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Grossglockner/HoheTauern suggestions?

We're making a return trip to this region, by train/bus, and want to know where is best to go for spectacular mountain views, some hiking, and a decent town or Berghut to stay in.

We'll be coming from Graz and would also like to go to Innsbruck. This is not our first visit to the region, we've also been to Zell am see, Hallstatt, and Innsbruck before.

Are Badgastein, Hall in Tirol (we didn't mean to go so far west, but will if we must!) or Mittersill interesting?

Where is the spot to see the biggest mountain views?

We are savvy travelers, German-speakers, and tend to avoid touristy nonsense.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
183 posts

For the mountains part of your question, how experienced are you in the mountains? Fitness? Technical or nontechnical only? Altitude? Time of year? Are you weather/avalanche savvy? Experienced with crevasses? Language really doesn't matter much up there ;-) There are lots of huts and they will all meet some minimum standard.

A couple of possibilities I have first hand experience with:

Ankogel from Mallnitz. You take a cable car up to Hannoverhaus, stay overnight then early in the morning up to Ankogel (3200+). It is possible to get up Ankogel, have lunch at the summit, then descend and get the train to Vienna all in a decent day. (Assuming a reasonable degree of fitness.) But you do have to climb--not with a rope, but it's hands and feet in some short sections with considerable exposure. Watch the weather closely here.

Moserbodensee. This is up from Kaprun in the Glockner Group. The usual way is to get up to Kesselfall, then buy a ticket for the bus and a big outdoor lift up to Mooserbodensee--there is a water power dam here and a visitors center. It's sort of family oriented, but few people venture across the dam and into the mountains. From the lake/dam you leave the tourists and hike up to Schwaiger Haus. It's not far but it is steep and the altitude is a factor for some people. Non technical. From there a very early start in summer can take you to the top of Wiesbachhorn (3500+), but you probably need to be roped up and use crampons. From the summit you can see Glockner and the alpine road. Even without the summit this is spectacular, esp sunrise over the valley from the hut. I'm not sure how this one would work without a car. You could probably get a taxi from Kaprun without much grief.

In the Oetztal, there is the Grosse Venagtspitz. There is a bus up to Vent from the rail station, then cable car up the lower part of the valley. Then hike across to Breslauer Hutte, following a very good traverse path over several glacier run off rivers. From the hut a very early start (~4.00 am) can get you up to the summit--but it's a serious glacier hike (ropes, crampons, crevasses, altitude). Even not going up, though, you can hike up the ridgeline of a moraine to the toe of the glacier and enjoy the 360 views of glaciated valleys and peaks. From there, you can hike down a slightly different route where two valley come together, through a Halflinger horse breeding farm, and back to Vent. Bus to the train station. Without the peaks and using the cable car to get up the steep and boring first bit, and wearing decent boots, this is a completely nontechnical two-day tour with spectacular scenery. Vent itself is a charming little resort town with all the comforts.

Summiting Glockner is not a trivial project. It's not a 'hike', but a mountaineering expedition. I've not done it myself. But I would not go up there unless I were going with a very experienced and sensible group.

In any case, for the high mountains, get current info from the hut master on weather, crevasses, etc. You will need hut reservations as well. And be sure you have rescue insurance. If anything goes wrong with you or the weather and you have to be rescued, you WILL be charged. A lot.

This might be a resource for you in planning:
Lots of trips with notes on access, times, huts, etc. for many different trips.

Posted by
498 posts

Hallo! Thank you for your detailed response. By "Some Hiking" I guess I meant a much lower-impact experience. We are not alpinists and are not experienced hikers. I suppose we are fit, and have done some 2 hr + hikes (across the Alpe di Siusi in the Dolomites ) but this was nothing like you are describing. We actually wore our sneakers.

We are in this for the nature, the view, the lunch, the beer, and the hiking. Not in that order, but all of the above!

Knowing that, what would you suggest?

Posted by
183 posts

Well, when the Austrian say going to the mountains it usually means rather serious business! :-)

I would suggest you look at the train schedule and at the hut maps, and find something that looks workable. Staying overnight in a hut is a really Austrian experience and really fun. That said I know lots more options in Vienna environs for 'sneaker' hikes that you can organize with lunch at a hut that are very nice.

But there is a visitors center up near Glockner I know. It would be amazing up there, but plenty of tourists. Or look at Vent--if you take that cable car up there is a very nice hut right where you get off with amazing views across a valley. You could hike a bit from there up towards Venagtspitze before going back to Vent to sleep. Or not. Depending on the beer consumption situation. :-)

Most towns will have nice hiking paths around them, so if, for example, you settle on Badgastein, I'm sure you can hike out from town.

Posted by
498 posts

Thanks - others have suggested Heiligenblut to me, it sounds like a good position. I would assume the Franz Josefs Höhe is pretty touristy - though I'd love to see the view! I imagine there is also some hiking nearby that offers similar views. Will explore it.

Posted by
2725 posts

As we have stayed in Heiligenbut, while its very scenic, Heiligenblut is very small. Just an FYI.

Posted by
12040 posts

I can't imagine a better place to stay than one of the chalet hotels located along the Hochalpenstraße. I don't know any of their names, but there's at least half a dozen.

Hall in Tirol is one of those places where I'm scratching my head why Rick Steves makes such a big deal about it. An attractive town, yes, but nothing particularly unique or exciting. See it if you absolutely must.

Posted by
498 posts

Heiligenblut being very small is fine by me -- if there is something to do there! Good hiking paths? Good proximity to mountains or a large valley for excursions?

Same with Hochalpenstrasse Chalets... is there access to scenic walks or other things to see/do? Obviously since we're not traveling by car we are seeking an environment with natural beauty as well as amenities for enjoying it properly.

Posted by
9 posts

Late comer to the site - my apology. We were in Bad Gastein a few years ago, primarily for the hiking, and could not have been more pleased. The varied and numerous hikes in the area are second to none and the views all around are outstanding. You will have plenty to choose from and no tourist crowds. The area is so beautiful. Hohe is a hiker's paradise as well ! Happy travels !

Posted by
3 posts

Traveling to Austria this summer. Like you, I very much want to get out and see the mountains, but also make it a low impact affair. Loved your quote, "We are in this for the nature, the view, the lunch, the beer, and the hiking. Not in that order, but all of the above!" That being said, I have planned the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse as others have suggested, but also seeing the other side of the Glockner Group in Osttirol and hiking the Europa Panoramaweg in Matrei. I've read that Osttirol is off the tourist path. You should google that if you're interested. Also planning on taking the gletscherbahn up the Dachstein, and spending some time alpine meadow walking in the Hochkönig region. Plus a few days each in the Dolomites in Italy and Berchtesgaden in Bavaria. Hope this helps. Enjoy! :-)

Posted by
498 posts

Sorry for the long silence -- but thanks for your replies!

At the moment I'm inclined to follow the path from Slovenia to Lienz then Matrei in Osttirol, then north to Hallstatt and Dachstein. We have a week or so to do this. I'm confident it will be time well spent. In my previous visits to Zell am See I had a great time in the Dachstein Ice Caves. This time around, we'll likely tour the Hochalpenstrasse and the Gletscherbahn, and then continue on to Hallstatt for a nostalgia visit, and then on to Vienna. What are we missing?