Over­seas Walks: Why go hik­ing in Aus­tria?

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

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.

6. Fam­ily-friendly

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!

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