Austria map & highlights
As efficient and exquisite as Switzerland, but without the astronomic costs, Austria packs a pretty punch for a small country. Although it is best known for its downhill skiing vacations – hardly surprising, given that Seefeld has hosted the Winter Olympics twice – cross country skiing infrastructures here are second to none, especially in the Tyrol region. Similarly, the country’s trails are all maintained to perfection when the snows melt, revealing Edelweiss filled meadows (and yes it is the national flower, but the Sound of Music is definitely not a national favourite) and valleys that beckon hikers and bikers, climbers and rafters.
Hohe Tauern National Park
1. Hohe Tauern National Park
With Grossglockner at its heart, Austria’s highest mountain at 3,797m, this is alpine arcadia. Summer and winter. In fact, it opens up to a world of high mountain activities in summer, hiking and biking, rafting and canyoning, climbing and alpinism. You don’t have to be a Chris Bonington to enjoy the beauty, however, with plenty of hiking trails to keep walkers of all levels happy here for days on end.
North Austrian Lakes
2. North Austrian Lakes
These are almost stupidly beautiful, with mountains reflected in the water, sailing boats and castles, cafes with cakes the size of castles, and cosy taverns. Cycling or, in winter, cross country skiing around them is the perfect way to see the likes of Attersee, with the small town of St Georgen tucked in between it and the mountains. Or watersport filled Traunsee, with the cobbled market town of Gmunden lining the shore.
3. Oetz Valley
In the Austrian Tyrol, with Oetz as the gateway, this is a mecca of mountain activity, summer and winter. Cut through a range of different peaks belonging to the Stubai Alps, it feels like this meadow and woodland filled valley goes on forever. Indeed, your days can be packed with fun forever here, with superb set ups for white water rafting, climbing, hiking, canyoning and mountain biking, making it a family favourite.
4. River Danube
Voyaging along the Danube is a tradition that goes back generations. Hikers and cyclists still love to follow the flow of Europe’s second largest river through a variety of landscapes, although Austria’s Wachau Valley is one of the prettiest. Traveling west to east, just like the river, is to travel through history, with ancient castles, ‘heurigen’ or wine taverns, vineyards and monasteries still bordering the shores of this fine, ancient artery.
A Tyrolean town but also a region that is made up of five villages that are most well known because they have hosted the Winter Olympics twice. Just 17km from Innsbruck, there are over 300km of cross country skiing trails here, traveling along plateaus that overlook the River Inn valley, with two main mountain areas to play in: Gschwandtkopf and Rosshütte.
A chocolate box village and gateway to the Gschnitzal and Obernberg Valleys. Even they don’t sound real, but they will feel real as you push those calves up through the ancient Tyrolean forests, in the foothills of Habicht (3,277m high), one of the Stubai Alps. With a magnificent circuit of mountain huts to complete, as well as ancient farmlands and pastures, this is all so easy on the wandering eye. With or without snow.
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More about Austria
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