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Hiking in Austria



 Hiking - an Austrian "Volkssport"

Hiking in AustriaEvery year 3 Million hikers enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Austrian Alps and so hiking is one of the most popular sports in Austria. Three fourth of the foreign visitors make hiking tours in Austria and more than half a million people sleep every year in the mountain huts of the Alpine Associations.

 Alpenverein - the Austrian Alpine Club

The Alpenverein (Austrian Alpine Club) is the largest Alpine Association in Austria. 450.000 Austrians are a member of an Alpine Association (like Alpenverein, Touristenklub, Naturfreunde,...). These Associations are maintaining 50.000km of trails and more than 500 mountain refuges. Many associations have an insurance included in their yearly fee, so that you don't have to pay in case of a rescue by the Bergrettung ("Mountain Ambulance", volunteer work by mountain guides). You get also lower prices for the accommodation in the huts of the organisation.


 Hütten - the Austrian Alpine hut system

Hut of the Alpenverein (Ybbstalerhütte)Most of the mountain refuges are owned by the Alpenverein. These huts are operated like restaurants or hotels, but it's allowed to take your own food with you. You can get a warm meal, drinks and a sleeping room. There are three accommodation classes. The most expensive class includes a room for only two to four men. In the next class (called "Lager") you sleep in a large room together with other people. In case, that the hut is full, there is also a "Notlager" (emergency accommodation), where you have to sleep on the attic or elsewhere. You have to take your garbage back into the valley.

In winter every hut has a not closed room for skier. Attention, many huts are closed on one day per week and a few huts are only open at weekends - please inform you at your local tourist office or at your hotel staff before you go.

 Trails and Markings

Way markingAll trails in Austria are marked by a painted red-white-red (sometimes only red dots or older markings in other colours) marking. The marking is usually painted on trees or rocks. At crossings you will find usually signs with walking hour information to the next waypoints. Because of the fragile nature in Alpine regions, it is recommended not to leave the trails.

 The Austrian law - what are you supposed to do or not to do?

No horse back riding, no mountain biking, no driving - typical Austrian signsBecause of the density of hikers, there are some restrictions. In Austria you can use all forests or Alpine regions for recreation from dawn to dawn. There are only some restricted areas in national parks, game reserves or natural reserves (often marked by signs), which are not open for the public. After sunset you are not allowed to be in a forest or Alpine terrain, except for emergency reasons. Normally it is not a problem to sleep with your sleeping bag somewhere in the mountains, but it is quiet unusually in Austria.

The emergency number for the Bergrettung is: 140
If you have no cell phone, you have to give six times in a minute a signal (every ten seconds). This signal can be a scream, light signals,... The signal is called Alpines Notsignal (Alpine Emergency Signal)

 Topographic maps of the Austrian Alps

There are four main map producers in Austria. Each map has their advantages and disadvantages:

1) ÖK - Österreich Karte des Bundesamtes für Eich- und Vermessungswesen (official Austrian map)

    Scale: 1:50.000 (Attention, the 1:25.000 maps are enlarged 1:50.000 maps)
    Advantages: Detailed topographic information (20m contour levels), covers all of Austria
    Disadvantages: All hiking trails are marked in red colour (even if they have another colour marking)
Online Version: For a free online version of this map go to [only in German]
[only in German]

2) AV-Karte - Alpenvereinskarte (map of the Austrian Alpine Club)

    Scale: 1:25.000
    Advantages: Very detailed topographic information (20m contour levels), ideal for backcountry
    Disadvantages: Only available for some regions
[only in German]

3) Freytag und Berndt Karten (private company)

    Scale: 1:50.000
    Advantages: Trails are coloured in the colour of the markings, shows difficult parts, tourist information
    Disadvantages: Not detailed, 100m contour levels, not usable for backcountry, only for some regions
[only in German]

4) Kompass Karten (private company)

    Scale: 1:50.000
    Advantages: Also skiing routes, mountain bike routes, cross country skiing trails, tourist info on the map
Mostly not very detailed, often not usable for backcountry, only for some regions
[only in German]


 Hiking tours in Austria at
tour altitude mountain range region difficulty days
Duerrenstein 1878m   Ybbstaler Alpen Lower Austria easy 1-2
Sonnblick 3106m   Hohe Tauern (NP) Salzburg moderate 2
Mitteralm 1900m   Hochschwab Styria easy 1
Hochalmspitze 3360m   Ankogel Gruppe Carinthia difficult 2-3
Hocharn 3254m   Hohe Tauern (NP) Salzburg difficult 3
Ötscher 1893m   Wiener Hausberge Lower Austria moderate 2
Gamseck (Rax) 1857m   Wiener Hausberge Lower Austria/Styria moderate 1
Fölzstein 2022m   Hochschwab Styria moderate 1
Hoher Dachstein 2995m   Dachstein Gruppe Upper Austria moderate-difficult 2-3
Hochkönig 2941m   Steinernes Meer Salzburg moderate-difficult 2

For hiking tours in West Austria and more information about hiking in Austria visit





(c) stefan eisenbach | | stefan [at]