Small things often come in fine packages, and Austria, similar in size to the island of Ireland, feels immense when you immerse yourself in its grandeur. Walking holidays in Austria are a dream, such as in the Alpine Salzkammergut region, near Salzburg, which transports you from the city into picture postcard paradise.
The Austrians invented the postcard, in fact, and when you hike the Alpe-Adria-Trail, for example or, head off on one of our favourite Austria cycling tours around Lake Constance, you are bound to get snap happy.
Where to go
The Austrian Alps
Whether you trek in the Tyrol, hike the high trails of the Kitzbühel Alps or envelop yourself in the exquisite elevations around the Alpe-Adria Trail, our walking holidays in Austria aim high on so many levels. Self-guided walking holidays in the Alps are also perfect for people of all levels, and with walking a major part of Austrian culture you’re in safe hands everywhere you go.
Danube Cycle Path
The Danube Cycle Path is the icing on the cake of all of our delicious Austria cycling tours. Although it follows the Danube through eight countries, the section between Passau, on the German-Austrian border, and Vienna, around 250km in length, is the perfect path to waltz along on wheels. This section also takes in the Danube’s dramatic Schlögener Loop as well as vineyards, ancient monasteries and is flat for almost all the way. So, just like Maria, you can even sing as you cycle.
Although Austria’s highest mountain, Grossglockner (3,797m) in Hohe Tauern National Park is the starting point for the Alpe-Adria Trail, this long-distance walking route is designed with ramblers rather than scramblers in mind. It also takes you through the valleys and vineyards, hamlets and heritage of two other countries: Slovenia and Italy, meaning that you start in the Alps and end at the Adriatic. You can also enjoy this cornucopia of culture by bike.
Salzkammergut is Austria’s lake district, just under 50km from Salzburg. When you take in the colourful, traditional houses and mountains around Lake Hallstatt, the largest lake, you feel transported to an era when people came to enjoy deep rest in the mountain air and ‘take the waters’. Historically a salt mining region, the goodness of heated salty waters are still enjoyed at Bad Ischl spa, but the natural goodness of the region as a whole can be imbibed on one of our Salzkammergut hiking holidays.
Things to do
- Austria laps up its gift of Lake Constance, or Bodensee in German, just one of three countries to benefit from its beauty. The best way for travellers to experience it is on the Lake Constance cycle path, a self-guided cycling holiday through Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Pedal through medieval towns such as Konstanz, Stein am Rhein, Meersburg and Lindau, or pootle at your own pace through alpine panoramas and meadows, with plenty of swimming spots along the way.
- Add a boat into the mix on one of our Danube Cycle Path holidays by cycling along the riverfront by day, and sleeping on a riverboat by night. This is the perfect outdoor combination, and allows you to see one of Europe’s most impressive arteries from two very different perspectives. Travel through Austria’s Wachau Valley and take in its ancient castles, vineyards, monasteries and waterfront taverns on what can best be described as our most buoyant Austria cycling tour.
- Food is hearty and traditional in Austria although it also caters for people who don’t opt for cheese and meat in their diets nowadays. Austrian food is the creme de la creme of dairy, really – and everything is served with it on top, not least their impressive array of cakes. Traditional meals to fill your boots include Käsespätzle, noodles dripping with cheese, a platter of meats and cheese and, of course, the obligatory schnitzel and spuds.
- Consider starting your responsible Austria tour with a wakeup call, as Austria’ national rail network (ÖBB) boasts one of the most successful sleeper train services, called Nightjet. One of its most popular night trains is between Paris and Vienna, arriving in time for sunrise in Salzburg or a few hours later for a Viennese Sachertorte.
Responsible travel tips
- Snow carbon footprint. Winter sports are key to Austria’s tourism industry, and have been for a long time, given that the Tyrolean town of Seefeld has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. However, the climate crisis threatens the sustainability of winter sports in Austria and, consequently, we are keen to direct outdoor adventurers to its splendid, snow-free slopes out of season.
- Love the lynx. Having reintroduced the lynx to its mountain terrain in recent years, Austria still strives to gain a healthy population of this crucial predator that hunts deer and chamois, playing a vital role in sustaining Austria’s biodiversity. Austria is a key player, along with other Alpine nations, in protecting the lynx’s mountain habitat. If you enjoy Austria’s forests and mountains, please support the work of WWF too in protecting and restoring healthy lynx populations here. Watch out for other wildlife in Austria such as ibex, golden eagles and bearded vultures, especially in the autumn.
- Swim safely. With a plethora of mountain lakes, wild swimming is not new to Austrians, but always check with local people where the best places are to swim. Never swim alone and, ideally, choose a spot that has lifeguards. Here is a list of the tourist board’s favourite swimming lakes in Austria.
Read more about Austria
To check out our full collection tours in Austria click here, and we have a host of handy tips, local area advice and inspiration for you to delve deeper into this stunning country.
- Our six best hikes in Austria
- Multi-country walking holidays
- Guide to multi-country cycling holidays
- Cross-country ski in our top winter wonderlands
- Walking holidays to combine with city breaks
- Hiking holidays with some of the best mountain views