Austria walking vacations guide
Austria has all the ingredients necessary for a classic European walking destination. There are reams of well marked routes across the country – more than 24,000km of trails in the Tyrol region alone – offering different levels of challenge, so walking here is just as suitable for families as it is for more experienced hikers.
There is a stunning diversity in Austria’s landscapes, from snow-tipped mountains to deep valleys, glaciers, waterfalls and grassy alpine meadows where cowbells tinkle plaintively.
Blending your walks with cultural activities is easy too, with cities such as Innsbruck and Salzburg close to the mountains, or Vienna on the Danube. Plus, walking in Austria can be done year round. In the winter you can mix things up with cross country skiing, tobogganing or snow shoeing, while in the summer months the superb network of ski lifts remains in service, opening up remote mountain areas for incredible panoramas. Given all this, it’s hardly surprising that walking is so firmly embedded in the Austrian national culture, or that many keen hikers choose to return year after year. Find out more in our Austria walking vacations guide.
Our Austria walking Vacations
What does walking in Austria entail?
Small group or self guided walking?
It’s really a case of ‘choose your own adventure’ in Austria. Self guided walking is easy, with marked routes and detailed booklets provided by your vacation company. You can also join a small group tour with walkers of similar abilities, a recommended option for solo travelers. There is also the question of whether you walk point to point, staying at a different accommodation ever night with your luggage transported ahead of you, or choose a center based trip which is ideal for those that want to add on a few extra non walking activities, or just don’t like unpacking.
Do I need to be a regular walker?The beauty of walking in Austria is that there are routes available for every ability. Up in the mountains of course a degree of physical fitness is recommended, as many trails include ascents and descents that can be tough on the knees. But not all walks require such exertion; there are lighter gradients along the banks of the Danube in the Wachau Valley for example, and on the Seefeld plateau. You can also choose a trip that builds in downtime, with flexible itineraries that can be altered depending on how you feel every day.
Summer or winter walking?The Austrian scenery is just as alluring whether you’re there in summer or winter. In the snow, however, it is harder going, and you’re best off on a guided, small group tour rather than heading out on your own. Snow shoeing and cross country skiing are popular, and no experience is necessary as all instruction is provided. Reward your exertions with a hot chocolate, or a hot tub, back at your accommodation. Outside ski season, walking vacations can be combined with wine tasting in Danube vineyards, museum visits in cities, white water rafting and canyoning for the adventurous, or a spot of mountain biking.
Accommodation & foodExpect to stay for the most part in small, family owned guesthouses and hotels, perhaps with the occasional night in a mountain hut. Austrian Alpine cuisine tends to be plentiful and mouthwatering, just the ticket for powering you up and down the slopes. Traditional foods and drinks include Wiener schnitzel, tortes, sweet pastries and pancakes, and, of course, the winter favourite Glühwein. But vegetarians, vegans and those that prefer lighter fare are well catered for too.
Regenerating mind, body & soulThe best walking vacations don’t simply provide good physical exercise in the fresh air; they also help you unwind mentally and escape the pressures of everyday life. We think Austria is particularly ideal for this – many itineraries begin or end in beautiful cities such as Salzburg or Innsbruck, for instance, with their museums, art galleries and historic architecture that let you mix cultural experiences with your walking. Or why not watch the sun rise over the Grossglockner while you adopt the ‘downward dog’ in a bespoke yoga studio, followed by breakfast made from fresh, organic and locally sourced produce?
If you'd like to chat about Austria walking or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
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Best time to go walking in Austria
Austria is an excellent walking destination all year round, with every season offering its own unique appeal.
Austria is a broad country with three main geographical areas. The Danube River runs across the top, separated from the Austrian Alps by the Bohemian Forest, a smaller mountain range. Given the variance in topography, weather conditions in Austria can vary dramatically depending on your altitude. However, the best time to go on a walking vacation in Austria is generally considered to be from May to October, when the weather is at is finest. In the warmest months, head upwards: generally, temperatures fall by around 5°C for every 300m you ascend.
Austria Weather Chart
Walking in Austria, month by month
More about Austria walking
The chances of encountering a yodelling nun are vanishingly small, but in Austria the mountains are the local celebrities. Follow in the footsteps of such illustrious company as Richard the Lionheart, Sigmund Freud and Clint Eastwood across landscapes that might have been designed for hiking.
Keep your carbon footprint low at high altitude: go on a walking vacation in the Tyrol that uses local transport and is fuelled by local food.