Hiking in Austria is far more than exercise; it’s a window into Austrian culture. As you journey on foot into the Austrian Alps, you can experience alm culture, culinary traditions, and historical mountain huts. The Austrian Alps stretch across most of the country, with the highest peaks in the states of Tyrol, Carinthia, and Salzburg. With so many ranges to choose from, it can be a bit daunting to figure out where to go. The mountains of Austria require lifetimes to explore. We’re determined to uncover the best hiking trails in Austria, one summer at a time. So, below you’ll find our favorite day hikes in Austria to date, including hikes in the Lienz Dolomites, Dachstein, Schaldminger Tauern, and the Hohe Tauern. This post will continue to grow, so do check back in at the end of summer, or even next year.

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The Best Day Hikes in Austria

  1. Karlsbader Hütte in the Lienz Dolomites
  2. Lünersee Circuit Trail in the Rätikon Alps
  3. Olpererhütte and Friesenberghaus Loop Trail in the Zillertal Alps
  4. Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee in Hohe Tauern National Park
  5. Innergschlöss Glacier Trail in Hohe Tauern National Park
  6. Giglach Lakes in Schladminger Tauern
  7. Sulzenalmen in the Dachstein Mountains
  8. Salzburger Almenweg Stage 2 in the Hochkönig Mountains

Karlsbader Hütte

Lienz Dolomites

Lienz Dolomites, East Tyrol, Austria - Best Day Hikes in Austria

Austrian State: Tyrol (East Tyrol)
Dolomitenhütte, Lienz (1616 m)
Destination: Karlsbader Hütte (2260 m)
Distance: 4.3 km one-way
Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude Difference: 660 m
Time Needed: 1.5 -2 hours one-way
When to Go: Late June – September
Where to Stay: Parkhotel Tristachersee in Lienz. Look for accommodation in Lienz

Overlooking Laserzsee lake, Karlsbader Hütte is an undeniably scenic mountain hut in the Lienz Dolomites. This mountain group is part of the Gailtal Alps and is situated on the southern border of Austria, close to Italy. The name is rather misleading because these mountains are limestone and actually do not contain any Dolomite rock, despite their appearance.

To begin this hike, drive up to the mountain hut Dolomitenhütte, located high above the town of Lienz. You’ll have to pay an 8 EUR toll to complete the drive. There’s a parking lot very close to Dolomitenhütte. From here, follow the road. After about 20 minutes, you’ll reach an intersection, where a hiking path continues straight (signed “Steig”) and the road continues left. Follow the trail.

The views get increasingly more riveting as you near the limestone crags and pinnacles framing Karlsbader Hütte. It’s a paradise of stone. During the hiking season, Karlsbader Hütte is open for overnight guests and serves food and refreshments. You’ll likely see mountaineers gathered here, as this is a popular starting point for climbing.

When we arrived in mid-June, Laserzee was still mostly ice. The snowfall made it difficult to explore the area more extensively. If you visit later in the summer, definitely follow the trail around the lake for the best viewpoints of the hut.

Lünersee Circuit Trail

Rätikon Alps

Lünersee Circuit Trail - Best Day Hikes in Austria

Austrian State: Vorarlberg
Trailhead: Douglashütte / Lünerseebahn (cable car station), Brandnertal.
Distance: 6.1 km
Difficulty: Easy
Altitude Difference: Minimal
Time Needed: 2 hours
When to Go: May – October
Where to Stay: Schillerkopf Alpine Resort 

Lünersee is a large alpine lake high above Branderntal in Vorarlberg. Set amidst the striking limestone mountains of the Rätikon, this beautiful lake is a destination like no other. A cablecar from Brandnertal (Brandner Valley) takes you directly to the lake. See Opening Times and Prices here. This hike is suitable for families with small children. If you want to extend your hike into a full-day adventure, we recommend hiking to Schesaplana, the highest mountain in the Rätikon Alps. To learn more about visiting Lünersee and other hiking options, read our Lünersee hiking guide.

If you fancy a longer trek in this region, check out this Rätikon High Trail Circuit itinerary.

Olpererhütte and Friesenberghaus

Zillertal Alps

Olpererhütte Day Hike, Zillertal Alps, Austria

Austrian State: Tyrol
Trailhead: Schlegeis Stausee (1,785 m)
Distance: 13 km
Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude Difference: 820 meters ascending, 854 meters descending 
Time Needed: 7 hours
When to Go: mid-June – early- October
Where to Stay: Alpenhotel Kramerwirt

This excellent loop trail begins at the Schlegeis Reservoir, accessible by car, or bus. While most Olpererhütte visitors will hike the short, direct route to the hut, we recommend hiking first to Friesenberghaus. From here, you’ll join the Berlin High Trail and hike along a breathtaking balcony trail to Olpererhütte. Read this detailed post about hiking to Friesenberghaus and Olpererhütte in the Zillertal Alps.

If you want to learn more about the multi-day Berlin High Trail, read our Berlin High Trail trekking guide.

Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee

Hohe Tauern National Park

Best Day Hikes in Austria - Margaritzenstausee, Sandersee, Hohe Tauern National Park

Austrian State: Carinthia
Trailhead: Glocknerhaus (2132 m), Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Destination: Sandersee, or Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe
Distance: 4.1 km to Sandersee (one-way), 5.5 km to Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe (one-way)
Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude Difference: 470 m
Time Needed: 2 – 2.5 hours one-way (4-5 hours total)
When to Go: June – September
Where to Stay: Woferlgut – Wellness & Sport Hotel in Bruck. Look for accommodation in Heiligenblut and places to stay in Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße.

This spellbinding day hike is located in Hohe Tauern National Park, just off the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Well-marked and easy-to-follow, the hike delivers unbeatable views of Austria’s highest mountain, Grossglockner, and the rapidly receding Pasterze Glacier. This route is also the first stage of the Alpe Adria long-distance trail, which starts at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe and ends in Heiligenblut. Though you can hike in either direction, we recommend starting in Glocknerhaus, because the views unfold spectacularly as you near the foot of Grossglockner.

Initially, the trail descends from Glocknerhaus to the reservoir Margaritzenstausee and then continues left along the water and over two reservoir cement walls. The water of Pasterze Glacier feeds Margaritzenstausee. Next, the trail ascends to Sandersee (lake). From here, you’ll have a great view of Pasterze and Grossglockner.

You can either continue all the way up to Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe or turn back here. If you continue to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, it’s possible to take a shuttle back to Glocknerhaus. However, these shuttles are very infrequent (max 3 per day). Inside Glocknerhaus, there’s a timetable for the shuttle bus, which you can check before you set off.

Read Next: Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Where to Stop, Eat, and Hike

Innergschlöss Glacier Trail

Hohe Tauern National Park

Innergschlöss Glacier Trail - Best Day Hikes in Austria

Austrian State: Tyrol
Trailhead:  Matreier Tauernhaus, East Tyrol. Take Venediger Taxi (5 EUR one-way) to Innergschlöss.
Destination: Glacier Lookout Point
Distance: 9.1 km 
Difficulty: Moderate
Altitude Difference: 600 m
Time Needed: 4 hours
When to Go: June – September (October)
Where to Stay:  Matreier Tauernhaus

This secret day hike in Hohe Tauern National Park is hands down one of the best hikes in Austria. The glacier trail begins in the fairy-tale-like hamlet of Innergschlöss. From here you’ll follow a loop trail past rivers, waterfalls, and lakes and ultimately to a spectacular glacier lookout point. You’ll be able to spot the prominent peaks of the Venediger Group, including Austria’s second-highest mountain: Grossvenediger. The Innergschlöss glacier trail marked the final stages of our Venediger High Trail trek, a multi-day hike that wraps around the Venediger Group. And, it was the absolute best part of the entire hike. 

Read this Innnergschlöss Glacier Trail post for more details on this hike plus info on how to get here and where to stay.

Giglach Lakes

Schladminger Tauern

Ignaz-Mattis Hütte, Lower Giglach Lake, Schladminger Tauern, Austria - Best Day Hikes in Austria

Austrian State: Styria
Trailhead: Ursprungalm (1601 m)
Destination: Giglachseen (1921 m), Ignaz-Mattis Hütte (1982 m)
Distance: 8.2 km total
Difficulty: Easy
Altitude Difference: 381 m
Time Needed: 3 hours total
When to Go: June – September
Where to Stay: Hotel Schwaigerhof. Look for accommodation in Schladming.

This delightful hike takes you to and around the Giglach Lakes: Oberer Giglachsee (Upper Giglach Lake) and Unterer Giglachsee (Lower Giglach Lake) in the Schladminger Tauern mountains. From the high alpine pasture Ursprungalm, accessible by a toll road, it only takes 1 hour to reach the Giglach Lakes. It’s possible to take a bus from the Schladming Train Station to Ursprungalm. 

You’ll first arrive at Giglachseen Hütte, a mountain hut located a the Upper Giglach Lake. You can take a break there, or continue 20 minutes to Ignaz-Mattis Hütte, a mountain hut perched above the Lower Giglach Lake. This is an ideal location for lunch. From here, you can continue hiking to the end of the Lower Giglach Lake and then follow the trail along the lake back in the direction of Giglachseen Hütte. This route marks the first stage of the multi-day Schladminger Tauern High Trail.


Dachstein Mountains 

Sulzenalmen, Dachstein - Best Day Hikes in Austria

Austrian State: Salzburg
Trailhead: Hofalmen
Destination: Sulzenalmen
Distance: 2.2 km one-way
Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Altitude Difference: 300 m
Time Needed: 1 hour one-way
When to Go: June – September
Where to Stay: Alpenhotel Wurzer (budget),meiZeit Lodge (mid-range), and Relais & Chateaux Das Maier (Hubertus)(luxury).

From the town of Filzmoos in Salzburg, take the toll road to Hofalmen (5.50 EUR per car). From the alm restaurants at Hofalmen, follow signs to Sulzenalmen, which is a high alpine pasture with two alm huts. You can begin the hike by following the trail to Unterhofalm and around Almsee lake. Or, you can access the trail from Oberhofalm and save the small lake for later.

The initial 30 minutes are steep. As you ascend, you’ll have splendid views of the Gosaukamm mountains, which are part of the Dachstein range. The last stretch of the trail meanders gently through pastureland. As you near Sulzenalmen, you’ll have to choose between having lunch at Krahlehenhütte (the lower hut) and Wallehenhütte (the upper hut). Or, perhaps eat at both, as we did. It’s easy to extend this hike into a full day circuit hike, heading in the direction of Sulzenhals (1824 m), Rinderfeld (1760 m), Kesselwand (1750 m), and ultimately Hofpürglhütte (1705 m), before descending back to Hofalmen.

Read Next: Best Things to Do in Filzmoos in Summer

Salzburger Almenweg Stage 2

Hochkönig Mountains

Salzburger Almenweg Stage 2 - Best Day Hikes in Austria

Austrian State: Salzburg
Trailhead: Erichhütte Parkplatz (Parking Lot) or Wander Bus Stop “Erichhütte” Line: 593.
Destination: Arthurhaus (1503 m)
Distance: 11.3 km
Difficulty: Easy
Altitude Difference: 566 m ascent, 405 descent
Time Needed: 3:30 h
When to Go: June – October
Where to Stay: SEPP – Alpine Boutique Hotel (Adults Only). Look for accommodation in Maria Alm, places to stay in Dienten and hotels in Mühlbach

The Salzburger Almenweg is a 31-stage long-distance hiking trail in Salzburg. As the name suggests, this is a thematic hiking trail linking the region’s alms, or high alpine pastures. The entire circuit is 350 km and connects 120 Almhütten (alm mountain huts). You can hike different stages of the trail as thru-day-hikes, like stage 2, which traverses the slopes of the Hochkönig Mountains.

The hike begins at Erichhütte Parkplatz (1340 m), which is a parking lot close to the Dienten Saddle along Hochkönig Strasse. You’ll hike 1.5 km and ascend 200 meters to Erichhütte mountain hut (1540 m). From Erichhütte, continue right along an easy, mostly flat path in the direction of Vier Hütten (Trail No.436/401A). As you walk along the slopes of the Hochkönig peaks, you’ll be treated to marvelous views of the Alpenhauptkamm and Südwände des Hochkönigs. You’ll pass a few mountain huts along the way, including Brandstätthütte, Schartenhütte, and Molterauhütte (Windraucheggalm).

The end of the hike is marked by the large lodge and restaurant Arthurhaus, which is accessible by car and bus. Near Arthurhaus, you’ll find the charming mountain hut Sennerei Schweizerhütte and its many furry residents, including goats, pigs, bunnies, and marmots.

Read Next: Best Hikes in Salzburg

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Hochschwab Summit and Schiestlhaus in the Hochschwab Mountains

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Slovenian Alps: Hiking in the Julian Alps

Italian Alps: Dolomites Travel Guide

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