9 Hikes in Austria That You Need to Experience

> December 07, 2023
9 Hikes in Austria That You Need to Experience


If you're not new to my blog, you probably know that hiking is my favorite activity. It's for several reasons. It gives me a good feeling because I'm moving my body, it's not like other sports where you’re just chasing a ball around a field that never changes, and it offers breathtaking views.

So, as part of exploring Austria, I headed to the mountains and personally experienced the much-praised hiking trails in Austria. And I must say, the praise is justified. Here is a list of the 9 best hikes in Austria.

1. Grossglockner hike (and drive?)

Grossglockner hike—one of the best hikes in Austria

The majestic views of Alps were simply breathtaking!

Let's start with a bang, one that you can enjoy even if you don’t want to hike! Grossglockner is the highest peak in Austria at 3,798 m (12,461 ft). So, get ready for a proper climb, but also for stunning nature and views. But if you've read my article about The Best places to see in Austria, you'll probably know that the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is, for me, the best spot in all of Austria.

There are a lot of trails to choose from, but to prevent analysis paralysis, I've selected the best hiking trail for you:

Hike length: 6 km/3.7 miles (loop)
Hike duration: 2.5 hours
Elevation gain: 430 m/1,400 ft
Difficulty: Hard
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Bad Gastein: Appartementhaus zur Post (this one is a really good one, but it is quite far); another good option is Elements Resort Zell am See; BW Signature Collection in Zell am See

This hike isn't particularly long, but it's quite challenging. If you're imagining a relaxed walk up a gentle hill, then choose a less demanding route. But if you're a badass like me, then you'll be thrilled.

The trail leads you from Kaiser Franz Joseph Höhe to Pasterze, the largest glacier in the Eastern Alps. And that's something you definitely want to see. Be prepared for steep descents at the beginning and rocks where you sometimes have to use steel cables to safely cross them.

You can park (for free) in what’s probably the most scenic parking garage I’ve ever seen. Next to it is also an information center, which could be useful when you’re deciding on a hiking route (are you seriously doubting my choice?? How dare you! jk).

Tip: Want to combine the hike with a visit to other great places in Austria? Then be sure to get inspired by my meticulously planned 10-day itinerary for Austria.

Driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria

Just me, my car and the Alps

But before you start the hike, you need to somehow get to the starting point. The picturesque 48 km (30 mi) route starts in Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse and ends in Heiligenblut. Worried about walking 48 km (30 mi) along the road? You can relax; the High Alpine Road takes you through the mountains at about 2,500 m (8,215 ft), and I highly recommend going by car.

There are various parking lots along the way with hiking trails leading to the most popular lakes and peaks. It's up to you how much time you want to spend on the way. If you decide to stop at every viewpoint and explore the surroundings, you could easily spend the whole day on the road (just like us).

Good to know: Before you blindly get into your car and head towards the High Alpine Road, check the calendar, because this road has opening times! It’s open roughly from late April to early November (depending on the weather and snow conditions).

For up-to-date information, check the official website.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road price:

  • Day ticket per car: EUR 37.50 
  • Day ticket per motorcycle: EUR 27.50

Map of the hiking trail in Grossglockner from Kaiser Franz Joseph Höhe to Pasterze, Austria

Really hard one but really good one (see the map on Alltrails)

2. Hochkeil hike

Hochkeil hike in Austria

I loved this moderate hike with a beautiful view!

Hike length: 5.6 km/3.48 mi (out & back)
Hike duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Elevation gain: 288 m/945 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Sankt Johan im Pongau: Alpina Alpendorf

I love a good loop trail that isn’t too long, but still delivers epic view after epic view. And from the summit of Hochkeil, there's a stunning view in all directions—picture dramatic cliffs jutting out of the mountain range everywhere you look; you’d almost expect a bunch of dragons to fly past like they’re straight out of Avatar (winter version)!

If you enjoy scenic vistas and aren't seeking a hardcore hike, then this Hochkeil trail is perfect for you. This trail is open year-round, but if you venture out in winter, I recommend packing snowshoes and skis for the return journey.

Once you leave the village of Arthurhaus, you won't encounter any advanced civilization (like a restaurant), so don't forget to bring refreshments. The entire route is lined with typical Alpine meadows where, in summer, you might come across herds of cows.

In the background of these meadows, you'll witness the stunning exposed Alpine massifs, including my favorite, Hochkönig, measuring 2,980 m (9,777 ft), and even Dachstein and Grossglockner. You’ll be hard pressed to keep your jaw off the ground with these big boys all around you.

The elevation profile of the trail is constant, so you'll steadily ascend until you reach the summit. Hochkeil's peak sits at 1,783 m (5,850 ft), offering a beautiful panoramic view in all directions.

A map of the Hochkeil hike, one of the best hikes in Austria

A map of the Hochkeil hike (get it on Alltrails)

 If you're fond of watching the sunrise or sunset, this is the ideal summit to venture to. Even in terms of terrain, the path isn't particularly rocky, allowing it to be completed by moonlight or headlamp. For me, ascending Hochkeil ranks among the most beautiful hikes I've experienced in the Alps, and I warmly recommend it.

3. Krimml Waterfalls hike

The Krimml Waterfalls in Austria

380 m (1,247 ft) waterfall—The Krimml

This hike isn't exactly a leisurely stroll around Zell am See’s town square (the city that you can base yourself for this hike), but you won’t feel like one bad step and your life will be over, either. As the name suggests, you'll head to the Krimml Waterfall. The Krimml Waterfalls, with a total height of 380 m (1,247 ft), are the highest waterfalls in all of Europe.

Hike length: 8.2 km/5.1 mi (out & back)
Hike duration: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 461 m/1,512 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Zell am See: Elements Resort Zell am See; BW Signature Collection

The starting point for this hike is Kürsingerplatz at 1,070 m (3,510 ft). This place is named after Ignaz von Kürsinger, who, in 1835, constructed the first waterfall trail that led to the upper edge of the lowest-lying waterfall. Thanks to him, tourists had easy access to the waterfalls. 

Don't worry—in 1900, the rest of the trail was built up to the highest peak, Schettkanzel Platform at 1460 m (4,790 ft). This spot, conversely, is named after Albert Schett, the construction supervisor of the waterfall trail. Hence, the hike is currently a popular tourist route due to the paved path and wooden railing. Thanks, Ignaz and Albert!

You can, unfortunately, tell just how popular the trail is when you get there. If you're not a fan of crowds (like me), I recommend setting out early in the morning and at least beating out those who take too long to roll out of bed and eat breakfast.

Map of the Krimml Waterfalls hike, Austria

Map of a beautiful Krimml Waterfall trail (see the map on Alltrails)

You can reach the lowest waterfall in about 15 minutes on foot. But assuming you're not just casual hikers and want to reach the top, expect at least an additional hour's journey to the top. What I found great is that along the way, there are plenty of viewpoints offering breathtaking vistas of the waterfalls and benches for resting. Not that I need resting, I’m so young and buff that I rarely ever sit, even when I’m at home! But you might appreciate a bench. Basically, this hike has nothing to do with wild nature trekking, and I’m ok with it. It’s still gorgeous. And even if you’re visiting in terrible weather, like I did, you can still get a nice shower from the distance as you approach Europe’s biggest waterfall. Cool, right?

The Krimml Waterfall trail is open continuously from approximately mid-April to the end of October at all daylight hours. Before you set off, I recommend checking the official website to make sure it’s open.


  • Adult: 8 EUR

4. Liechtensteinklamm hike

Liechtensteinklamm—one of the best hikes in Austria

Liechtensteinklamm is the one with the rare wooden variously twisted walkway

Another gorge that completely enchanted me (Klamm=gorge in German). A hike alongside it surely can't be missing from this list.

Liechtenstein Gorge originates from glaciers. It's associated with plenty of myths and legends, and I must say, at times, I could almost feel the mystical dangers, too. Interestingly, it got its name from Johann II of Liechtenstein, who contributed 600 gold coins to the opening of the monument, enabling the locals from St. Johann im Pongau to fulfill a long-standing dream. Locals are still proud of the gorge to this day, as it ranks among the longest and deepest gorges in the Alps.

Hike length: 5.26 km/3.27 mi (out & back)
Hike duration: 1.5 hours
Elevation gain: 220 m/720 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Sankt Johann im Pongau: Aktivhotel Alpendorf

We set off in the morning from our fantastic four-star hotel, Aktivhotel Alpendorf. Even though the journey to the gorge only took us 15 minutes, we started quite early, which was a perfect decision. Based on photos on the internet we could see that the pathways that lead through Lichtenstein Gorge are narrow, so I didn't want to be in a traffic jam with e-cyclists and other day trippers.

According to the official website, the gorge is visited by 170,000 visitors annually. Heaven forbid we all show up there on the same day! We left the car in the parking lot, which is a short distance from the ticket counter, about 400 m. Inside the building where the ticket counter is, there's also a restaurant with outdoor seating. However, since we had breakfast already, we skipped the refreshments and went straight to the gorge entrance.

Map of Lichtenstein Klamm hike

Map of out & back Lichtenstein Klamm hike (see full details on Alltrails)

The path through the gorge itself is magnificent. You walk along a wooden walkway under various overhangs, tunnels, and valleys bordering transparent waterfalls. Even though the trail is relatively easy, I recommend wearing comfortable shoes for climbing all those stairs. There are quite a lot of them here—I counted 440 (just kidding, I looked it up online). If you were planning on going with a stroller, leave it in the car. Not the kid, the stroller (use a carrier if you can’t get it to hike yet).

Besides the epic natural phenomena and incredibly clear water, the pathway itself is a significant experience. At one point, the trail turns into a helix, a spiral staircase.

Walking so close beneath the towering rocks might not be entirely pleasant for some. But if you're afraid the rocks might fall on you, you can rest assured—the trail and its surroundings undergo regular geological inspections, and in some areas, there are nets installed that protect you from any potential rockfall. All you need to do is hope the nets are in the right spots...

  • Open from beginning of May until end of September: daily from 9 am–6 pm, October: daily from 9 am–4 pm
  • Tickets cost EUR 14

5. Graukogel hike

Graukogel hike in Austria

This hike has a heavier and lighter version. You can use the cable car for part of the trail, or you can go ahead and climb it yourself.

The hike to the summit of Graukogel, standing at 2,492 m (8,176 ft), can be quite an experience, demanding your full effort, but it can also be a leisurely hike, depending on whether you do the entire journey on foot.

Hike length: 11.4 km/7.1 miles (out & back)
Hike duration: 5 to 6 hours
Elevation gain: 1,117 m/3,665 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Sankt Johann im Pongau: Haven Mountain Retreat

We set off (and that was our fateful mistake) from Bad Gastein (check out the article about the 7 Top Tourist Cities in Austria to see my opinion on Bad Gastein). We left early in the morning, so we spent the previous night at the Johannesbad Hotel Palace.

More about the hotel: For me, Johannesbad Hotel Palace is a great hotel with delicious breakfast and a nice spa. Although, given the hotel's capacity, the spa area seemed a bit small during the peak ski season. I don't recommend it if you don't want to squeeze in with other semi-naked people.

Now, here's a valuable tip: I recommend taking the cable car up and then starting the ascent on foot from 1,950 m (6,398 ft). It's much better because once you get off the cable car, the path practically turns into stairs, which is much easier on your knees than traversing through the mud in the forest. As you might suspect, I tried walking on foot from Bad Gastein to advise you definitely not to.

Plus, by choosing the cable car, you'll save about 950 m (3,117 ft) of elevation gain. This saves you enough energy for a real trip amidst beautiful scenery (one of the best I've seen in the Alps), where you'll see most of the Grossglockner trail and other stunning mountain peaks. According to most wannabe bloggers and trail markers, the hike takes about 3 hours round trip, and you know what? They’re not wrong.

Here's good news for you if you're a blueberry lover, and/or go by the name of Scrooge: Along the way up the mountain, you can collect millions of them, so you can basically skip lunch.

The views from the summit are fantastic. The only downside is the rather dangerous last 300 m (984 ft) along the cliffs. I don't understand why Austria hasn't secured that section yet. Also, what I wasn't entirely thrilled about is that you have to return the same way down. On the flip side, you can then, like a civilized adult, take the cable car back down to Gastein (your knees will thank you).

I'd definitely only go in good weather. Of course, it's always better to hike in good weather, but here, there's plenty of open space around you, so in case of a storm and lightning... I wouldn't feel particularly safe.

Map of the hike from Bad Gastein to Graukogel in Austria

Map of the hike from Bad Gastein to Graukogel. See route details on Alltrails

Tip: If this hike isn't challenging enough for you, you can merrily continue another 45 minutes to the summit of Hüttenkogel at 2,231 m (7,320 ft) from Graukogel.

If you don't heed my recommendation and go the entire way on foot, you'll definitely get hungry along the way. But from what I've seen and had the chance to try, I recommend not stopping anywhere. Along the way, you'll come across several average-looking restaurants. I know, don't judge a book by its cover, but we followed that rule once and 'll say just one thing: if you don't want to get into a conflict with an unpleasant waitress, then don't forget to bring cash. But if you hold out until you're back in Bad Gastein, try the Wirtshaus Windischgrätzhöhe restaurant, which is definitely worth a visit.

Recommendation: After a demanding ascent, treat yourself to some relaxation at the Alpentherme Gastein. Wonderful baths and thermal spas for a few bucks. Huge parking, super modern equipment. With my phobia of slipping on wet tiles, I appreciate the anti-slip floor in and around the entire pool. And the sauna world, in my opinion, one of the best I’ve seen. Absolutely awesome and just 5 minutes by car from the city.

6. Dachstein Krippenstein hike

Visiting Dachstein Krippenstein in Austria

Me at the “5fingers” lookout

When someone mentions Dachstein, most people think of the glacier and ski slopes. Like the rest of Austria, however, Dachstein offers activities even in the summer months. And in this case, it's really worth it.

This trail is atypical because it can be completed in two ways: a harder one, where you ascend from the valley to the summit, and an easier one, where you take the cable car up and descend into the valley. As part of our trip, we visited the ice caves, as I described in detail in my 3-Day Dachstein and Hallstatt Itinerary, so we opted for the easier variant.

Hike length: 8.03 km/4.99 mi (out & back)
Hike duration: 3 or 3.5 hours
Elevation gain: 388 m/1,272 ft
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Trailhead: park at the cable car station
Hotel in Gosau: COOEE alpin Hotel Dachstein

In the morning, we set off from the COOEE Alpin hotel (a total jackpot), which is a 30-minute drive from the cable car. To catch the first cable car departing at 8:40, we left right after breakfast. The parking lot is huge, and parking is free. After buying tickets, we took the cable car up.

Cable car price: EUR 39.90

Since we caught the first ride up, there weren't many people in the cable car. We headed straight to the caves.

If you're not rushing down to the valley, I recommend visiting the "5fingers" lookout platform before starting the trail, which you can reach from the upper cable car station in 25 minutes. Even though the path is paved, I recommend wearing proper walking shoes. It's called "5fingers" because the viewpoint looks like the hand of a mountain stretching out. The great advantage of this ingenious 5-finger engineering is a quicker turnover of people, so the girls adjusting their Instagram photos won't delay you. After the epic view, you return the same way to the cable car terminus.

Now, about the trail itself. If you get hungry on the way, don't despair. About a 5-minute walk from the upper station, you'll find the Lodge am Krippenstein restaurant (part of a nice hotel), where you can grab a bite. Beer lovers will also be pleased because the restaurant serves the renowned Czech lager, Pilsner Urquell.

Attractions at Dachstein, Austria

A lot of experience on Dachstein Glacier!

After refreshing yourself, you'll enjoy a pleasant descent with a view of the Dachstein Glacier. After about 30 minutes, you'll reach another stop, a large metal statue of a shark.  Random, I know. You can climb into the statue and take a photo. I prefer panoramas, and I still don't understand why there's a shark statue there.

After another 30 minutes, you'll come across a cross. Crosses are found on every significant and insignificant peak in the Alps, so it's not surprising. This one is called the Heilbronner Kreuz and stands here in memory of 10 students and 3 teachers who perished here in 1954 due to a sudden weather change that brought heavy snow. The entire trail was named in their memory.

Beyond the cross, a brisk descent begins into the valley, where you transition from sharp rocky peaks to a more overgrown environment full of greenery and the first trees. The trail ends at the cable car, where you can refresh yourself and head back to your accommodation.

Map of a hike from the top (Obertraun) to Dachstein Krippenstein, Austria

Map of a hike from the summit to the valley

7. Prossau Valley hike

Prossau Valley in Austria

Only the Milka cow is missing on this beautiful Austrian scenery!

I included the hike in Prossau Valley specifically for nature and tranquility lovers. This trail isn't as well-known, so if you set off early in the morning, you'll have it all to yourself.

Hike length: 10.6 km/6.59 mi (out & back)
Hike duration: 3 hours
Elevation gain: 294 m/964.6 ft
Difficulty: moderate
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Bad Hogastein: Das.Goldberg

I expected a very easy hike and got a medium level because there's one challenging section on the trail with an elevation gain of about 300 m (984 ft), and also, an 11 km (6.8 mi) round trip is quite a bit. But if we hadn't had a demanding day before, I'd rate it as a 3-hour leisurely walk in a beautiful high-mountain valley.

Regarding the hike, the main feature is an amazing rock wall that's about 300 m (984 ft) high, and judging by my well-traveled experience, it's beautiful and worth seeing.

Map of a hike from Kötschachtal to Alpengasthof Prossau.

Three hours stroll in nature which reminded me of Yosemite Valley (see the map on Alltrails)

For me, the most breathtaking part, where even the staunchest opponents have to pull out their phones and capture the beauty, was the final part of the trail. It was so epic that it reminded me of Yosemite Valley.

Funny story: During our journey, apparently some logging was happening in the forest, so we heard strange sounds. We thought it was a bear, so we really picked up our pace. Then I realized that there are no bears in Austria... but then I remembered that bears are in Italy, and therefore, there are bears in Austria too, so we sped up even more (something between running and speed walking). Fortunately, we soon realized it was just logging, so we could return to our comfortable pace.

8. The Sigmund Thun Klamm Waterfall

The Sigmund Thun Klamm Waterfall in Austria

Get out there and chase this waterfall!

They say “don’t go chasing waterfalls”, but we'll ignore that tip from TLC and do the complete opposite. You'll have to move your body quite a bit to see them, specifically in the Salzburg area.

Hike length: 4.2 km/2.6 mi (out & back)
Hike duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Elevation gain: 175 m/574 ft
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead
Hotel in Zell am See: Elements Resort Zell am See; BW Signature Collection

This hike is more of a pleasant stroll. Right after the town of Kaprun, the Kapruner Ache river decided to carve its way through the rocks and showcase its strength. And I must admit, it's truly impressive. The river has carved a path through solid rock and stones, creating a 320 m (1,050 ft) long trail lined with pools and ponds.

Narrow and slippery wooden walkways and bridges run alongside the river. The entire path is really easy except for the last part, where the path steeply descends, but nothing you can't handle.

A map showing the hiking trail to the Sigmund Thun Klamm Waterfall, hiking trails in Austria

A map showing the hiking trail to the Sigmund Thun Klamm Waterfall (thanks, Alltrails!)

If you thought of bathing in the water, I'll disappoint you right away; swimming in the river is prohibited. At least that's what the signs we encountered along the way claimed.

If you’re planning a trip to the Sigmund Thun Klamm Waterfall and it’s getting close to winter, visit their website first. You might come across a message that clearly states: "Due to the weather conditions, our gorge is already in its winter break. See you next year." And that’s how you know you can’t go to the waterfall.

Note: Did you know that I even included The Sigmund Thun Klamm Waterfall in the top 11 places in all of Austria? Seriously, just take a look. It’s waterfall mayhem: the Krimmler Waterfalls ranked a beautiful second.

9. Seefelder Spitze – Seefelder Joch hike

Seefelder Spitze—one of the best hikes in Austria

Seefelder Spitze—this one is challenging!

Hike length: 13.5 km/8.4 mi (half loop and half out & back)
Hike duration: 6 hours
Elevation gain: 998 m/3,275 ft
Difficulty: hard
Trailhead: Google Maps link to trailhead 
Hotel in Seefeld in Tirol: Krumers Alpin – Your Mountain Oasis hotel

The hike to the 2,221 m (7,287 ft) high summit of Seefelder Spitze is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

We set off from the town of Seefeld in Tirol. It's a smaller, relatively unassuming town, but if you're a winter sports enthusiast, you'll be in heaven here. There are professional skiing areas, giant slalom tracks, biathlon routes, and even a cricket ice rink. In fact, the Winter Olympics were held here twice, in 1964 and 1976. We were there in the summer, and I must admit that this area is definitely worth a return visit.

Tip: Seefeld in Tirol is only 27 minutes away from the city of Innsbruck. I recommend heading there; Innsbruck has a lot to offer. Check out the Best 10 Places to See in Innsbruck.

The area is very popular for hiking, so be prepared not to be alone on the trail. The hike to Seefelder Spitze through a mountain pass Seefelder Joch was seriously demanding, so if you want a real challenge, head for the summit.

Definitely wear sturdy, high-quality footwear as the trails are unstable in some places. Be ready for endless uphill sections on the way up, no flat terrain, and some physically taxing, extremely steep uphill stretches. Sounds, lovely, doesn’t it?

However, the breathtaking views at the summit and along the way will reward you. Thanks to the good weather, we even saw the Zugspitze summit in Germany.

Good to know: In May, there may still be snow at the top, so it's good to take that into account and be prepared.

Recommendation: If you want to stay longer in Seefeld in Tirol and have time to explore the town thoroughly, I recommend staying at the Krumers Alpin – Your Mountain Oasis hotel. The hotel is located just a short distance from the center and boasts a large wellness center.

Map of a hike from Seefeld in Tirol to Seefelder Spitze.

One of the best hiking trails in Austria from Seefeld in Tirol to Seefelder Spitze Hike (See route details on kmoot)

For maps of the best hiking trails in Austria, I recommend komoot.com, which I prefer over Alltrails in Austria

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission if you make bookings through my links, at no additional cost to you. This helps us keep this blog free, thank you!  


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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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