8 spectacular day walks in Austria's Alps
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7 spectacular day walks in Austria's Alps

From challenging climbs up some of Austria’s highest peaks, to gentle strolls in wildlife parks. In every case, panoramic views come as standard...

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1. Pinzgauer Spaziergang, Zell am See-Kaprun

Stretching 17km from Saalbach to the peak of Schmittenhöhe, the Pinzgauer Spaziergang route in the Zell am See-Kaprun region takes around five-six hours to complete. The path navigates you across mesmerising mountain plateau, along a ridgeway high in the hills with stunning views aplenty. There are a couple of inclines that will need a bit of extra puff to tackle, but intermediate hikers will find this trail relatively straightforward.

View over Zell am See (Shutterstock)
View over Zell am See (Shutterstock)

You’ll need to catch a bus towards Saalbach then the Schattberg x-press lift up to the hike’s starting point, or take the lift to Schmittenhöhe if you choose to hike in the other direction. The route is well-marked as is one of the most popular hikes in the area. It’s recommended to take an entire day out to complete the hike at a steady pace, and make sure to check the schedules for lifts back down the mountain at the other end.

2. Wildpark Aurach, Kitzbühel

For an alpine walk with a twist, don’t miss ambling around the Wild Animal Park Preserve in Kitzbühel. Home to around 200 animals at an elevation of 1,100m above sea level, this unique experience is especially good if you’re hiking as a family. The kids will love watching the deer, wild boar, lynx, peacocks (and more!) roaming around, and the Tyrolean Alps make a mighty backdrop for nature-loving parents.

Wild Animal Park Preserve (kitzbuhel.com)
Wild Animal Park Preserve (kitzbuhel.com)

The Wild Animal Park Preserve is an interactive experience: games and activity stations are dotted along the paths, designed to help children learn more about the animals, and daily feedings take place through most of the year (mid-November to mid-September). Note that the park is closed between January and March.

3. Round the Gratlspitz, Alpbachtal

Accessible directly from the centre of Alpbach, a town in Austria’s Alpbachtal region, the Round the Gratlspitz hike summits a couple of peaks in the area along a winding path through the mountains. For their exertion, hikers are justly rewarded with breath-taking views across the hilltops and down into plunging valleys. The elevation of this trek reaches around 1,900m, and it takes about four and a half hours to complete.

Gratlspitz
Gratlspitz

Most of the route is made up of relatively well-kept footpaths, but there is some uneven terrain that calls for good hiking boots. Alongside the undulating landscape, other sights on this hike include Hösl chapel, a lake, some mountain lodges (which provide convenient rest stops), and tunnels left over from the area’s mining days.

4. Kröndlhorn, Kitzbüheler Alpen

If you’ve got bundles of energy and seven hours to spare in the Kitzbüheler Alpen, taking a hike up the Kröndlhorn is a must. This enormous 2,444m beast is one of the highest in the region (the highest in the Westendorf municipality) and thus a popular peak to summit for hikers in the area. The trail is a bit of a scramble and by the time you complete the full 13.9km round-trip your legs might feel like jelly, but the panoramas from the top are worth it.

View from Kitzbuheler Alpen (Shutterstock)
View from Kitzbuheler Alpen (Shutterstock)

Keep your eyes peeled for the lake at Reinkarsee, which you’ll come across at an elevation of around 2,194m, and look out for the little chapel at the summit. Perhaps you’ll want to step inside and thank someone for helping you make it!

5. The Eagle Walk, St Anton am Arlberg

A mammoth task that stretches 280km across Austria, the Eagle Walk (locally known as the ‘Alderweg’) is among the most spectacular hikes this country has to offer. The trek starts at St. Johann and finishes at St. Anton am Arlberg, and is split up into 24 stages. Unless you plan on doing the entire thing (hats off to you), these defined stages allow for hikers to easily break up the trek and tackle selected parts.

Walking in St. Anton am Arlberg
Walking in St. Anton am Arlberg ©TVB St. Anton am Arlberg_Foto Wolfgang Ehn

The final section leading into St. Anton is a difficult 17.5km, but no expert skills are needed – just a lot of willpower! Taking around four hours, this segment of the Eagle Walk skims across plush alpine meadows and clambers up mounts such as Schindlekopf and Bergleskopf. From parts of the trek you can catch views of the Swiss border. A number of huts along the way provide places to rest and pick up refreshments.

6. Stage 15 of the Alpe Adria, Carinthia

Trailing through Nockberge Biosphere Park in Carinthia from Erlacherhaus to Falkerthaus, Stage 15 of the Alpe Adria hike is packed with natural beauty and glorious viewpoints. This hike summits three peaks and stretches out over 14.2km, which means it takes around seven hours to complete and is relatively difficult.

Lake Nassbodensee (Shutterstock)
Lake Nassbodensee (Shutterstock)

This trek passes numerous points of interest: stroll across alpine meadows, look over Lake Nassbodensee, discover remnants of the area’s mining industry, and gawp at the views of the Nockberge Mountains and other surrounding sections of the Alps. This hike is best tackled between May and October, and there are a number of stops along the route where you can rest your legs for a moment.

7. nock/art trails, Carinthia

Aimed to create another dimension to hiking, the nock/art walking trails in Carinthia join outdoor adventure with contemporary artwork. Six paths in total make up the participating routes, varying in difficultly from easy walks across fields (suitable for children, even in prams) to treks up steep, craggy peaks.

Nockberg Biosphere Park (Shutterstock)
Nockberg Biosphere Park (Shutterstock)

Sculptures and other pieces of art from international artists are placed along these trails at intervals, often made from materials native to their surroundings. These pieces are designed to make hikers think about the scenery in different ways, adding another aspect to the walk that you may not have considered before. Coupled with the stunning mountain backdrop, in the Nockberg Biosphere Park and Kirchheim Valley, these artworks offer fascinating new perspectives.


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