If you can’t find an adventure in Austria, you’re probably not all that adventurous. With a dizzying set of thrilling options that show off the majestic mountains, rivers, lakes, and more, Austria is one of the go-to spots in Europe for anyone who wants to mix impressive scenery with an elevated adrenaline level. It also contains a whole spectrum of opportunities beyond Vienna, the usual starting point for many travelers who target Austria. If you’re a thrillseeker, you might not want to go to Austria without considering these options.
A toboggan run through the Alps.
A quintessential and timeless alpine experience, a toboggan run in the mountains is an easy way to cut right to the chase when it comes to what Austria has to offer. Although there are quite a few terrific toboggan runs throughout the country, one of the classics happens to be in Biberwier, a gorgeous little mountain town in Western Austria. The Biberwier run is the longest in the state of Tyrol, letting adventurers wind through 1,300 meters of track that snakes through the snow-capped mountains and green countryside.
Although the area also has excellent winter options as well, the summer toboggan run is a fantastic option from the spring all the way through the early part of the fall. The run is also perfectly tailored for a wide range of different adventure-based appetites, as the toboggan (sled) can whip down the mountain at a breakneck speed, or slow down for a nice leisurely slide through the countryside. That’s why Biberwier happens to be perfect for both thrillseekers and families, and everyone in between.
Like many areas in Austria that have toboggan runs, the hiking surrounding Biberwier is also outstanding, and it’s a great little place to experience a bit of authentic, small-town Austria when you’re not cruising downhill on a sled. And for winter travelers, the brilliant, snow-coated countryside makes winter tobogganing a great way to see the alps and let your lungs mingle with air that is about as crisp and clean as it comes.
Austrian biking—possibilities for everyone.
From the novice to the pro, Austria caters to many adventure levels when it comes to biking, one of the very best ways to see Austria. For anyone hoping to work up a sweat but not get carried away biking up mountains, renting an e-bike (electric bike) can be the perfect companion that lets you focus mostly on the scenery. E-bikes are specially made to give you a little boost, but they still will require effort and are not to be confused with the motorized bikes that take all the fun out of it.
One possible way to have a great e-biking—or just mountain-biking—experience is to hop on the trail surrounding Lake Piburg, a lake so clear that it’s known as the “mirror of Tyrol.” The trail shows off stunning views from high above the lake before descending to the shore, where it’s easy to launch boating, swimming, or fishing excursions. Located in the stunning Otztal Valley, Piburg is also known for being on the warm side for an alpine lake, making it ideal for taking a memorable swim at the base of the alps.
While trails like Lake Piburg offer a more tranquil experience, it’s also very easy to ratchet it up a notch by doing a downhill-biking adventure in different locations throughout the Otztal Valley. At Bike Republic Solden, there are more than 20 different trails that cater to various skill levels, but all require a stomach for at least a few thrills. For the very adventurous (or the casually insane), some of the top trails are internationally known among biking enthusiasts, which is why you need to make sure you’re up for the challenge and understand the skill-level required before choosing the right trail.
Don’t overthink it: hiking is unreal in Austria.
Not everyone is up for the more niche adventures that you’re able to experience in Austria, which is why you can’t go wrong with simply dusting off your best hiking shoes/boots and getting ready for some alpine eye candy. The country is littered with outstanding hikes that showcase the natural Austrian beauty. On the trail above Zell am See-Kaprun (known as Pinzgauer Spaziergang), you’ll spend up to six hours picking your way along a mountain plateau so spectacular you’ll think the scenery below you is airbrushed. If you’re ready for a day strolling through pristine Austrian wilderness, it’s hard to top a trail that lets you keep an eye on the snow-dusted Kitzbühel Alps, a tremendous glacier (Kitzsteinhorn), and the sunshine glimmering off the enormous Lake Zell, where picturesque villages huddle around the deep blue water.
You can also go well-beyond an afternoon hike. For those with serious stamina and hiking ambition, the 280km Eagle Walk has 24 stages between St. Johann and St. Anton am Arlberg and will challenge even the most seasoned hikers. It also has scenery every bit as sensational as you might expect. For everyone else, there are plenty of low to midgrade hikes as well, including family-friendly options like the Wildpark Aurach just outside Kitzbühel. More than 1,000 meters above sea-level, the Wildpark Aurach not only has the visual element but allows guests to see a spectacular array of different animals in their natural environment, from yaks and lynxes to ibexes and wild boar.
While many of the best trails are in central or Western Austria, those who are only making it to Vienna on their travels also have some great hiking possibilities as well. The areas around Vienna have plenty of different trails, and many of the best run right alongside the world-famous Danube River, like the majestic Hermannskogel trail.
Canyoning and rafting.
It’s also extremely easy to fold hiking into other activities in Austria, particularly for those who enjoy some of the other athletic possibilities awaiting in the mountains. Less than an hour’s drive from Innsbruck, the Lake Achensee region is renowned for being the perfect getaway for thrillseekers thanks to the lovely spread of options at any point of the year. While the skiing there is breathtaking in the winter, it’s also a summer haven complete with river rafting, tubing, canyoning, and much more.
The rafting and tubing experiences can be fantastic, although scaling down scenic gorges (canyoning) is the type of activity that is great for adventurers ready to push themselves just a little bit. Once you have on your wetsuit, a helmet and a harness, local tour guides will help teach newcomers the art of rappelling down a rocky gorge, often right alongside gushing waterfalls. For the more advanced, most local tour companies offer more difficult canyoning experiences that are intense enough to satisfy the veteran adventure-traveler.
Great rafting options are also prevalent throughout the rest of the country as well, particularly near Zell am See-Kaprun and Salzburg. With Austria offering rafting for Class II beginners all the way to the experts who take on Class V courses, the rafting experiences available in Austria compare favorably to any other country in Europe.
More than just Vienna.
Given the apparent charm of Vienna and host of things to do there, it can be easy for many travelers to target the Austrian capital and overlook the other treasures awaiting elsewhere. While you can still absolutely find plenty of adventurous activities both inside and outside the city limits of Vienna, thrillseekers looking to capitalize on Austria’s offerings are only a train ride away from a host of once-in-a-lifetime adventures. With options for everyone and countless chances to mingle with stunning landscapes along the way, it’s not hard to figure out why Austria remains a world-class travel destination for those seeking a wide variety of different experiences.