The lush riverbanks on the shores of the river Mur offer hiking and biking trails in an enchanting jungle-like forest. See what we discovered exploring the Murauen in Styria.
We are not in the tropics but in southern Austria, where the river Mur forms part of the border with Slovenia. This landscape, a combination of floodplains and forest, is very unlike what we expect from mostly alpine Austria. Nonetheless, we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived.
Austria’s second-largest river landscape
The river Mur makes up about 35 kilometres (22 mi) of the border between Austria (Styria) and Slovenia, between Spielfeld and Bad Radkersburg. The lush river landscape and floodplains, called Murauen, constitute Austria’s second largest river landscape (after the Donauau by Vienna). The protected area is perfect for exploration. No sooner than we left the carpark and headed down the marked trail, the greenery almost overwhelmed us. No surprise that we saw a sign saying “The Amazon of Europe”!
In the Murauen, the forest grows wild, and the plants spread out seemingly unhindered. You get the feeling of being in a jungle. We started our hike at Campingplatz Mureck, where you find plenty of parking. Follow the signs towards Schiffsmühle Mureck and past the public swimming pool for the fastest way towards the river. Well ahead of the Mühlenhof restaurant, you can choose whether to follow the path west (to the right) or east (to the left). Both directions take you on trails through the forest along the river.
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The Murturm lookout tower
About 5 kilometres east of Mureck, you find the 27.5-meter Murturm high lookout tower (See Google Maps). After passing the campsite, there is a small car park at the end of the small lake. Then you walk for 850 meters on the gravel road through the forest. The view is phenomenal, and in clear weather, you can see the mountains on the border between Carinthia and Styria (Weinebene) in the west, the hilly landscape of Slovenia in the south and east, as well as the wine districts and hilly landscape of Styria in the north. You also get a good impression of the lush forested area along the river Mur.
On a hot sunny June day with well over 30 °C, it is nice to hike under the trees in the shade of the green roof, where the temperature is a few degrees lower. Where the river runs a little quieter, the sound of the water was outplayed by the wildlife, especially the birds. Although it is not far from the closest settlements and busy roads, we still feel alone with nature. The dense forest or “jungle” on the banks of the Mur is teeming with wildlife and particularly rich in birds, amphibians, and insects. It is not always easy to spot wildlife, but at least you feel they are around you. Don’t worry, none of the animals are dangerous.
A popular attraction worth a visit is the traditional floating mill, Murecker Schiffsmühle. The floating mill is a replica built in 1997 based on old drawings, but the only one in Central Europe that is still fully functional. The museum mill is anchored on the Mur right next to the Mühlenhof restaurant. After a hike in this stunning river landscape, it is nice to sit down on the terrace with a cold beverage and enjoy the view of the river. The Mühlenhof is a traditional Austrian restaurant offering a good selection of dishes based on raw materials and recipes from Styria. After a hearty lunch, we got back on our feet and explored more of Murauen.
Ferry to Slovenia
On the Slovenian side, the riverbank is much steeper than the Austrian side, with a lush forest right down to the water’s edge. You can cross the river by the bridge just east of Mureck or by ferry across the river at Weitersfeld, west of Mureck. The ferry is perfect if you want to take a tour that includes both sides of the river. Believe it or not, the ferry also takes cars, even though hikers and cyclists mostly use it. On both sides of the ferry berth, you will also find restaurants for a break on your biking or hiking trip. Furthermore, the Slovenian side has paths either along the river or further inland.
For more info: Bad Radkersburg Tourism
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