When you think of the Austrian Alps, you’ll most likely imagine Alpine mountains and sweeping landscapes. Aside from that, add to the picture its gorgeous cities, natural attractions, and fine Austrian cuisine.
If it’s your first time visiting the Austrian Alps, we rounded up the 10 best spots you shouldn’t miss! From towering mountains, fairytale-like towns in Austria to stunning architecture, a visit here is an experience of a lifetime.
Where Are These Austria Alps?
The Alps is a natural wonder that stretches roughly 700 miles across southern and central Europe. Beginning near Monaco, the Alps run across Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and Austria, among other countries in Europe. The stretch ends on the coastline of the Adriatic Sea in Albania. The eastern Alps cover most of Austria.
The Alps cover about 80,000 square miles and feed most of the major rivers in Europe. These snow-capped mountains can reach heights between 6,000-8,000 feet. The tallest alps include Grossglockner, Wildspitze, and Palla Bianca.
Swiss Alps vs. Austrian Alps
If you’re after the best alps mountains experience, you’ll be torn between the Swiss and the Austrian Alps. There’s always the intriguing question: Which is nicer, the Bavarian Alps or the Austrian Alps? You’ll be relieved to know that both destinations have amazing offers. It all depends on your preference.
For a true Alpine high, head to the Swiss Alps. Switzerland is home to some of the tallest mountains in the world. Matterhorn, for one, is one of the most famous peaks that professional mountaineers won’t skip.
Meanwhile, if you’re in for the scenery, the Austrian Alps are perfect for you. In fact, some of the iconic scenes in the movie “The Sound of Music” are filmed in Obersalzberg, on the Austrian border. Riding the cable car is one of the best ways to enjoy the stunning scenery.
How To Get Around Austria
Austria may be small, but it has six airports strategically located in the biggest cities and tourist regions. Aside from taking the plane, you can visit Austria from nearby cities via trains and buses. With many convenient travel options, it’s easy to enjoy the best day trips from Vienna.
From Germany to Austria, you can either board the bus, train, or plane. Most travelers say train travel is the best as you get to zip around Austria and enjoy its scenic views.
Let’s jump to the 10 breathtaking Austrian Alps you shouldn’t miss!
Many agree that Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in central Europe — and for many reasons. Boasting 12 centuries of rich history, this old town is home to stunning views and Baroque architecture. Among the beautiful towns in Austria, Salzburg became popular when it provided the setting for “The Sound of Music” film. Aside from that, the gorgeous town in Eastern Alps made its way to the UNESCO World Heritage list. A day isn’t enough as there are plenty of amazing things to do in Salzburg.
Top Attractions In Salzburg
Fortress Hohensalzburg Castle: Visit this 11th-century castle and travel back in time. Sitting on top of a hill, Fortress Hohensalzburg offers breathtaking views of Salzburg. Today, the castle is among the favorite landmarks in Salzburg.
Salzburger Altstadt: Enjoy leisure walks on this Baroque Old Town’s cobbled squares and narrow lanes. Salzburger Altstadt is a perfect blend of classic architecture and modern shopping emporiums. Aside from that, it is home to Mozart’s birthplace, Dom Cathedral, Salzburg City Museum, and a number of churches. Don’t forget to put on sunblock and wear quality sunglasses while walking around.
The Original Sound of Music Tour: What’s a trip to Salzburg without visiting the spots where “The Sound of Music” was filmed. This tour not only shares the highlights of the film but also the architectural and historical landmarks in the city. There are English-speaking guides throughout the tour for your convenience.
With its perfect position high in the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck has a lot to offer. From stunning views to winter sports, a visit here is worth anyone’s time. In fact, Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964 and 1976. Aside from that, the capital of Tyrol has majestic buildings worth marveling at.
Top Attractions In Innsbruck
Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen: Also called the North Chain or the Northern Range, the Nordkette is a mountain in the city. This range of mountains not only offers stunning landscapes but also a host of activities year-round. In the summer, this part of the Austrian Alps is a play area for active people. Meanwhile, it’s an excellent ski area during winter. Pack comfortable and sturdy snow boots to enjoy the experience.
Altstadt von Innsbruck: Altstadt (Old Town) is said to be the heart of Innsbruck. Touring around this town lets you enjoy medieval buildings, historic hotels, and modern restaurants and cafes. There are also interesting side alleys worth exploring. What tourists love about Altstadt is how it’s historical yet not intimidating and very safe. In winter, Christmas markets are alive and busy.
Hungerburg Funicular: Designed by star architect Zaha Hadid, the Hungerburg Funicular takes you from Innsbruck city center to the Hungerburg station. The hybrid funicular boasts state-of-the-art architecture that is loved by tourists of all ages.
Among the Austrian Alps worth visiting is Klagenfurt. It’s ideally situated on the famous Lake Worthersee, one of the warmest and largest Alpine lakes in Europe. Due to its southerly location, Klagenfurt offers pleasant summer days and sunny winters.
There are plenty of exciting activities to enjoy in Klagenfurt. You just need to choose the best months to engage in your activities. Aside from that, it’s among the towns in Austria that have gorgeous mountain scenery.
Top Attractions In Klagenfurt
Lake Worthersee: This lake is a popular spot in Klagenfurt. Tourists flock here to take in the beauty of Lake Worthersee. If you’re visiting the Austrian Alps in winter, you can enjoy a host of winter sports on this lake. For a more relaxing option, fancy dinners by the lake are always a great idea.
Hochosterwitz Castle: Perched 600m above sea level, Hochosterwitz is a stunning piece of architecture. Aside from taking snaps, there’s a host of events you can take part in, including knight festivals, full moon walks, and others.
Rauschelesee: Klagenfurt is home to many beautiful lakes and Rauschelesee is one of them. It’s smaller than Lake Worthersee but offers amazing swimming and fishing opportunities. Only 15-20 minutes southwest of Klagenfurt, this lake lets you enjoy the scenic views and friendly walking paths.
If you’re visiting the Austrian Alps to enjoy skiing, then you shouldn’t skip Nassfeld. Sitting near the Italian border, Nassfeld town is well-known as a ski resort. Boasting 110km of ski tracks, 1000km of hiking trails, and 950km of cycling trails, any adventurer is in for a treat when in this side of town.
Top Attractions In Nassfeld
Sommerrodelbahn: If you’re searching for an adrenaline high on the Austrian Alps, you need to try the Sommerrodelbahn. Famous among the adventurous souls, this 2-km mountain roller coaster is a fun way to view Nassfeld. It is perfectly safe and is loved even by kids. Enjoy the speed and stunning views, such as lakes, mountains, villages, and animals.
Garnitzenbach Stream: A trip to the Austrian Alps promises to take you closer to nature. When in Nassfeld, head on to Garnitzenbach Stream. Home to plenty of waterfalls and is very accessible via climbing facilities, this stream is an ideal family destination.
Aqua Trail: Another great family activity in this part of the Austrian Alps is the Aqua Trail. This 1.5km adventure walkway showcases visitors with different types of water in the mountains. There are helpful information boards to guide visitors along the way. The walkway is wide enough to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs. Aside from that, there are many rest areas and a big picnic area to relax and for children to play.
If you have hiking near Vienna in mind, Grossarl is a perfect getaway for hiking and other activities. Grossarl may not be as popular as other towns in Austria, but it has a host of exciting things to enjoy. From hiking, taking the beauty of the alps mountains to relaxing spas, this town won’t disappoint. For the ultimate hiking experience, pick comfortable hiking shoes and durable backpacks.
Top Attractions In Grossarl
Fulseck: For best hikes in Austria, Fulseck is an ideal mountain for travelers of all ages and skill levels. Fulseck has many themed walks and trails perfect for hiking and biking. To make transporting convenient, you can take advantage of the Fulseck Summit Lift. This lift easily brings you to your chosen destination on the mountain.
Skigebiet Grossarltal-Dorfgastein: This famous ski resort offers a range of great slopes for beginners and advanced skiers. Boasting plenty of space, Skigebiet Grossarltal-Dorfgastein is a paradise for winter activities. Just don your best winter boots and jacket, and you’re all set to enjoy this paradise. Take advantage of the pistes, modern lifts, and not to forget the stunning views.
Skischule Lackner: If you’re visiting the Austrian Alps to learn a thing or two about skiing, head on to Skischule Lackner. This popular ski school offers various ski courses, services, and winter sports and products.
Tucked in the westernmost corner of Austria is the large town of Feldkirch. Aside from the surrounding mountains of the Austrian Alps, Feldkirch is famous for its medieval charm. Take leisure walks around town and enjoy the breathtaking views of the alps mountains.
Top Attractions In Feldkirch
Feldkirch Wildpark: This animal park is perfect for those traveling with kids. Home to over 140 different animals, the park also houses an adventure park for guests to enjoy.
Drei Schwestern Mountain: This beautiful mountain range not only offers scenic views of alpine mountains but also outdoor activities. Enjoy hiking and climbing opportunities on well-developed paths and trails.
Marktgasse: The Marktgasse in Feldkirch is an excellent place to buy local produce. A trip here lets you discover various fruit and vegetable growers from Feldkirch. The market is also alive with different kinds of flowers. Add to that is a section for used toys and books for children.
Another breathtaking Austrian Alps is Hallstatt. This gorgeous village sits on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt. Visiting here lets you marvel at 16th-century Alpine houses as well as alleyways dotted with cafes and shops. Overlooking Lake Hallstatt, Hallstatt offers picturesque views and charm. No wonder many refer to it as one of the most beautiful lakeside towns in the world.
Top Attractions In Hallstatt
Salt mine: Visiting this side of the Austrian Alps, make sure to explore Salzwelten. This is one of the world’s oldest salt mines and is UNESCO-recognized. Dating back to 4000 BC, this mountain has gained its wealth of salt mines through the years. Salzwelten has guided tours to educate visitors more about its rich history.
Lake Hallstatt: What’s a visit to Hallstatt without touring its stunning lake? Every angle of the lake is beautiful, but they say some of the best views are from the water. Indulge in Lake Halstatt’s boat rentals that include rowboats, pedal boats, and electric options. Cruise around the lake and take in the beauty of Hallstatt and the alpine mountains at a relaxing pace.
Dachstein Caves: Another famous attraction on this side of the Austrian Alps is the Dachstein Caves. This network of caverns is among the most impressive in the Eastern Alps. Visiting these caves lets you enter an underground world of gigantic ice sculptures and icicles. Among the highlights include the Giant Ice Cave (Rieseneishöhle) that features stunning caverns. There’s also the magnificent Mammoth Cave (Mammuthöhle) where you can marvel at the huge pipe-shaped galleries and ice structures.
Nestled southwest of Salzburg in the Austrian Alps is the beautiful town of Kaprun. Not only do you get to enjoy the best alps mountains views here but also a host of outdoor activities. This holiday destination is perfect for the entire family. In Kaprun, you can either be very active or relaxed depending on your preference.
Top Attractions In Kaprun
Kitzsteinhorn: The Kitzsteinhorn is a famous skiing mountain in the Eastern Alps. From modern mountain railways to world-class infrastructure, Kitzsteinhorn gives holidaymakers unparalleled Alpine experience year-round. Add to that is the top snow quality from October to early summer.
Oldtimer Museum: If you’ve had too much hiking in Austria, take a break in the Oldtimer Museum. This small yet funky museum showcases over 200 vintage vehicles and motorbikes. With various vehicles from the 1950s to 1970s, this is the right spot for car and bike enthusiasts. Feast your eyes on vintage motorbikes, rollers, and tractors, among others.
Maiskogel Family Mountain: Another excellent family destination is Maiskogel Family Mountain. This ski area is also perfect if you want to experience some of the best hikes in Austria. The resort is ideal for groups or families who want to engage in winter sports. The gentle terrain and comfortable traditional huts also add to the fun experience. For the best winter sports experience, bundle up well! Don’t forget to bring those heated gloves and winter boots for maximum comfort.
Another breathtaking Austrian Alps destination is Mayrhofen. This town is famous for winter sports for both intermediate and expert skiers, but don’t fret as there are a lot of gentle runs for the novice and families.
Top Attractions In Mayrhofen
The Penkenbahn: Touted as a modern cable car system, the Penkenbahn is an efficient way to get you high up the mountains. The ride up lets you enjoy the scenic views of the alpine mountains. Once on top, you get to enjoy a host of activities from hiking, biking to paragliding. It is also worth noting that the paths are wheelchair-friendly and there are bikes for rent.
Arena Coaster: The adventurous souls shouldn’t pass the chance to ride the Arena Coaster in Zell am Ziller. Unlike your favorite roller coaster, this one comes with refreshing mountain views. The 1,450m roller coaster is a favorite summer and winter attraction among tourists.
Schlegeis Reservoir: The drive up the Schlegeis reservoir is already vacation in itself. With stunning Alpine scenery, cyclists, drivers, and nature lovers can’t say no to this scenic drive. The 13km route includes four natural rock tunnels until it winds up at Schlegeis Reservoir. Standing at an elevation of 1,800 meters, you get to enjoy uninterrupted panoramic views of the alpine mountains.
For the best hikes in Austria, Lienz is an excellent destination. The Lienz Dolomites offers a variety of ranges to choose from depending on your skill level. Aside from the exercise and adrenaline rush, you get to enjoy the sweeping mountain views on your way up.
Top Attractions In Lienz
Hohe Tauern National Park: Hohe Tauern is the largest national park in Austria. Boasting 1800 sq km, the park offers a variety of valleys, forests, and villages. For such a vast park, you can either explore it on your own or via guided tours.
Lienzer Bergbahnen/Osttirodler Alpine Coaster: For the thrill-seekers, the Osttirodler Alpine Coaster is ready to oblige. The ride is perfectly safe for all ages. Aside from the ride, there are many trails to enjoy hiking in Austria.
Hauptplatz Lienz: Hauptplatz is an old town in Lienz. It may be small but has a lot to offer. Enjoy relaxing walks or dine in restaurants and cafes that dot the area. The colorful square is an excellent place to unwind and explore.
Interesting Austrian Alps FAQs
What To Bring For Hiking In Austrian Alps?
Hiking in the Austrian Alps needs some preparation, especially with the clothing and gear. While the Austrian Alps are relatively safer to hike, knowing the must-haves in your bag can make it more enjoyable. The following checklist should help you stay safe and comfortable when hiking the Alpine mountains.
Hiking boots: Your shoes can make or break your hiking in Austria. After all, you’ll rely mostly on your feet to get you up in the mountains. If not chosen with care, you could end up with a painful experience. When hiking the Austrian Alps, get hiking boots. Regardless of the brand, hiking boots are designed for the mountains. These should protect your feet and ankles from sprain and other injuries. Quality hiking boots will also keep your feet dry and warm. To make the experience more comfortable, grab a pair of waterproof hiking boots.
Socks: While shoes play an important role in hiking so does the right pair of socks. Keep in mind that a great shoe can easily be ruined by a bad pair of socks. When hiking the Austrian Alps, you need snug-fit socks that will keep your feet comfortable and protected. There are socks designed for hiking. These pairs protect your feet from blisters and have reinforcements in the right spots.
Backpack: Picking the right backpack is crucial when conquering the Austrian Alps as it affects your comfort throughout the hike. Aside from that, this is where you will pack all your supplies. For day hikes, a 25-35 liter backpack will work fine. This is enough to pack food, water, an extra shirt, a raincoat, and a small camera. For multi-day hiking in the Alps, a 60-65 liter backpack is recommended to pack more stuff. If you want to keep a separate bag for cash and valuables, a money belt is an excellent idea.
Clothes: Depending on how long you intend to hike, you’ll need a selection of clothes when hiking in Austria. Layered clothing is key to stay comfortable throughout your trip to the Austrian Alps. From the base layer, mid-layer to the waterproof layer, the right set of clothing will keep you warm and dry. Aside from that, you also need a good pair of pants. Invest in pants that can turn into shorts to save you space in your bag. (Tip: Don’t use cotton as it gets wet.)
- Light or Matches
- Fleece jacket or pullover
- Mobile phone or emergency communication systems
- GPS system or compass
- Food and water
- Hiking map
- Plastic bags
- Trekking poles
- Head torch or flashlight
- First-aid kit
- Extra batteries
Summer Hiking In Austrian Alps: What To Pack?
Hiking the Austrian Alps in the summer will still require the same essentials as when you climb during winter. However, the clothing selection will be different for obvious reasons. Wear quick-dry clothes when hiking the Austrian Alps in the summer — shirt, and shorts. Don’t neglect hiking shoes and socks as mentioned earlier. And while it’s summer, it’s still smart to pack a light jacket just in case it gets windy in the afternoon or night.
What Types Of Rocks Are The Austrian Alps?
The Austrian Alps or the Central Eastern Alps are mainly composed of gneiss and slate rocks. However, the Hohe Tauern and Engadine windows are mainly composed of Jurassic rocks and limestones as well as granite.
Where Are Austrian Alps Stubbier Gletscher?
Only 45 minutes away from Innsbruck sits the Stubai Glacier. This winter sports paradise offers great ski slopes for skiers of different skill levels. There’s also a snow park to busy your time with. The atmosphere is fun, energetic yet relaxing. You can unwind and rest in the bars and restaurants.
Where To Stay In The Austrian Alps?
You’ll never run out of places to stay in the Austrian Alps. From luxury accommodation to budget inns, there’s always one for every preference.
Avenida Panorama Suites Kaprun: With stunning panoramic views of the Alpine mountains, Avenida Panorama Suites offers a luxurious stay. Aside from the views, there’s an indoor spa with saunas. This hotel is famous for skiing and cycling.
Hotel Der Waldhof: Sitting in the beautiful Zell am See is The Waldhof. An ideal starting point for hikes, ski tours, and trips, this 4-star hotel has a lot to offer. From a relaxed atmosphere, amazing views to comfortable rooms, The Waldhof is an excellent choice.
Hotel Gamshof: A few minutes away from the town center, the Hotel Gamshof is a great budget hotel in the Austrian Alps. Staying here gets you close to all the festivals, brass bands, and all the excitement of the town. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and complete with amenities.
Alps, Alps, And Away!
If you’re a fan of dramatic mountain scenes, snow-capped mountains, and gorgeous towns and cities, the Austrian Alps won’t disappoint. Aside from the stunning scenery, the rich culture and excellent Austrian cuisine are worth exploring. However, what makes a trip to the Austrian Alps special is how you can be either very active or relaxed. Depending on your mood, you can hike or ski, or simply relax in your cabin snuggled among the wooded mountains.
Whichever activities you’d like to engage in, a trip to the Austrian Alps is always a treat. Just make sure to prepare well ahead to make the most out of your alpine mountain visit! And while you’re there, don’t forget to try Austria’s national drink: Schnapps!