7 Best Mountains in Austria (for Hiking + Skiing)

by Jem
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Thinking of hitting up Austria’s best mountains this year? Well, you’re in for a treat! From the Tyrolean Alps to those jaw-dropping views in the Salzkammergut, Austria’s got some serious mountain magic going on. Whether you’re into hikes, mountain picnics, or spectacular views, there’s a peak here with your name on it. Ready to find out more? Let’s dive into the best mountains in Austria!

Ah, Austria! Every time I think of this enchanting country, my heart skips a beat. Memories of my first visit come flooding back: the crisp Alpine air, the sound of cowbells echoing in the distance, and the mesmerizing sight of snow-capped peaks against a brilliant blue sky.

Located right in the heart of Europe, Austria has always been a favorite of mine. From the quaint charm of the best mountain towns in Austria to the adrenaline-pumping ski slopes, there’s something here for every kind of traveler. And let’s not forget those serene moments, standing atop a mountain, feeling on top of the world.

In this guide, I’m thrilled to take you on a personal journey through seven of the best mountains in Austria. Each one holds a special place in my heart and promises an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve descended its slopes. So, whether you’re a seasoned mountaineer or someone who simply appreciates breathtaking views, grab your gear and come along. Austria’s alpine wonders await!

The top mountains to visit in Austria right now
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1. Grossglockner

When you think of the best mountains in Austria, Grossglockner surely tops the list. Standing tall at 3,798 meters, it’s not just Austria’s highest peak but also a symbol of the country’s alpine grandeur. The drive up the Grossglockner High Alpine Road alone is an experience, offering panoramic views that’ll make you pull over every few minutes just to take it all in.

Now, if you’re a skiing enthusiast, you’re in luck.

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Grossglockner is surrounded by some of the best mountains for skiing in Austria. The slopes here cater to both beginners and pros, ensuring everyone gets a piece of the action. And let’s not forget the après-ski scenes; they’re legendary!

But Grossglockner isn’t just about winter sports. Come summer, and the mountain transforms into a hiker’s paradise.

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Trails wind through meadows bursting with wildflowers, past glacial lakes, and up to viewpoints that’ll have you feeling on top of the world. Whether you’re up for a challenging trek or a leisurely walk, there’s a path with your name on it.

Lastly, for those who love a touch of history, Grossglockner doesn’t disappoint.

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The area is dotted with centuries-old mountain huts and chapels. Each tells a tale of the mountain’s rich past, from ancient trade routes to legendary mountaineering feats. So, as you explore, take a moment to soak in the stories that have shaped this iconic peak.

A representation of the nation's mountainous splendor.
A representation of the nation’s mountainous splendor.

2. Wildspitze

Next up on our list of the best Austrian mountains is Wildspitze. Second only to Grossglockner in height, but let me tell you, it’s second to none when it comes to sheer beauty. Towering at 3,768 meters, Wildspitze is a sight to behold.

Now, if you’re wondering about the best mountains in Austria, hold that thought! While Switzerland has its charm, Wildspitze offers a unique blend of Austrian culture and natural splendor. The mountain huts here serve the most delicious strudel, and trust me, after a day of hiking, there’s nothing better.

Speaking of hiking, Wildspitze in the summer is a dream. The trails here range from gentle walks through alpine meadows to challenging climbs that’ll test your mettle. And the reward? Panoramic vistas, glacial lakes shimmering in the sun, and that unbeatable feeling of accomplishment.

But what truly sets Wildspitze apart is its community. The locals are passionate about their mountain, and it shows. Whether you’re renting gear, seeking trail advice, or just sharing a beer at the end of the day, you’ll be met with warmth and stories that make your adventure all the more special.

Wildspitze is conveniently accessible from nearby towns.

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Sölden and Vent are the closest hubs, both brimming with alpine charm and offering a range of accommodations. Getting to Wildspitze from these towns is a breeze, with regular bus services and well-marked routes for those driving. If you’re arriving by train, the Ötztal Railway Station is your best bet, with buses and taxis readily available to take you to the mountain’s base. For the international traveler, The Innsbruck Airport is the nearest major airport.

When it pertains to pure beauty, it is unmatched.
When it pertains to pure beauty, it is unmatched.

3. Dachstein

Dachstein, with its imposing limestone walls and dramatic ridges, is more than just a mountain – it’s a masterpiece. As one of the best mountains in Austria, it’s a magnet for rock climbers and alpinists. The sheer cliffs challenge even the most seasoned climbers, offering routes that are both thrilling and rewarding.

But it’s not all about adrenaline here. Dachstein is home to some of the most fascinating ice caves in Europe. Stepping inside feels like entering another world, with shimmering ice formations and underground tunnels that tell tales of millennia gone by. If you’re looking for a unique experience, the Dachstein Ice Palace is a must-visit, with its intricate ice sculptures and ethereal blue hues.

For history lovers, Dachstein has a rich tapestry of tales. The mountain has been a muse for artists, poets, and musicians for centuries. Many local museums and galleries showcase artworks inspired by Dachstein’s beauty, offering a cultural twist to your alpine adventure.

And when it comes to accessibility? The town of Schladming is your gateway to Dachstein. Well-connected by road and rail, it’s easy to reach and offers a mix of traditional Austrian charm and modern amenities. From Schladming, cable cars whisk you up to Dachstein’s heights, where a world of exploration awaits.

Dachstein is a work of art rather than merely a mountain.
Dachstein is a work of art rather than merely a mountain.

4. Zugspitze

Zugspitze is not just any mountain. It’s a symbol of unity and adventure. Standing proud as the highest peak of the Wetterstein Mountains, it holds the unique distinction of being shared by two nations: Austria and Germany. This dual nationality adds a special charm, making it one of the best mountains in Austria and Germany!

Winter at Zugspitze is a snowy wonderland. Skiers and snowboarders flock here to experience the pristine slopes and world-class facilities. The Zugspitzplatt skiing area is a favorite, offering runs for all skill levels and panoramic views that’ll make you stop mid-slope just to take it all in. And for those who prefer a more leisurely pace, the snowshoe trails and toboggan runs promise hours of fun.

Summer transforms Zugspitze into a hiker’s paradise. Trails crisscross the landscape, leading you through alpine meadows, past shimmering lakes, and up to viewpoints that’ll take your breath away. If you’re up for a challenge, the via ferratas here are among the best in the Alps.

But here’s the cool part: Zugspitze is home to the Zugspitze Glacier. Yes, a glacier! Even in the warmest months, you can have a snowball fight, go sledding, or simply marvel at the icy expanse. It’s a surreal experience, and the glacier’s cable car ride offers views that are nothing short of spectacular.

Nearby, the towns of Ehrwald in Austria and Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany serve as perfect bases for your Zugspitze adventure. With their cozy chalets, vibrant festivals, and easy transport options, you’re all set for an unforgettable mountain experience.

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The Zugspitze represents harmony and exploration.

5. Großvenediger

Großvenediger, often referred to as the ‘Ice Giant’, is a testament to nature’s grandeur. As one of the best mountains in Austria, its towering presence in the Hohe Tauern National Park is both awe-inspiring and inviting.

Winter here is a snowy dream. Skiers from around the world are drawn to Großvenediger’s powdery slopes, with trails that cater to both novices and seasoned pros. The off-piste skiing opportunities are particularly thrilling, offering adventurous souls a chance to carve their own path through the snow. And for those who love cross-country skiing, the serene trails winding through the valley are pure bliss!

When summer rolls around, Großvenediger dons a vibrant green cloak. Hikers and trekkers find solace in its trails, which lead through fragrant pine forests, alongside gushing streams, and up to vantage points that offer panoramic views of the Alps. The mountain’s meadows, dotted with wildflowers, are a treat for the senses.

What’s more, Großvenediger is home to one of the most extensive glaciers in the Eastern Alps, the Venediger Glacier. This icy expanse is a playground for mountaineers and ice climbers. Guided tours offer a chance to explore the glacier’s crevasses, ice tunnels, and seracs, making for an adventure that’s both thrilling and educational.

Base yourself in the charming town of Neukirchen am Großvenediger. With its traditional alpine architecture, cozy eateries, and easy access to the mountain, it’s the perfect starting point for your Großvenediger escapade.

The magnificence of nature is demonstrated by Großvenediger.
The magnificence of nature is demonstrated by Großvenediger.

6. Hochkönig

Hochkönig might be popular as the ‘High King’, but to many of us, it feels more like an old friend. Sitting proudly in the Berchtesgaden Alps, it’s not just another peak on the list of the best mountains in Austria. Sure, the skiing is top-notch, but there’s so much more to love about Hochkönig. Its grand presence, combined with a mix of adventures and cozy nooks, has won the hearts of locals and travelers alike.

One of Hochkönig’s standout features is the Königsweg, or the ‘Path of the King’. This multi-day hiking trail takes adventurers through lush meadows, dense forests, and past traditional alpine huts. Along the way, markers and installations narrate tales of legends, folklore, and the mountain’s royal legacy.

For those with a penchant for the culinary arts, Hochkönig doesn’t disappoint. The region is famous for its Alpine Culinary initiative, where mountain huts serve dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. From hearty stews to delectable pastries, every meal is a celebration of the region’s rich gastronomic heritage.

Art and nature enthusiasts will find a unique blend at the Hochkönig Art Park. Scattered across the mountain’s slopes, this open-air gallery showcases sculptures and installations by international artists, each piece harmoniously integrated into the natural landscape.

Lastly, the region around Hochkönig is dotted with charming villages like Maria Alm, Dienten, and Mühlbach. These hamlets, with their cobblestone streets and traditional architecture, offer a glimpse into the timeless charm of alpine life. Festivals, workshops, and community events throughout the year ensure there’s always something happening. Trust me, every visit to Hochkönig is a unique experience!

A combination of adventures and quaint nooks can be found in Hochkönig.
A combination of adventures and quaint nooks can be found in Hochkönig.

7. Rätikon

Last up on our list of the best Austrian mountains is Rätikon. Nestled between Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, Rätikon is a mountain range that truly transcends borders. Known for its jagged peaks and deep valleys, it’s a hotspot for those seeking the most beautiful mountains in Austria for a mix of winter and summer fun.

Winter in Rätikon is a skier’s dream. The slopes here cater to all levels, from gentle runs for beginners to challenging terrains for the pros. Off-piste skiing offers an added thrill, with untouched snow and the promise of creating your own path. And for those who prefer their winter adventures at a slower pace, the snowshoeing trails are nothing short of magical.

As the snow melts, Rätikon transforms into a vibrant summer playground. Hiking trails lead adventurers through dense forests, alongside bubbling streams, and up to viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the Alps. Rock climbers, in particular, are drawn to Rätikon for its famous limestone walls and challenging routes.

But here’s the unique twist: Rätikon is steeped in legends and folklore. The region is home to tales of the mythical Rätikon Dragon, believed to reside in the mountain’s caves and crevices. Local guides often regale visitors with stories of this legendary creature, adding a touch of mystery to the alpine adventures.

Nearby, the towns of Bludenz and Schruns offer a blend of traditional charm and modern amenities, making them perfect bases for exploring Rätikon and soaking in the local culture.

Rätikon is famous for its deep valleys and craggy hills.
Rätikon is famous for its deep valleys and craggy hills.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Mountains in Austria

Do you have further queries about the best mountains to visit in Austria? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked about Austria’s best mountains.

What is the best mountain in Austria?

Now that’s a tough one! It’s challenging to pick just one, as Austria boasts a plethora of majestic peaks. However, I would consider Grossglockner to be among the best mountains in Austria due to its impressive height, diverse activities, and breathtaking vistas. But every mountain, from Wildspitze to Hochkönig, offers its own unique charm and experiences.

What is the most beautiful mountain village in Austria?

Austria is dotted with picturesque villages nestled in the mountains. While beauty is subjective, I always rave about how amazing Hallstatt is, and it is one of the best mountain towns in Austria. Its idyllic setting by a pristine lake, framed by towering peaks, makes it a postcard-perfect destination. However, villages like Maria Alm, Neukirchen am Großvenediger, and Ehrwald also offer stunning views and authentic Austrian charm.

Which is better: the Swiss Alps or the Austrian Alps?

Choosing between the Swiss Alps and the Austrian Alps is subjective and depends on individual preferences, as both regions offer stunning landscapes, rich cultural experiences, and a range of activities for visitors. Here’s a comparison to help you decide:

Swiss Alps:

  • Scenery: The Swiss Alps are famous for their iconic peaks like the Matterhorn, Eiger, and Jungfrau. The landscapes are postcard-perfect, with pristine lakes such as Lake Lucerne and Lake Geneva adding to the beauty.
  • Infrastructure: Switzerland is popular for its efficient and punctual transportation system. The Swiss Travel Pass allows tourists to travel seamlessly across the country using trains, buses, and boats.
  • Luxury Resorts: Places like St. Moritz, Zermatt, and Gstaad are famous for their luxury resorts and upscale amenities.
  • Activities: Apart from skiing and snowboarding, Switzerland offers the Glacier Express train, the Jungfraujoch railway, and numerous hiking trails.
  • Cost: Switzerland is one of the more expensive European countries to visit.

Austrian Alps:

  • Scenery: The breathtaking Austrian Alps have beautiful regions like the Tyrol and Salzkammergut. The Grossglockner is Austria’s highest peak and a popular attraction.
  • Culture: Austria offers a rich cultural experience with its alpine villages, traditional events, and music festivals. Towns like Salzburg and Innsbruck combine historical architecture with alpine charm.
  • Skiing: Austria is famous for its ski resorts like Kitzbühel, Ischgl, and St. Anton, which are often more affordable than their Swiss counterparts.
  • Activities: Austria is famous for its Christmas markets, spa towns like Bad Gastein, and the scenic Grossglockner High Alpine Road.
  • Cost: While still a Western European country with associated costs, Austria is generally more affordable than Switzerland, especially regarding dining and accommodations.

What is the Austrian Alps known for?

The Austrian Alps are famous for several key features that make them a popular destination for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. Here’s what they are particularly famous for:

  1. Skiing and Winter Sports: The Austrian Alps are a world-class destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. With numerous ski resorts like St. Anton, Kitzbühel, and Ischgl, the region offers some of the best skiing in Europe. The Alps provide a range of slopes suitable for all levels, from beginners to expert skiers.
  2. Stunning Scenery: The Austrian Alps are characterized by their breathtaking natural beauty. Majestic mountains, crystal-clear lakes, lush valleys, and picturesque villages create a scenic landscape that is a delight for photographers and nature lovers.
  3. Hiking and Mountaineering: In the warmer months, the Alps turn into a haven for hikers, climbers, and outdoor adventurers. There are countless trails and routes, ranging from easy walks to challenging climbs, offering spectacular views and access to remote natural areas.
  4. Cultural Experiences: The region is rich in culture and history, with traditional Alpine villages and towns that offer a glimpse into local customs, architecture, and cuisine. Festivals, music, and dance are integral parts of the cultural landscape.
  5. Wellness and Relaxation: Many resorts in the Austrian Alps are also famous for their wellness and spa facilities, offering relaxation and rejuvenation amidst the serene mountain environment.

What is the most beautiful region of Austria?

Austria is a tapestry of stunning regions, each with its distinct allure. The Salzkammergut region, with its serene lakes and majestic mountains, is one of the most beautiful. It’s a favorite for those seeking the best mountains in summer in Austria. Yet, regions like Tyrol and Vorarlberg, with their alpine landscapes and cultural richness, are equally captivating.

Austria is made up of several beautiful regions, each with its own unique charm.
Austria is made up of several beautiful regions, each with its own unique charm.

What Austrian cities are near the Alps?

Austria is predominantly alpine in its topography, and many of its cities and towns are either located within the Alps or in close proximity to them. Here are some notable Austrian cities and towns near or within the Alps:

  • Innsbruck: The capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck is often referred to as the “Capital of the Alps.” It’s surrounded by high mountains and is a major winter sports hub.
  • Salzburg: Located near the German border, Salzburg is famous as the birthplace of Mozart and for its historic old town. The city is nestled between the Northern Limestone Alps to the north and the Central Eastern Alps to the south.
  • Graz: While not directly in the Alps, Graz is close to the lower alpine regions of Styria.
  • Klagenfurt: Located in Carinthia, Klagenfurt is near the eastern edge of the Alps and close to the borders with Slovenia and Italy.
  • Bregenz: Situated on the shores of Lake Constance (Bodensee), Bregenz is the capital of Vorarlberg and is surrounded by the Alps.
  • Feldkirch: Also in Vorarlberg, Feldkirch is located near the borders with Switzerland and Liechtenstein, with the Alps serving as a scenic backdrop.
  • Leoben: Located in Styria, Leoben is in the foothills of the Central Eastern Alps.
  • Lienz: The capital of East Tyrol, Lienz is surrounded by the Lienz Dolomites to the north and the High Tauern range to the south.
  • Bad Gastein: A spa town in the state of Salzburg, Bad Gastein is located in the High Tauern mountains.
  • Kitzbühel: A small alpine town in Tyrol, Kitzbühel is famous for its winter sports, especially its annual downhill ski race.

These are just a few examples. There are many more towns and villages in Austria that are either within the Alps or are in close proximity to them.

What is the best mountain peak in Austria?

One of the most famous peaks in Austria is Grossglockner. Here’s why Grossglockner stands out:

  1. Highest Peak: Grossglockner is the highest mountain in Austria, standing at 3,798 meters (12,461 feet). Its prominence makes it a significant landmark in the Austrian Alps.
  2. Challenging Climbs: For mountaineers, Grossglockner offers a challenging and rewarding climb. It’s a popular destination for experienced climbers due to its technical routes and stunning alpine scenery.
  3. Grossglockner High Alpine Road: This famous panoramic road offers spectacular views of the mountain and its surroundings. It’s a popular route for both drivers and cyclists, providing access to incredible vistas and the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park.
  4. Glacial Features: The Pasterze Glacier, at the foot of Grossglockner, is the largest glacier in Austria and one of the Eastern Alps’ most impressive glacial areas.
  5. Biodiversity and Nature: The area around Grossglockner is part of the Hohe Tauern National Park. It is popular for its rich biodiversity, including a variety of alpine flora and fauna.
  6. Historical Significance: The mountain has a long history of mountaineering and exploration, adding to its allure and prestige among climbers and outdoor enthusiasts.

What is the largest Austrian mountain?

The title for the largest or highest mountain goes to Grossglockner, standing tall at 3,798 meters. It’s not only Austria’s best mountain for its height but also a symbol of the country’s alpine grandeur. Whether you’re looking to hike, ski, or simply soak in the views, Grossglockner promises an unforgettable experience. Trust me, you won’t regret a trip here!

Austria’s Best Mountains – Recap:

Austria, with its majestic peaks and alpine charm, truly is a mountain lover’s dream. Each mountain, from the towering heights of Grossglockner to the rugged beauty of Rätikon, offers a unique blend of adventure, culture, and natural splendor. These peaks aren’t just geographical landmarks. They’re the heart and soul of Austria, echoing tales of legends, history, and the timeless bond between nature and humanity.

For those seeking the thrill of winter sports, mountains like Zugspitze and Großvenediger provide world-class skiing experiences. Meanwhile, the serene trails of Hochkönig and the cultural richness of Dachstein promise unforgettable summer adventures.

If there was one mountain I’d recommend visiting, it would be Wildspitze. Its blend of natural beauty, alpine activities, and the warmth of the local community left an indelible mark on my heart. Yet, every peak in this list has its own story to tell, its own magic to share.

In the end, the best mountains in Austria aren’t just about height or popularity. They’re about the experiences they offer, the memories they help create, and the timeless allure that keeps calling us back, time and time again.

The top mountains to visit in Austria right now
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