Some 50,000 kilometres of marked hiking trails lead to some of the loveliest places in Austria.
Although trend sports like jogging and Nordic walking are increasingly popular, "normal” walking and hiking have never gone out of fashion. The difference lies less in the activity itself than in an attitude: those who walk also have time to reflect. They are more aware of landscapes and their companions, enjoy the breaks in dreamlike clearings or meals in cosy alpine huts. Their main emphasis is not on athletic achievement, but on discovering unspoilt nature and landscapes. And Austria has plenty of both. Whether young or old, whether novice hiker or experienced “mountain fox” – you’ll find the right route for everybody.
Of course Austria is regarded as a “land of mountains”, and quite rightly so. However, you should not forget about its delightful “flats” either. For instance there’s the lowest point in Austria, Lake Neusiedl National Park in Burgenland (altitude: approx. 117 m). A hiking trail takes you around Lange Lacke near Apetlong in about two hours, giving you a wonderful view of the unique bird world of this steppe lake. You don’t need any special hiking equipment, but a good pair of binoculars with which to watch this wonderful bird world.
The Must Quarter in southwest Lower Austria is another great hiking area for beginners. The bizarre rock formations and romantic waterfalls of the Ötscher Gorge offer spectacular landscapes and can easily be walked in a few hours. And if the weather gets really hot, there's nothing to stop you taking a refreshing plunge in the mountain stream. Children hike differently from adults: That is why Saalbach-Hinterglemm in the province of Salzburg cater specially for families with children. The “Valley of Games” offers any amount of sports, water, nature and general knowledge games for young hikers.
Let your gaze roam!
Many people – and not all of them old, by any means, like to avoid an uphill climb by taking a comfortable ride on a chairlift of aerial tramway. Once they get to the top, a breath-taking panorama opens up before them. The mountain station of the Patscherkofel tramway near Innsbruck is the starting point for one of Tirol’s most magnificent panoramic hikes. Here your gaze roams over the limestone mountains of the Karwendel range and the glacial mountains of the Stubai Alps. In some places the ropeways even run until late in the evening to enable visitors to enjoy the sunset from the top of the mountains. Like Ramsau am Dachstein, for instance, where the view from the Dachstein almost 3,000 metres above sea level over the green Enns Valley far below you and the mountains of Styria is an unforgettable experience. Those who have learned to love the mountain world also appreciate the comfort of Austria’s alpine refuges. They are all linked together by a network of trails – hardly any of them are more than five hours’ walk from the next. There are also 50 “hiking villages” that offer optimal luxurious “base camps” for wonderful hikes. The association of “Hiking Villages” caters specially for the needs of hikers, leaving nothing to be desired with respect to comfort and hiking infrastructure. In many regions those who prefer to hike without a heavy rucksack can look under "hiking without luggage" to find tour organizers who will transport your luggage to the destination of each day’s hike. This convenient solution allows you to explore an entire region and cover considerable distances as well. Austria’s “major trails” are ideal for hikes lasting several days. Like “Southern Alps Long-Distance Trail 03”, which is takes you from Bad Radkersburg in Styria over the Karawanken mountains to Sillian in East Tirol in 24 daily stages. At the heart of it is the “Carnic Alpine Trail”, which continuously follows the border between Italy and Austria at an altitude of around 2.000 m above sea level for about five days’ hiking.
For the particularly athletic!
The “Grossglockner Circuit” is one of the most demanding hikes the province has to offer. It takes you around Austria’s highest mountain – 3.797 m above sea level – for seven days from one high-altitude refuge to another. If you are intending to embark on this tour, you’ll need to be in pretty good shape and have a sure footing. And of course we recommend you to work on your technique beforehand. There are countless alpine and hiking schools in Austria – thirteen of them in Vorarlberg alone. The curricula offer a wide selection, ranging from hiking on climbing routes to glacier tours where the climbers are roped together. However, Austria is just a great place to hike – even if you don't have ambitious mountain climbing plans.
More information on Austria’s hiking villages under: www.wanderdörfer.at