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Hiking in the Murauen along the banks of the Mur

The Amazon of Europe

© by Arnold Weisz

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 kilometers (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”!

Jungle hiking

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 you want 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.

<< Click on the images to enlarge >>

The Murturm lookout tower

About 5 kilometers east of Mureck you find the 27.5-meter Murturm high lookout tower (See Google Maps). There is a small car park at the end of the small lake, after passing the campsite. 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. From up here you also get a good impression of the lush forested area along the river Mur.

Rich wildlife

On a hot sunny June day with well over 30 °C, it is nice to hike under the trees in the shade of the leafy 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, and especially the birds. Although it is not far from the closest settlements and busy roads, we still get the feeling of being 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 the wildlife, but at least you get the feeling that they are around you. Don’t worry, none of the animals are dangerous.

Floating mill

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 in full function. You will find the museum mill 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 just 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 on the Austrian side with a lush forest right down to the water’s edge. You can either cross the river by the bridge just east of Mureck or with the 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 it is mostly used by hikers and cyclists. 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 also has paths either along the river or a little further inland. 

For more info: Bad Radkersburg Tourism
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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.