HIKING IN AUSTRIA GUIDE – Best hikes in Austria & more!

Hiking in Austria is a pure nature experience with stunning scenery. From alpine meadows to snow capped mountains and karst limestone formations, Austria is one of the best and most diverse hiking destinations in Europe. Although hiking in Austria is a lot of fun, the alpine region should not be underestimated. A good preparation and listening to your own intuition are the key. So this guide will help you plan your hiking adventure in Austria. You will get an overview of the different hiking areas in Austria, what to look out for in the different hiking seasons, the best day hikes in Austria and you will learn some important Austrian words you can use in the mountains.

Check here all tours in Austria on GetYourGuide

Various regions for hiking in Austria

To choose the right hiking region in Austria for your adventure, it is important to know a bit about the geographics in Austria. Austria has 57 mountain groups and nine federal states. Within these states you’ll find various regions with regional capital towns. The Austrian Alps cover two-thirds of the country, most of the west, and extend to the east. Before Vienna, the mountains disappear and the province of Lower Austria is mostly flat terrain or hilly. The highest mountain in Austria is the Grossglockner at 3789 amsl. The Central European country has 900 glaciers that are unfortunately losing in size each year.

The following areas display the diversity of Austria’s nature:

  • South Styria is considered the Austrian Tuscany, a hilly wine region.
  • Waldviertl, translated as Forest Quarter in Lower Austria, has, as the name says, endless forests.
  • Burgenland, a state on the border with Hungary reveals endless views of the very flatland.
  • Alpine area with its most significant mountains peaks are mostly in SalzburgTyrol, and Vorarlberg

Hiking in Austria: Alpine or flat terrain?

Do you want to take it easy while hiking in Austria? Then the following areas have what you are looking for; around Vienna, Burgenland, South Styria, and the north of Lower and Upper Austria. The areas where the alpine region fades out offer a lot of easy hikes and even multiple-day hikes in hilly or flat terrain.

Check here the 3-Hour guided hiking tour of Wiener Wald in Vienna

There are also multiple beautiful hiking trails in the Alps. Either walk in the valley or take the cable car up the mountain where you will often find easy hikes in the mountains with gastronomical offers, exploration walks with information signs and playgrounds. Austria is doing a good job of making the mountains accessible to all. And for the adventurers has Austria some of the best long distance hikes in Europe!

Check here all nature & adventure tours in Austria

How to get to the hikes in Austria: Public transport or rental car?

You can reach most of the hikes in Austria by public transport. Although not all places are well-developed when it comes to public transportation. So, your options can be a bit limited depending on the destination. If the town where you are planning to go has a train station it is already a win! Trains are usually running frequently, until evening hours, and are faster than the busses.

If you’re planning a road trip around Austria then renting a car will ease your trip. You don’t need to worry about the time schedule of the bus or train which will give you the freedom to go to any hike’s starting point. Also for sunrise lovers it is a great way of departing super early in the morning to get to your destination before sunrise.  

Finding the best hiking routes in Austria – hiking apps for Austria

Where do you find suitable hikes? Most likely online, with the following websites/apps: Bergfex, Komoot, All Trails and Outdoor active. But also by asking locals, the hotel reception, or the tourism information. But note that not everyone in Austria is into hiking.

Most of the above-mentioned websites offer not only hiking tours but also cycling and running routes. My favorite webpage to look up hikes is Bergfex. There you can look up winter and summer tours, and the weather forecasts. Additionally, you can also search for hikes within a region or national park. All the websites displaying the hiking routes include information like kilometers, altitude, difficulty level, and starting point.

If you have no clue about where to go hiking in Austria then Google Maps might be an option. There you can see mountain ranges, cities, towns, lakes and rivers. 


Trails, signs, and difficulty levels for hiking in Austria

The Austrian hiking trails are very well maintained. Yellow signs with the name of the hikes indicate the directions, most of them also show the color for the difficulty. A difficult hike has the color black, the medium level has red, and the easy hike has blue. You can find this color code even on the hiking apps.


Alpine trails are mainly small paths. Broader hiking trails are normally found at the beginning of the trail, for easy hikes or rural (forest) walkways. On the alpine trails, you can find red-white-red marks (colors of the Austrian flag) on stones or trees that lead the way. Therefore, it is not easy to get lost, just be attentive and follow the marked route.

Austria is a very water-rich country. While hiking you can find rivers, springs, lakes, or creeks. In the alpine area, the water of small creeks or springs is drinkable.


Austrian hiking areas can be very steep if you aren’t used to this kind of exercise. Take it slow and start with easy hikes. Don’t feel discouraged if you aren’t making it to the top. Listening to your body and its boundaries shows strength! For many tour descriptions, you can read that no fear of heights and sure footedness is needed. This means that the route can lead along a cliff, or you need to climb up apart. There you will find tools to climb the mountain, iron bars, or a rope to hold on to. It could also mean the terrain is very rough, with lots of loose stones or roots.

Alpine trails have summit crosses and summit books where you can immortalize yourself. Trails in flat or hilly terrain often have information boards about flora, fauna, or the history of the place.


Hiking Equipment for hiking in Austria

Accurate hiking equipment is essential and a few things should be on everyones packing list. First, choose the right hiking boots, especially in alpine terrain it is important that your hiking boots cover your ankles. This gives you more support and prevents inquiries. Second, to get additional support, you can take hiking sticks with you. Moreover, consider taking a spare t-shirt with you, so you can change when you are bathed in sweat. In spring, autumn, and on cold summer days, make sure you have enough warm clothing with you. It can be much cooler in the mountains than in the valley. Advisable is a hose scarf, headband, or hood.

In your hiking backpack, you should carry enough drinking water and some snacks, like fruits or energy bars, even if you are stopping at a hut with gastronomical offers. In case your blood sugar level is low. Moreover, carry a small first aid kid, with plasters and special blister plaster, with you. Useful is also a bag for trash, sun protection like sun spray, and a hat.

Mosquito rebellion is not specifically needed in alpine areas but in lower altitudes near waters, it is essential! You should bring a sleeping bag, toiletries, a towel, earplugs, and a headlamp if you are going on a hike with an overnight stay in a simple mountain hut.


Things to consider when hiking in Austria

In Austria, the worst thing that put a spoke in someone’s wheel is the weather. You can never be certain that in winter there is enough snow and in summer enough sun. The weather can be crazy in the mountains! That includes thunderstorms, flooding, snowless winter, and dry or rainy summers- Something you can’t predict. It is important to check the weather forecast before your trip and before the hike.

If you are a hiking beginner, make sure your pace is steady. Don’t start off too fast, keep it steady throughout the hike. Even if you are hiking in flat terrain. Don’t underestimate the hike down in alpine terrain, it is sure faster than going up. But it also strains your knees a lot. If you have knee problems, do some stretching before hiking down.

Be respectful towards all animals. You can find cows grazing in the meadows in the mountains. Don’t shush them away, don’t threaten them with your hiking sticks, and if you are walking with a dog, take him/her on the leash! Cows can get aggressive when they are with calves, just pass them quickly, go out of their way and you will be fine.

For preparation reasons, it is good to know those numbers (I hope you don’t need them): The international emergency number for Europe is 112 and the mountain rescue number in Austria is 140. Make sure you have accident insurance and valid travel insurance. If you knowingly put yourself in danger and call the mountain rescue, you have to pay for the costs yourself. There are often reports about that in newspapers. So, play it safe! But I’m sure you are a responsible hiker so you will enjoy Austria’s nature fully, without any accidents. 

Be insured when you travel!

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen.
A slip during hiking is made before you realize it, and the consequences can be bigger than you want to think of.

We are very happy with SafetyWing and highly recommend getting an insurance with them!

Best hiking season in Austria

To be honest, you can go hiking in Austria all around the year, you will gain different views and experiences. You should keep the weather and natural hazards in mind. This paragraph gives you an overview of the different seasons and what hazards come with them.


Yes, you can go hiking in Austria in winter! But special equipment is required. Snowshoe hiking gained popularity within the last few years. You clip big shoes on your winter boots and walk with hiking sticks. This is more demanding but a perfect opportunity to experience the wilderness of snow-covered nature in Austria (if there is snow). The destination of snowshoe hikes isn’t usually high mountain peaks because it is difficult and can be dangerous (avalanches). You can join this guided tour for snowshoe hiking to enjoy the stunning winter landscape of Austria. For instance, moonlight hikes, exploring untouched nature in the national park, or a sunrise tour. This is going to be an adventure for sure.

But you can also go hiking without these big shoes. However, you might end up trudging through deep snow.

Hazards: avalanche risk, icy trails, or deep snow. You can check the current status here.


Book here your private guided snow hiking tour with snowshoes in Inssbruck

Book here your multi day tour from Vienna. Visit Zell am See, Kitzbühel, Salzburg including Snowshoe hiking


In spring, you can experience the calmness of the mountain. Winter season is over, and the shoulder season gives you the opportunity to enjoy the serenity of the Austrian Alps. Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that reaching the peaks might not be possible as many mountains are still covered in snow. There is no certain date from when mountain peaks are snow free. Sometimes it can get quite cold in May, and it snows at high altitudes. Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination, or summit in terms of hiking.

For me personally, the best time of the year is the end of May, the beginning of June. Everything is blooming, the nature is covered in lush light green.

Also, it is very important to know that the seasonal times are not the same all over Austria. The peak of spring in Vienna, for example, is between March and April.  While in the Alpine region, it usually occurs 1-2 months later.

Hazards: snowfields in higher altitudes can be very slippery, and some of them have creeks or cavities underneath them. Additionally, small creeks are bigger due to the snow melting. In late spring there is the possibility of thunderstorms. 



The best time to enjoy Austria’s endless nature is summer. This is the perfect opportunity to hike up to a mountain lake and take a dip. Yes, it is refreshing! Austria has a lot of rainfall, so make sure you bring a rain coat. The best websites to check the weather are bergfex or rain radar. Nevertheless, summers in Austria can get very hot. Make sure you stay hydrated. Nature in Austria during summer is very popular, so it can get busy. Respect nature and its animals. If you hike less popular routes, you might see a marmot, Austrians call them Mankei.

Hazards: Thunderstorms, the weather can change very quickly in the mountain. Heavy rainfall leads to stone and mud avalanches or flooding of rivers.



In the autumn you have to have luck with the weather. Autumn can be the ideal season for hiking because the summer heat is over and the leaves are getting it’s beautiful orange, yellow and red colors. Nonetheless, it can also be very cold. The best example is autumn 2022. It was very cold in September and October but it was the most beautiful autumn weather ever. The best thing you can do is visit Austria on short notice before checking the weather forecast. In autumn or early winter it also can be very foggy, often you can escape this fog by going up the mountain.

Hazards: The sudden cold weather and early evenings, it gets dark earlier.


The Austrian Mountain hut – Aufi auf di Oim

On many hikes in Austria, you can find so-called Hütten, huts with gastronomical offers. In the Austrian dialect, it is called oim or oimhittn.

The services they offer vary. It depends on the altitude and accessibility of those huts. So, you can find a mountain hut that offers private rooms or chalet rentals and an extensive restaurant. Whereas others have basic offers like dorm-style rooms and a small menu with simple meals. Probably made by the person that lives up there and watches the animals in the summer. You need to know that Austrian cows are spending their summers in the mountains. Sounds idyllic? The so-called Senner/Sennerin, translated with shepherd, is much more than just taking care of the animals. This person also uses the milk to process it into food that gets sold in the hut, a traditional occupation. My sisters once volunteered in such a mountain hut. So, there is the possibility of experiencing the Austrian mountains in another unique way.


Overnight hikes in Austria

Legally speaking, free camping is prohibited in Austria. But if you can’t make it down from the mountain, you can set up a bivouac. At least in the federal states of Salzburg, Upper Austria Vorarlberg, and Styria, it is permitted to set up a bivouac in the alpine wasteland above the tree line. Unfortunately, the legal framework for wild camping on the mountain is different in each federal state and can get very confusing.

If you choose to sleep in a mountain hut, you are on the safe side. As mentioned before, mountain huts come with various options. You can stay in a remote mountain hut, rustic-style huts with dorm-style rooms and shared bathrooms. Or fully equipped mountain huts in less remote areas with restaurants and private rooms.

On the website of the Austrian Alpine Association, you can find a list of mountain huts as well as contact details. In the high season, it is essential to book your room beforehand. The prices for Austrian Alpine Association members are generally lower.

Of course, you can also do a long-distance hike and walk from one hut to another. Just make sure you are fit enough for that! There are a few hikes that are at high altitudes and do not require conquering lots of altimeters. Or if you hike in an area where you reach the village each evening, you can check the so-called Gasthäuser inns for accommodation and food.

This can be the perfect opportunity for a digital detox, unwind in a natural setting in Austria and feel the importance of the present moment.


Recommended hikes in Austria for 2023

Here you have a small selection of hikes in Austria. From easy to difficult, in various regions of the country. And yes, there is almost always a lake. But there is simply no other way to experience Austria’s nature.

Offensee to Rinnerkogel – 360° views of mountain peaks

Located in the beautiful lake region Salzkammergut, the Offensee is a smaller lake a bit hidden from the main road (reachable by car or hiking bus). But it is therefore not less popular and can get quite crowded in the high season. The hike from the Offensee to Rinnerkogel is demanding, you should plan the whole day for it and start early. Once you reach the mountain peak, I hope you have great weather, you are rewarded with a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding mountain peaks. For an easier, adapted hiking tour, you can hike to the Wildensee or go around the Offensee.

Distance hike: 17,6 km

Duration: 6 hours

Altitude meters to hike up: 1445 meters

Difficult Level: black – difficult

Starting Point: Offensee, Parking lot

Public Transportation Accessibility: No (only in summer with the hiking bus, ask the tourist office about it)

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Yes, Rinnerhütte 

Thumersbacher Rundweg – Medium Alpine hike with gorgeous views

In the middle of the alpine landscape of the federal state of Salzburg, you can find numerous hiking trails. The Thumersbacher Rundweg is one of them. From there, on a clear day, you have a magnificent view of the Zellersee and the 3000m peaks. This hike is a loop trail that does not take you up a peak.

Distance hike: 8,7 km

Duration: 3:08 hours

Altitude meters to hike up: 553 meters

Difficult Level: red – medium

Starting Point: Thumersbach town square

Public Transportation Accessibility: Yes

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Yes, Enzianhütte

Hintersteiner See Rundweg – Easy circular hike around an alpine lake

Tyrol also has a wide range of hikes. The Hintersteiner See is a mountain lake surrounded by breathtaking nature and the mountain massif Kaiser. The very chilled circular trail takes you around the lake. The trail can be extended, to Bichl, from where you don’t directly hike along the north shore of the lake.

Distance hike: 5,2 km

Duration: 1:30 hours

Altitude meters to hike up: 93 meters

Difficult Level: blue – easy

Starting Point: Parking Lot Hintersteinersee

Public Transportation Accessibility: Yes

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Yes, Restaurant Seestüberl, Jausenstation Goingstätt, Pension Maier


Pretul to Stuhleck – Medium hike along a mountain ridge

This hike in Styria is just right for you if you don’t want to struggle with a steep climb, but still want to have a summit experience. The starting point is not accessible by public transportation, so you need a car to reach the summit of Pretul, from where you start. You walk along the mountain ridge, from one peak to another, with amazing panoramic views. On your way, you come across a lookout tower and probably some cows.

Distance hike: 5,3 km

Duration: 2:15 hours

Altitude meters to hike up: 274 m

Difficult Level: red – medium

Starting Point: Roseggerhaus at the Pretul

Public Transportation Accessibility: No

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Roseggerhaus, Alois Günther Haus

Circular Trail around the Fuschlsee – Lakes after Lakes

Circular trails around lakes are most of the time easy flat terrain hikes or walks for advanced hikers. The Fuschlsee is not far from Salzburg and is easily reachable by bus. The lake shore is not built up, which many lake shores are in Austria. So, can still enjoy the nature around the lake, without needing to deal with the main street and traffic. By the way, on this path, you will pass the Red Bull headquarters.

Hike distance: 11,3 km

Duration: 3 h

Altitude meters to hike up: 128 m

Difficult Level: blue – easy

Starting Point: Fuschl am See, town

Public Transportation Accessibility: Yes

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Yes, near Fuschl but not much scattered around the lake


Summit hike Zwölferkogel – Immerse yourself in the alpine landscape

In the middle of Hohe Tauern National Park, a challenging day hike without mountain huts is waiting for you. A hiking trail like this is often less popular, but perfect if you want to experience the pureness of Austrian nature during this beautiful hike without the crowds. There is a lake on the way to the peak, the Karsee. For this hike, it is necessary to have surefootedness and be free from giddiness. It’s a whole-day hike, for fit and experienced hikers. Be prepared and bring enough snacks and water.

Distance hike: 13,2 km

Duration: 7:13 h

Altitude meters to hike up: 1550 m

Difficult Level: black – hard

Starting Point: Bramberg, district Wenns

Public Transportation Accessibility: Yes

Gastronomical offers on the trail: None

Kahlenberg to Sophienalpe – Discover Vienna’s surroundings

Did you know that there is a circular hiking trail around Austria’s capital city, Vienna? Yes, you can do multiple-day hikes around the city. Or just enjoy nature on a half-day hike from Kahlenberg to Sophienalpe. The hike is not very demanding but still has one steep part, right at the beginning. The trail crosses many viewpoints, monuments, and taverns. You can finish it earlier if you have enough by catching the bus on one of the roads you pass.

Distance hike: 13,2 km

Duration: 4:30 hours

Altitude meters to hike up: 595 meters

Difficult Level: blue – easy

Starting Point: Kahlenberg bus station

Public Transportation Accessibility: Yes

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Yes, Café Schönstatt, Gasthaus zum Agnesbrünnl, Grüass Di a Gott Wirt, Häuserl am Roan


Bernstein Trail, Rust to Sopron – Hiking from Austria to Hungary

For some people traveling to Europe is so special, because you can travel from one to another country so fast and effortlessly. And you can even hike across the border! The Bernstein Trail is a beautiful hike that covers the history of the region of Burgenland. The Rust to Sopron (Hungary) route is just a part of the Bernstein Trail.

Hike distance: 19 km

Duration: 4:50 h

Altitude meters to hike up: 204 m

Difficult Level: red – medium

Starting Point: Rust town center

Public Transportation Accessibility: Yes

Gastronomical offers on the trail: Yes, not directly on the trail, but at Mörbisch, or Sopron

Austrian Mountain Phrases – Dictionary

If you are hiking in Austria and want to know some Austrian phrases to greet people or know what you order, here you go! Yes, on hikes in Austria, people greet each other 😉

Austrian – German – English

Griass di – Grüße dich – Greeting you. This is how you say hello in Austrian (to one person)

Griass eich – Grüße euch – Greeting you (to multiple persons)

Pfiat di – Tschüss – Bye (to one person)

Pfiat eich – Tschüss – Bye (to multiple persons)

De Oim/De Oimhittn – Die Alm/Die Almhütte – The Austrian Mountain hut

Aufi auf di Oim – Rauf auf die Alm – Up to the mountain hut

Mankei – Murmeltier – Marmot

Stoabock – Steinbock – Ibex

Gamsn – Gämse – Chamois

Is no weit? – Ist es noch weit? – Is it still far?

Kaierschmorrn – Kaiserschmarren – shredded pancake, a very typical Austrian dish

Jausn – Snack – Snack, typically a slice of bread with cheese or ham but also cake

About the writer

Lisi is an adventurous, mostly solo traveler from Austria. She likes to travel slowly, discover underrated countries/regions, and of course, learn about cultures. She has been traveling the world and creating travel content since 2016. With a degree in tourism management and her passion for travel and cultures, she is now on her way to making writing her livelihood.

Website: Escaping Worlds

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