Insider's guide: 9 exceptional Alpine walks

Hiking
 

Visit small towns and rural villages, trek past glacier blue lakes, stop to admire breath taking views and pause for a little lunch in a mountain top hut… Nothing beats exploring the mountains on foot.

Whether you’re an amateur rambler or a seasoned hiker, there are trails criss-crossing the mountain to suit everyone. We’ve selected just a few of the most awe-inspiring trails in the Alps which you simply must follow at least once.

1. Seefeld, Austria
2. Mayrhofen, Austria
3. Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
4. Merano, Italy
5. Champoluc, Italy
6. Chamonix , France
7. Zermatt, Switzerland
8. Grindelwald, Switzerland
9. Lech, Austria

 

1. The Three Lakes walk in Seefeld, Austria

three lakes walk

Seefeld, just 20km west of Innsbruck is one of the most popular tourist centres in the Austrian Tyrol and boasts over 650km of walking trails. The most scenic of these is the ‘Three Lakes Walk’ which takes you past majestic views of the lakes: Wildmoossee, Lottensee and Moserersee.

Along the route you’ll trek through quiet woodlands, across peaks and along valley paths. After all that fresh mountain air we recommend stopping at the popular Wildmoosalm for a freshly baked strudel - washed down with a glass of schnapps, of course!

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Medium.

- Allow 4 hours to complete this walk.

Getting there

- By foot: Walk from your hotel in Seefeld to the church of St. Peter on the North-Western side of the town.

- By car: There are many car parks around Seefeld which are a short walking distance from the beginning of the trail.

Route

From the starting point at the church of St. Peter, take the no.2 path up to the Wildmoosalm.

This mountain restaurant is by the first of the three lakes, Wildmoossee, and is famous for its schnapps fountain and ‘strudel siren’ (not to be missed)!

Continue along path no.3 and you will reach the second lake of this walk, Lottenssee. This is a fantastic spot for a picnic lunch before continuing on to the third lake, Möserersee.

If you fancy it, pack your trunks for your hike. Möserersee is a warm water lake and free to swim in.

From here, begin your descent into Mösern where there are regular buses running back to Seefeld.

Inghams recommends

The Hotel Karwendelhof is one of the most stylish hotels in resort. The central location makes it the perfect place from which to explore the town and the wider region. And the extensive activity programme means that you will never be bored.

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2. The Zillertal Nature Trail in Mayrhofen, Austria

the alhorn

Surrounded by four valleys and boasting an incredible 1,700km of walking trails, the Zillertal Nature Park is a real walk on the wild side! There are a variety of trails and routes with the toughest hikes going up the Ahornspitze.

The park is great for lovers of bird watching. There are wonderful opportunities to spot wild birds of prey in the Eagles Valley or you can visit the stunning Birds of Prey Show at the Ahorn Eagles Stage.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Medium.

- Allow a couple of hours to complete this walk.

Getting there

- By bus: Buses run regularly to Mayrhofen, once in the town, follow directions to the Ahornbahn.

- By foot: The Ahornbahn is a ten-minute walk from the centre of Mayrhofen.

- By car: There is free car parking at the bottom of the Ahornbahn gondola in Mayrhofen. For access to the Stillup Valley basin, follow the Stillupbach which begins just behind the Ahornstrabe.

Route

For a pleasant walk up and around the Ahorn towards the Ahornspitz summit, take the Ahornbahn gondola from the centre of Mayrhofen.

Follow the wide and neatly maintained tracks to the Edelhutte focus point. From there you can ascend the summit of the Ahornspitz where you will be rewarded with amazing views.

From the top you can retrace your steps all the way back to the Ahornbahn lift.

Inghams recommends

The Chalet St. Lukas is ideally located for hiking around Mayrhofen with the nearest trails starting just 500m away. Inghams guests can participate in an excursion up the Stillup valley. From here you’ll be treated to a stunning walk along turquoise blue rivers and past glistening waterfalls.

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3. The Soča River trail in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

soca river trail
© 2015 Slovenian Tourist Board

Another walk for those who love nature, this trail will take you through the unspoilt Triglav National Park. Closely following each meandering curve of the Soča River, otherwise know as the Emerald River for its shockingly beautiful shade of turquoise, this walk will lead you deep into the beautiful Julian Alps.

This is a relatively easy, pleasant downhill walk that covers 8km. Dotted with waterfalls and tracks that take you to remote villages and farm houses, it’s a shame that Slovenia is so often overlooked by keen walkers, but this is one trail not to miss.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Easy.

- Allow 5 hours to complete this walk.

Getting there

- By bus: Public transport only runs at peak times of the year (twice a day during July and August).

- By car: Car parking is available at Trenta, in the heart of the National Park. However, this trail doesn’t loop and you will need to retrace your steps to return to the starting point.

Route

The Soča River trail runs from the source of the Soča River in Triglav National Park towards the town of Bovec. Along the way you will pass several deep gorges and experience Triglav National Park in all its majesty.

Inghams recommends

Stay at the Hotel Lek in Kranjska Gora, an attractive chalet style hotel close to the resort centre.

While in Kranjska Gora you should also take the time to follow the path of the Pisnica River which takes you all the way to the stunning Jasna Lake.

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4. The Cinema walk in Merano, Italy

Cinema

In the delightfully rural, Italian region of Süd Tyrol, Merano offers walks for all abilities from leisurely stroll to advanced trekking in the high Alps. The ‘Cinema Walk’ is an intermediate level walk with spectacular views throughout.

Not to be confused with Hollywood, this ‘cinema’ walk offers you an opportunity to sit and watch nature’s very own silver screen. A purpose built amphitheatre perches, high on a cliff edge. The seating has incredible views across the Alto Aldidge valley.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Medium

- Allow 3 hours for this walk.

Getting there

- By bus: You will need to take the bus from Merano to Verano. From here you can take the Merano2000 gondola to reach the start point for this walk

- By car: Car parking is available at the base of the Merano2000 gondola which takes you to the start of this walk.

Route

The highlight of the walk is the stunning, panoramic view from the amphitheatre at the top of the range. The amphitheatre offers breath taking views across the Alto Adige valley to the Ortler, Texel and high Dolomite mountain ranges.

The route takes you through alpine pastures and open forests. We recommend lunch in one of the attractive, rustic farmhouses along the route.

The walk ends in the village of Halfling where you can take the bus back down to Merano.

Inghams recommends

The Meranerhof Hotel has been run by the Eisenkeil family since 1966 so you’re guaranteed a truly traditional Italian experience.

Another trail that is worth following is the ‘Sissy’s Way’ walk which treads the historic path to Trauttmansdorff Castle and Gardens.

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5. The Lago Blu trail in Champoluc, Italy

lago blue trail

In the shadow of the Monte Rosa lies the peaceful town of Champoluc, a haven for hikers in the summer. Here you’ll be deeply submerged in the rural farm life that sprawls across the Monte Rosa valleys.

The ‘Lago Blu’ trail is a beautiful and relatively moderate trek up the Ayas Valley, away from the village of Champoluc. Mining in this region has turned the lake a shocking shade of blue (hence the name) thanks to the copper mineral deposits which seeped into the water.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Medium.

- Allow 3 hours for this walk.

Getting there

- By foot: From the centre of Champoluc, walk to the church of St. Jacques.

- By car: There is a car park in the village of Champoluc, a short distance away from the start of this walk.

Route

All trails and routes around the Monte Rosa Mountains and around Champoluc are well marked.

This trek is mostly uphill. Start your climb to the lake around the back of the church of St. Jacques. Follow route no.7, route no.8 crosses this path several times, try to keep straight!

Pass through the small mountain village of Fiery, an ideal location to stop for lunch.

The path goes straight to the beautiful blue lake. Once you get there you have the choice to either return to Champoluc or continue exploring the mountain.

Inghams recommends

The Chalet Hotel Breithorn is an ideal base for a walking holiday. Only 5 minutes from the main gondola you’ll find endless opportunities to walk throughout the Monte Rosa area.

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6. La Jonction, Chamonix, France

Walkers In Chamonix

This wouldn’t be a complete list of the best alpine walks without a mention of the home of Alpine tourism, Chamonix!

With the magnificent backdrop of Western Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, the town of Chamonix has an extensive programme of mountain activities and is a haven for walkers of all abilities! All trails are well marked and vary in duration and difficulty. Chamonix offers walkers an endless choice.

La Jonction trail takes you between the glaciers of Bosson and Taconnaz, affording spectacular views of the surrounding valley. This part of the mountain was where Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard made the first successful ascent of Mont Blanc – all the way back in 1786.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Hard

Getting there

- By bus: An extensive bus service runs throughout Chamonix. You can take the bus the Glacier des Bossons, about 71m from where you can join the walk.

Route

Take the chairlift from Bossons village to 1,425m where you can join the La Jonction trail.

The Chalet du Glacier is only 5-minutes along from the chairlift starting point, sadly too early to stop for lunch. But it would be a shame to skip this charming little restaurant so consider stopping for coffee.

The hike requires excellent fitness as you cover rocky terrain and at high altitude, reaching heights of 2,589m.

The Chalet des Pyramides, where the hike ends, hangs precipitously over the valley and offers spectacular views over Chamonix from its terrace restaurant – well worth a pit stop.

Inghams recommends

The Chalet Hotel Sapiniere provides free packed lunches - perfect for a day spent hiking. Its terrace is an ideal spot to relax and take in the stunning views of Mont Blanc views.

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7. The Matterhorn trail in Zermatt, Switzerland

matterhorn trail

Zermatt is a prime location for walking, hiking and year round snowshoeing! The most astounding mountains in the Alps are situated on Zermatt’s doorstep - the Matterhorn, the Dom and the Monte Rosa - offering hikers breath taking views around every corner.

The town of Zermatt is free from road traffic making it even more accessible for visitors who want to explore on foot. Gondolas and trains from the centre of Zermatt to the top of the Swiss Alps provides ready access to over 400km of paths and trails.

Zermatt is guaranteed to leave you breathless.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Medium

- Allow 3 hours 45-minutes for this walk.

Getting there

- By foot: The base of the Matterhorn Express/Zermatt Furi gondola is 15 minutes from the centre of Zermatt.

Route

The Matterhorn Trail starts at the top of the Matterhorn Express/Zermatt Furi gondola. The path takes you from the iconic peak of the Matterhorn, all the way back down to the centre of Zermatt.

Along the way you’ll discover the fantastic Schwarzsee, dramatically located little lake with stunning views of the rugged surroundings.

We recommend stopping for a gourmet bite to eat at Stafelalp, a modern yet charming mountain restaurant before heading back into Zermatt past the Zmutt dam.

Inghams recommends

The Hotel Alpenhof is directly opposite the Sunnegga lifts and only 2-minutes away from the railway making it perfect for exploring the mountains. Inghams guests can pre-book their Zermatt ‘Peak Pass’ for unlimited use of the local lifts – ideal for walkers.

Advanced walkers might also want to try the Gorner Gorge walk. Climbing and descending wooden steps and walking along narrow wooden walkways this 21-minute guided trail twists and turns through the gorge. Not for the faint hearted!

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8. The Eiger trail in Grindelwald, Switzerland

eiger trail

The Jungfrau region was an inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle Earth and strolling through the picturesque landscapes of rushing waterfalls, fascinating rock formations and deep, woody forests it’s not hard to see why!

The Eiger mountain (which literally translates as Ogre mountain) is part of a trio of famous mountains including the Monch and the Jungfrau (the Monk and the Maiden) which dominate this resort.

The Eiger trail traverses the near vertical and infamous north face of the Eiger, and the mountain towers over passing walkers.

Grindelwald boasts a variety of walks which are suitable for all levels and abilities. Easier paths run through the alpine moorlands and those who fancy a challenge can visit the upper and lower glaciers. Most offer panoramic views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. Every stop for breath is a photo opportunity!

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Medium

- Allow 1 hour 50-minutes for this walk

Getting there

- By train: take the train from Grindelwald to Eigergletscher train station.

Route

The Eiger trail begins by Eigergletscher station and leads down to Alpiglen. The trail skims the bottom of the sheer side of the Eiger known as ‘The North Face’.

There are plenty of opportunities along the way to sit down for a picnic and refuel.

Inghams recommends

Enjoy a balcony room with a view of the Eiger at the Hotel Jungfrau Lodge in Grindelwald. This cosy hotel is only 5-minutes walk from the train station which will take you all the way up to the top of the mountain.

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9. The Green Ring in Lech, Austria

green ring

Here’s a little treat for the serious hikers out there. Truly immerse yourself in nature by indulging in this three-day hiking challenge between Lech and the tiny mountain hamlets of Zürs and Zug.

Known as ‘The Green Ring’, the walk is split into three stages. If you’re not able to complete the walk in three straight days, there are buses along the route to take you back to the starting point in Lech.

The different stages of the walk vary in difficulty, but due to the stop-and-relax nature of the trail, it needn’t be a constant march from location to location.

Terrain and accessibility

- Difficulty: Hard

Getting there

- By bus: There are plenty of hiking buses to take you to any stage of the walk. Hiking buses are free for Inghams guests.

- By car: There are lots of car parks within walk-able distance of the starting point.

Route

Day 1- Begin the walk by taking the Rufikopfbahn gondola up the mountain and then continue across the crests of the mountain towards Zürs. From here you can either take the hiking bus back to Lech, or find comfortable lodging.

Day 2- Wake up in Zürs and breathe in the mountain air before continuing your adventure towards Zug, passing the Zürser lake along your way. Again, you can take a hiker bus back to Lech from this point.

Day 3- possibly the most scenic part of the route. The final part of the journey takes you through valleys and past rivers as you continue your descent back towards Lech.

Inghams recommends

The Chalet Hotel Elisabeth in Lech enjoys a picturesque riverside setting and excellent facilities. It’s perfect after a day spent hiking.

Inghams guests also receive a free ‘Lech Summer Active’ pass which provides free access to chairlifts, gondolas, the hikers buses and free leisure centre access, amongst other offers.

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