Overseas Walks: Why go hiking in Austria?
Austria is the ideal hiking destination, with fascinating landscapes and a sophisticated network of trails at varying altitudes and levels of difficulty.
Whether you explore one of the national parks, experience the beauty of the Alps on a long distance trail or head out on a family day hike, Austria offers unlimited opportunities.
1. The beauty and variety of the landscape within a small scope
From rolling hills to gentle pastures, rugged mountain peaks and glaciers. Despite being small in size, Austria offers a broad range of landscapes, many of them unique.
There are waterfalls such as the Krimmler Waterfalls, numerous rivers and lakes, glaciers such as the Kitzsteinhorn in Zell am See-Kaprun, lakes with water so pure it can be used as drinking water and ice caves you can visit like the Eisriesenwelt Werfen - the biggest in the world.
2. Broad network of signed hiking trails that allow self-guided hiking tours
The signage of hiking trails in the Austrian Alps is clear and uniform across all regions. There are red-whitered marks usually painted on trees or rocks, and sign posts at crossing points showing directions, duration and sometimes even the level of difficulty of the trail.
This broad network means even beginners can undertake self-guided walks on secure paths. Of course it is still recommended to prepare any hiking tour into the mountains with due cau- tion, respecting external factors such as the weather, but also the endurance and experience of all participants. Maps and advice can always be obtained from the local tourist offices.
3. The comfortable and sophisticated mountain refuges
On almost all sign-posted hiking trails in Austria you will sooner or later come across one of the countless mountain huts which offer authentic cuisine and often also basic (some even sophisticated) accommodation facilities for those who attempt a long-distance hiking trail. Family-owned mountain restaurants and cozy mountain inns invite you to linger.
Our culinary guide to Tirol as well as Salzburg introduce you to traditional authentic cuisine.
4. Culinary delights
In the mountain inns you are usually treated to home-made Austrian delights, regional specialties and sometimes even produce right from the Alpine pastures in front of the hut.
Cold plates are popular (such as the famous Austrian “Brettljause”) and breads with all types of spread, but also traditional warm dishes such as Wiener Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, Käsespätzle or Kaiserschmarren.
5. Modern summer cable cars and chairlifts
Most regions offer summer cable cars or chairlifts to get up the mountains and to enable all hikers access to the most panoramic trails and to visit the most scenic summit platforms without hours of strenuous ascent on foot.
There are plenty of hiking trails in Austria which make walking an adventure for the entire family.
There are adventure hiking trails with interactive stations, educational trails or hiking trails which can be accomplished even with a stroller.
7. Protected natural landscapes
About 27% of the Austrian surface is under natural protection. 6 national parks, 50 nature parks, 7 biosphere reserves and many more local nature protection areas have been set up to protect unique species of fauna and flora, cultural landscapes and traditional ways of living.
Various regions in Austria have also started to implement a scheme for sustainable tourism. Measures include car-free vacations and electro mobility or use of local sources of food or energy. The Austria’s National Parks also offer special educational programs.
8. Hiking in Austria has a long tradition and is part of the local culture
Hiking has a long tradition in Austria and is the country’s unofficial national pastime.
There are many villages in the Austrian Alps that really dedicate themselves to hiking or mountaineering. Austria’s Hiking Villages are a perfect base for a hiking vacation with easy to difficult day hikes.
These villages offer special services for your hiking vacation, such as free material to plan your hiking tour or free guided hikes by partner hotels.
9. Combination of nature and culture
There are several cities in Austria where culture and hiking breaks are not a contradiction. The best example is probably Innsbruck - the Capital of the Alps. Salzburg, the City of Music, is also a perfect base for a hiking holiday in the surrounding mountains.
10. Hiking is more than just hiking
Austria offers a huge variety of different hiking options and themed walks. Climbing up one of the countless mountain peaks, hiking from pasture to pasture, following a long distance hiking trail or just enjoying a leisurely day hike - all of this is part of the Austrian hiking experience!