We visited Plansee as the first stop on our August Austria roadtrip. This beautiful lake is located just past the German border in west Austria, so it was the perfect first stop for us as we were driving from the Netherlands. I had seen some beautiful pictures of Plansee on Instagram and was super exited to visit, but also a bit hesitant as I have been disappointed in these kind of locations before, as pictures don’t tell the full story. For example Lago di Braies in the Dolomotis is overrun with people and it is almost impossible to beat the crowds. This leads to a traffic jam like hike, which is exactly what you don’t want when you visit a nature phenomenon. Luckily, Plansee is just as picturesque as in the pictures and surprisingly it was tranquil when we visited. If you are visiting Austria, or even just passing through, you should definitely put Plansee on your must visit list!
Plansee is located in the western part of Austria and the second largest lake of Tyrol. There is a road that surrounds a large part of the lake, making Plansee a very easy visit. You will find little pebble beaches surrounding Plansee and often you can park your car roadside near these beaches. The pebble beaches are very small and if you arrive on time, or on a not too hot day you can have these beaches all to yourself. What makes Plansee special is that it is very close to the Alps, so if you take pictures you will have super clear water in front and mountains in the back of your picture. Plansee is super cold year-round, so I didn’t hop in for swimming, but on a hot day it should be very refreshing! We visited in August, when the weather was a bit depressed, so we found no crowds at Plansee. I loved how quiet it was, even the main grassy beach was super relaxed to visit. I found the area very unspoiled and was surprised by how little people are visiting. This probably is the case because the area has not been developed widely. We only noted one campground and one restaurant next to Plansee.
Besides sunbathing Plansee is popular for a few things:
Hiking: You can do all sorts of hikes in Plansee, giving you amazing views of the lake from the mountains. There is a “secret hike” to a beautiful viewpoint, which takes about 3 hours round-trip, if you google it you should be able to find instructions. We visited with a baby stroller so we didn’t do this hike.
Sup: If you like to admire Plansee from the lake itself, it is very suitable for a stand-up paddle board. You can hire one from 25 euros at SUP Verleih Sennalpe (the campsite).
Sunbathing: There is a main beach near the restaurant, where you can lie in the grass, or you can visit one of the previously mentioned pebble beaches if you like more privacy. You can park your car in a parking lot for 4 euros per day near the main restaurant. If you visit early in the morning you can enjoy the crystal clear views with the sounds of birds chirping. Make sure you bring some food because the restaurant only has very simple dishes.
Where to stay in Plansee
My family has been vacationing near Plansee for years, so I have some recommendations on where to stay:
Alpenhotel Ernberg in Reutte: Modern hotel with a traditional Stube (restaurant), with delicious Austrian dishes and good breakfast buffet. They provided us with a very comfortable baby bed.
Alpenhotel Ammerwald: Located only 2 kilometers from Plansee you will find this modern hotel owned by BMW. I loved the modern, slick wood design of the rooms, but didn’t love the extensive COVID-regulations in the hotel. During COVID the swimming pool is closed and it is impossible to get a drink before (the limited) dinner. However, it is a cheap options and offers good facilities if everything opens up again. The location is absolutely stunning and I loved the green views of the Ammerwald from our room.
Hotel Bergland in Lermoos: A traditional family run hotel, offering SPA facilities and a good halfboard food option. Lermoos is one of the most lively towns in the area, if you like to eat outside of your hotel.
Campsite Sennalpe: Haven’t visited this one myself, but I definitely will if we are in the area with our van. The location is beautiful, overlooking Plansee from a little elevation.
Other things in the area
This part of Tyrol has many interesting sights of which I have done a few, I would recommend the following.
Zugspitze glacier: This glacier connects Germany and Austria and is a lovely visit in summer and winter (skiing).
Highline 179: This footbridge is also located in Reutte, so you can easily combine a visit to Plansee with a walk over this bridge (if you are not afraid of heights).
Garmisch Partenkirchen: These lovely towns are a part of the Romantische Strasse, an area with villages with traditional half-timbered houses. Near Garmisch you will find the Partnachklamm, a gorge created by the Partnach river. You can visit in summer and winter time, in winter it is extra romantic as the gorge freezes and creates amazing ice crystals.
Schloss Neuschwanstein: The ultra famous Schloss Neuschwanstein should be on your bucket list. You get the best views if you do a little hike opposite the castle, find out about it in my blog.