• Hiking in Ötztal, near Obergurgl

    Hiking & Climbing: How to Find the Right Path

    As Mark Twain is believed to have said: "The secret to getting ahead is taking the first step". But to do so, one must first choose the right path – find out more about signposting and difficulty levels at hiking paths and via ferratas in Austria's mountains.

    Moving through the great outdoors, breathing deeply in the fresh air, allowing yourself to go at your own pace - this is a philosophy worth following in itself. But one must always think about with whom you'll be travelling – will you be hiking with children, are you planning a long-distance and multi-day trail, or do you want to soar high and conquer a summit? There are plenty of reasons to love hiking – but the best thing about Austria's clearly marked hiking routes, paths and mountain tours? There's something for everyone! You just have to know where to look.

    • Blue:

      Easy paths, which can be narrow and steep in places


      Mostly narrow and often steep; there may be short challenging passages with additional securing where there is some risk of falling.


      Narrow and steep, with some danger of falling; lots of challenging sections with additional securing and easy climbing passages. Please note: surefootedness and a head for heights are required here.

    • Alpine routes:

      These are not hiking trails – they lead into alpine or high alpine terrain, and can contain sections that jut out, pose a risk of falling, or are unsecured.

      ATTENTION: In the mountains, the transitions between black trails, alpine routes, and via ferratas can be fluid.

      There is an exception to every rule! In Vorarlberg, the signs are similar to Switzerland: easy paths are marked in yellow/white, while white/red/white represents a mountain hiking trail. Also worth knowing: on Swiss mountaineering routes, a blue marking indicates a trail that leads into high alpine terrain.

      Learn more

    What Should You Put in Your Hiking Backpack?

    For a day hike, a 10-litre backpack is sufficient. If you're going to be on the trail for up to five days, we recommend a backpack with a maximum capacity of 35 litres. It's important that the weight of the backpack is distributed evenly across your back. Pay close attention to the fit when buying a rucksack, making sure that it'll be comfortable to wear.

    For a one-day hike, you should pack:

    Hiking shoes, technical socks, waterproof trousers and a waterproof jacket, sun screen, a hood or a hat, a first aid kit, emergency numbers (the mountain rescue emergency telephone number is 140), a battery pack for your mobile phone, a map, bug spray, a water bottle, snacks and provisions, binoculars, money and identification, and trekking poles.

    For a multi-day hike, add the following to the above:

    A sleeping bag, a washbag, a torch, pyjamas, and a change of clothes

    If it's going to be a difficult tour, you can also bring:

    A helmet, crampons and Grödel (like crampons for more level terrain), climbing rope and a harness (make sure to bring these for routes classified as difficulty level D / K4).

    Klettern im Kleinwalsertal

    Via Ferratas for All Levels of Ability, from A to F

    In Austria, climbing routes are categorised according to the Hüsler + Schall via ferrata scales. This classification starts with A / K1 (easy), and goes up to F / K6 (extremely difficult).

    You need surefootedness, good physical condition, and a head for heights to master a via ferrata. From grade D / K4 routes and upwards, climbing equipment is also necessary.

    Read more about via ferrata grades

    Things to Consider When Preparing

    Via ferrata Drachenwand (dragon wall) / Via ferrata Drachenwand (dragon wall)

    Climbing: What to Take With You

    Via ferrata harness

    Can either be for hip or chest, with a tight fit around your waist and legs.

    Via ferrata set

    The set consists of via ferrata carabiners and a catch shock absorber, which are attached to the harness.


    It must be standard-tested, lightweight, easily adjustable, and have a good ventilation system.

    Gloves with a good grip

    The most important criteria are fit, quality of workmanship, and a good grip!

    Calculating Your Hiking Time

    Preparation is half the battle. Seeing as though everyone walks at a different pace, it's important to ask: With whom am I travelling? What type of terrain will I be covering (a gravel path, asphalt, forest floor)? What will the weather be like?


    The interplay of altitude and distance is the decisive factor when it comes to calculating walking time. Walking times are indicated on signposted trails – but if you want to find out more, or even to arrange a tour for yourself, you can find the Bergfreunde calculation here.

    But make note: this calculates the time you'll spend actually walking. To fully enjoy the path, add a little more time for breaks.

    Route planners and helpful resources:

    •                 Hiking in the Lammertal (Salzburger Land)

      Spend the Night in a Mountain Hut Spend the Night in a Mountain Hut

      Do you want to experience the beauty of a sunrise from high up on a mountain, sensing the sublime calm that comes just before a new day breaks, feeling the first rays of sunlight warm your skin? If so, an overnight stay in one of Austria's alpine huts is perfect for you.

      Find a hut or chalet

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