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Austria | © Austrian Tourist Board
Austria | © Austrian Tourist Board
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A Hiker’s Guide to Austria

Picture of Kate Jackson
Updated: 3 August 2017
Austria’s scenic countryside and mountainous landscapes make for some beautiful wanderings. Here is a guide to some of the top destinations around the country for a ramble.

Vacating in Austria doesn’t necessarily have to lead you to Vienna. Although the capital is not to be missed, some of the country’s rural holiday destinations offer awe-inspiring hikes, with some well-established routes. From challenging Alpine climbs and epic hills to lush national parks, there are trails of every level to suit everyone. There are also many rewards to reap when you reach the peak of the mountain or the end of the trail; wonderfully cosy inns offering culinary delights and quaint accommodation for those brave enough to attempt long-distance hikes.

National Parks

Vast open spaces, bursting with vitality and crystal clear lakes enveloped by jagged mountainous landscapes – Austria’s national parks are a hiker’s paradise. There are seven to choose from, all beckoning with tranquil, pastoral natural beauty. From Burgenland Seewinkle, with its salt-water ponds and lush meadows, to the fast flowing rivers of the Gesaeuse park in Styria; these gorgeous spaces are perfect for escaping to embark on some lengthy hiking adventures.

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Tirol, Salzburg, and Carinthia all contain a proportion of the largest national park in Central Europe; Hohe Tauern, a melting pot of organic treasures, including tremendous waterfalls and gorgeous woodlands in which to immerse yourself. It is advised to start your adventure in this magnificent space at the Mittersill centre and then work your way up with a park ranger who can guide you through the Alpine glory. There are a few different options routes to explore, of varying abilities.

Austria
Austria | © Austrian Tourist Board

Eagle’s Walk

This aptly named trail rewards you with a spectacular panoramic bird’s eye view from the peak, making the long trek to the top worth the struggle. Named as such for the walk representing an eagle spreading its wings over Tyrol, this challenging 413-kilometer trail is divided into 33 stages, with a total ascent of nearly 31,000 metres. This is a once in a lifetime experience that will allow you to see Austria’s most spectacular side. Former hikers of the Eagle’s Walk have documented their experiences in the Eagle Hike Tour Book – available at the receptions of Arlberg Hospiz Hotel in St. Christoph am Arlberg (North Tirol) and at the Lucknerhaus hut (East Tirol) for anyone to contribute to.

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Torchlight Trails

Hiking doesn’t necessarily have to be a summer, daytime activity. For a truly memorable and magical experience, why not try a torchlight trails – an adventure, usually of short distance, through thick blankets of snow, and with the comforting thought of a generous serving of warming Gluhwein awaiting you at the end.

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Westendorf, located in Tyrol, is a resort that offers the opportunity for a torchlit procession – with many other winter sports activities on offer, such as snowboarding, ice skating, tobogganing and, of course, skiing.

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Resorts

Choosing a suitable walking resort can be tricky as there are countless incredible options, all with their individual highlights. Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, is a popular destination for keen hikers as it contains both city sites and gorgeous rural landscape, such as the Pine Tree Trail, a gentle four-mile ramble that takes you across a nature reserve. Alternatively, for resorts that submerge you (somewhat) into the heart of the wilderness, Seefeld is a great option – an area full of gorgeously scenic sites.

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The imposing The Dachstein mountains that surround picturesque Hallstatt is another fantastic option, with a diverse landscape of salt mines and ice caves.