Stunning views, blue glaciers, high mountains and dramatic waterfalls.
Hiking through the Austrian Alps is one of the best things to do in Austria if you love the outdoors. The country’s hiking trails are among the most beautiful in Europe and hiking is a rewarding way to enjoy the country’s spectacular mountains.
But you need to come prepared. From understanding trail difficulties, packing the right gear and booking overnight stays, being well informed will make the difference between a life-changing hike and a nightmare.
To help you preparing for your hike through the Austrian Alps I’ve written a guide featuring my most helpful knowledge about the area.
Where to Stay
My group and I hiked from cabin to cabin through Austria. If you decide to do the same I strongly recommend that you book the cabins before you go, since the cabins attract a lot of hikers, specifically during the summer months.
Deutscher Alpenverein owns a large number of mountain cabins that lie near the trails. The cabins don’t offer luxury. Expect to sleep in simple dormitories which you share with other hikers. You may use the duvets and pillows in the dormitories but it’s a good idea to bring your own sleeping bag liner since the sheets are not washed every day.
The price is usually 50 – 60 euro per night incl. half board. Don’t forget to bring enough cash since the cabins don’t accept credit cards.
On their website www.alpenverein.de The Alpenverein offers an overview over the mountain cabins, their location, journey to the destination and other useful information.
This is the route we chose on our hike through Austria (please find trail numbers on physical cards that you may buy in bookstores.
Fellhornbahn to the Rappenseehütte cabin
We started our mountain adventure in Germany, in the village of Oberstdorf near Fellhornbahn and headed for the Rappenseehütte crossing Birgsau, Einödsbach and Enzianhütte.
This was a tough start with a vertical rise of 1,000 meters. Specifically the latter part of the route was very demanding. So please make sure that you start the hike early to have sufficient time for the stage.
If you do so you will also reach the cabin in time to enjoy the sun set in the Allgäu Mountains. It’s a stunning view.
Rappenseehütte to Kienberg
Rappenseehütte lies near the pass that marks the border to Austria 2,300 meters above sea level. We started this stage by crossing the border to Austria. Note that there may be snow in the pass of which reason it is very important that you wear hiking boots and not shoes.
From the pass there is a long and demanding descent to the valley. Take your time to walk safely down the mountain since the trail is very stony.
This is a spectacular stage that lets you enjoy wild mountain animals e.g. ibex goats. And if you are very quiet (and lucky) you may even see marmots. Marmots are shy animals that prefer to hide in the mountains. So you need to watch the mountains carefully to get a glimpse of the animals.
Once we reached the valley, we followed the trail to the village of Steeg and continued to the village of Kienberg where we had booked rooms in a hotel with nice comfortable beds and baths.
Kienberg to Kaiserjochhaus
View to the summits near Kaiserjochhaus
From Kienberg we continued our hike to the Kaiserjochhaus cabin through the small village of Kaisers.
The trail takes you through the Lechtaler Alps, which is a stunning area with steep mountains and nice Tyrolean architecture.
The Kaiserjochhaus cabin lies in the Lechtaler Alps 2,310 meters above sea and is surrounded by peaks. So if you are up for it there are many opportunities to climb more peaks with awesome views once you have reached the cabin:
Grießkopf: 2581 m
Malatschkopf: 2388 m
Stanskogel: 2757 m
In the night prior to our exit from the Kaiserjochhaus it rained heavily. This made the long descent down the mountain very slippery, so we arrived in the village of Pettneu am Arlberg later than expected.
To save time we boarded a bus in the village of Pettney am Arlberg that took us to Pfunds where we continued our hike to the Hohenzollernhaus cabin.
The Hohenzollernhaus cabin is beautifully situated in the Radurschel Valley with a view to a dramatic waterfall. The nice location allows you to plan day trips to beautiful destinations in the area, e.g. waterfalls, glaciers and the pass that marks the border to Italy. We stayed an extra day to explore the beautiful surroundings.
Hohenzollernhaus to Maseben
On our last stage through Austria we headed for the village of Melago in italy
The trail from the Hohenzollernhaus cabin passes through the beautiful Radurschel Valley towards Raduschel Scharte, that marks the pass to Italy. Note that the last rise to the pass may seem terrifying since it is filled with large stones that you must climb to reach the pass.
However, once you have reached the pass there is a long and nice descent down the Langtauertal valley to the village of Melago
Near the ski lift in the village, you find a telephone booth you may use to call the cabin host if you wish to be transported from the village to the cabin.
The Maseben cabin was by far the best cabin on our hike through the Alps. The cabin kitchen offers delicious Tyrolean dishes, the rooms are comfortable and have access to comfortable bath rooms.
In addition, there is plenty of opportunities to plan day trips from the Maseben cabin to interesting destinations. Particularly the nearby glacier area with the renowned Weißkugel glacier is very recommendable.
What To Bring
Below please find a link for my packing list for the hike:
How To Get There And Get Back
It is very easy to get to the first point on the hike, i.e. the village of Oberstdorf in Germany. Deutsche Bahn offers direct lines that take you directly to the village.
The return journey from the village of Melago to Oberstdorf requires a bit more preparation though. In Melago, take bus no 276 to the village of Grauen. Change here to the Prenner bus that proceeds to the village of Oberstdorf. Remember that the Prenner bus only stops in Graun if you make a prior arrangement with the bus company.
Other Highlights On The Tour
A few days prior to our arrival at the Hohenzollernhaus cabin an avalanche occured near the cabin. This created the above beautiful lake in the valley.
Tyrolean dishes and beverages
If you go hiking in Austria, please don’t miss the opportunity to explore Tyrolean dishes and beverages. On this hike I enjoyed Kaiserschmarrn (Emperor’s Mess) a lot. This is a fluffy shredded pancake which is served with apple sauce and icing sugar. An awesome treat after a hard day’s work in the mountains.
Ready For A Life-Changing Hike Through The Austrian Alps?
Hopefully, you have been inspired to realize your own mountain adventure.
But you need to prepare thoroughly for the hike since the preparations are fundamental for a successful hike through the Alps.
If you do so, chances are that you will have the time of your life.
Austria is awesome. Everywhere you look there are beautiful mountains with glaciers, waterfalls and mountain animals. In addition, you may look forward to experiencing unique Tyrolean hiking culture if you choose to book cabins for your overnight stays.
So go for it.
Happy hiking 🙂