Mountain huts website Rifugibivacchi.com lists nearly 3,000 huts and bivouacs across Italy – including Sicily and Sardinia – and other Alpine countries. You can filter searches by accommodation type, from basic bivouac to comfortable hotel, or specify shelters that can be reached by mountain bike. One of the most striking is Bivouac Pelino Mario (left), a circular red metal structure at the top of Mount Amaro in the Majella national park in Abruzzo. It sleeps 12 in bunk beds but has no heating, water or supplies. What it lacks in comfort, however, it makes up for in incredible views.
Guests chip in with tasks such as chopping wood and fetching water, and cook in the communal kitchen. Many are on lakes, such as Lunndörren Mountain Cabin (below), where you can fish, swim or forage for cloudberries before warming up in the wood-fired sauna. It’s on Lunndörr pass, a 1,000-year-old trail near stunning Issjö Valley.
The website gites-refuges. com lists 4,000 places to stay in France’s mountain ranges, aimed at all outdoors enthusiasts, including skiers, cyclists and kayakers. The accommodation ranges from comfortable guesthouses to basic huts that are free to stay in. The wildest are in the Pyrenees, where intrepid hikers sleep in shelters and shacks – often abandoned sheepfolds. France’s National Forestry Office (gitesetrandonnees.onf. fr) has about 40 cottages and cabins to rent (from €8 a night). The most basic are simple forest huts, sleeping five to eight; some have solar power or woodburning stoves.
The Austrian Alpine Club is the country’s largest mountaineering organisation and runs more than 230 huts along thousands of miles of trails in Austria and neighbouring countries – with the help of volunteers. There are details of huts there and in Germany, Switzerland and Italy on the website. In the Gutenstein Alps, Enzianhutte (above) is in a beautiful location and has dorms and private doubles. Open March to midNovember and over New Year.
trekking area, has been turned into an awardwinning shelter with coloured porthole windows, a sleeping deck and 360-degree views. You’ll need a head for heights: it is 30 metres above the ground, at an altitude of about 1,000 metres. There are no facilities in the tower, but guests can wash and eat in the main centre.