The idea of a hiking holiday has always intrigued us. We absolutely adore small towns, so the premise of hiking from one small town to the next seemed like just the kind of adventure we’d enjoy! Having visited Austria just last summer and instantly falling in love with its beauty, we couldn’t wait to get back and explore further! So, this summer we partnered with the Salzkammergut Tourism Board for a 3-day hiking holiday through one of Austria’s most beautiful regions!
Preparing for our Hiking Holiday
Like taking a cruise, most of the itinerary details are already planned out. Depending on your budget, availability, and personal stamina, you can choose from a variety of options in duration and level of difficulty. Given that we’ve only done a moderate amount of hiking over the past few years, a 3-day hike seemed perfect for us. (In reality, you’re only hiking 2 of the 3 days, because you have to factor in transportation to and from your starting and ending points.)
As mentioned, the details are already figured out for you. Simply arrive at the first pre-arranged hotel where you will be greeted with wonderful Austrian hospitality and a packet containing trail details and a trusty map. Our adventure began in the sleepy town of Bad Goisern where we stayed at Hotel Goisererhof the night before we started our epic journey.
Dinner upon arrival at Hotel Goisererhof was a nice welcome! Both breakfast and dinner were included in our package, so each day started with a nutritious meal to give us the energy we needed for the trail. We were then rewarded with a scrumptious hot meal once we reached our final destination.
Following a good night’s sleep and a delicious breakfast, we were ready to embark on our hiking adventure! The great thing about a hiking holiday is that they transfer your luggage to your next destination, so all you have to do is prepare a simple day pack with essentials.
It was overcast with a light drizzle when we set out, but the rain quickly dissipated. We had a little bit of a hard time finding the start of the trail, seeing as the sign we needed was a little obstructed!
The first day on the trail took us from Bad Goisern to Hallstatt for what was advertised as a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) hike, though my pedometer read closer to ~13 km (~8 miles) when we arrive to our final destination. This probably had to do with the fact that we had to take a slight detour along the way and our hotel in Hallstatt was located a little outside of the city centre.
You can read further details about our experience hiking from Bad Goisern to Hallstatt in a separate write-up. Overall, we found it to be an easy to moderate hike with well maintained and labeled trails through some of Austria’s most luscious forests.
The quaint lakeside village of Hallstatt was a very rewarding finish to a fun, yet tiring day of hiking!
It was a little overcast when we arrived with the threat of heavy rain nipping at our heels, so we hurried to our lodgings for the night. Thankfully we had visited Hallstatt last summer and didn’t need much time to explore the town.
Gasthof Hirlatz was a little farther outside of the town centre than we were expecting, so it was indeed a welcomed sight when we finally saw it through the light drizzle.
The young woman at the front desk was friendly and helpful. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable and there’s not really much else you need after a long day of hiking! Ah yes, except for food.
Our meals were warm and delicious, served quickly in the hotel’s restaurant. It was a wonderful end to a fun first day!
After a proper night’s rest and another delicious breakfast, we stuffed our day-packs and filled our water bottles, happy once again that our larger luggage would be transferred to the next hotel while we enjoyed another day of hiking. However, the second day didn’t turn out quite as well as the first!
Knowing that the second day’s path would be longer and slightly more strenuous, we started out with a shortcut- a ride up the funicular to the salt mines in Hallstatt.
While we thought we were sneakily bypassing a steep uphill grade, we only bypassed part of it, as the trail continued to climb up and practically over a mountain!
The description of the trail indicated that we’d be going through a swamp area, but we didn’t think we’d actually be walking IN the swamp with only a few spots of wooden planks or tree stumps to keep us from sinking in mud.
Overall, the terrain was tougher and more treacherous than we were anticipating and sadly we became very quickly frustrated with the condition of the trail. The signs and map were much more difficult to follow than the previous day and what was supposed to be a 5-6 hour hike turned into close to 12 hours for us, practically rushing at the end to beat the setting sun.
Granted, and admittedly, we did not have proper water-proof hiking boots with us. But even if we did, the condition of the trails was a little too messy for our liking. You can read a detailed account of our harrowing hike HERE. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to reach Gosau, our final destination for the day. Gasthof Kirchenwirt, along with a beautiful sunset, greeted us as we finally emerged from the daunting forest.
Even though we had missed the regularly scheduled dinnertime due to our late arrival, the hotel was still able to whip up a wonderfully warm meal, which was more than appreciated!
I don’t think we’ve ever slept harder in our lives… we were wiped out! We were beyond grateful that we had only booked a 3-day holiday, because neither one of us would’ve been able to do another day. As part of our package, we were provided transportation back to our destination of origin the following morning.
We found that there were many pros and cons of this particular hiking holiday.
Let’s start with the positives!
1) Austria is a stunning country, no doubt about it. So taking a stroll through one of its most beautiful regions, is a no-brainer. Though the trails were tough at times, and occasionally unbearable, the views were outstanding!
2) We didn’t have to haul our luggage from town to town. We just had to make sure our luggage was in the hotel’s lobby before 8:30 am and it would be transported to our next destination.
3) All of the details are covered! Accommodations and meals, and a map highlighting route details come standard. All you have to do is show up with a sense of adventure!
Now, let’s talk about what wasn’t so great about this particular hike.
1) Particularly on day 2 of the hike, we were not prepared for the level of difficulty and poor (muddy) conditions of the trail. The level of difficulty could be on par for more avid hikers, but I wouldn’t go so far to say that this was a ‘family friendly’ hike.
2) Lack of facilities. Obviously we’re hiking between villages with very little in between. Yes, I get that it’s nature, but not knowing the area or the routes, I wasn’t aware that there would be absolutely no restroom facilities until the halfway point on either day.
3) Some of the trail markers were slightly hidden or hard to decipher. Occasionally, it was difficult to determine exactly which path we were supposed to take (again, particularly on day 2).
We wouldn’t completely rule out of the idea of another hiking holiday in the future. This was a good first experience! We now know what to expect, how to prepare, and what to look out for when planning such an adventure. Due to the nature of this type of holiday, we would recommend scheduling in extra days to rest in between hiking days and to allow time for exploring the towns you are walking between. We had plenty of time the first day to explore Bad Goisern, fortunately we had been to Hallstatt before, but man, did we want more time to walk around Gosau! This only means one thing… we must go back to the Salzkammergut region yet again!
And we’ll end with this… even if you choose not to do a hiking holiday, we definitely recommend that you make a visit to the Salzkammergut region of Austria. Here you will find some of the most stunning scenery on the planet!
Curious to see a video about our Austrian hiking holiday? Check out the video below!
We’d like to thank the Salzkammergut Tourism Board for sponsoring our adventurous 3-day Hiking Holiday.