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Austria

General Information

Languages : German (official nationwide), Turkish, Serbian, Croatian (official in Burgenland)
Currency : Euro (EUR)
Time Zone : EST +6hrs
Capital City : Vienna
Population : 8 Million
Government : Federal Republic
Total Area :  32,382 mi²
Climate : Temperate; continental, cloudy; cold winters with frequent rain and some snow in lowlands and snow in mountains; moderate summers with occasional showers
National Holidays: National Day, 26 October
Additional Info: Austria is a largely mountainous country due to its location in the Alps. The setting for Sound of Music (movie). Well known for its Skiing Resorts.

Destination Activities

Activity Details

Hiking

Austria is one of the top destinations for hiking, with its high altitudes and breathtaking scenery, gorgeous countryside views of mountains, rivers, lakes and forests. It offers fun, adventure, and some of the most dramatic photography in the world. There are so many hiking options in Austria but some of the more beautiful tours are summarized below:

Pinzgauer Spaziergang - beautiful panorama walk: The Schmittenhohe is the starting point of this walk, which is a six to seven hours' hike at an altitude of about 6,500ft. It has no obvious gradients and lots of superb views all the way, ending at the upper station of the Schattbergbahn above Saalbach. Hiking paths are mainly narrow. Cable cars and bus transportation are available.

Altenmarkt-Zauchensee - a summit trail starting in Altenmarkt: With Zauchensee as your final destination, this 7-8 hour hike has a height difference of 4,800ft and is classed as a difficult hike. Your rewards are the views of the Zauchensee basin, breathtaking views, as long as you have a good head for heights.

Ellmautal Alpine Path - a summit trail over the Valley of Alpine Pastures: Starting out at the Grundlehen car park at 4270ft altitude, this path offers various end destinations at various altitudes: Filzmoosalm Alpine pasture (5,610ft), Loosbuhelalm Alpine pasture (5,800ft), Weissalm Alpine pasture (5,660ft), Ellmaualm Alpine pasture (5,885ft). Tours range from 3-5 hours long.



For a longer hike with camping/lodging try the route from Salzburg to Innsbruck across the whole of Austria. Start in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, and where the hills literally ARE alive with the sound of music, and explore the natural beauty of Austria as you make your way to Innsbruck, a two-time winter Olympic host. The hikes lead you to beautiful lakes, wildflower meadows, alpine villages and dramatic overlooks where the entire Tyrolean panorama unfolds before your eyes. Spend evenings in small, comfortable hotels and enjoy the flavors of authentic local cuisine throughout. This hike will take you through Hohe Tauern, the highest range of the Alps east of the Brenner Pass, including the highest mountains in Austria. The range is part of the Central Eastern Alps. It is in the Austrian states of Salzburg, Carinthia, and East Tyrol - with a small part in the Italian South Tyrol.

Climbing

Austria is a largely mountainous country due to its location in the Alps. The Central Eastern Alps, Northern Limestone Alps and Southern Limestone Alps are all partly in Austria. Of the total area of Austria (32,000 sq. miles), only about a quarter can be considered low lying, and only 32% of the country is below 500m (1,640ft). The high mountainous Alps in the west of Austria flatten somewhat into low lands and plains in the east of the country. Austria offers an almost inexhaustible range of climbs at all grades of difficulty. Mountain railroads operate in many places making it easier to reach the climbing areas. Some climbs/mountain information is summarized below:

Grossvenediger is generally considered to be Austria's fourth highest mountain at 12,014ft / 3,662 m (although it can be up to sixteenth if every subsidiary summit is counted). It is located in the Hohe Tauern National Park on the border of Salzburg and East Tyrol, and is covered by glaciers. The Schlaten-Kees ("Kees" is the local term for glaciers) reaches up to the summit and provides a technical very easy ascent by foot or with Ski. Generations of mountaineers have climbed Grossvenediger as their first high glacier mountain. But there are many crevasses, so taking a rope is a must, at least in the summer season.

The Grossglockner is 12,460ft / 3,798m and Austria's highest mountain and the highest mountain in the Alps east of the Brenner Pass. This makes it, after Mont Blanc, the second most prominent mountain in the Alps, when measured by relative height. The characteristic pyramid-shaped peak actually consists of two pinnacles, the Grossglockner and Kleinglockner, separated by a saddle-like formation known as the Glocknerscharte. The Grossglockner is one of the "to do"-mountains, which many non-alpinists want to climb once in a lifetime. From the Erzherzog-Johann-hut you have to cope with a 35-40 degree steep slope (pure ice in later summer) and with an exposed ridge rated UIAA II. If you are not a really experienced alpinist, take rope (and have the ability to handle it). Rope should also be used for crossing the glaciers to the Erzherzog Johann hut from Stuedl hut or Franz-Josefs-Hoehe.

The Hocharn, in the Goldberg of peaks of the Hohe Tauern is 3,258m / 10,689ft. It is the highest Peak of this group. The mountain is covered by the Krumml Glacier in the north, the Hocharn Glacier in the east and the Fleiss Glacier in the West. Hocharn can be either climbed from Salzburg (Rauris / Kolm Saigurn, east side) or Carinthia (Heiligenblut, west side). The mountain can be climbed all over the year.



Biking

Cycling is a complete thrill in Austria with its high altitudes and breathtaking scenery. Austria has many lovely, mirror-like lakes with thick forests covering much of the country's land, famous wine regions and beautiful rivers, like the Danube River. Over the last few years, it has spent much money on Lake Constance Cycle Tourism, developing a vast network of quality cycleways suitable for families and experienced cyclists alike. The network is throughout Austria and has allowed the adventure traveler the opportunity to create unique cycling tours in different Austrian regions allowing for varied experiences. Some of the enjoyable cycle paths are detailed below:

The Inn Cycle Path - Innsbruck to Scharding: This path leads you through Tyrol, Bavaria and Upper Austria. Stop in inns along the way and take this 190 mile bike ride at your own pace.

Danube-Cycle-Path - Passau to Vienna: Bike along the Blue Danube as it threads its way through the northern parts of Austria - the landscape, picturesque villages, and amazing sights of Vienna are not to be missed on this trip, often considered the most famous bike tour in Europe. 90% of the route is on cycleways although in some areas, you can take the train or boat to continue along. This is a fairly easy cycle route and does not require a lot of biking experience. The ride is about 165 miles long, and can be completed in 7 days or longer, if you want to take it easy and enjoy Austria.

Lake Constance - A large lake on the Rhine between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. The freshwater lake sits at 395 m above sea level and is Central Europe's third largest, after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva. This biking route is ideal for the untrained cyclists and family cycling as it follows cycle ways around the Lake. During the route, you will visit three countries: Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The tour can be completed in seven days and is an easy level of cycling. Arrive at Bregenz, Austria and cycle around the lake counter-clockwise through a nature reserve, and head into the Swiss side first, visit castles, bell towers, and beautiful parks and over to Germany where you can ride to Staad, visit the flower island Mainau and Friedrichshafen (a zeppelin museum is here) then back into Austria. Back in Bregenz, be sure to check out this festival town before you move on with your travels.

Photography



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