From the high mountain trails of the Tyrolean Oberland to the more gentle terrain of central Tyrol and the hills around Austria’s ‘Lake District’, Austria provides an excellent variety of walking and hiking options. These are ideal resorts for those wanting to experience high alpine walking, offering fresh mountain air and wildlife.
The Ötz Valley, in the Ötztal Alps, with miles of extensive, well-marked walking trails leading directly from one’s hotel door, offers many challenging hikes and easier walks to viewing platforms and mountain pastures that can be reached by gondola. The top of Hohe Mut offers views of a spectacular glacial panorama, with a more gentle path winding down along the river to Zwieselstein and Sölden, passing waterfalls and mountain huts along the way. A haven for lovers of fauna and flora, if boasts an abundance of wild flowers, but also golden eagles, chamois, ibex and marmots. The popular Ötztal pass includes travel on all lifts, buses for hikers and public transport in the area, as well as cycle hire and entrance to local attractions, while full walking programmes are offered by the tourist office and some hotels.
The village of Obergurgl has opened its doors to a new mountain cabin: Schönwieshütte, set at an altitude of 2,266 metres above sea-level, in a peaceful location at the entrance to the Rotmoostal Valley. Tirolean specialities are served on its large sun deck terrace, amongst stunning mountain views.
SAALBACH AND HINTERGLEMM
Surrounded by rolling hills and countryside, Saalbach and Hinterglemm, in the scenic Glemm Valley, represent a paradise for hikers, offering 400km of well-marked trails and more than 30 rustic mountain cabins along the way.
The ‘Saalbach Hinterglemm Joker Card’ provides free, unlimited use of all cable cars* and buses for walkers in the valley, plus guided walks and free entrance to various attractions, making this beautiful region fantastic value and a joy to explore.
The Joker card was extended for Summer 2019 to encompass all use of trains and buses (SVV lines and OBB trains) in the Pinzgau region free of charge – Visit Zell am See, Taxenbach Gorge, the Krimml Waterfalls and much more!
A huge range of activities is available for families, while this is also one of Austria’s premier mountain-biking areas.
Both villages have attractive pedestrianised centres, with a good choice of shops, cafés and restaurants. Traditional folklore events, band concerts and weekly festivals take place throughout July and August.
FUSCHL AM SEE
This enchanting village lies on the shores of a tranquil lake surrounded by pine forested hills and gentle mountains. Swimming or rowing in crystal clear waters is a pleasure, especially as no motor boats are permitted here. The village is a marvellous centre for walking, offering some wonderful woodland strolls, a lovely path around the lake and some tougher hikes up Schober Mountain, which towers over the village. It is also a great base from which to explore the lakes region.
St. Gilgen (6km away) is easily accessible by bus for boat trips on Lake Wolfgang and further walking opportunities. Various local events are held in the village throughout the summer, and an alfresco evening drink or meal, watching the glorious sunsets over Lake Fuschl, is not to be missed.
Beautifully situated on the scenic western shores of Lake Achensee, the largest and deepest lake in the Tyrol region, Pertisau is known for its striking emerald waters, framed by the picturesque Karwendel and majestic Rofan mountain ranges. Popular daytime activities include boat trips across the lake or exploring the lake shore villages by bike or on the famous Achensee steam railway. Alongside many easy promenade strolls around the lake, there is also extensive hiking above the village and an abundance of wildlife in what is Tyrol’s largest nature reserve. A compact and tranquil village, Pertisau has a handful of shops, cafés and restaurants, while live music and folklore entertainment is regularly performed at hotels and on local mountain pastures throughout the summer.
The 10-Day ‘Classic’ Walking Holiday is Austria’s flagship walking tour, organised during June and July each year. The perfect time for alpine flowers to bloom in abundance, pleasant temperatures to walk and hike are also guaranteed. While 30km daily hikes and sleeping in tents is certainly an experience, we prefer a bit of luxury. Based in a 4-Star wellness resort, guests enjoy a huge wellness area, with steam bath, sauna and relaxation areas, indoor and outdoor pools and very fine dining.
You don’t need to be a Himalayan hiker to enjoy this tour, though a moderate level of physical fitness is required. Daily walks normally range from six to 12 ‘alpine’ kilometres, include some long ascents and descents, and take in a variety of terrains (from grassy meadows and well-groomed paths, to uneven mountain trails).