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Austria, the Hikers Heaven

Hiking in Austria

© by Arnold Weisz

Austria – the Hikers Heaven is the perfect destination for those who want to spend a lot of time in nature. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or prefer relaxed walks – there are trails for everyone.

You will find enticing hiking terrain throughout Austria. Although the Alps and mountain views may be at the top of your list, there are also many beautiful natural experiences in flatter areas. Although Austrian hiking trails are often associated with cows grazing on flower meadows, beautiful rugged mountain scenery and great views, you can experience much more. Welcome to Austria, the Hiker’s Heaven!

Many-sided hiking adventures

Hiking in Austria can be far more than just hiking in nature, stretching your legs and getting fresh air. Moreover, many theme trails have been developed to give hikers fun adventures. They are offering hikers a deeper insight into the surrounding landscape. Many hiking routes are designed to promote local culture, history, or local flora and fauna. Furthermore, other theme trails give you a hands-on insight into the power of water, let you get glimpses of the wildlife or lead you from one culinary delicatessen to the next.

Pilgrim trails

For those who also want spiritual experiences, Austria offers a well-developed network of pilgrim trails. Whether you are looking for short or long trips, the selection of trails is exceptional. Some of the pilgrim trails even cross the border into neighbouring countries. Either way, the range of routes is vast, and you can easily find routes suiting whatever shape you are in. In addition, there are trails for well-trained, mountain-savvy, scenic hikes that are perfect for families with children.

True Hikers Heaven

Austria has a very well-developed network of hiking trails and climbing routes. Furthermore, the country provides more than 50,000 kilometres of well-marked hiking trails. You will find an endless choice of hiking trails adapted to all levels in Hikers Heaven. From easy hikes along roads that suit anyone to climbing trails where you need to be fit and have climbing experience. Austria is primarily mountainous and has more than 900 peaks above 3000 metres. If it’s spectacular views you are looking for, it’s no trouble to get up on even some of the tallest mountain peaks without using your legs. Most ski lifts also operate during the summer. Furthermore, if you take the cable car up, you can skip the steepest parts and spend your time hiking above the tree line.

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Short or long trips

There are hiking routes that only take 20 minutes and trails that will take 10 days to complete. The so-called «Weitwanderwege» (long hiking trails) have always been popular among the most ambitious hikers. For example, a hiking trail, Zentralalpenweg, takes you approx. 1200 km from Hainburg by the Danube in eastern Austria to Feldkirch in the far west of the country. Nonetheless, a long trip does not necessarily mean that you have to be a super-hiker or have experience from expeditions in the Himalayas. Some companies organize multi-day hikes, where you enjoy the trip with a guided group while your luggage is transported to the next stop. Along the way, you will stay in mountain cabins or at hotels. Moreover, you can, for example, hike along the Danube Trail, which takes you long stretches along the banks of the river.

Not just alpine routes

There are routes in eastern Austria, where flat plains and rolling hill scenery dominate. Trails range from high mountain walks in the western part of the country to trips through the rolling hill landscape in the north to wetland trips in the flatland to the east. In southern Styria, you find hiking trails in a jungle-like river landscape, a far cry from hiking trails elsewhere in Austria. No matter what shape you are in or the length of trip you wish to pursue, Hikers Heaven Austria has something for everyone.

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Winter wandering

There are many opportunities to enjoy the Austrian winter wonderland without skis. More and more destinations offer prepared and signed winter wander routes. Some of these combine with the gondola or ski lifts, where you can also enjoy walking in the high mountains. Furthermore, some parts of Austria, such as southeastern Styria and Burgenland, are often without snow most of the winter, and you can use year-round hiking routes.

Good infrastructure

A Hikers Heaven has to offer sufficient infrastructure to make safe and enjoyable hiking easy. You can get all the hiking tips you need at local tourist information. Additionally, you find maps and route descriptions online. Many regions have interactive maps that allow you to research and find the perfect hike. Moreover, most trails are well-signposted and usually show distances both in length and time. Furthermore, the infrastructure in connection with hiking trails is generally well-developed. Thus, you rarely need to look far to find either accommodation or eateries.

Transport

Even if bringing your car makes a trip very convenient, you can usually get around quite comfortably in Austria with public transport. For example, if you fly to Austria, you will still have easy access to many splendid hiking areas by public transport. The rail network is good in most parts of the country, and where trains are lacking, the Postbus makes up for it. In addition, the company has an extensive bus network across the country. Furthermore, many local minibuses or taxi companies offer special return transfers for hikers, so you don’t have to do circular routes. Hence, in Hikers Heaven, you do not necessarily need a car.

Culinary delights

Outdoor activities in Austria are not just about nature but also about experiencing local culture. Besides, while hiking, enjoying good local food and drink is essential. It is rarely far between either lodging or eating places. Austria has an extensive network of mountain cabins and lodges like many alpine regions. Another advantage is that even smaller villages in Austria often have a bakery or deli shop where you can stock up on food for your trip. Sandwiches (Semmel) with, for example, cold meats or cheese will only set you back from € 1 and upwards. Lodges or restaurants along hiking trails also offer packed lunches or picnic baskets.

Hiker’s Heaven

Put all the factors in this article together, and we think we have a good case for designating Austria as the Hiker’s Heaven. For hiking routes and information about mountain huts, look at these websites: bergwelten.com, outdooractive.com and Österreichischer Alpenverein.

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Written by Arnold Weisz

Globetrotting multilingual communications specialist born in Vienna, Austria – with passion for scuba diving, golf and culinary delights! 15 years of experience as a scuba- and travel reporter for among others: X-Ray Dive Magazine and Dykking.