Grüner See (Green Lake) is a beautiful natural lake located in the municipality of Tragöß-Sankt Katharein, in the Styria region of Austria.
It is situated in a mountain valley in the Hochschwab mountains at about 770 meters above sea level and is surrounded by lush forests and high mountain peaks.
What makes Grüner See unique is that it is fed by melting snow from the surrounding mountains, which means that the water level can change dramatically throughout the year.
In spring and summer, the depth of the lake can reach up to 12 meters, but in autumn it starts to shrink, and in winter the maximum depth is 2 meters, sometimes it can disappear completely.
But that's not all, in the spring when it starts to fill up, it floods the area where the hiking trail is located, leaving benches, bridges, signs and everything under water, which in turn makes it unique again, creating the only underwater park in all of Austria.
Grüner See is also notable for its water visibility, which can be 40 meters and more, which together with the underwater park once made it a popular destination for divers.
But unfortunately, since 2016, diving as well as swimming in the lake is prohibited in order to preserve its unique color and transparency.
But thanks to the visibility, you can still walk around it and try to see the park with benches, bridges that are under water.
Tip: Near the Grüner See is the Freizeitsee Zenz, where you can cool off after a strenuous hike or just relax with the family. Camping sites are also available.
The emerald green lake did not get its name by chance: its crystal clear water is surprisingly green due to the refraction of light and the vegetation at the bottom of the bed.
There is no mud at the bottom of the water to make it cloudy, and the water is not rippled, so the water of the Grüner See is really mirror-smooth and crystal clear, which perfectly reflects the surrounding mountains, attracting photographers as well.
It is important to note that Grüner See is a protected area and visitors are encouraged to respect the natural environment and follow local regulations.
Hiking around the Grüner See
Visitors to Grüner See can enjoy hiking and mountain biking in the area, or simply have a picnic in nature while enjoying the views.
There are also several trails around the lake that offer wonderful views of the water and surrounding landscape, like:
Grüner See Circuit Trail: This is a popular hiking trail that takes you around the entire lake. The trail is approximately 4 kilometers long and takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
The trail is well-marked and takes you through beautiful alpine meadows, forests, and along the shores of the lake. (Keep in mind that this hiking trail can be under water during the late spring and summer)
Tragößer Klamm Trail: This is a moderate hiking trail that takes you through the Tragößer Klamm, a scenic gorge located near Grüner See.
The trail is approximately 6 kilometers long and takes about 2.5 hours to complete. Along the way, you will see waterfalls, rock formations, and beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.
Sonnschienalm Trail: This is a more challenging hiking trail that takes you up to the Sonnschienalm, a mountain hut located at an altitude of 1,500 meters. The trail is approximately 12 kilometers long and takes about 4 hours to complete.
Along the way, you will see beautiful alpine scenery and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Marienklamm: Marienklamm is a stunning natural attraction located in Tragöß, just a short distance from the famous Grüner See.
The name "Marienklamm" translates to "Mary's Gorge" in English, and it is a beautiful canyon with a river flowing through it.
The gorge is around 1.8 kilometers long and is a popular destination for nature lovers and hikers. Visitors can explore the gorge via a well-maintained trail that winds its way through the canyon, passing by waterfalls, rapids, and beautiful rock formations along the way.
One of the highlights of the Marienklamm is the impressive waterfall at the end of the trail. The waterfall drops down over 60 meters into a pool below, creating a breathtaking sight and a perfect photo opportunity.
Visitors can also climb up to a viewing platform above the waterfall for an even better view.
Hochschwab Trail: This is a long-distance hiking trail that takes you through the Hochschwab massif, which is one of the largest mountain ranges in Austria.
The trail is approximately 180 kilometers long and takes about 12 days to complete. Along the way, you will see stunning alpine scenery, mountain lakes, and wildlife.
Note: that hiking can be dangerous, especially in the mountains. Always make sure to check the weather forecast, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and carry enough food and water with you. It is also recommended to hike with a partner or in a group.
Read also: 13 Must-See Lakes in Austria
Alpacas and Llamas hike at Grüner See
"Alpakas und Lamas zum Grüner See" is an animal park and farm located approx. 3 kilometers from Grüner See.
The park is home to a variety of animals, including llamas, alpacas, and camels.
Visitors can interact with the animals and learn about their care and feeding.
One of the unique experiences offered by the park is Llama trekking to Green Lake. Visitors can take a guided hike with a friendly llama as a companion, enjoying the beautiful scenery and fresh mountain air along the way.
The hike takes approximately 6 hours and includes a break for a picnic lunch.
Another popular activity is the Alpaca and Llama Hike, which is a shorter hike (about 2,5 hours) that's suitable for families with young children.
During the hike, visitors can walk with an alpaca or llama and learn more about these fascinating animals.
Overall, "Alpakas und Lamas zum Grüner See" offers a unique and educational experience for animal lovers of all ages, and is a great way to add some fun and adventure to your visit to Grüner See.
Rock Climbing around Grüner See
The Grüner See area in Austria offers some excellent rock climbing opportunities for both beginners and experienced climbers. Here are a few notable spots:
Stockerwand Climbing Garden: This climbing garden is located a short distance from Grüner See and offers over 100 climbing routes.
You can rent equipment and take a guided climbing tour, or if you're experienced, climb independently.
Hieflau: This small town near the Grüner See has several climbing areas, including the famous Gesäuse National Park.
The park features granite cliffs and towers, with routes ranging from easy to very difficult.
Eisenerzer Klettersteig: Located near the Erzberg, an iron ore mining mountain near Eisenerz, this climbing garden offers a unique climbing experience with “via ferrata” routes.
The routes range from easy to difficult and offer a mix of traditional and sport climbing.
It's important to note that rock climbing can be a dangerous sport, and it's essential to have the proper training, gear, and experience before attempting any climbs.
Additionally, it's always recommended to climb with a partner or group and to check local conditions and regulations before heading out.
Skiing around Gruner See
In the winter months, when snow covers the mountains, they become a skiing paradise.
There are several skiing and snowboarding opportunities around Grüner See, with several excellent ski resorts nearby, as well as back-country and cross-country skiing trails.
Several cross-country skiing trails start from the Gruner See lake itself, with the possibility of renting equipment right there on the spot.
But here are some of the most popular skiing options in the region, just a short distance from Grüner See:
Präbichl Ski Resort: This ski resort is located about 30 minutes from Grüner See and offers a variety of slopes for all skill levels.
It has 20 kilometers of pistes, 5 lifts, and a snow park for freestyle skiing and snowboarding.
Hohentauern Ski Resort: This small ski resort is about an hour from Grüner See and offers family-friendly slopes and a cozy atmosphere. It has 12 kilometers of pistes, 4 lifts, and a toboggan run.
Tauplitz Ski Resort: This resort is about an hour and a half from Grüner See and offers a vast skiing area with over 40 kilometers of pistes, 16 lifts, and excellent backcountry skiing opportunities.
It's particularly popular for its wide-open slopes and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Hochschwab: This mountain range offers several cross-country skiing trails, including the popular Panoramaloipe trail, which is a 14-kilometer loop with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The area is also home to several cross-country skiing events and competitions throughout the winter.
Mariazell: This town is about 1 hour from Grüner See and offers several cross-country skiing trails, including the well-maintained and scenic Mariazellerland Loipe. The trail network covers over 30 kilometers and offers varying difficulty levels for skiers of all abilities.
Schladming-Dachstein: Located about 150 kilometers from Grüner See, it is one of the largest and most popular ski areas in Austria, offering all kinds of winter sports activities for everyone, as well as some impressive sights in its surroundings.
Sightseeing around Grüner See
Grüner See is a stunning alpine lake surrounded by the stunning Hochschwab Mountains and is a popular destination for outdoor activities.
But in addition, there are some spectacular sights nearby, picturesque towns and villages that are worth a visit if you're in the area, like:
Frauenmauer Cave: Frauenmauerhöhle, also known as Frauenmauer Cave, is a limestone cave located about 6 kilometers from Grüner See.
The cave is approximately 700 meters long and is known for its impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations, underground lakes, and narrow passages.
Visitors can take guided tours of the cave and learn about its history and geology.
The cave is also home to several species of bats and is a protected natural area.
Erzberg: Erzberg is a large iron ore mine mountain located in Eisenerz, about 50 minutes drive from Grüner See.
The mine is one of the largest open-pit mines in the world and has been in operation for over 1,300 years.
It's also a popular tourist destination, with visitors able to take guided tours of the mine and watch large trucks and excavators in action.
Additionally, the mine hosts an annual motorcycle race called the Erzberg Rodeo, which is considered one of the most challenging off-road motorcycle races in the world.
Mariazell Basilica: The Mariazell Basilica is a beautiful baroque church located in the town of Mariazell, about an hour's drive from Grüner See.
The church is a popular pilgrimage site and is known for its ornate interior and stunning frescoes.
Leoben: Leoben is a historic town located about 30 minutes from Grüner See. The town is home to numerous museums, including the Gösser Brewery Museum, the Museum Center Leoben, and the Museum of Mining.
Gesäuse National Park: Gesäuse National Park is a protected area located in the Ennstal Alps. The park is home to rugged peaks, deep gorges, and alpine meadows.
It's an excellent destination for hiking, wildlife watching, and nature photography.
Admont Abbey: Admont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in the town of Admont, in the Styria region of Austria.
It's known for its stunning Baroque architecture, including the largest monastic library in the world, which houses over 200,000 volumes. The abbey also contains a natural history museum, an art museum, and a beautiful botanical garden.
It's a popular destination for tourists and a spiritual center for the local community.
Graz: Graz is the capital city of Styria and is located about an hour and a half from Grüner See.
The city is known for its beautiful architecture, including the historic Old Town and the iconic Clock Tower. Graz is also home to numerous museums, galleries, and restaurants.
Read also: 17+ Top Attractions & Things to do in Graz, Austria
Spas or wellness centers near Grüner See
If you're looking for a more relaxed experience, you can simply sit by the lake and take in the stunning scenery.
You can also visit one of the local spas or wellness centers for a relaxing massage or sauna session.
There are several spas and wellness centers near Grüner See in Austria, like:
Asia Spa Leoben: This is a modern spa and wellness center located in Leoben, which is about 30 minutes away from Grüner See.
It features a variety of saunas, pools, and relaxation areas, as well as a wide range of massage and beauty treatments.
Therme Aqualux Fohnsdorf: This is a large spa complex located in Fohnsdorf, about 60 minutes away from Grüner See.
It has multiple indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, and steam rooms, as well as a wellness center offering massages and other treatments.
Read also: Best Places to Visit near Graz, Austria
Overall, there are many activities to do at and around Grüner See, catering to different interests and preferences. Whether you're looking for adventure, culture, or relaxation, you're sure to find something that suits you.