Chestnut trees line the mile-long, traffic-free Esplanade, the town's chief attraction. You can walk from Rathausplatz (Town Hall Square) to the Strandbad (Lakeside Beach), watching the many majestic swans glide serenely along the lake. In days of yore, emperors, kings, and members of the aristocracy strolled along the Esplanade and in the town's park, just as you can do today. The Welfen from Hannover, Württembergs, Bourbons, and archdukes of Austria favored Gmunden as a pleasure ground, as did Franz Schubert, Friedrich Hebbel, and Johannes Brahms, among others.
The lake beaches are some of the best in the whole area, and in summer you can enjoy a wide variety of lakeside activities, from swimming and sailing to windsurfing and water-skiing, as well as tennis and horseback riding. For the experienced, it's also possible to do a little mountain climbing. For those in the mood for less strenuous activity, there are folkloric performances and dance clubs, or you can just relax in a wine tavern or an outdoor cafe. The tourist office will supply details.
Gmunden, former center of the salt trade, has long produced Gmundner ceramics, and you'll see artistic work in faience (opaque-colored glazes) and green-flamed pottery.
One of the more evocative curiosities of Gmunden is the Schloss Ort (Ort Castle) ★, now a ruined jumble of stones built on ancient Roman foundations that's set on a small island a few yards offshore from Gmunden's town center, at the far end of the Esplanade. Visitors are free to wander among the ruins or stop at a nearby restaurant, the Orther Stuben (tel. 07612/62499), a short distance from the ruins. Guided tours can be arranged with several days' advance notice through the tourist office (above), although most visitors to Gmunden opt to wander around on their own.
The region around Gmunden is rich with sweeping panoramas. From a well-marked spot close to the town center, you can take a cable car, the Grünberg Seilbahn (tel. 07612/6601445; www.greunberg-gmunden.net), to the top of the town's nearest mountain, the Grünberg, where you'll be able to see out over the Traunsee and the Dachstein. The cable car, hauling four persons up and downhill within each of its cabines, operates only May through October; it charges 12€ ($18) for adults and 6.80€ ($11) for children round-trip from Gmunden to the top, a 12-minute ride each way. May, June, September, and October, it operates daily 9am to 5pm; July and August, daily 9am to 6pm.
In winter, ski lifts, runs, and slopes on the Grünberg are easily reached from Gmunden. Other winter activities in Gmunden are curling, ice-skating, and walking along the lake.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.