Grüner See or Green Lake in Tragöß is Austria’s “green heart.” It is beautifully different. It is a shallow lake during winter surrounded by a lush country park where people stroll, just like in any regular park. With snowmelt during springs (May to mid-July) each year, it doubles its size from about 150 to 250 meters wide and from 1 meter to almost 12 meters deep at the peak of the overflow. The purity of the glacial melt overtakes the park that features – alpine grasses and flowers still in full bloom, benches, pathways and footbridges. The is crystal clear lake water is like a glass; you can see through it.
The Surreal Dive
If scuba diving is a passion, you still need to take a plunge in Grüner See to say you have seen it all. It will be a surreal dive! Where else can you see an alpine meadow painted like a beautiful artwork underwater, but in Tragöss. Janelle Cheesman of Stunning Places gives you a vivid picture of how it is to go Scuba diving in Austria’s Green Lake in Tragöss …
It’s hard to believe that an alpine meadow can survive underwater. And yet, in the Austrian municipality of Tragöss in Upper Styria, just outside the small mountain hamlet of Oberort, one can experience this surreal waterscape first-hand every May, June and July. Once summer comes to the mountains, the water begins evaporating, returning the park to the hikers once again.
The lake supports some aquatic life, such as small fish and underwater insects, but nothing larger than trout, so there’s no need to worry about losing a limb to the fearsome grass shark or evade any vicious crustacean – just enjoy the outdoors, as it sits blissfully underwater.
You have to come here prepared. The water is extremely cold at 4 to 8 °Celsius and you must be a licensed diver to be allowed to enter the water. Interestingly, adventure beckons. So, a swarm of divers flock here each spring to explore the majestic underwater scenario, which they can see anyway by walking when the melt has receded in midsummer.
If You Can’t Swim or Dive, Then Hike
If you are not skilled or keen to dive into the cool, inviting lake, you can always take an Alpine hike around it and into the mountains. The exceptionally clear quality of the glacial melt runoff gives hikers a glass-like view of what lies beneath the surface. The Styrian government made sure hikers would have a great time in their outdoors too by establishing the zone around the lake part of the landscape and nature conservation area.
The trails originating in Tragöss are fit for both mountain biking and hiking. There are amenities that make the nature reserve accessible year-round with its hiking trails, park benches, as well as hostels, inns and a number of beautiful cottages. During winter, there are even ski resorts operating in the area as well as winter recreational destinations. This makes the area attractive to those looking for a snowy destination where they can do cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and other snow-based activities.
When is the Best Time to Go
The lake is said to be at its most scenic from mid-May to June when the depth has reached about 12 meters in depth. This is the time when the green meadows are very lush and visible from the edge zone of the lake. If you want to capture the surreal diving experience in this seasonal “sunken, Atlantis-style” lake, come here before the water starts to recede by mid-July/midsummer.
Minus the deep lake, the snowy slopes and the whole nature conservation area still make a great destination when you are looking for a place far from the bustling city. There’s nothing like Green Lake in Tragöß, Austria in this planet. You can come here anytime because when you can’t stroll, you can swim or dive, and vice versa.