Hiking holidays in Austria are not for the summer season. The cold season also offers you great outdoor adventures with winter hiking and snowshoe trips.
Winter is by no means the same all over Austria. The amount of snow can of course vary from 0 cm to several meters. In the snow-free places you can of course use most of the regular hiking trails year-round. In the mountains, however, the selection of trails is naturally somewhat smaller. Nonetheless, even in the mountains you can find great hiking. Routes are prepared for walking in nature even when there is snow. Here are some examples of places that offer winter hiking:
in Vorarlberg is the perfect destination for those who want to enjoy some quiet days even during the winter holidays. Here the culinary delights prevail over hard core after-ski parties. Tourism in this scenic area is geared towards the so-called “Genus tour” (pleasure trips), where you visit eateries along the way. For the most beautiful view, find tours marked “Höhenwanderweg” in the description. Tours are ranging from 2.2 to 19.5 kilometres in length.
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in Salzburgerland is a destination that has a lot to offer for those who are not avid skiers. 50 kilometres of well-prepared winter hiking trails through snow-covered forests, with spectacular views and cosy cabins and hotels. We went on a guided winter hike and in addition to a great walk in nature, it also included everything from small cultural anecdotes to plenty of information about the surrounding landscape. This is a great way to hike safely and comfortable, as the guide takes care of the practicalities and leads the way. While you enjoy the great winter landscape.
in Tirol (where the Nordic World Skiing World Championships were held in February 2019) also offers great opportunities for winter hiking. Around 140 kilometers of prepared winter hiking trails are available. There are also various themed walks and you can book ready-made hiking packages including overnight stays.
in the south-eastern Styria, winters are usually mild and the regular hiking trails can be used all year round. Even if there should arrive a few inches of snow. Which rarely happens. We had some great hikes around Teichalm in Almenland. Here, there were some routes especially designed for winter hiking. We even followed the signs for a summer route as the snow depth was no deeper than, you could hike it with good winter boots. Check the snow conditions before heading out, either at the hotel’s reception if you are staying on site or the local tourist office.
When the snow is deep and the landscape is covered by a beautiful white blanket, it may not be possible to hike with regular winter boots. However, snowshoes can be a good alternative. Modern snowshoes are far easier to use than you think. If you have never tried it before, start in a simple not too steep terrain and take it easy. Take some short trips first. Feel free to join a guided tour so you can pick up some advice and tips from the guide. In most parts of Austria, you can rent snowshoes, join guided hikes or follow signposted snowshoe trails on your own.
Respect the signage
When you are out in nature when there is a lot of snow, be careful. Do not enter areas that are sealed off or with warning signs. There may be danger of avalanches. Stay safe, and always check in advance, online or with the local tourist office, for possible routes and conditions.