The Austrian Alps high above Innsbruck lend themselves to mountain hiking whilst the valleys connecting alpine towns en route to Salzburg are ideal for cycling. This is a trip which combines both activities to ensure you get the most out of the region. From the ski town of Innsbruck to the 'Sound of Music' town of Salzburg there are numerous natural and cultural attractions. Hike to one of the highest waterfalls in Europe, pass tiny ski villages in the Zillertal Valley, take a guided tour of the Moserboden dam or visit an old salt mine or beer brewery. At night soak in the hospitality of our specially chosen hotels whilst dining on local culinary delights.
The trip is graded moderate (grade 3) with 5 cycle stages of between 25 and 65km / 15.5 to 37mi, and 3 waking stages of up to 4.5hrs. You mainly follow river cycle trails and there are only short ups and downs. There will be a transfer for the only mountain pass on the tour. The walking is not arduous, and is generally on gravel roads or hiking trails. To get the most out of this trip you should have a good level of fitness which you have obtained through exercising 3-4 times per week as a minimum.
On arrival in the centre of Innsbruck, walk to your hotel which is ideally located to explore the sites of this lively town.
This morning you take the tram from Innsbruck, followed by a cable car which takes you up to 2000 metres / 6562 feet. From the top of the cable car station, with sweeping views of the alps, you follow an easy high trail passing old stone pines high above the Inn valley. After your hike along the Zirbenweg Stone Pine Path, enjoy refreshments at a mountain hut where you can purchase fresh cheese. Later you descend again with the cable car and return to your hotel by bus.
This morning you swap your hiking boots for a bike and follow the cycle trail along the Inn river out of the city. This well signed trail takes you past historic towns where you can visit the famous Swarovski crystal world in Wattens or take a rest in the old streets of the many villages you pass. On one side you will see the Alps and on the other side the Karwendel mountain range. This evening you will stay overnight at the entrance of the Zillertal valley.
The route this morning gradually ascends into the Zillertal valley which is famous for skiing all year round at the glacier. The valley offers much more than skiing. It has incredible scenery, alpine pastures and little villages with good restaurants. You have the option to cycle deep into the valley or just to the meeting point of the taxi in Zell am Ziller. This evening will be in Krimml.
Around the Krimml waterfalls the national park has trails to reach viewpoints and explore the different levels of the falls. The Krimml waterfalls are at 380m / 1247ft in height, one of the highest in Europe. There is flexibility today as, armed with your map, you can walk deep into the valley right to the edge of the Alps. From the mountain hut “Tauernhaus” is the starting point for trails which take you over the alps e.g. the trans alp trek. At the end of your walk you can return by taxi to Krimml.
Back to the bikes today as you follow the Salzach river valley almost from the source. Again impressive mountain ranges on both sides of the wide valley. There are many side trips you can take into the National Park of Hohe Tauern and we highly recommend a visit of the information centre of the park. The summit of Mt Kitzsteinhorn is one of the 266 peaks over 3000m / 9843ft which are located in this wild alpine park, Austria's oldest national park. They cycle continues to the old market town of Zell am See with its wonderful lakeside position and a view of the highest mountain in Austria, the Großglockner (3798m / 12,461ft).
Outside of skiing in winter, there is no better way to see Zell am See-Kaprun than on foot. The spectacular combination of glacier, mountains and lake is nothing short of unique and guarantees unforgettable insights into Austria's nature. Discover the reservoires Mooserboden and Wasserfallboden embedded in the impressive mountains of the Hohe Tauern! The dam is 107m / 351ft high and 500m / 1641ft long – enjoy the astonishing view at the huge reservoirs at 2000m / 6562ft altitude. A bus takes you straight up into the heart of the alpine world.
There is also the option to do a guided dam tour which includes a hike to the Moserboden dam where you have the opportunity to explore inside the dam. You’ll learn how “green” electricity is generated through the 160 Million m³ of water, for example with the new pumped storage power station Limberg II. The herbal path takes you from the Mooserboden reservoir to the rustic Fürthermoaralm. Along the path, you can see the unique vegetation of the Hohe Tauern mountains. The easy 45 minutes' walk (one way) includes an ascent of 237 metres / 778 feet.
Cycling again, you take a route around the lake and later pass little hamlets with old farm houses. Today there will be some hills in the morning and a sensational view to the so called Stony Sea Mountain range. In the afternoon you will pass some impressive gorges (open to visit) and a huge cave before arriving at Lofer.
Continuing along the river Saalach the cycle takes in a small part of Bavaria. The mountains are not as high as on previous days but form a part of the National park of Berchtesgaden. You will cycle through the spa city of Bad Reichenhall where you can visit the old salt mine, have a break in the old town or taste the beer in the brewery. Afterwards you are almost in Salzburg and you should visit the open air museum of Großgmain with old farm houses. For lovers of the movie Sound of Music, you pass a castle with a lake where part of the movie was filmed. Welcome to Salzburg!
The trip concludes after breakfast.
This was a fantastic trip. The cycling route was mostly flat, almost always paved and on quiet routes with few or no vehicles. In spite of the paths being flat, you are surrounded by towering mountains. The scenery was amazing. We especially enjoyed having the dinners included and it was always a thrill to arrive at our wonderful overnight accommodation wondering what our evening meal would be like. A delicious soup (my husband's favourite part) or salad (often both), followed by a delicious dinner and dessert. The hotels were all very good and our suitcases were always at the hotel by the time we arrived in the afternoon. The route maps were very easy to follow with mileages shown and corresponding route description notes right on the maps. As well, most of the time you follow designated bike routes which are well signed in Austria. What we really liked was the number of times that we stayed two nights in the same location so that we didn't have to pack up and leave everyday. We didn't always do the suggested hike (mileages were sometimes more than we wanted to do - we are cyclists more than hikers), but it was very easy to find alternate shorter distance hikes by going up a gondola into the alpine area. We would not hesitate to do this exact tour again. We loved it!
A. Kennedy, Delta, BC Canada, 05 Jul 2017
Per Person, Twin Share