When so much of a country is covered by the Alps you can be sure that hearty outdoor pursuits will be high up on the menu, and that's certainly the case in Austria. Rolling pastures sit next to craggy glacial peaks, and lakes and national parks provide endless opportunities to explore the beautiful surroundings.
The Austrian Alps
The Austrian Alps lie to the south and west of Austria and are part of Europe’s Eastern Alps. The majestic 3,000 metre peaks, crystal clear lakes and deep valleys are a Mecca for climbers, mountaineers, cyclists and hikers. The Alpine state of Tyrol, or the Tirol, lies within the mountain range. Here you’ll find the Eagle’s Walk, the longest hiking path in Europe which meanders through the stunning area of St. Johann and ends in the winter ski resort of St. Anton am Arlberg. For cyclists, the mountains provide scenic and challenging off road terrain over rocky trails and forest tracks. The Kitzbühel Alps are a top mountain bike destination, with hundreds of kilometres of waymarked routes and 15 different lifts to take you and your bike and you up to the top. Austria is also home to Bike trail Tirol, the longest interconnected MTB circuit in the Alps. At nearly 1000 km-long, the 32 sections take in 27,000 metres of climbing. The High Mountain National Park of the Zillertal Alps is also worth a visit. Founded in 1991 it stretches along the Zillertal Valley featuring narrow gorges, steep rock walls, high peaks and glaciers; it’s an adventure playground ready to be explored. With so many glacial lakes and rivers the Austrian Alps will definitely appeal to watersports fans. White water rafting on the river Inn is a gentle introduction to life on the water and if you’re feeling brave you could tackle rapids of the Ötztaler Ache river. The mountains aren’t an obvious kitesurfing destination but Lake Achensee, in the east of the state, has top wind and water quality – the water is clear even 10 m below the surface. Other popular wind and kite surf spots are Durlaßbodenspeicher, a reservoir 1400 meters above sea level in Gerlos im Zillertal, and Reschensee near Nauders. Many Alpine lakes are also scuba dive sites. The steep walls and craggy rock of Wilde Kaiser (wild emperor) Mountain are have been a rock climbers’ paradise for many years with routes for every level of climber.