Hiking in the Austrian Alps… You need to do the Alpe Adria Trail! Read more about those first stages: 1 to 6. The Alpe Adria Trail is a long-distance hike that takes you through 3 countries. Stage 1 starts near the Gross Glockner, Kaiser Franz Josefs Hohe and leads you for a long time across the Alps to finally cross the border with Slovenia on stage 22 and to cross the border with Italy on stage 27. The Alpe Adria Trail consists of 37 stages and ends at Muggia on the Adriatic coast.
At the end of this trip, Nicole and I were already dreaming about doing the last part of the trip… So, to go for a walk on the beach and to stand with our feet in the sea. Who knows, maybe we will do that next year. Brings a whole other dimension with it, doesn’t it?
Did you know that I have already walked 20 stages of the Alpe Adria Trail? But also that I still haven’t passed through the remaining countries, my 20 stages were all in the Austrian Alps.
Hiking in the Austrian Alps
Alpe Adria Trail in a Nutshell – Stages 1 to 6
In 2021, I went hiking in Austria again. In 2020 I started with the Alpe Adria Trail by doing stages 12 to 20, I loved it and so I decided to go again. When in 2021 the corona still threw a spanner in the works, I booked this cool trip again. This time I had company, colleague / friend Nicole, who would also go along on the adventure in India, was interested in hiking in the Alps and so we drove off in mid-August 2021 to start the Alpe Adria Trial with stage 1!
Stage 1 Alpe Adria Trail
Kaiser franz Josefs Hohe to Heiligenblut
This stage is 13.1 km and will take you around 5.30 hours.
Climbing: 173 metres and declining 1267 metres.
Difficulty level of this stage is medium
Accomodation at Bergkristall
The weather in the morning was rain and lots of clouds but what a great trip! When we got off the bus that took us from Heiligenblut to the starting point that morning we could put on our raincoats right away. Still we took our time to look around us. What a beautiful area!
It wasn’t until midday that the weather became nice again, and we sat down to enjoy a banana and the great views of this first stage of the Alpe Adria Trail. We walked on in the sunshine and were able to fully enjoy this tour in the Alps and our first day on holiday.
After such a start, things can only get better, right?
How nice it is then that we could buy a nice cake with coffee before we got to Heiligenblut. What became clear at this mountain hut was that we needed to have cash with us. I had no cash and Nicole a few euros…just not enough to pay our bill…and yes the coffee and cake was already in the belly. But how nice it is then that different solutions were offered, we could pay at Bergkristall at Heiligenblut and then he would pick it up there.
If it weren’t for the fact that a fellow tourist offered to contribute the remaining amount.
The level of difficulty is medium, but descending in the rain with poor visibility was hard for us. The rest of this stage was lovely, the paths were very good and the arrows showed us the way well. Only just after the bridge, at the first lake, did we take a wrong turn. Probably because there are two paths leading up. I think that when the water is high, the lower one is impossible to walk. We saw an arrow and followed it in the wrong direction, so we went back to the bridge… Last year, this happened to me too, but often you’ll notice quickly and just turn around and follow the arrows the other way.
It takes time, but you don’t lose your way, that’s great!
Stage 2 Alpe Adria Trail
Heiligenblut to Döllach
This stage is 11.8 km and you’ll take about 4.30 uur hours.
Climbing: 490 metres and descending 787 metres.
Level of Difficulty is easy
Overnight stay at Haus Marhofer
After 2 nights in Heiligenblut we left this nice little town behind us. Right after the start we saw the infocentre that can tell you a lot about the Alpe Adria Trail but also about the surroundings. And it is on a nice spot so you get a good view on the tower of the Vincentius Church in Heiligenblut. A little further on the view became even more beautiful and slowly but surely Heiligenblut disappeared and we walked along the valley on our way to Döllach.
A lovely route, as indicated an easy route, so you can fully enjoy the surroundings and the beautiful views.
We took a break at the beautiful mills in Apriach. Stockmuhlen, they stand along the flowing water that comes from the Alps and each mill has an owner who used to work hard and make use of the water. The water of course flows down with great force and they make good use of it this way.
Great spot to stay for a while.
Unfortunately, we could not go inside, but the place has something magical about it!
Best spot for lunch today!
Döllach has a beautiful old castle (Grosskirchheim) and our hotel has a view of it. I found it a lovely spot. We had a nice terrace so we could enjoy the last rays of the sun and dry our laundry.
This is the view I had the next morning when we left.
How beautiful, still a little misty…
Stage 3 Alpe Adria Trail
Döllach to Materle
This stage takes you 18.4 km and it will take you 7 hours.
Climbing: 1.159 metres and descending 347 metres
Difficulty level of this stage is medium Overnight stay at Alpengasthaus Materle
The morning was still a little chilly when we left and the castle was still shrouded in mist. What a beautiful spot! We walked out of the village and came to walk along the river Mull. Easy path and quick mileage. After a while we crossed the road again and went uphill. Then there appeared to be a roadblock, we had to make a detour and so obediently we did. In retrospect, we think we should have just kept on walking, but OK.
It was explained that we would get back on the path in no time. It was not to be…we certainly walked a few extra kilometres but we found the Alpe Adria Trail again and continued on our way in good spirits. When we asked others later in the trip, it seemed that it was not such a big problem and that everyone had just kept on walking.
Alpe Adria Trail in a nutshell – hiking in the Austrian Alps
Are you that hiker that would go for this too?
It was a long but very beautiful day. We had beautiful paths along the mountain and through the forest. We even ended up on a path with a super view back into the valley where we did a nice yoga pose! After a long day we arrived at an old inn next to a beautiful church. The book described it as the oldest pilgrim church on the route. We only arrived around 5 o’clock in the afternoon but what a nice place to spend the night!
Stage 4 Alpe Adria Trail
Materle to Stall
This stage is 11.1 km and it takes you 4.30 uur.
Climbing: 119 metres and descending 1.101 metres
Level of Difficulty of this stage is easy Overnight stay at Kräuterpension Rosenkranz – Rangersdorf
After a delicious breakfast, we left this over 100 year old inn behind us. In the breakfast room, there were lots of old photos and information about how Materle came to be, which family lived here and who built the church. We only had a short day ahead of us. We walked slowly downhill and passed many meadows and walked on very nice paths in those meadows. It was a bit shocking to see a cow with a dead calf next to it. It stayed in our minds for a long time. The mother cow looked at us with such a sad and questioning expression…
Yesterday we had already found a dead snake and before that also a dead hazel worm. So the wildlife we spotted after the first day was not very lively!
Hiking in the Austrian Alps
In Stall, a taxi took us to the village further along, where we had arranged to spend the night. There we got a lovely room on the other side of the road with a nice balcony again. The room was really big with a kitchen and sitting area. The man of the guesthouse was very special, we had a lot of fun with him. We were hungry and wanted something to eat at the end of the afternoon.
He really did not understand that and his facial expressions were worth their weight in gold, haha!
Stall to Innerfragant
This stage is 17.7 km and will take you about 7.30 hours.
Climbing: 1.185 metres and descending 957 metres
Level of Difficulty of this stage is difficult Overnight stay at Alpenhotel Badmeister
From our hotel, after breakfast, we were taken back to Stall and there we walked out of the village into the beautiful vast landscape again. The weather was great again and everything was going super! We had been walking for 5 days now and everything was fine, like the feet/blisters 🙂
Beautiful view when hiking in the Austrian Alps
After a while, as we walked on, we came into a forest and went uphill nicely. The path was partly blocked by trees, but we were able to pass well, and we did not allow ourselves to be diverted again. Again, there was a man who signalled that the path was blocked…
And then we met our fellow pilgrim Leona again on that path. Together we walked on and after a while we came out of the forest and along a road with beautiful views we arrived at a mountain hut where we could have our lunch. We took a delicious salty soup with kaspressknödel in it. This was the first time I ate it and I loved it! It was warm, we could use the salt and I was really hungry.
After a long climb, food is sooo delicious!
The rest of the day, the hike was also really great. We ended up walking along the Rollbahnweg. A very interesting part with a lot of history and great views. In the past, raw materials were extracted from the ground and sometimes brought down in an almost inhuman way. There was also a beautiful tunnel where a railway used to run, we walked through it. Really a beautiful part of the day.
A section of the old tunnel through which the Alpe Adria Trail runs – how nice!
Then, more than an hour before we were due, we really went wrong again, because we said goodbye to Leona. She was in a different hotel than we were and we didn’t pay attention to the signs and followed a different red and white marker. We made a huge climb because of that mistake…it gave us a great view but …. we could go all the way down again.
We would also pass Leona’s hotel again. She could hear us coming from afar because our laughter was carrying far. For a moment she thought she still had it in her ear from this day of walking together and so she didn’t understand what was happening when we just walked past again *shame
Hiking in the Austrian Alps
The path took us down a nice slope, but since you are already finished and want to be in the hotel, you don’t pay attention anymore and you have no horizon. The path here was difficult to follow. The last part, actually away from the route because it was the first time we were further from the route, was really hard.
We walked the last part on the paved road, cars were passing fast and when we finally reached Alpenhotel Badmeister, we were really done 🙂
I was so happy with the sauna they had!
After a nice dinner, I enjoyed the hot sauna.
We also realised that evening that we were already over half way through this amazing Alpe Adria Trail in a nutshell. How fast it went! How cool it was and how well our bodies performed!
Stage 6 Alpe Adria Trail
Innerfragant to Mallnitz
This stage is 22.4 km and will take you around 8.00 hours.
Climbing: 1.168 metres and descending 1.081 metres
Level of difficulty of this stage is difficult
Overnight stay at Pension Thalerhof
Because we had experienced stage 5 as very long, we had asked for a ride from hotel to starting route. The woman thought it was nonsense the day before…but when we left she offered us a lift. Actually, we were already well recharged and had planned to go hiking but of course we didn’t turn that down. The first few km’s were otherwise asphalt and now she brought us a few km’s on the road and we could walk right back into the beautiful landscape.
Via a small village, we came to walk past a meadow where, after a piece of woodland, we should have crossed the road diagonally. If you don’t look closely, you can see the sign from the side and think you have to go left… After going uphill for a while, we started to find it strange. When I suddenly came across something I had seen before, it turned out we were really taking the route back! Quickly back down and then we did see the sign, it was also on the road diagonally and pointed us down. Don’t think about it too long and walk on, then it will bother you the least is always my motto 🙂
Tip of the week: When you are hiking in the Austrian Alps read the signs carefully! When in doubt, look at them from both directions. Then you can quickly see how they are intended. That is the advantage of hiking paths that are signposted in both directions.
After a few small villages, we arrived in Flattach and there we enjoyed an Apfelstrudl with whipped cream and ice cream and, of course, a nice cappuccino. The hotel didn’t really have anything on the menu, but if you give them a sweet look and ask the right person again, they came and got it for us on a tray. How delicious it was! Came with a hefty price but we enjoyed it to the full!
After this we started a steep climb up. Partly over a paved road and partly over a nice path to finally arrive at Almgasthof Himmelbauer. A perfect place for a break.
Hiking in the Austrian Alps – Alpe Adria Trail
It was hot this day and after the climb we had, Nicole was not feeling well. How nice is it then, to listen to your body and just have a litre of cola and be over it again? Nicole started eating my light lunch and then we both had a nice dessert.
After this, we continued along a beautiful forest path on the slope of the mountain, which meant that we were mostly in the shade. When we almost reached the other side, we took a wrong turn…and there was a reason for that, as we saw a chicken eating a slow worm. How do you come up with that? The chicken let the hazelworm, which was at least 25 centimetres long, fall down its throat. I had never seen it before.
After another little climb, we came to walk along a valley and we arrived at Pension Thalerhof. A nice farm with fine rooms where we have spent a wonderful night. The next morning we heard there had been a party in Mallnitz… We later saw a clip on Instagram of men with a platform between them who then threw a man high into the air. Unfortunately I can’t find the video again but if we had known that we might have gone out that night with the taxi.
Alpe Adria Trail in a Nutshell
We were far from finished after stage 6, as we continued our journey to Seeboden, where I made my first Austrian hiking trip last year. This blog would be too long if I shared all 11 in one post, so you’ll have to wait and see. For now I would like to give you some tips if you also want to hike the Alpe Adria Trail.
Tips for hiking in the Austrian Alps – Alpe Adria Trail
It is very handy to have the Alpe Adria Trail app on your phone. When you are on the trail, you can load the route and see on the map whether you are still on the trail. It also provides all sorts of other information. And I must say that I never really looked at the app that closely, because on the last day we found out that you can even use your camera in the app and see the surroundings.
It will then show you what mountain peaks you can see, for example. How cool?
It also has a compass and if you get to know the app well, all kinds of gadgets. I’m not very familiar with it and I didn’t delve into it, but it turned out to be more extensive than I thought at first.
What I used a lot, especially on the first trip (stages 12 to 20), is the booklet. You can order it on the site in English and German but also in the area you can get it at several tourist information shops. There is some background information and local information. For example, for each day there was also a culinary tip.
Alpe Adria Trail in a nutshell – Hiking in the Austrian Alps
Food & Drinks?
You can have lunch on almost every stage but you can’t rely on it completely. It didn’t happen to us very often but it did happen that it was so early that it was actually coffee in the morning or a late afternoon lunch. So it is important that you always have something to eat in your backpack. A couple of muesli bars, some nuts or something is not a bad idea.
You can also refill your water bottle in many places. But in many villages you will not find a tap where you can fill up your bottle. So I can advise you to carry 1.5 to 2 litres of water. Especially on hot days you don’t want to skip drinking water along the way. You will take your own bottle with you during your Alpe Adria Trail, right? Don’t buy disposable water bottles.
Cash during the Alpe Adria Trail is a MUST
If you are going to eat or drink on the road, keep in mind that in many places you have to pay with cash money. It was very disappointing how often you could pay with pin. This was the biggest surprise on day 1…but also the warm welcome in Austria because someone else just paid our bill for us! Bergfreunde he said 🙂
Alpe Adria Trail – Hiking in the Austrian Alps…but we weren’t finished yet. Keep an eye on this website if you want to read the remaining stages. What I do have online are the stages 12 to 20 from Seeboden to Ossiach.