Formarinsee vor der Roten Wand

Summer vacation away from the crowds: 8 wonderful and quiet alpine valleys in Austria


Finally Tyrolean Gröstl, Kaiserschmarrn and Alpenglow: If Austria opens its borders, German holidaymakers are likely to travel in droves to the Alpine Republic. In some valleys between Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Lower Austria it is particularly slow – a selection:


The Defereggental is an emphatically original spot in Austria. “The hustle and bustle and the big party live elsewhere” – that is how the valley describes itself meaningfully. The East Tyrolean high valley is protected in the Hohe Tauern National Park, between Virgental and Pustertal.

The Rieserferner group has ambitious summit tours ready, for example on the 3236-meter-high Großer Lenkstein. The ascent to the Barmer hut on the mighty Hochgall is idyllic – the sound of a torrent accompanies hikers. Wildflowers line the path. They are also worth seeing Hunting lodge pastures, one of the oldest alpine pastures in Austria. The hike to the stone houses is also feasible for less trained people.

Clear water in the Obersee in DefereggentalPhoto: Getty Images

Alpbach Valley

The Zillertal with its winter sports hotspot Mayrhofen is one of the most famous alpine valleys in Tyrol. If you like it smaller, go to the neighboring valley Alpbach Valley – Because of its traditional architectural style, Alpbach was chosen as one of the most beautiful villages in Austria.

The Alpbach Valley belongs to the Kitzbüheler Alpen and can be reached quickly via the Kufstein motorway. The highest peak is the Große Galtenberg with 2424 meters.

There is a lot of old handicraft in the region: quill stickers decorate traditional costumes, cobblers make dogglings, typical Tyrolean slippers, bakers create beating cakes – a specialty from nearby Brandenberg.

Alpbachtal Seenland

Things are a bit quieter here: Alpbachtal Seenland holiday regionPhoto: Photo: Berger Bernhard / Alpbachtal Tourismus / dpa-tmn

Great Walser Valley Biosphere Park

In this mountain valley in Vorarlberg, guests definitely have their peace: around 3400 people live in the six communities of the sparsely populated valley, on average only 18 people per square kilometer. At the same time there are 230 kilometers of marked hiking trails and 40 peaks. The highest elevation at 2704 meters is the Rote Wand, a demanding mountain tour. The motto of Biosphere parks: “To use nature without harming it.”

Great Walser Valley Biosphere Park

Formarinsee in front of the Rote Wand – the mountain is the highest elevation around the Großes Walsertal biosphere park.Photo: Photo: Alex Kaiser / Alpenregion Bludenz Tourismus GmbH / dpa-tmn

National Park Kalkalpen: Ennstal and Steyrtal

The Enns Valley and the Steyr Valley in Upper Austria are part of the Holiday region of the Kalkalpen National Park. The Enns valley extends between the city of Steyr and the municipality of Weyer. The Steyrtal follows the Steyr through the rugged mountain region.

The Kalkalpen National Park offers hiking opportunities for all fitness levels. The highest point is the Hohe Nock at 1963 meters. The Kalkalpenweg is suitable for a multi-day hut tour. Mountain bikers can also explore the gorges and valleys of the park on more than 800 kilometers of marked cycling and MTB trails.

Limestone Alps National Park

On the way in the Kalkalpen National Park: hikers in the Enns ValleyPhoto: Robert Schlesinger / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa-tmn

Sölktäler Nature Park

The motto of the holiday region in Styria: “Finally rest!” Archduke Johann of Austria (1782-1859) already knew the remoteness of the Sölktäler the tourism agency explains.

“Sölk” means something like “running water”, there are torrents and waterfalls. Easy to demanding hiking tours are available around the Großer Knallstein, which measures 2,599 meters – one of the highest mountains in the Lower Tauern.

There are picturesque villages, gentle alpine pastures and the view of magnificent mountain peaks. In addition, many medicinal herbs grow in the Sölktal. In the Jesuit garden of Großsölk Castle more than 200 partly rare plant species are cultivated.

Suspension bridge over the Riesachfall in the Sölktäler Nature Park

Suspension bridge over the Riesachfall in the Sölktäler Nature ParkPhoto: dpa picture alliance


The Lesachtal in the south of Carinthia is a particularly natural valley near the border with Italy. Nice for hiking, climbing, mountain biking. The valley is also a “Slow Food Travel Region” dedicated to enjoyment. The Lesachtal bread is a unique culinary feature – its production in our own ovens is part of the Intangible World Heritage of Unesco. The tradition in the “Valley of 100 mills” is centuries old.


Mountain idyll in Lesachtal: The region attracts hikers and other active holidaymakersPhoto: Photo: Wolfgang Hummer / dpa-tmn

National Park Thayatal

Keep the influence of humans as low as possible so that nature can develop: that is the motto in National Park Thayatal in Lower Austria right on the border with the Czech Republic. In the neighboring country there is a sister national park.

Vacationers can still experience real wilderness in the Thayatal. The flora is particularly rich in species. The park is home to animals such as wild cats, emerald lizards and black storks. The river Thaya flows wildly romantic past rock walls and forests.

The starting point for exploring the national park is the small town Hardeggtowering over an imposing hilltop castle with four towers. In nearby Merkersdorf, the Kaja castle ruins are another example of the Middle Ages. And in Riegersburg you can do that Baroque castle Ruegers visit.

In the village of Felling, a family business in Austria’s last mother-of-pearl turnery produces fine buttons and jewelry. Like many craft businesses in the Waldviertel region, the company can look back on a long, traditional history.

National Park Thayatal

Picturesque location: Hardegg is a starting point for the Thayatal National ParkPhoto: Photo: Claudia Ebner / Nationalpark Thayatal / dpa-tmn

What applies to vacation in Austria?

German vacationers should be able to travel to Austria again from June 15th. Then the border will probably open. The controls will be gradually reduced beforehand. Hotels and restaurants have reopened in the Alpine region. Travelers should have a valid identity card with them. Provide information Travel and safety information of the Federal Foreign Office.