Walking The ContinentOne Giant Step
Photo Credit: Jeroen Fossaert
Mainland Europe offers a myriad of walking opportunities for the hiking enthusiast. Whether you set a comfortable pace amongst the chateaus and villes of Southern France or embrace the dramatic slopes in Switzerland, stunning views are guaranteed. Holiday options range from organized group tours to striking out alone. All that remains is to choose a destination: click here for walking holidays in Europe at Inghams.
One of the most impressive landscapes in central Europe is Austria, home of snow-capped mountains and bright green pastures. Austria is a country known for the music of Salzburg and the coffee-houses of Vienna, but most visitors will want to experience the crisp mountain atmosphere only found in its expansive countryside.
The Tyrol region in the west is famed for its scenery and there is extensive walking to be done around this classic Alpine region. A good jumping off point is the town of Innsbruck, where the picturesque streets are offset by an energetic hubbub of thrill-seekers and outdoor sports enthusiasts. The more high-octane pursuits like snowboarding happen around Seefield but there are well-marked hiking trails that wind through Wipptal Valley, the soft Tuxer foothills and the famous Stubai ‘rucksack route’, high into the mountains themselves. The latter boasts popularity with good reason; the well-trodden trail takes in glacial lakes and dramatic vistas amongst some of the grandest peaks in the range.
Further inland, many walkers head straight for the Salzkammergut, which combines Alpine lakes, charming villages and sheer slopes. Beauty and heritage also come together here: the region is named for its large yield of salt and there are sites of huge archaeological value such as Halstatt, where you will find treasures to explore. The area is perhaps one for more experienced hikers as much scrambling and climbing is done on the higher peaks of the Dachstein. However, places like the village of Fuschl am See, situated amidst pine-strewn hillsides and the Lake Fuschl nature reserve, are perfect for more gentle strolls.
In the east, the region of Carinthia borders Italy and presents a surprisingly pleasant climate, two national parks and over a thousand lakes to visit. Many tourists focus on the Alpine waters rather than the peaks here, so there are parts of this area which still feel truly wild and unexplored. The so-called ‘roof of Austria’ is found here: the majestic Mount Großglockner and others close by are the highest summits in the country. Nearby village Gmünd dates back to the 11th century and contains its very own castle, as well as providing access to the Hohe Tauern National Park.
There is so much choice with continental walking breaks that the difficult part is often deciding on where to start. Austria is just one of many countries brimming with unspoilt nature and rich in walking potential. Make sure you browse locations and levels of hike that will suit you before venturing out on a trek.