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Cradled in the Salzburg Alps, St. Johann im Pongau is a little charmer of a town, that’s incredibly pleasing both in winter and summer.
Drawing the eye in, one of the town’s landmarks is the Pongau Cathedral, which dates back as far as 924, with architectural additions to the structure taking place in 1855. The two-towered cathedral punctuates the skyline, backed by the drama of mist-swirled mountains.
Talking of drama, a must-see in St. Johann im Pongau is the Liechtenstein Gorge, a natural phenomenon which clefts the rock in half, creating a deep, dramatic 300-metre-deep gorge which also benefits from a gushing waterfall. What’s even more stunning is that modern day architecture has merged with nature to create a spiral ‘helix’ staircase made of steel, that journeys down to the base of the gorge. A remarkable feat of engineering plus a fabulous way to explore this natural wonder, the helix allows you to get closer to the geological marvel.
If you prefer to go up into the mountains, however, you’ll be well serviced in St Johann. The town is linked to the Snow Space Salzburg, a huge ski resort in Alpendorf with three ski areas and cable cars. It is also part of Europe’s largest ski are – Ski Amadé, named after local musical genius Mozart. In winter, the runs are ideal for skiers and boarders and cosy mountain huts tempt you in for warming Kaiserschmarrn, hot chocolate and Schnapps.
Summer sees the valleys and mountains criss-crossed with pathways which are ideal for hikers and bikers, and glinting lakes will tempt you for wild swims. Families will no doubt be drawn to altitudinous playground Ghost Mountain which also has a family friendly via ferrata to test your climbing skills.
Back in St. Johann, make time for a little shopping – here you’ll find fashion boutiques, chocolatiers, leather goods and art galleries plus the perfect places for coffee and cake. In other words – the good life.