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196km (122 miles) NW of Graz; 299km (186 miles) SW of Vienna; 80km (50 miles) SE of Salzburg

Surrounded by a lake, mountains, and woods, Bad Aussee is an old market town and spa in the "green heart" of the Salzkammergut. Unlike spa towns such as Bad Gleichenberg, Bad Aussee has developed into a resort relatively recently. It also doesn't place much emphasis on the medical/recuperative therapies that are all the rage at other resorts. Instead, most of the clientele comes here for its high altitude -- 650m (2,133 ft.) above sea level, nearly twice that of Bad Gleichenberg -- and its profusion of hiking trails that are clearly marked with green-and-white signs. Guests here tend to be younger and more vigorous than those at the more sedentary Bad Gleichenberg.

From this spa, you can explore the Altaussee, one of the most beautiful bodies of water in Styria, which faces the Totes Gebirge.

Bad Aussee lies amid a network of lakes in the Valley of Traun, with the peaks of the Totes Gebirge and the Dachstein massif visible in the distance. The best time to visit is in June, when fields of narcissus burst into bloom, one of the most spectacular signs of spring coming to Europe.

Despite the relative lack of interest in spa rituals here, Bad Aussee does emphasize the saltwater and freshwater springs that are tapped by many of the town's hotels. Waters from the Bad Aussee Glaubersalt spring are said to be effective for losing weight, partly because a pint or so will usually manage to curtail the most stalwart of appetites. Salt mined in the nearby hills, it is added to bathwater and is said to relieve aches and pains.

Bad Aussee, at the confluence of a pair of upper branches of the Traun River, is the capital of the Styrian section of the Salzkammergut. Only 5km (3 miles) north is the Altaussee, with the spa town of Altaussee on its shore.

One of Austria's most beautiful areas, the town is a good center for walking and climbing in summer. Although Bad Aussee has long been known as a summer spa resort, it has also developed into a winter ski center. Several ski lifts are located nearby, making it attractive to ski enthusiasts.

Bad Aussee's best-known association is with Archduke Johann of the House of Hapsburg. In 1827, he married the daughter of a local postmaster, a cause célèbre rivaling the later romance of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. There's a statue of the "Prince of Styria," Johann, in the Kurpark.