In the days when backpacking means too much booze, full-English breakfasts and traveling by air I thought I’d mix things up, help us dust off the cobwebs and get active. Austria has a lot to offer backpackers and I could wax lyrical about the credentials of Vienna, Salzburg and Graz but let’s fight the beer belly and check out some of these awesome things to do when you’re in Austria.
Skiing: There’s not a lot I can say about skiing in Austria that hasn’t been said a thousand times before. There are endless amazing slopes, resorts and mountains but it’s the après ski that really wins you over. Many of the most talked about apres-ski bars are in Austria – notably the Mooserwirt and the Crazy Kanguruh in St. Anton situated at the top of the last piste leading to the town which makes for a very interesting last run of the day! The Austrians are famed for their table dancing and some would say that when having your ski boots fitted in Austria, you should make sure that first and foremost you can dance in them, and secondly that you can ski in them! Even in smaller villages you will find a couple of good apres-ski bars with a very warm and friendly atmosphere, something that is quite unique to this country. Find some cracking ski holidays in Austria is not a difficult thing to do, so sort it out peeps!
Cycling: Strictly reserved for the summer time folks, cycling in Austria is like a postcard. A trip following the river Danube is actually the most popular cycling trail in all of Europe (who’d have thought, huh?) and offers a few cheeky detours via some amazing vineyards. There are generally cycle routes throughout the country, and certainly along the Danube trail. Cycling in Austria ticks all the boxes, think romantic castles, cosy villages, vineyards and well prepared bike paths all along the Danube. On your bike guys…
Hiking: With the Alps stretching into the country, and Austria being home to 6 national parks, hiking is a national past-time. Step away from the wine, and make you way here to truly get active.
The awesome thing about hiking in Austria is that they have “Weitwanderwege” (which means something along the lines of “Long-distance Hiking Paths”. In total, there are more than 100 of these regional or inter-regional Weitwanderwege. Also it is possible to enjoy all the awesomeness of the Alps without having to mimic a mule, lugging your hold backpack around. This is made possible by the existence of hundreds of alpine huts and systems of trails that connect them. The opportunity to hike with only a small pack is a huge upgrade to the hiking experience. The opportunity to kick back on a sunny deck or patio and enjoy a big, cold beer after a hard day’s hike is hard to beat. The fun of sharing trail experiences with fellow hikers is part of the camaraderie found in most huts. So all the planning is done for you, get your google on, book your hostels and set off!
Kayaking: Austria has some of the best whitewater in the whole of Europe so if kayaking or rafting is your thing, Austria has you covered. With rivers like the Oetz, the Swiss/Austria Inn and the Sanna, along with ample melt water and glaciers wedged between the high alpine peaks. Small brooks flow through the boulders making their way to fill up the rapidly flowing rivers. the water here suits everyone from beginners to fully fledged experts.
Rock-climbing: Because Austria lies in the heart of the Alps there are endless climbing opportunities. For beginners and advanced climbers the Salzburg Sportwelt in Austria is a great place to visit. Another great spot for rock climbin in Austria is the Hochschwab, about 3 hours from Vienna. The scenery is quite varied, ranging from a windy pass in a canyon-like narrow valley, to a more alpine area with pastures and a wide open view. The beauty of this area also lies in the fact that the Hochschwab is a bit out of the way, the Südwand being only accessible by foot, the scenery remains untainted by too many buildings or roads.
I hope that’s opened our eyes to all the amazing things you can do in Austria, I’m off there again in April and can’t wait, hope to see you guys there. Happy travels!