Walking in the Alps: France, Italy & Austria
Yodel-e-hee yodel-e-hee yodel-e-hee hoo!
Like Julie Andrews, you too can make the hills come alive with the sound of music when you cavort in the Alps. The snow-capped peaks, flower-specked fields and sweet alpenvillages will have you singing a happy tune!
Mention ‘Alps’ and thoughts turn immediately to lederhosen, skiing, giant horns, Swiss Cheese and milk chocolate. The fact is, the Alps run through no fewer than seven countries, from Italy to Slovenia. The others are Austria, France, Germany, Liechtenstein and yes, Switzerland. All countries love and celebrate their Alps, none more so than Italy.
The Dolomites: Classic Alps Terrain
The Dolomites of northeastern Italy form part of the Southern Limestone Alps, light in colour (thanks to the limestone) and a mecca for hiking, climbing, skiing, base jumping, paragliding and just about anything you can do with a mountain.
Our trekking trip to the Dolomites is notable for two reasons: the great, relaxed walks in superbly scenic surroundings, and the accommodation. This 8-day adventure is based in the small village of Villabassa not far from the Austrian border. Located on the village square, Hotel Adler is one of the most comfortable we feature. The meals included with your trip are masterpieces of local fare, and the small bar is often busy with villagers. The hotel’s restaurant, run by chef Helene Markart, is Michelin Star-rated. Read more about Classic Dolomites.
The highest peak in the Alps is also its most popular attraction. The White Mountain rises over 15,000 feet (4.800 meters), head and shoulders above surrounding peaks. In 1957 the Italians began piercing the heart of the mountain, finishing eight years later with the 7¼ mile Mont Blanc tunnel.
You can also ride over the range in a cable car, but the best way to see the White Lady is on foot, at altitude. Our 8-day Classic Mont Blanc manages this by conveying you from Chamonix, France via train or cable car up to a different trailhead each day. Sometimes we walk back down to our 4-star hotel in central Chamonix, and sometimes we take the train back. Like our tour Classic Dolomites, you can’t sneeze at this accommodation: lovely ensuite rooms, in-house spa and rooftop swimming pool. Champagne, anyone?
The Austrian Tyrol
Have you heard of Gschnitzal? No, it’s not a blessing after a sneeze nor a breaded cutlet, but you might be able to find the latter in Gschnitzal area restaurants. It’s a valley containing Trins, a lovely little Austrian mountain village in the heart of the Austrian Tyrol not far from Innsbruck.
The 8-day adventure we offer in and around Gschnitzal (isn’t that a great name?) includes 6 guided daywalks through Gschnitztal (there it is again) and Obernberg valleys, visits to notable chapels, huts and replete with charming village scenes, including the area’s trademark onion dome churches. On the first day, enjoy a scenic walk to Obernbergersee Lake at 4,500 feet where you will see St Nikolaus Church perched on its lonesome on a hill in the middle of the valley.
There are two guides and two grades of hiking on every departure: moderate and more aggressive, involving 6 to 8 hours per day. Our accommodation, Hotel Wienerhof, is quite comfortable, complete with complementary sauna and relaxation area, and known for its fine local food, typically offering a choice of three entrees each night.
That’s just a bit about three great adventures, but we have barely scratched the surface of our Alpendepartures, let alone all of the great walks and hikes we offer. For a complete selection of walks and hikes in Europe or elsewhere, simply choose ‘Hiking and Walking’.