Traveling Soft and Playing Hard in Werfenweng, Austria

How do you move visitors from point A to point B while still keeping your sustainability credentials? The noise and pollution from cars can ruin the ambiance of an otherwise lovely vacation spot. The ski destination of Werfenweng, Austria, has figured out how to make low-emission transport more fun, friendly and attractive than the fossil-fuel kind. Under their "Soft Mobility" program, visitors to Werfenweg hand over their card keys for the SAMO card, which for €10 gives them free access to bikes, cross-country skis, biofuel-powered cars, and yes, even llama treks in the snow. But there's more to Werfenweg than just getting around in sustainable style...

The whole town, which won a Vista Award for sustainable travel, keeps an eye on the environment at every turn. Dozens of hotels, inns and farmhouses participate in the SAMO program.  The luxury Wood Ridge chalets, for instance, recycle and compost their waste, use renewable wood pellets for heating, and sow native plants for the birds and bees to enjoy in the summer. At the Travel Charme Bergresort hotel, the Alpenzeit restaurant makes delicious use of local cheeses, meats and other Alpine ingredients in their dishes. Over 40% of visitors elect to go the SAMO way while in Werfenweng, and, if they're so inclined, can head off at the end of their stay to visit the other 28 towns across the Alps participating in the soft mobility program.

Werfenweng by Barbara Hof

Image: Barbara Hof

In the winter, novice and expert skiers alike find excitement along Werfenweng's 27 kilometers of ski slope. Those looking for less thrill and more chill can take advantage of the weekly llama trek, a torch-lit stroll through the snow accompanied by your very own furry companion. In the summer, nature-lovers take advantage of the peace and quiet of the off season to hike, bike, and bask in the stunning scenery. There might not be snow when the weather is balmy, but the joy of barreling down the hillside in a 'mountain cart' captures some of the top-speed joy of skiing.

Werfenweng is an easy day trip to Salzburg, and perhaps more intriguingly, only six kilometers from the ice cave of Eisriesenwelt. Fitting called the 'home of the ice giants', Eisriesenwelt is the world's largest ice cave. Open spring through autumn, the caves are only accessible by guided tour. Clutching old-fashioned gas lanterns, visitors wend past awe-inspiring formations that invite comparisons to the Norse gods.

ice cave via auto countries

Photo: Auto Countries

Werfenweng is the perfect hideaway for those seeking outdoor adventure in pristine mountain air – all the more pristine, of course, thanks to the town's commitment to soft mobility and a gentler way of life!


Laura Heller blogger and owner of the blog: Call me a hippie, interviewed BookDifferents' dedicated marketeer Tiffany about her hippie-ness and about sustainable travel. Her tip for sustainable travel is to always keep your impact as small as possible. There is an endless amount of options to travel more responsibly so you’ll definitely be able to find ones that fit your style of traveling. continue reading

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