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Austria off the beaten track: 14 hidden gems in Austria you didn’t know existed

Austria off the beaten track: 14 hidden gems in Austria you didn’t know existed

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Austria today is a small, landlocked country that’s only a fraction of what it once was but it’s still a country of great diversity. I can’t help but feel that Austria waltzes between the urban world and the great outdoors so effortlessly that the only thing separating the stunning architecture of Vienna is from the highest alpine summits is a 3-hour drive. Austria is, indeed, an all-year-round destination. However, most people that visit stick to the tourist trail: Vienna-Graz-Hallstatt-Salzburg-Tyrol-Innsbruck without even thinking of visiting the places I will write about today. After visiting these places, I’m sure you will share my opinion and that is these hidden gems in Austria are just as beautiful as the main tourist attractions.

1. Gross Walsertal

Gross Walsertal is one of the world’s 529 biosphere parks that exercise real sustainability. If you like getting lost in the forests, walking across heavenly meadows where quick mountain streams flow down the Alps, this park is definitely a must-visit. Trekking deep in these forests, you will discover the amazing flora of Austria, and some of the most beautiful mountain villages in the country shyly peeking from behind the trees?

2. Bregenzerwald

hidden gems in Austria

Located in western Austria, Bregenzerwald is one of the least visited regions in the country even by Austrians. The whole region has only 30,000 inhabitants and the same number of cows. There are 22 villages that make up the region but one of them made a particularly lasting impression on me. That village was Mellau.

Mellau

mellau hidden gems in austria

This small village changed its ownership back and forth between Bavaria and Austria, and even France after WWII. That’s why this small village looks like a mini-Europe. It’s really hard not to fall in love with the beautiful wooden structures and blooming flowers that snuggle underneath the windows of the charming village houses.

Liking this article? Check out my list of hidden gems in Germany.

Krumbach

krumbach

Krumbach is another amazing village in Bregenzerwald. This is one of the most sustainable and cosmopolitan villages in Europe, no matter how contradicting that might sound. Not only is Krumbach nestled between some scenic forests and serves as a great stop for exploring the great Bregenzerwald forests but the village is also constantly involved in projects that increase its sustainability and preserve the intact, fascinating, and diverse natural and cultural landscape.

Schoppernau

austria off the beaten path

On first sight, this small village of 1,000 residents looks pretty dull but it’s a great base for exploring the mountains and witness some of the most mesmerizing views in Austria. I was really surprised to see that such a small village has such amazing facilities for visitors, including hiking, mountain biking, and even skiing. It’s an even bigger surprise that Schoppernau is so unfrequented as it offers everything one can expect from the Austrian great outdoors.

3. Hohe Tauern National Park

Okay, this one is a kind of cheating since Hohe Tauren is the largest nature reserve in the Alps but it covers three Austrian provinces and is the ultimate off the beaten track place. The park has 266 mountains over 10,000 feet, 551 lakes, and more than 200 glaciers.

If you want to explore without a guided tour and discover the beauties of Hohe Tauren by yourself, one of the park rangers can help you discover places you would never find yourself and reveal the deepest secrets of the park.

If you decide to visit Hohe Tauren National Park, also check out the village of Krimml and the Krimml Waterfalls, the tallest falls in Central Europe.

Enjoying this article? Then you’ll also probably like my list of hidden gems in Italy.

4. Alpbach

alpbach austria

Remember those alpine villages hidden high in the mountains that we see in movies and read about in books. Alpbach is a perfect example of it. This small traditional alpine village is home to only 2,600 people and literally all of them leave in what appears to be identical, classic wooden Alpine homes with beautiful fresh flowers peeking from the balconies.

I guess this is where Alpbach got its name from. Translated to English, Alpbach means ‘a flowering village’. Alpbach was recently voted as one of the most picturesque villages in Europe and it’s safe to assume that the number of visitors will increase in the next few years.

5. St Wolfgang

hidden gems in Austria

Every country has that one hidden gem that’s located close to a tourist hub but isn’t visited by a lot of people. In Austria’s case, that would be located at the tip of Wolfgangsee Lake, 30 kilometers east of Salzburg, St. Wolfgangsee is one of the most charming market towns in Austria. The city is famous for the iconic views of the lake, gothic churches, musical comedy, and amazing spa centers.

6. Pertisau

hidden gems in Austria

Pertisau is another charming mountain village in the Eastern Alps. It’s one of the oldest, cross-border protected areas in Europe and is also the center for the Achensee shipping business. Most ships that distribute goods around the villages surrounding the Achensee lake start their journey at Pertisau. The town also has two winter ski areas, the Planberg Wiesenlifte, and the Karwendel Bergbahn.

7. Kaisertal: the valley without cars

hidden gems in Austria

Dotted within the remote Alpine inns, Kaisertal is one of Austria’s best-kept secrets. Kaisertal has only 39 permanent residents, so if you want to get away from everything, including people, this is the right place for you. Kaisertal was voted as the most beautiful place in Austria by Austrians in 2017 and even though it’s slowly gaining popularity among tourists, it’s still relatively unfrequented.

If you want to explore Austria off the beaten track, the best way to do this is by renting a car. If you want to do this, use this coupon to save 15% off on all car rentals in Austria.

8. The Green Ring Trail

hidden gems in Austria

Passing through Lech-Zurs am Arlberg this enchanting trail is known as the Green Ring because of its circular shape and the lush forests surrounding it. Along the way, you will encounter some of the best examples of the great Austrian wilderness, hidden castles, sculptures, and the mystical Sagenwald forest, known for the local folk tales about witches and wizards. For a complete medieval experience, don’t miss out on staying in one of the wooden bivouacs scattered across the trail.

9. Eisriesenwelt

Eisriesenwelt

Discovered around 150 years ago, Eisreisenwelt is the largest ice-cave system on our planet. Due to the unique conditions in the cave, the spring water freezes into fascinating ice sculptures and formations locally known as the Ice Giants. Words can do little justice to this natural phenomenon and the best way to experience it is by visiting it.

10. The Seegrotte

seegrotte austria off the beaten path

Petr Vilgus cc by SA 3.0

Located beneath a disused mine in Hinterbruhl, the Seegrotte is a stunning series of underground canals that create the largest subterranean lake in Europe. This lake was created by a severe flood that caused the collapse of the mine in 1912. Roughly 60 meters below ground, the so-called Big Lake spreads across a surface of 6,200 square meters.

11. The Dachstein Glacier

dachstein austria

Peeking from Styria’s highest mountain, covered in blue frost, the Dachstein Glacier is one of the most photogenic places in Austria. Not only is the glacier amazing but the complete hike is one of the most scenic ones in Austria. Making your way from the lush green forests through the misty clouds to the sheer cliffs is a great adventure. Once you get to the top, you can ride on the glacier roof in a gondola surrounded by a secure balcony or climb the so-called Staircase to nowhere and enjoy the stunning view from the edge of the Dachstein ridge.

12. The hidden villages of the Zillertal Valley

The Zillertal Valley is a well-known destination among travelers visiting Austria. However, this valley spreads across 379 km2 and there are many fascinating places to visit. Some examples are Gerlos, a spectacular ski resort in the central part of the valley, Fugen, a charming holiday resort, and towns like Mayrhofen and Hintertux that are home to several amazing glaciers which can definitely be called wonders of nature.

13. Green Lake

green lake hidden gems in austria

The Green Lake is one of the most fascinating hidden gems in Austria. During the fall and winter, it’s a mild-mannered lake. During the spring, however, when the winter snows melt into the lake, das Gruner See raises its water levels from two to ten meters, covering the whole park with pristine, deep-blue, glacier water. It’s definitely beautiful to visit even in the winter with all the beautiful nature and hiking trails that surround the lake but the view in the spring is absolutely magical.

14. East Tirol

hidden gems in Austria

East Tirol is a lot less famous among travelers than its big brother. Thousands of people take the famous Eagle Walk Trail in Tirol every year, that’s true. Unfortunately, only a few end up visiting East Tirol. I guess a lot of that has to do with the fact that East Tirol is separated from North Tirol by the common border of Salzburg and the Italian South Tyrol. Skiing in Tirol in February can be a real nightmare with long lift queues, hundreds of schoolchildren, and crowded slopes. However, if you head to East Tirol same time of the year, you will find perfect, intact snow under your feet, (almost) empty six-person lifts and deserted trails.

Helpful resources for visiting Austria

 

Get the cheapest flights to Austria using this Air France coupon. Yes, it’s an affiliate link, but the flights are so cheap even I use it when booking my own flights.

For the best travel insurance deals for your trip to Austria, I recommend World Nomads. I use World Nomads for all of my trips and I believe they provide the best travel insurance on the market.

If you’re looking for some budget-friendly tours in Yerevan, I personally recommend Intrepid tours. If you like getting off the beaten track and learning about the country you’re traveling in, Intrepid is a great choice. Also, if you’re traveling solo, you’ll get to meet some like-minded people.

If you want to get off the beaten track in Austria, you’ll probably need to rent a car and this AutoEurope coupon gets you 15% off on all car rentals in Austria.

And last but not least, save 15% on all booking.com rentals in Austria with my discount code. If you want to stay somewhere nicer, this special offer will get you great discounts on all Radisson hotels in Austria.

There you go, my ultimate list of hidden gems in Austria you (probably) didn’t know existed. Have you ever visited any of these places or maybe think I forgot to mention some? Let me know in the comments.

14 BucketList Places In Austria you need to visit
hidden gems in austria

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Sedion

Tuesday 14th of May 2019

Hi,

First things first, beautiful pictures! I fell in love with the places even without having been there! :)

I read your blog while searching for offbeat travel worth places in Austria and this was one of the very few helpful blogs I found. Very articulate. Keep up the good work! :)

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 14th of May 2019

Thank you, Sedion- I'm really glad you liked this article and found some cool suggestions for your next trip. Thank you for stopping by and dropping your comment and I hope you have a great time in Austria :)

Clarice

Monday 11th of February 2019

There are very few things I know about Austria thus, I got really interested to learn more about these hidden gems. I would love to visit Hohe Tauern National Park and Alpbach since it looks like someplace straight about of a book or movie. Thank you for sharing and love your photos.

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 12th of February 2019

I'm glad you could learn a few new things about Austria from this article, Clarice. I hope you get the chance to experience the Hohe Tauern and Alpbach someday.

Cecilia

Saturday 9th of February 2019

Oh wow! Austria is so beautiful. Every single picture had me in awe. The towns look so charming and the mountainsides look so peaceful. The ice cave and underground lake also look like amazing places to visit. I am definitely pinning this to Pinterest so that I can reference these gems later.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 9th of February 2019

Thank you, Cecilia- your comment means a lot to me. I hope you get the chance to visit some of these places in the future and fully experience Austria.

Stefanie

Saturday 9th of February 2019

This is a great list! You mentioned Hohe Tauern as being the "ultimate off the beaten path" place, but your entire list is full of places I've actually never heard of -- and they all look super visit-worthy! Also, I had no idea that the largest subterranean lake was in Austria, or that such a cute lakeside town (St. Wolfgangsee) was in such close proximity to Salzburg. Can't wait to visit some of these spots! Thanks for sharing.

Passport Symphony

Monday 11th of February 2019

Thank you, Stefanie- I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed this article and that you could find some useful suggestions for your future travels.

umiko Silalahi

Saturday 9th of February 2019

I can't believe these places are still far from tourists. They are so beautiful! And I can't believe even more since Austria is not that big. People need to widen their wings when visiting Austria. I will sure explore the whole country, including these hidden gems, when I step my foot on Austria.

Passport Symphony

Saturday 9th of February 2019

I guess the main reason is that there are already a few established tourist hubs in Austria and most agencies cover them in their tours. That's why most people miss out on destinations like the ones in this article.

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