Austria is well known for its scenic cycle routes along its largest rivers. Though Austria is a mountainous country, cycle routes along rivers are flat or gently downhill, and therefore suitable even for casual cyclists.
It is normally safe to hike without a guide in the Austrian Alps, as there is a dense network of marked trails and mountain shelters. However, a few lethal incidents do happen every year as a result of carelessness. Walkers are strongly advised not to stray off the trails and not to hike in bad weather or without suitable equipment.
Before setting off, always check with the local tourist office whether the trail corresponds to your abilities.
If you really want to show respect, pick up any litter you happen to see in your path and dispose of it at the end of your hike (it’s a bit of an unwritten rule). Long-distance trails are marked with the Austrian flag (red-white-red horizontal stripes) painted onto rocks and tree trunks.
Most trails and mountain huts are maintained by the Austrian Alpine Club. Some are run by other equivalent organizations, such as the German, Dutch and Italian Alpine Clubs. Mountain huts are meant to be shelters, not hotels.
Summer and winter, large flocks of tourists are drawn to Austria’s mighty mountainous scenery. With no less than 62% of the country at an altitude of 500m or more, it’s hard to miss the stunning snow-covered peaks and green valleys.
Highlights include for example the High Mountain National Park in the Zimmertal Alps (map), with peaks up to 3476m, narrow gorges and steep cliffs. National Park Thayatal (map) combines beautiful valley landscapes with a variety of castles and ruined fortresses.
The country’s highest peak is called Grossglockner (map) and is located on the border between Carinthia and the East Tyrol. To get a good view, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, with its gorgeous panorama’s comes highly recommended.