Bad Gastein, Austria

In a mountain valley south of Salzburg, this Wes Anderson-esque wonderland of belle-epoque buildings, powdered slopes and top-notch spas has been loved by royals for centuries. In need of a winter retreat? Bad Gastein is a must.

In a deep mountain valley just south of Salzburg, Bad Gastein is a Wes Anderson-esque wonderland of belle-epoque buildings, powdered slopes, steaming springs and cascading waterfalls.

Located in the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, this spa town originally drew 19th-century royalty - Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany and Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria to name a few - in search of curative spas and restorative nature. Today, many still flock to the town for wellness weekends in the Alpine landscape.

Spend days skiing down Bad Gastein's steep slopes that lead into the valley, following cross-country routes through the silent winter forest, wandering among the winding streets and dipping into quaint shops and charming cafés etched into steep mountainsides.

Don't miss…

… treating yourself to a spa day. The word "bad" means "spa", so pampering comes with the territory. Dip into spas dotted across the gorge - our favourite is Felsentherme, with mineral-rich indoor and outdoor thermal baths filled with water from 18 different springs from the Hohe Tauern mountains.

Who to take with you

Someone in need of some serious TLC.

When to go

Escape the Christmas madness and visit Bad Gastein in December for a magical winter in the fells.

Where to stay

Stay at Haus Hirt for sweeping views across the valley and an Aveda spa complete with thermal baths from the mountain's springs.

Most likely to bump into…

Keen snow sportsmen and women. With Gastein Valley's 760km of pistes, 270 lifts and 45km of cross-country skiing trails, there are winter activities aplenty.

Essentials to bring with you

Make like the royalty who have graced Bad Gastein's slopes before you by channelling your inner Diana (circa 1989) with this red Cordova striped stretch ski suit.

How to get there

Fly to Salzburg and hop on board a train which takes you to Bad Gastein in just under 90 minutes.

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