by the crystal-clear waters of Tirol’s largest lake
I MEAN this in the nicest possible way… take out the equation walking, hiking, paragliding or water sports, and nothing much else happens in Pertisau.
As I relax in the scenic village, taking in a cold beer and people watching at the Strand Bar by the waterfront, the sun streams down, encouraging boats to reflect their bows off the mirror-like Lake Achensee. This could well be nirvana. For if you are seeking relaxation… pampering… a place to de-stress… then here we have it. And I love it.
Lying at 930 metres, and stretching over ten kilometres, the water is pure enough to drink. With its accessible shoreline, the largest bathing lake in Austria’s Tirol is affectionately known as the ‘Sea of Tirol’.
There is little wonder that people laze about by the edge of the lake or take a dip, for the water can reach temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius during the summer months. The bright limestone rock causes the surface water to shimmer in colour, changing from stunning turquoise to aquamarine.
In Pertisau, which is located on the southern shore of the lake, two large wooden swimming piers and a viewing platform are popular with visitors. Others take the opportunity to relax on wooden jetties which reach out into the water, the only mild disturbance being the occasional wake of the steamers which cruise these parts, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a circular tour of the lake, and to hop and off at will, at designated stops.
Many, like myself, take the opportunity to head to the town of Jenbach and catch a 50-minute ride on Europe’s oldest steam cog railway to Maurach, where you can catch a steamer operated by Achensee Shipping Company back to Pertisau or onwards to other stop-offs.
I hop off at the mountain hut Gaisalm, where I enjoy a salad lunch before walking back to Pertisau along the attractive trail which runs alongside the lake.
With over 500 kilometres of designated hiking trails criss-crossing the landscape around the lake, you can either enjoy a relaxing walk through the valley or head up one of the many peaks.
The 2,457-metre Sonnjoch in the Karwendel mountains is the highest surrounding the ‘Tirolean sea’, with spectacular views.
Once back in Pertisau, there is always time for a massage and sauna. For we are in the heart of wellbeing, and Tyrolean shale oil territory. For over a century, shale oil has been extracted from oil shale located 1,500 metres above Lake Achensee, and processed in skincare products.
Visitors can take a guided hike to the shale oil mine in Bachental, or opt to visit the Vitalberg visitor centre in Pertisau, which is open year-round, and see exhibits depicting the history of the Tyrollean shale oil distillery (www.steinoel.at). Various health spas in the hotels offer a chance to try the products.
The Nature Park Karwendel has its boundary on the western shore of Lake Achensee. This is the largest contiguous nature reserve in the northern limestone Alps, comprising over 920 square kilometres and stretching across to Bavaria. The first provisions for the protection of this unique alpine landscape – the only one of its kind in Europe – were first laid down in 1928.
Back in Pertisau, it is time for a stroll along the waterfront, where I enjoy a refreshing ice-cream. I could, naturally, have opted for another drink, for, with naturally cloudy light or seasonal beers available, Archensee beer is brewed from the purest Karwendel water, hips, barley and wheat malt. I refrain, saving my palette for dinner later at the Stub’n at the Wirthaus am See, opposite the Strand Bar, where aperitifs are in order.
Many visitors will come to this pretty Tyrolean village for long weekends, take in the ambience, indulge in spa treatments, walk the trails, or simply laze away the afternoons. Am I talking bliss, or what?…
- All images © Essential Journeys/Michael Cowton
Thomson Lakes & Mountains offers a week from £778 per person at the 4* Hotel Post am See in Pertisau on Lake Achensee, including half board accommodation, flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and resort transfers.