Reach new summits in Austria: 5 awe-inspiring hikes for all abilities

Looking to really recharge, refresh and renew? Then get your boots on and head for Austria where some of the world’s most life-affirming hikes await

Robin McKelvie
01 June 2022
Promoted by
Austria Travel

Main image credit: Oesterreich Werbung Lukas Nagler

Looking to really recharge, refresh and renew? Then get your boots on and head for Austria where some of the world’s most life-affirming hikes await. With every new summit and spirit-soaring trail, the stresses and strains of home dissolve amid a humbling wilderness of towering snow-capped mountains, plunging glaciers and sparkling ice-clear lakes…

1. Lienzer Dolomiten, trail to the Karlsbader Hütte

Cooling down in the Laserzse (Oesterreich Werbung/ Lukas Nagler)

Difficulty level: Hard
Route length: 9km (there and back)

Hike alongside the ghosts of the Romans who once held sway here in the striking Lienz Dolomites. As soon as you leave the cosy Dolomitenhütte behind at 1,616m, you’re in a world of more birds than people on this steep mountain route. Push on beneath hulking grey limestone walls that tower overhead. Your destination is another scenic stop: the Karlsbader Hütte, which overlooks the sparkling waters of the Laserzsee from a height of 2,260m. Savour the views from the sun terrace and take a dip in the lake before heading back to the Dolomitenhütte. Experienced climbers can stay over at the Karlsbader Hütte and enjoy further challenges among the peaks of this mountain world.

2. The Eagle Walk

The Pillersee Lake (Oesterreich Werbung/Peter Podpera)

Difficulty level: Varies depending on the stages tackled
Route length: 413km

This adventure sweeps you right through the Tirol, the ‘Heart of the Alps’, all the way from east to west. The hike is named after the shape of the route, which traces the outline an eagle spreading its wings. You’ll certainly feel like a bird as you rise up into the mountains, far from the modern world.

The route is carved up into 33 separate stages, so you can just pick one or two to tackle if you don’t have the luxury of time – they are all designed with different skill levels and hiking experience in mind. If you do take on the entire 413km length, the Eagle Walk gains some 31,000m in altitude, so it’s a serious world-class challenge. Of all the stages, 24 are located between the Kaiser Mountains and the Arlberg in North Tirol, with a further nine stages found between the Venediger and Glockner mountains in East Tirol. All are spectacular.

3. Adolari Loop

See the sunrise from the Schmittenhöhe on the Pinzgauer Spaziergang Trail (Zell am See Kaprun Tourismus)

Difficulty level: Easy
Route length: 8.5km

This relatively easy loop allows you to slow down and appreciate the peace, calm and beauty of Austria. There is only just over 100m of ascent, so you can ease along the trail from St Ulrich to the pilgrimage church of Saint Adolari, drinking in the views over Pillersee Lake. You will feel solitude and space, but this is also a route well-travelled, as you’re walking in the bootsteps of the pilgrims, poets and hikers who have undertaken their own journeys here for centuries – the church dates back to 1200 AD. Dip inside its walls to marvel at the Gothic flourishes, then seek sustenance at the Gasthof Adolari, where head chef Monika dishes up soul-satisfying Tirol specialities to hungry hikers.

4. Peter Rosegger Loop Trail

Magdalena Habernig (Oesterreich Werbung/ Lukas Nagler)

Difficulty level: Moderate
Route length: 8km or 9.3km

This new loop trail in Hartberg offers a choice of routes, but both follow in the green footsteps of Austrian poet Peter Rosegger, who captured his childhood love of nature in his verse. This love of the natural world permeates the Austrian psyche and is something that rubs off on visitors too. Seven stations along the way delve into environmental themes and how mankind has interacted with the natural world here over the centuries, from the time of the Celts right through to awakening interest in the protection of the environment in the 1900s, and on to the modern day. You’ll learn about mills, agriculture and forestry as you breeze through. Complete the clean, green experience by arriving by train and following the signs. It’s a trail that brings the urban and natural worlds of Austria together in a different way to the usual mountain hikes, shedding light on issues that are impossible to ignore today.

5. Pinzgauer Spaziergang Trail

Difficulty level: Hard
Route length: 17km

Quite simply, this is one of the great Alpine day hikes, but don’t be fooled by the word ‘spaziergang’ – which translates as ‘stroll’ – this is an adventure that will both thrill you and test your fitness as you ascend to 2,081m. The hike revolves around the Schmitten in the Eastern Alps, as you kick off with a trassXpress cable car ride, vaulting you up the slopes of the 1,965m-high Schmittenhöhe. From there, this route offers mountain scenery that will linger with you for your whole life, as well as pleasant walking across meadows and through forests. Highlights include peering over Zell am See and the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier, and gazing across to the Kitzbüheler and Hohe Tauern Alps. There are no huts directly on the route, heightening the feeling of being really cut off and embraced by nature.


Hikers should be familiar with basic alpine techniques, safety precautions and navigation skills.

Meet the local

We ask mountain guide Magdalena Habernig for her thoughts on hiking in the Austrian Alps


What do you love about being a mountain guide?

What fascinates me most about the mountain guide profession is that I can fulfil people’s dreams. I can help them to do things that they would often not be able to achieve without my assistance. The gratitude that you get back is simply very great. It’s a real pleasure. I don’t think there are that many professions where you can experience such joy and appreciation. Mountain climbing teaches you valuable lessons for life. You learn to set goals, assess the risk and never give up. If you always remain in your comfort zone, you’ll stop growing.

What is your favourite hike in Austria?

As a guide, my favourite hike is the Lienzer Dolomiten because there are climbs for many different levels. It’s also not too dangerous and it’s a quiet place without too many people.

Is there a mountain you find particularly special?

I love the Grossglockner – our highest mountain (3,798m). If you’re there on a day when there aren’t many people, you can really feel the power of Grossglockner, and you can feel something very special when you are alone there.

Have you any advice for mountain climbers? 

It’s important to set yourself goals on the mountain, as in real life. When you reach a point where you are stuck and allow a little change, are open to something new, that helps in everyday life, too. Nature doesn’t make a difference between men, women, those professionally successful or those who are not.

What are you waiting for? 

Discover more of Austria now by heading over to the official website. 

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