An unforgettable land above the clouds

It feels like the top of the world

High in the Austrian Alps, surrounded on all sides by snow, row after sweeping row of gigantic mountain peaks seem to go on forever. 

The setting sun bounces off the snow around us and then slowly sinks into an abyss behind a distant peak.


Night comes quickly and with it a great sense of humility and privilege at having a front row seat in such a magnificent natural theatre.

Our cameras have clicked almost non-stop since we ascended Schafberg mountain, but are proving puny in the face of such a spectacle. 


The majesty of being part of these beautiful Alps cannot be easily captured. Neither can the feeling of standing in snow and watching birds soaring well below you?

Rising above the picturesque Austrian village of St Wolfgang and the shimmering waters of its See, Schafberg Mountain is astonishing.

The mirror-like water of Wolfgang See.

And, the experience starts with a wonderful ride that would delight any train enthusiast.

 Schafberg Bahn is a steam or diesel driven railway that runs regularly up the mountain on a cog track.

As the train ascends, it passes through ever-changing scenery – first the green meadows around St Wolfgang; then mountain pine forests; alpine slopes and eventually the tussock grass above the snow line.


On their way up the mountain, the locomotive and its handful of carriages wind over a big stone bridge and, at times, they pull onto a side track to allow a descending train to pass.

On our visit, the peak of Schafberg was covered in snow from falls the previous day – the blanket of white showcasing the mountain’’s other great attraction, the hotel in the clouds.


Hotel Schafbergspitze sits on the very tip of the mountain, with massive cliffs all around – and stunning views into the Alps across, Austria and Germany.

The train pulls into a station on the mountaintop, from where it is only a short walk to the hotel.

But what a walk it was for us!


The few hundred metres to the hotel took on added significance as we walked through the snow and threw snowballs like children.

Snow was piled against the hotel walls and windows, covered the roof and stretched as far as the eye could see.

We had hoped to see September snow and we weren’t disappointed!


Minutes later, we were seated in our room with four of our dearest friends, sipping wine and watching the setting sun dancing along the mountaintops.

We knew little about this magical part of the Austrian Alps; the train; and the wonderful hotel.

Our friends – our Danish family – had been there in the past – and wanted to share something special with us. And special it certainly was!

We had never seen anything quite like Hotel Schafbergspitze.

The first thing you notice on alighting from the train is the mountain air – bracing, crisp and thin.


Then, your eyes are drawn automatically to the beauty surrounding you – on one side the Alps continue in their snow-capped magnificence and on the other, sheer cliffs and mountainsides plunge away to the Austrian countryside far below.

At such height, the view can be a constantly-changing caleidoscope – glorious one minute, then suddenly partially obscured by cloud, before being bathed in sunlight and looking equally beautiful the next.


The hotel itself has the look and feel of an alpine ski resort and hunting lodge, with modern rooms; a fine restaurant; a bar; and plenty of outdoor seating and tables (covered in snow when we arrived)

Watch for our upcoming detailed review on Hotel Schafbergspitze.

Because of the clouds, mist, rain and snow that can sweep with little warning across the Alps, the hotel operates a 360 degree web cam that allows would-be visitors to check online before deciding to take a trip up Schafberg Mointain.

The mountaintop is criss-crossed by walking trails which we explored, despite the snow.


At the highest point, a big wooden cross stands as a warning of the slippery sides and massive cliffs. 

We carefully made our way to the edge and again gazed in awe through the Alps – before adjourning to a small bar for a beer on the top of the world.

And of all the special moments at Schafberg mountain in the snow, none compared to our afternoon gatherings when we got together as a group, laughing, overcoming the language difference, and chatting about everything from European politics to Australian football.

The bar in the clouds

This hotel, perched high above the world, has no free wifi or television.

Sitting among the clouds, the snow, sunsets and sunrises is entertainment enough.


Schafberg Mountain and its train are quite extraordinary – something most visitors cannot even imagine.

Schafbergspitze is our Hotel California – we’ve checked out, but it’s impact and memories will never leave.

Note: the writer flew to Europe courtesy of Scoot Airlines

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