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Assistance needed for hiking/walking home base in Austria

Please, help to find home base for July hiking.
Time frame - 8-9 day in Austria at the beginning of July and then Bolzano- Bergamo-Varenna-Milan for 7 days.
After Vienna and Salzburg, we would like to have 5-6 days for hiking ( moderate hiking (6-10 hrs a day), but with dramatic views. Sorry, not interested in “Sound of music” kind of views. No car, we will try to use trains and buses.
Looking for place similar to Wengen (loved it) or Murren or Grindelwald, Switzerland or Grand Tetons in USA. We would like to see rugged mountains with some snow caps in July. Beautiful mountain/lakes/alpine/meadow/narrow valleys views will be great.
Simple accommodation is ok, NOT interested in shopping, prefer medium priced town.
Somebody recommended Lech- a little bit out of our way and expensive, but may be it worth detour? Does St. Anton has about the same views, but more economical and lively at night?
If somewhere in Tyrol near Innsbruck is Wengen type of village with snow peaks in July (better than Lech), we would love to stay there. May be not that famous and fancy , but it is OK.
Otz, Ziller , Stubaital, Kitzbühel, Mayrhofen, Zell am Ziller, Obergurgl , Ischgl , Neustift im Stubaital- we have seen these places on forums, but very difficult to compare and decide., so we are lost.
It will help if any of these places will provide summer lift card for free, like Lech.
Is it better to have 2 different hiking home bases -3 days +2- 3 days?
Thanks a lot for your help.

Posted by
183 posts

First off, there are LOTS of options for hiking with access by public transit.

I'd suggest looking at the Ötztal. There are glaciers in that area (shrinking, but still there). Summitting these peaks is a technical endeavor, but there are lots of routes to enjoy the views along the moraines and glacier valleys. I was up the Hochvernagtspitze (technical--you need to be an experienced on glaciers and have equipment) the first weekend of Sept last year and plenty of ice around, although the tops of these peaks are rugged rock and the snow is off in the summer. Vent is the base there, and it's a bit of a resort spot, but very pretty.

Also the Dachstein/Schladminger Tauern area. There is a very nice route on the Schladming side up a waterfall canyon, through a valley with a little lake (that part is a bit like Sound of Music), then up out of the valley to Preinthaler Hutte (wonderful family run place--homemade schnapps). Next morning up to the saddle that is full of little lakes that you wonder thru, then up to a summit with terrific views across to the Dachstein Massif one direction and the Alps the other. You will see glaciers and glacial lakes from there. Then down from the summit to Gollinghütte. Then back out the valley to your starting point. Accessible by bus. I did it in two days, but the second was a very long day. Some scrambling (using your hands) and some cables to hang onto getting up to the summit, but it's well marked and you don't need a rope. Just a reasonable head for heights. More on the region here: including hut-to-hut high tours.

The Engadine might work, too. I've not been there but Pontresina is spectacular. Info here on that region:

Also, if you go in the mountains, you really really should have rescue insurance. If someone is hurt and needs to be rescued, you WILL BE BILLED for the service. Usually, it's helicopter and is a five figure proposition. If you cannot get coverage from your own insurance I HIGHLY recommend you join the Alpenverein. Insurance is a membership benefit, as is subsidized rates for staying in the huts. The organization is also very active in keeping the mountain routes open thru conservation work, the hut system, trail maintenance, and so forth. Membership is 60 Euros a year and is good worldwide.

Info here in English:
(this site also has an archive of trips this group has organized in the past with logistical details, difficulty, etc.)

Hope this helps!

Posted by
12040 posts

Here's two suggestions, which may or may not meet your criterea...

Obertauern sits high on an Alpine mountain pass. Advantages- the hotels that remain open in the summer offer rooms at a significant discount. There's enough hiking options in the immediate area to last a few days. Also, if your visit coincides with a significant heat wave, the high altitude will moderate against the hot weather. Disadvantages- the town is a purpose-built ski resort, so don't expect an overabundance of folksy charm. Also, getting there without a rental car may prove a bit complicated.

The other option would be to stay in one of the hotels along the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße. Advantages- Snow-capped peaks aren't guaranteed anywhere in Austria in July, but this will probably represent your best chance. Probably no better scenery anywhere in Austria. Disadvantages- there's no towns along the high altitude stretches of the road, just isolated hotels, guest houses and rest stops. Also, because there's no skiing in the winter, I don't believe there's any lifts either. Also, getting there by public transportation will also require a bit of planning.

Posted by
20 posts

Emily, Zonderpaard and Tom,
thanks a lot for your valuable help. Is Neustift im Stubatal will be a good choice for 4-5 nights?
More info about my preferences. We are not in extreme hiking. We just would like to see great views during 4-8 hours hikes/walks, come back to the town/village in the evening and have nice stroll along main street after dinner. I do not like purposely build ski resorts – they have no ambiance in summer, older European towns much better. I like to have food options to avoid monopoly prices in remote hotels. The idea is to have nature break after Vienna and Salzburg, find a place like Wengen in Switzeland, but for a little bit less money (free summer card helps) and new for us. Does it make sense to spent 3 nights in one mountain town and 2-3 nights in another? Our next stop Bergamo/Como, our flight to US from Milan, so, we are going to take train/ from Innsbruck to Verona. May be, just may be, at the end of my stay in Austria I rent a car and drive along Großglockner Hochalpenstraße.
Thanks a lot again.

Posted by
183 posts

Haven't been to Stubai, but it is a bit of a resort kind of place. Will be plenty of tourists about--probably mostly Austrians and Germans (if that matters). I am sure there are dozens of day hikes around there. And there will be buses to take you to trail heads and such.

As for the Großglockner, it is crowded up there. Some friends of mine were there this past August and had to queue to get up the trails. I think if you want a leisurely, charming spot, that's not it. The views are spectacular, of course, but I get the feeling it is becoming a 'check off' destination for many. From your post, it sounds like you might get more enjoyment out of finding a small town, staying there, and hiking around the adjacent area. I would really encourage you to find at least one hike that involves a hut, though. Hike up, have lunch, then hike out. A real Austrian experience.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you, Zonderpaard,
“From your post, it sounds like you might get more enjoyment out of finding a small town, staying there, and hiking around the adjacent area.”:
Exactly, but in what town? I like to be close to my route to Italy and I like it to be good first introduction to Austrian Alps. I did not book anything yet, the only thing sure is I fly to Vienna on 30 of June , first 2 days Vienna and Salzburg and after this I free to do anything until my flight from Milan in July 17.

Posted by
12040 posts

I like to have food options to avoid monopoly prices in remote hotels. The half-board options provided by hotels in Austrian alpine resorts have never disappointed me. The food is usually excellent, a wide choice of options are usually available, and unless you stay for longer than 5-7 days, you are unlikely to see the menu repeated. Don't let a lack of other dining options be the determining factor.

Posted by
175 posts

First, Good God man, 6-10 hours is moderate!? That would kill me.

Dienten am Hochkoenig is beautiful but very small village, free lifts but they alternate days so not all running same day, and has a Wanderbus. Not so sure it has enough of your moderate hiking though.

Somewhere in the Hohe Tauern region? Where the Venediger is with glacier and so on. I have stayed on the hillside above Hollersbach. There are a few long side valleys that go towards the peaks of the Hohe Tauern. One of these valleys has the Krimml Waterfalls near the start. Mayrhofen and the Zillertal is reached over the Gerlos pass. So those long valleys with huts at the end might be good (Hollersbachtal, Sulzbachtal (sp?). They are in the inner zone of the Hohe Tauern so only locals can drive in. You can hire a Wandertaxi to take you into a hut. But I don't know how you easily get from one town to the next - I assume just buses.

I don't know does Emily's book cover the Karnische Hauptkamm (I assume so) but there are a whole series of huts up there along that ridge and it borders on Italy.

Good luck.

Posted by
527 posts

Absolute best is Lech am Arlberg. It has excellent hiking for all levels, stunning views, everything you would want. Have stayed twice there and will go back again. Last trip we went from there to Sudtirol, where you are planning to go...easy to make train connections to there.

Posted by
20 posts

Thank you Alex, I have reservation in Lech just in case, the only reason I keep looking, is almost 5 hours bus/train time from Salzburg (unless I through Innsbruck). But I think, I will end up in Lech despite of travel time.
How is the prices for food an half pensions in Lech, more expensive compare to Tirol?
Btw, I like Colorado hiking in Ouray and Telluride too, look like you are located not for from there.

Posted by
16894 posts

I am starting to research Austria hiking areas for 2018, looking for somewhat similar things---a nice village base with good access to hikes of 5-10 miles in stunning scenery. But we also need to put mountain biking in the mix, as this will be a 3-generation trip with some avid bikers.

So far I am most attracted to Mayrhofen in the Zillertal ( where you will also find Zell am Zillertal).

Before I learned about this area I bought a book, "Walking Easy: Swiss and Austrian Alps". By "walking easy" they mean basing in a nice comfortable village hotel and doing day hikes ( some of which are more strenuous than easy), instead of hiking hut to hut and sleeping in dorms or shared accommodations. The village bases they suggest for Austria are Seefeld, Neustift, Kitzbühel, Alpbach, and Zell am Ziller/Mayrhofen. In each area they suggest hikes as well as sights of interest. You might see if your library has a copy of this book.