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Snapshots: Bad Gastein, Austria

Bad Gastein has a growing co-working travel culture, stunning trails and breathtaking views, making it an excellent destination for solo travelers seeking adventure

Bad Gastein was my first real stop in the Alps. This Austrian spa town (“Bad” means “spa”) sits nestled in a valley of the High Tauern mountains, and is known for its thermal baths, unique architecture, and skiing in the winter. It was a quick train ride from Slovenia to Bad Gastein, and a short walk from the train station to Selina Bad Gastein, my home for the week.

Selina is a well-known hostel brand — they’re all over Central and South America, but have recently been making inroads to Europe, opening locations in Portugal, Greece, Israel, the UK, and Austria. The brand’s positioning is at the intersection of travel and work; most of their properties have dedicated co-working spaces included or available for an additional fee. Naturally, this was exciting for me as a solo traveler who is also working full time.

I had a good experience here, although I think the Bad Gastein location faces some unique challenges when it comes to *vibe*.  Ski towns in the alps can be quiet in the summer — many restaurants and hotels are closed for the season. Fewer lodging options means a wide range of ages and travel styles at the options that are available. This normally would be fine, but it was clear that Selina wants to curate a *particular* vibe. They hosted an electronic music “festival” over the weekend and tried to attract young, hip people from Salzburg (about an hour away by train). As a 30-something professional who has migrated away from late-night party traveling and towards chill drinks and going to bed early, I almost feel like I’m too old/boring to be in Selina’s target audience.

That said, I did meet some cool people here, and it was a pleasant spot to work and do some exploring in the nearby mountains — which were definitely the highlight.

There’s a plethora of trails down the valley, or easily accessible by ski lift (or a taxing climb directly from town). Bad Gastein also hosts the Adidas Infinite Trails races in the fall.

I had a great morning doing a loop up to Huttenkogel, over to Graukogel, down a spicier than expected ridge line (video here), and looping back to the ski lift. Big fan of taking ski lifts on the way down to save the knees 😂. Stunning views.

The highlight for me was a long day starting at nearby Sportsgastein (a short bus ride), and then traversing the mountains back to the top of Stubernerkogel, a lovely, 12-mile,  6,000 ft run. The trails were spectacular. Runnable sections on grassy ridge lines, steep climbs, panoramic views, and even a few more exposed sections with a bit of snow. All in all an excellent day in the mountains.

Looking down towards Sportsgastein
The Tauern mountains
Spectacular running on these ridge
Apparently it snowed overnight

Finishing the run at a hut with some Käsespätzle is never a bad idea.

I'm Kyle Frost. Join 65,000 readers enjoying Here & There, my weekly outdoor/travel newsletter with nuance, questions, and complexity.

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