For a lot of people in North America, the Austrian Alps isn’t the first destination they think of 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.

Here’s a breakdown of your crash course in the Austrian Alps. First, you’ll see how amazing the Austrian Alps are. Then, a quick background on the history of hiking in Austria. Next, you’ll want to know 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 lots 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 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. Having more than 26000.0km of trails makes it 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. And people knew that centuries ago. 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. Traces of routes left by the Romans exist too, but those, you might say, don’t really have much to do with hiking; although, some of the old mule tracks, known as “Saumpfade”, are now used as hiking trails.

The culture of organized hiking could be dated back to the creation of the Austrian Alpine Club. The Club was founded in Vienna in 1862. Although they used the London Alpine Club as inspiration, they were the first Alpine Club of its type that existed on the European continent and certainly they were certainly the first club in the Alps.

Today the club has over a half a million members, 24000.0km of paths charted, and 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”. They 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 plenty of 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, boating on the lake, swimming in the lake, or kayaking on the lake. 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 routes all around. 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 for 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 season 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 a unique experience of being able to take a combination of gondolas and lifts directly from a 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 to explore the valley, as the town has great services and ambiance.

The key reason people are driven to Mayrhofen is the great outdoors. In winter you can experience here world-class skiing, 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 amazing.

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 whole path is 413.0km long and you do not have to do the whole thing, but the whole route that’s the most epic choice, right?

Whatever, and wherever you decide to spend your time with while in the Austrian Alps, it’s pretty tough to have a bad time there. 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

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