Bad Ischl is a spa town in Austria. It lies in the southern part of Upper Austria, at the Traun River in the centre of the Salzkammergut region. The town consists of the KatastralgemeindenAhorn, Bad Ischl, Haiden, Jainzen, Kaltenbach, Lauffen, Lindau, Pfandl, Perneck, Reiterndorf and Rettenbach. It is connected to the village of Strobl by the river Ischl, which drains from the Wolfgangsee, and to the Traunsee, into which the stream empties.
On 19 August 1853 the engagement between Franz Joseph and Elisabeth of Bavaria (Sisi) took place at the Seeauerhaus, Esplanade No. 10, which since 1989 has been the location of the Museum der Stadt Bad Ischl.
In 1854, the Emperor's mother, Archduchess Sophie, gave him the Kaiservilla (Imperial Villa) as a wedding present. The villa became the imperial family's summer residence; Franz Joseph described it as "Heaven on Earth". He also granted a nearby mansion to mistress Katharina Schratt, that could be easily reached via a hidden footpath. In the Kaiservilla on 28 July 1914 Franz Joseph signed the declaration of war against the Kingdom of Serbia, signalling the start of World War I. He left Bad Ischl on the following day and never returned. The villa is still owned by the Habsburg-Lorraine family, although the grounds and parts of the residence are now open to the public.
Besides the Kaiservilla, the city offers several health spas and tourist attractions like the historic Kongresshaus opened in 1875, the new Kurhaus built by Clemens Holzmeister in 1932 as well as the former residence of Franz Lehár, that he acquired in 1912 and today serves as a museum. The Saint Nicholas parish church was first mentioned in a 1344 deed.
Bad Ischl is also known for the Konditorei Zauner pastry shop, former k.u.k.purveyor established in 1832, and the small Lehártheater built in 1827.
A gondola lift runs from the town up to the Katrin alpine pasture at 1415 m (4643 ft) which offers a panoramic view of the Salzkammergut mountains. The ruins of Wildenstein Castle, that burnt down in 1715, are nearby.