For many people in North America, the Austrian Alps isn’t the first destination to come to mind when planning a hiking holiday in Europe. We think that is a real shame. With a 77,220 sq. mile share of the famous mountain range, Austria has enough Alps to have formed its own rich culture surrounding them.

We’re here to give you a crash course in the Austrian Alps. First, we’ll explain just how amazing the Austrian Alps are, and give you a quick background on the history of hiking in Austria. Next, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite places to stay while hiking there, and finally, we can’t not talk about Austria’s most epic multi-day hike: The Eagle.

The Austrian Alps have so much to offer. Whether that is strudel, hiking, biking, strudel, climbing, wine, cheese, or strudel, this is one destination you won’t want to pass up.

Hiking in Austrian Alps rewards with beautiful views
Hiking in Austrian Alps rewards with beautiful views
Famous Hallstatt mountain village and alpine lake should be included in your hiking trip to Austrian Alps
Famous Hallstatt mountain village and alpine lake should be included in your hiking trip to Austrian Alps

AustriaN alps

The spectacular Austrian Alps stretch throughout the whole country. Not many people know it, but Austria holds the biggest territory of the Alps of all the eight Alpine countries – a whopping 28.7% of the total mountain range. It is full of spectacular peaks, vast green meadows, and magnificent valleys that were formed during the last Ice Age.

The Austrian Alps is a popular destination for nature lovers. The lowlands of the Alps are home to deer, stags, foxes, badgers, and martens. The highlands create a perfect habitat for chamois, groundhogs, eagles and mountain jackdaws. Recently, the Austrian mountains have once again become home to a small bear population.

The Austrian Alps are popular all year round. During the summer, it becomes one of the most popular hiking destinations in Europe. With over 26000.0km of trails, it’s a great place to explore the mountains and creates a lot of options for hikers of any experience level. During the winter, the Austrian mountains are perfect for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and other amazing winter activities.

hiking in austria

Hiking in Austria is a great way to experience nature and beautiful landscapes, a fact that people have known for millennia. One of the Alps’ most famous and ancient inhabitants is Ötzi the Iceman. While not a recreational hiker per se, Ötzi did live in the Alps some 5,300 years ago. There are also alpine routes in Austria that date back to the Bronze Age. The Romans also left their mark on the mountains, creating many roads that criss-crossed the range, and some of the old mule tracks, known as “Saumpfade”, are also now used as hiking trails.

The modern culture of organized hiking in the Alps can be dated back to the creation of the Austrian Alpine Club. The Club was founded in Vienna in 1862. Although it drew inspiration from the London Alpine Club, it was the first Alpine Club of its type that existed on the European continent and certainly the first organisation of its kind to exist in the Alps.

Today the club has over a half a million members, charts 24000.0km of paths, and boasts 234 alpine huts.

Zillertal is a must-visit place in Austrian Alps
Zillertal is a must-visit place in Austrian Alps
Hiking in Austrian Alps rewards with stunning panoramic views in summer
Hiking in Austrian Alps rewards with stunning panoramic views in summer

CITIES TO VISIT FOR THE BEST HIKING IN AUSTRIA

Alpbach

Alpbach is a great village. In fact, it’s such a great village it won “Austria’s most beautiful village” and “Europe’s most beautiful flower village”. Residents have stuck to a strict building code since the 1950’s so their village has a homogenous charming appeal. On top of that, there are some gorgeous mountains with plenty of hikes all around Alpbach. There’s a six-seat gondola that takes people up to the Wiedersbergerhorn. From there you can find a playground, Alpine coaster, and many hiking routes.

Hallstatt

This charming Austrian village sits on the edge of a lake of the same name. On top of having some of the oldest salt mines in the world, this adorable town has lots of great hiking in the area. You’ll love the hikes around the lake, and don’t miss the opportunity to go boating, swimming or kayaking out on the water. Oddly enough, this beautiful town is so well loved it has been copied brick by brick (or at least most of the main streets) in the Guangdong Province in China.

Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the capital of Austria’s western state of Tyrol. This larger city has more to offer than the smaller villages, but also more people. There are cable cars up to the mountaintops and an abundance of fantastic hiking routes. One thing that really sets this city apart is their free hiking program. You can get a guide and rent boots and bags for free (with limited availability).

Zell am See

Zell am See is a great location for nature enthusiasts and families with children seeking adventures. It’s a great place, no matter the season – in fact, if you time your visit right, you might be able to experience all seasonal adventures in one trip.

During almost all months, Zell am See is an ideal destination for hiking, biking, swimming, sailing, and even skiing! The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier offers the unique experience of being able to take a combination of gondolas and lifts directly from the neighboring town of Kaprun to the top of the glacier at over 3000m above sea level.

Mayrhofen

Mayrhofen is a wonderful mountain town in Austria, which sits near the end of the beautiful Ziller Valley, also known as Zillertal. Mayrhofen is a great base for exploring the valley, as the town has excellent services and a lively ambiance.

The key reason people are drawn to Mayrhofen is the great outdoors. In winter you can experience world-class skiing here, with numerous resorts accessed from the valley floor. During the summer months, the hiking is spectacular, and the opportunities for biking, climbing, and trekking are second to none.

Gosausee Lake in Gosau is a must-see place in Austrian Alps
Gosausee Lake in Gosau is a must-see place in Austrian Alps
Hiking in Austrian Alps include the village of Inneralpbach in Alpbach Valley
Hiking in Austrian Alps include the village of Inneralpbach in Alpbach Valley

The Eagle’s Walk

We’re not 100% sure why this is called The Eagle’s Walk, but we love it. Some say it’s because the path, when drawn on a map, looks like a bird in flight, or it could be that it gives you an Eagle’s eye view of the Alps. Whatever the case, this is the best multi-day hike in Austria. The route is 413.0km long and although you don’t have to complete the whole thing, we think it’s a pretty epic trail that’s well worth the effort. However you decide to spend your time in the Austrian Alps, you won’t be disappointed. If you decide to head to Austria lets us know how it goes! We always love hearing from you.

View of the Hochkoenig Mountains from a hiking trip to Austrian Alps
View of the Hochkoenig Mountains from a hiking trip to Austrian Alps
Hochkoenig Mountains can be seen on a hike in Austrian Alps
Hochkoenig Mountains can be seen on a hike in Austrian Alps

Frequently Asked Questions About Austrian Alps

Which are nicer: Bavarian Alps or Austrian Alps

Wherever you go in the Alps, you’ll be guaranteed spectacular scenery, epic peaks, pristine alpine lakes and sweeping meadows, making it one of the finest regions in the world for hiking. The Bavarian Alps have their own particular charms, with picturesque, historic villages, spectacular views, and lots of opportunities for outdoor activities and adventure sports. However, for their drama, diversity, and stunning wildflowers, we think that the Austrian Alps might have the edge.

How were the Austrian Alps formed

Like the rest of the Alps, the Austrian Alps have formed tens of millions of years ago following the collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.

How is the driving in Austrian Alps

The Austrian Alps are easily accessed by car, and most confident drivers should find it relatively straightforward to drive in this region in summer. There are fewer steep mountain roads and high altitude passes compared to other Alpine regions. However, if you are travelling in winter, you should be prepared for some roads to be closed, and remember that winter tires are mandatory. You’ll also need to purchase a pre-paid toll sticker in order to use some roads.

What are the countries that border with the Austrian Alps

Austria is bordered by eight countries: Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Only the last three (Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic) are not considered to be part of the Alps.

Which airport is the closest to Austrian Alps

Innsbruck Airport is the closest airport to the Austrian Alps. As the capital of the Tyrolean Alps, Innsbruck offers excellent connections to many of the resorts and hiking trails in the Austrian Alps.

How high are the Austrian Alps

The highest mountain in the Austria Alps is Grossglockner, which stands at 3798m above sea level. this is the highest alpine peak east of the Brenner Pass.

Can you see the Alps from Vienna?

While Vienna makes a good stopping off point on the way to the Austrian Alps (and has plenty of attractions to recommend it), it’s not possible to see the Alps from the city. You’ll need to get closer to the mountains to have an alpine view from your city hotel room – we’d recommend heading for Innsbruck.

Is Austria expensive to visit?

Austria is one of the more expensive places to visit in Europe, as the cost of hotels can be very high. Daily living costs, including food and drink, are slightly more expensive than neighboring Italy or Germany.

Is Austria cheaper than Switzerland?

Switzerland is one of the most expensive places to visit in the Alps, due to the relatively high cost of accommodation, food and drink. Austria is significantly cheaper, so this could be a good option if you want to see some spectacular alpine scenery, but don’t want to break the bank!

Hiking in the Austrian Alps is truly an amazing experience. Looking for adventures in warmer regions of Europe? Try hiking in Greece!

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