In a country with such incredible landscapes as Austria, it’s a no-brainer that the hiking situation there is something out of an outdoor lover’s dream. The country is rich with some of the world’s tallest mountains, bluest lakes, and most picturesque villages—and as a hiker, you’ll get to experience all of them (often on a single hike!).
Some of the best hikes in Austria will have you climbing mountains and looking down over the colorful towns below; others will have you walking alongside sunny meadows and clear lakes. Whatever hike you most enjoy, you’ll find it for sure in Austria.
The Best Hikes in Austria
If you’re staying in Alpbach, don’t miss this hike. Sometimes referred to as “Round the Gratlspitz,” since the path takes you on a winding route through two mountain peaks, this is a beautiful hike with unparalleled views that make the nearly 2000-ft climb totally worth it.
The route is an almost five-hour journey, so come prepared with water and snacks. Along the way, don’t miss the other sights to see, which include old mining tunnels, a beautiful lake, and the Hösl chapel.
Though the pathways are pretty well-kept, there are definitely rougher areas with loose rocks and uneven footing, so be sure that your footwear is appropriate for hiking.
Lünersee Circuit Trail
If an alpine lake sounds cool to you, make sure you drop a pin at the Lünersee Circuit Trail. Located above Brandnertal, the route is easily accessible once you reach the area via cable car. Because it’s relatively flat (being lakeside), this is an excellent option for traveling families, particularly those with younger kids.
This is a relatively short little loop, but it’s just as beautiful as the longest of adventures. Clocking in at a total of six km (around two hours to complete fully), and with turquoise lake views for which this region is so well-known, it’s a great little gem that can easily be done without giving up your entire day.
Extending your hike is possible by hiking to Schesaplana, the highest peak in the Rätikon Alps.
The Eagle Walk
This is a long one! The Eagle Walk is one of Austria’s best-known routes, and it spans an astonishing 280 km, stretching from St. Johann and finishing at St. Anton am Arlberg. Luckily, it’s divided into 24 parts, so you can choose which stage of the hike is best suited to your needs.
Since the hike spans such a vast distance, different parts of it will allow you to see varied terrains. Austria has a ton of beautiful blue lakes, tiny villages and towns, and some of the world’s best mountain ranges.
Vorarlberg through Tyrol
Be sure to research the natural elements of each section for things like altitude and difficulty, since this will range dramatically from one part to another.
Nock/Art Hiking Trails
This series of hikes melds hiking with art. Located in Carinthia, the Nock/Art hiking trails are a series of six trails that mix the great outdoors with modern works of art. Along each of the six routes are different pieces of art from creators all over the world, and many are made from materials native to the area. The routes all range in difficulty, with some being super flat and walkable (great for kids) and others requiring a little mountaineering and climbing over scraggly parts.
The area has plenty of gems to visit, too. Don’t miss out on Bad Kleinkirchheim, a picturesque nearby village, and the other natural wonders of the nature reserve.
These trails are best done between May and October to appreciate the greenery of the region.
This is a longer hike, but it’s worth it, so it was a quick addition to the list of best hikes in Austria. It’s a solid seven hours there and back, but the views at the peak will make you glad you made the trek. Located in the Kitzbüheler Alps, the Kröndlhorn is among the tallest peaks in the area at a whopping 2,444 m—making it super popular with hikers and climbers.
The round trip is almost 14km, and there is some scrambling and actual light climbing involved in reaching the summit, but we promise the views are worth the upward hike. On the way up, there’s even a lake to help you cool down for a bit if you need it.
Look out for the little chapel at the summit.
Not far from the village of Scheffau is a beautiful lake—Hintersteiner See. It’s a beautiful spot surrounded by nature, and it’s an easy hike loop around its shores (only an hour and a half, or 5km). There are shuttle buses available for transport from nearby Scheffau to facilitate your trip there and back, so no car, no problem.
The lake itself makes for a great hiking view. Not only does it provide fantastic natural scenery, but the water is crisp and clear since the lake is fed by natural springs underground. There is a section open for swimming, but even in summer, the water can be quite chilly!
Though nearby Scheffau is most visited in the summer, the area turns into a ski resort in the snowy winter months.
Karlsbader Hütte is on the southern Austrian border, in the Gailtal Alps. Start your journey from the town of Lienz and drive up to the mountain hut Dolomitenhütte (this route costs €8). Look out for the sign indicating the hiking path (“Steig”) and follow that. This hike is around two hours one way. In the summer, you can camp overnight.
The hike itself offers a plethora of views—and not all of them down! Despite its name, this mountain is all limestone and no dolomite, but it’s stunningly beautiful all the same. In peak hiking season, you’ll have plenty of company as this is a very popular route to hike.
There’s still a lot of snow up until July, so if you want to see more of the mountain, visit in the later summer.
Halltal Salt Mining Trail
For more than 600 years, the Halltal Valley was primarily used for mining salt. Though the mines have been closed since the 1960s, the path used to transport the salt out of the mining area has been converted into an educational hiking trail, complete with signage explaining the history of the area. The hike finishes at an old mining shaft, where visitors can walk the first few meters.
This is a family-friendly hike and even offers an interactive quiz corner for young visitors. Though the amenities are child-friendly, there are definitely some more elevated parts to this trail (which is about 10km long, or about 5 hours), so it may be better suited to older children.
Don’t miss the Bergerkapelle chapel and the Ladhütten huts.
There’s been a lot of mountain talk on this list of best hikes in Austria, but no mention of gorges—until now. This is a short hike at only an hour and a half each way, but definitely not short on natural beauty. For most of this walk, you will be quite high up, especially as you walk parallel with the rushing Brandenberg rapids below. The area is rich with interesting rock formations, fresh rushing waters, and verdant green forest. Looking down from the bridges, you will even spot canoers making their way along.
The path is 4km. Once you reach the end, you will come to a meadow; just beyond this is the Jausenstation Tiefenbachklamm, an excellent restaurant where you can refuel before heading back.
For safety reasons, the gorge routes are closed to the public on heavily rainy days.
If finishing a hike at a top restaurant 10,000 feet up sounds cool to you, then don’t miss this hike. From Sölden, there’s a gondola to take you up to Gaislacher See – a beautiful alpine lake where you can complete a loop around the stunning lake with its crisp water. Heads up; this loop takes only two hours in total but is very steep, so good shoes and some hiking experience is recommended.
Finish off at the legendary Ice Q Restaurant, which you might recognize from the James Bond movie Spectre. The food here is hailed as some of the best in Austria.
Stay in nearby Sölden for proximity and a quaint village experience.
If there’s such a thing as a wildflower enthusiast, this might be their dream hike. Walderalm’s alpine walk is rife with beautiful wild blooms sprawling across sunny meadows. It’s set amidst quaint little mountain cabins and backdropped by the Karwendel Mountains. Talk about a view worth seeing.
Gnadenwald, at the foot of the Karwendel Mountains, is a great spot to stay and explore once you’ve finished your hike.
Early summer is the best time to visit, especially if you’re here for the flora.
Senn’s Wonder Walking Trail
This is an informative and educational hike, but we promise you won’t be bored—and neither will your kids. Senn’s Wonder Walking Trail is a self-guided walking tour offering opportunities to learn about local flora and fauna, geology, and animal habitats. There are interactive displays and areas where you can experience these exact displays of nature, including a “drunken forest,” which shows gnarled trees native to the area.
Sennhütte Hut at the end of the hike is the perfect spot to stop and recharge your batteries while sampling specialties of the area.
Despite the amazing amenities offered, this is a free hike with zero entrance fee.
The name of this hike translates to ‘three-lake walk,’ simply because the hike takes you past three lakes, each more beautiful than the last – the Ampervreilasee, Selvasee, and Guraletschsee lakes. Considering the number of lakes, it’s a short hike, clocking in at only three hours roundtrip. That said, the difficulty is a little higher than many due to rougher terrain and lots of ups and downs.
You’ll walk through stunning meadows and hilltops full of alpine roses if you are there in early summer. There’s even a restaurant at the top where you can sample local dishes.
Not far from here is the Alp Selva, known for its excellent cheeses.
Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee
This is an excellent option for a day hike. It’s located off the Grossglockner Alpine Road in Hohe Tauern National Park, home to Grossglockner Mountain – the tallest mountain in the country. While this hike won’t take you up that famed peak, it will take you high enough for some pretty awesome views of it.
You can start this hike at either end. But if you’re in it for the views, we recommend starting in Glocknerhaus so you can see the terrain unfold before you the closer you get to the base of the mountain. You’ll pass interesting and beautiful sights like the Margaritzenstausee Reservoir, the Pasterze Glacier, and Sandersee Lake.
After Sandersee, you can keep going to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, but be warned that the shuttle back to Glocknerhaus comes, at most, three times a day.
Much like a workout cool down, we’re ending the list with an easier hike. Giglach Lakes is composed of two actual lakes, an upper and a lower, set in the mountains and reachable from Ursprungalm – which itself is accessible by a toll road. From Ursprungalm, it’s only an hour to the lakes.
There are mountain huts as great rest areas between legs of the hike, but even so, the full journey is three hours roundtrip, less than 9 km. The lakes are beautiful and picturesque, so be sure to bring your camera—you’ll be thankful that you did.
For more of a challenge, this path is the beginning section of the Schladminger Tauern high trail, which spans several days.
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What to Pack For Your Trip to Austria
You’re going to need something to carry your belongings in while you’re traveling around Europe in the winter. Even if you’re not doing extensive hikes you need at least something small for day trips. My favorite daypacks are from Camelbak.
I ALWAYS have a down jacket with me when I’m traveling in the winter, fall, or even spring. Sometimes even the summer depending on where I’m at. They aren’t just good for hikes, but doing anything outside and great for nighttime in Europe.
Down jackets pack up light and small so there is no reason NOT to have one in your bag. Seriously it could save your life in a bad situation. We wrote a whole post on our favorites (hint –Feathered Friends, Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket, Patagonia Down Sweater, REI Coop Down Jacket)
Please consider purchasing a travel water bottle before your trip! We hate to see one time use plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. The tap water is so good here – seriously please don’t be one of those tourists that buys plastic water bottles. It’s a waste of money and plastic!
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