We have compiled a list of 10 of the best hiking trails in Austria, and we are excited to get our backpacks ready, our walking boots laced up and our sunglasses on.
After much extensive research and consideration we are pretty sure that Austria is one of the best countries in Europe but we can’t forget hiking in Austria. The mountains are some of the best in the world for snowsports, the cuisine is wholesome, the cold refreshing drinks are tasty and the hiking opportunities are endless.
Austria is one of our go- to destinations in the winter for amazing snow and challenging terrain but we need more, so we are heading back to their famous mountain regions for the summer. These 10 hiking trails in Austria will have you becoming a seasoned regular at Innsbruck airport.
As we have established by now, the terrain in the Austrian Tyrol is challenging when covered in snow, so this means it is as equally as challenging when in bloom with fauna and flora. A lot of the Austrian hiking trails are not really for the faint of heart and beginners, with dizzying altitudes, steep ascents and craggy paths. Many of the hiking routes are also only destined for those who have ambitions to explore whole regions on foot, as they reach over 400km long. But of course, for those who don’t quite have as much time, routes can be done in shorter stages as part of relaxing day hikes, with a hearty huts to rest for lunch. Either way, these 10 hiking trails in Austria will have you becoming a seasoned regular at Innsbruck airport.
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The weather in Austria is pretty standard for that part of Western Europe, with cold winters and warm summers. Many of the hiking routes in the list are high altitude and have you trekking in the depths of mountain regions, so hiking in the snowy winter months is not to be recommended. The average winter temperatures in the high altitude destinations are around -3.5 degrees celsius with a high chance of snow.
Whilst in the spring and summer months from April to October the temperatures are a lot more enjoyable to get your walking boots on. The alpine resorts of Mayrhofen for example, averages 15 degrees celsius in Spring and in the summer it can be around 25 degrees celsius. Hiking in the summer heat can sometimes be tough, but the chilled Austrian mountain air should make it more comfortable.
Trail Length: 125km
Best For: Your first long-distance hike
The Lech River Trail is a pretty famous hiking route in Austria for those ‘in the know’, as it is one of the last wild river landscapes in Europe and the trusty European Ramblers Association has certified this route with stringent quality tests. So you know you are in good hands when you embark upon this long-distance trail, starting in Lech Am Arlberg and finishing in Füssen. It is a relatively easy hike which is mostly downhill so although it is long, you don’t have to be an expert hiker to enjoy it. Regardless of your hiking experience, you will basque in the beauty that is the Lechtal Valley, with the unique fauna and views from peaks at 1830m.
Make sure to go across the Holzgau bridge which is the second-longest hanging bridge in Austria and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Trail Length: 61km
Best For: Those looking for a challenge
For those who are seasoned hikers and looking for a challenge then this is the hiking trail for you. Starting in Matrei in East Tirol to Prägraten am Großvenediger at Virgental Valley, you will be ascending up nearly 5000m across 3 to 4 days. The expert knowledge, experience and stamina is required when ascending up unstable and steep ground to reach summits over 2000m for 7 to 8 hours each day. This maximum effort is well repaid when you see the awesome views of the valley, and stunning snow-capped mountain tops. Plus, after a long day hiking you can relax and put your feet up in mountain huts along the way.
Make this hike a little less challenging by booking a guided tour with your main luggage carried for you to each hut.
Trail Length: 7km
Best For: waterfall lovers
The Krimmler waterfall is not a long-distance hike, and perhaps not an epic adventure for the thrill seekers, but it is definitely worth a visit for those who love the natural aura of a waterfall and the lush forests that always surround them. The Krimmer waterfall itself is truly spectacular, being Europe’s tallest year-round waterfall and Austria’s tallest. With it being so tall, it can take around 4 hours to do the 7km loop from the car park at its base to the top, whilst making sure to stop off at the numerous vantage points along the way. It’s a relaxing hike, as you follow the winding paved path through the forest and the thick mist from the gushing water.
It is a hot spot for tourists, so try to go early or off-peak times of year, such as the autumn or winter.
Trail Length: 41km
Best For: Mountaineers
This hiking trail is famous for its honouring of the Austrian Peter Habeler who tackled Everest without oxygen many years ago and with his epic determination and expertise in mind, they named this trail after him. Nestled into the Western Zillertal Alps you have the famous resort of Mayrhofen and its surrounding mountain villages which the hike allows you to experience in all its glory. This is a high trail, with the route being above the treeline, on rocky paths and the flanks of the Hintertux glacier, but also with the occasional forest and meadow thoroughfare. The high altitude and unstable ground make this hike better suited to the expert hikers and enthusiasts. Along the way, there are huts for you to rest and recuperate in true Austrian Alpine style.
There are some points during the hike that require crossing a via ferrata, so you must bring a helmet and safety cable set with you.
Trail Length: 84km
Best For: Steep hill climbers
Head to the Stubai Alps for this challenging yet enjoyable 7-day hike. The loop can start at various different spots, such as Oetz or Umhausen, but either way, you hit the multiple peaks and valleys that make this hike so varied. Along the 84km there are some impressive peaks, with the highest getting you up to 3008m and of course with such peaks comes with steep and challenging ascents. After a long day of hard trekking and maximum effort, you will be greeted by a different mountain hut at each stop, each just as cute and cosy as the next. The Stubai valley itself is known for its Alpine rose and lush scenery, so get your camera at the ready!
Stay in Sellrain for a couple of days if you get a chance, as it is a popular base for hikers and mountain bikers, so it’s a great vibe with like-minded people.
Trail Length: not a specified route
Best For: Best for families with kids
This addition is not so much a hike, and not quite the epic mountain adventure that many people head to the Alps in the summer for, but if you are family with young kids or looking for a relaxing and exciting day in the mountain air and with nature, then a day spent at the Wildpark is perfect. For a small fee of around 9 Euros you can explore the 40 hectares of mountainous farmland, just south of the resort of Kitzbuhel. At 1100m, you will be greeted by a reserve of around 200 animals such as Deer, Lynx, Llamas and Marmots, all well looked after and excited to see you. The day can be spent exploring the fields of roaming animals, the fairytale surroundings and dining at a rustic Austrian hut.
There is a petting area for small animals such as rabbits and donkeys for the little ones to get up close and personal.
Trail Length: 422km
Difficulty: Intermediate/ Expert
Best For: Those looking to improve and gain more hiking experience
The Eagle Walk is an exciting Austrian hiking adventure, getting the chance to truly explore more of the Austrian Tyrol. Obviously, 420km is an epically long distance, but it is split into 33 stages which can be tackled at any point depending on your time restrictions and hiking expertise. Typically starting in St. Johann and working your way through a lot of varied terrain from the steep peaks, valleys and meadows. During the trek, there is the Goetheweg trail which overlooks Innsbruck, for a unique and alternative view of a city and then ascends the Großglockner mountain, which is the highest peak in Austria.
Whether you ambitiously set upon the whole route or do a few stages at a time, either way, you will fall in love with the region, its natural beauty and rustic alpine vibe.
Along the way, you must stop off in the Austrian village of Scheffau which is a picture postcard, traditional and the perfect pit stop to refuel.
Trail Length: 6 different short routes, around 50km in total
Best For: Art enthusiasts
The Nock/ art trails are a different take to a traditional mountain hike, combining the natural beauty of the Alps with culture, through art and sculptures. Artists have used local materials to create impressive art that sits along the 6 different hiking trails, with the intention of sparking thought and alternative perspectives when surrounded by nature. There is around 50km of the art trails, with routes and walks ranging from steep and challenging to paved and flat paths, so you can choose whichever suits you and your buddies. The nearest town is the rustic Bad Kleinkirchheim in Carinthia, surrounded by the Nockberge Mountains, so the art trails are a great relaxing and cultural day out, during your trip to the region.
All the art trails link up to the long-distance trails of the Alps-Adriatic, so this a perfect alternative start to a longer trip.
Trail Length: 17km
Best For: Day hikers
The Pinzgauer hike is one of the best day hikes in Austria, offering a great balance between hard work and intense distance but still enjoyable. Across the 6 to 7 hours you will follow a noticeable hiking trail starting in Schmittenhöhe, meandering past the Hackleberger lakes and finishing this great day in Saalbach. This is a high altitude trail, with the highest point reaching 2081m, so make sure you have prepared yourself for some dizzying heights.
Bring lots of snacks and food as unlike many of the other Austrian trails, there are no mountain huts to rest.
Trail Length: 78km
Difficulty: Intermediate/ expert
Best For: high altitude climbers
The Stubai Hohenweg is an exciting high altitude trail in Austria and is a great way to test your mountaineering experience. As you embark upon this long-distance circular hiking route, you need to be well prepared and well equipped to take on the steep ascents, the craggy paths and the via ferratas. It is, of course, worth all the effort you put in, as you head up heights of 2881m, and experience the world from above, showcasing the Stubai valley in all its beauty. You work your way along the circular path starting and finishing at Neustift, passing the mountain huts along the way that provide appropriately distanced rest stops and overnight stays.
Check the weather report before going on a hike as the weather can be temperamental at that altitude and the snow can make this route unpassable.
So there we have it, a list of some of the 10 best hiking trails in Austria. Although it may seem as though many of the trails are for the experts and experienced hikers, there really is something for everyone. Not one trail has to be tackled in its entirety but instead can be enjoyed in stages that are more pleasant for those who are perhaps new to the hiking way of life. The kids, families and those who want to have a relaxing day in the mountain air, will love some of the day hikes and alternative types of routes. Whilst, the experts amongst us will find some of the most challenging and hardcore hiking routes in Europe. Whatever takes your fancy, Austria truly has it all, and yet again we are left falling deeper in love with this country.