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Base For Walking In Austria

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Our travel plans for 2018 have morphed once more, and we're now considering a visit to Austria. Because this trip seems to defy all efforts to follow my direction, I'm going to just throw out some ideas here and see what you all think. @Kathy and @jonathan , Pauline tells me you both know quite a bit about walking in Austria, so I have high hopes. Here are my thoughts:

  • We'll probably fly to Austria in late July, 2018, from either Gatwick or Heathrow. We'll be staying in Sussex so those 2 airports are easily reachable, and offer the greatest possibility for using our FF miles. We'll probably have more luggage than 'normal', and my thought is that using FF miles for the flight will offset the surcharges we'll have to pay for luggage. OTOH, if we find a great deal on a regional carrier, we'd be happy.

  • Years ago (early '90s) we did a Walking Without Luggage program in the Saalfelden region, and we loved it. Of course costs have gone up, and we're wondering if we can do this on our own. We'd love to rent an apartment for a week in a town small enough to still have charm, and well-located enough to offer (relatively flat) walking for multiple days. We're thinking gondola up, nice walk, bus back down, or variations thereof.

  • When we did the HWOL we arrived and departed by train, which would be ideal, but we're not ruling out the possibility of a car either. We may end up like Steve and @Pauline , needing to drive to a different town in order to access different lifts/trails.

  • And now I'm wondering if this might not be the perfect time to fly into Vienna for a few days, pre-hiking? We've never been to Vienna and it's long been on our bucket list. Maybe Vienna deserves its own thread? Once I figure out the walking part I can make a decision about Vienna.

I guess the hardest part will be finding relatively flat walks in an area known for its mountains! And we do love the mountain scenery! There are so many small towns that I really have no idea where to start, or how to narrow my search. Any thoughts, comments or suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance.
 

Kathy

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Barb, we used to lead a trip based in the Salzkammergut region of lakes and mountains, just outside Salzburg. We stayed in the village of St. Gilgen, right on the Wolfgangsee. You might consider this area, and I'd recommend a car. Our family has vacationed in this same area several times as well. It's absolutely beautiful and we like the convenience to Salzburg as well.

If you want to do a lot of hiking, but don't want to climb mountains, there are some possibilities. There's a cable car that goes from the village of St Gilgen up to the top of one of the mountains where you can then do walks around the top. (A good eating place up there too.) You can walk around the lake to the village of St. Wolfgang and back. You can travel by boat to St. Wolfgang and then take a mountain train up to the top of the mountain on the other side of the lake and do walks up there. (A good mountain restaurant there as well.) Not far away is a big alpine meadow, the Postalm, great for fairly-level walks. Those are just a few that I know. You can get good info and hiking maps at the tourist office.

I'd also suggest a visit to the salt mine above the wonderful village of Hallstatt.. you take a tram up the mountain to visit the mine. It's a fun and interesting experience.

You can buy a Salzkammergut card at the tourist office to get discounts on rides and admissions... well worth it.
 
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Colo

500+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
And now I'm wondering if this might not be the perfect time to fly into Vienna for a few days, pre-hiking? We've never been to Vienna and it's long been on our bucket list. Maybe Vienna deserves its own thread? Once I figure out the walking part I can make a decision about Vienna.

Don't rule out Vienna for hiking either. It may be a great way to start (get warmed up) or finish (stretch out) with a wine trail hike. Vienna has more acreage under vine than any other major city. This is on my list for the next trip to Austria. The organized hike is in early fall.

We also did a walking tour (not a hike) of the back alleys of Vienna that was fascinating. It was in December so it was very cold, but it was not crowded. And best of all after 3 hours of exploring the backstreets we earned a nice treat!

CV.jpg


BTW - we got a great FF deal on AA from Dulles (DC) to Zurich and then on Niki into Vienna.
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Don't rule out Vienna for hiking either. It may be a great way to start (get warmed up) or finish (stretch out) with a wine trail hike. Vienna has more acreage under vine than any other major city. This is on my list for the next trip to Austria. The organized hike is in early fall.

We also did a walking tour (not a hike) of the back alleys of Vienna that was fascinating. It was in December so it was very cold, but it was not crowded. And best of all after 3 hours of exploring the backstreets we earned a nice treat!

BTW - we got a great FF deal on AA from Dulles (DC) to Zurich and then on Niki into Vienna.
Thanks for all those tips!
 

Andrew

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
About your flight, I don't know your full situation, but I'm guessing you're looking at American Airlines miles to fly British Airways. For a date a couple of months ahead (I don't know how it would be for summer) I see AA miles for a London-Vienna award that I think includes a checked bag (but I'm not sure) at 12,500 miles plus $48.20. The paid BA fare for the same date with a checked bag included is £100, which today is about $129. It's a poor use of miles to use 12,500 miles to save $80. BA's flights to Vienna (at least for that date) are all from Heathrow, and I see that their extra baggage charge for a bag if paid in advance is £60 from Heathrow vs. £36 from Gatwick. But I may be wrong about which program and airline you're planning to use.
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Andrew, you're right about our choice of airlines, and also right about using miles wisely, so yes, I'll be sure to check the costs and baggage fees carefully - it's a lot of work sometimes, but can be well worth it!
 

PatrickLondon

100+ Posts

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
OK @PatrickLondon , let's talk! After reading your trip report again, I have decided that this is the place for us.

Initially I didn't want to muddy the waters by giving myself 3 choices, and was certain that we'd either do HWOL (hiking without luggage)in the Saafeleden-Leogang area, like we did many years ago, or base in St Gilgen as @Kathy suggested, thinking that she'd have a lot of tips. So, I hadn't really given your trip report more than a cursory look - until last night.
When we did HWOL, one of the reasons I choose the package we did was because the last day included a ride down a luge run. I looked forward to it the entire trip! I'm not a roller coaster person, but I love speed, so something like this is perfect. And then it rained on our last day and it wasn't possible to do the luge! :( So - when I clicked on the link in your trip report for the longest toboggan run in Europe, I knew this was where I wanted to go!

Now for my questions:
  • You said that we can fly Gatwick-Innsbruck on Saturdays. Can tell me what airline? All I could find was BA out of Heathrow. Heathrow would work, but Gatwick would be even better, and since we'll be checking out of our vacation rental on Saturday, it seems ideal.
  • I see on the website that bus service is offered from the Innsbruck airport to the Stubaital area. We're happy to stay in the not-too-big, not-too-small village of Neustift, and hope that we could take a bus both to and from the airport. It seems from your report that we wouldn't need a car at all to get from village to village, is that correct?
  • In the same vein, is public transport available into Innsbruck, and if so, how long is the journey?
  • We'd probably rent a small apartment in the village, but you indicated that you usually stayed in a hotel. If you have any recommendations for housing, we'd love to hear them but I also plan to write to the TI to ask them for 2018 info once it becomes available.
So, Vienna won't be on the agenda this year nor will Salzburg, but I'm very, very excited to explore not only a new area, but also an area that's much closer to the Alps. Additionally, we could also take the train from Innsbruck to Lucerne to visit our friends (unless they decide to join us in Austria!), then they could take us to Zurich for a quick flight to Rome to pick up our long term rental. Wow!
 

PatrickLondon

100+ Posts
Airline: easyJet, unless things have changed.

Accommodation: the only place I have any real knowledge of is the Fernau, which I recommend , but it is a half-board deal. Now I think of it, my brother is friends with the church organist on Neustift, and I think she rents out an apartment a little way out of the centre (but only 5 minutes from the bus stop). What's more she's originally American. If memory serves, it's Haus Ruetzbach - I don't think they have much of an internet presence but there seem to be photos online. If you like I can check with my brother.

Local transport: no, you won't need a car. Bus 590 to Innsbruck takes about half an hour, and runs about every half hour. You can also get a tram from Fulpmes. If you stay in a hotel like the Fernau they will do airport and station pick-ups, otherwise you'd need to get the bus to Innsbruck station and change there to the 590. There's an all-in-one StubaiCard that covers all transport including one up-and-down on each cable car each day. More on the TIO website.
Bus timetable:
https://www.stubai.at/fileadmin/use...plaene/2017/fahrplan-regiobus-590-So-2017.pdf

Just one more point: check with the TIO when the summer season starts. Quite a lot starts to open in late June, but it can be early July for some shops and services.
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Thanks @PatrickLondon ! Yes, if your brother has any contacts, that's always better, thank you. I did a Google search for Haus Ruetzbach and came up with a listing on Booking.com. It seems to be a private BR/BA with shared LR and kitchen. Perhaps your brother will know more, or can get a little more info.

Damn...EasyJet! We recently had a discussion here about those budget airlines, and if they cancel a flight you're on y. I think your own. I think I'd rather drive to Heathrow and take my chances with BA.

Glad to hear that we won't need a car! We'll just have to make sure the apartment we select is easily reachable when we arrive, and has good connections for the walks we'll want to do. And the connections to Innsbruck sound reasonable - I wanted to make sure it wasn't a 2 hour bus ride!

We'll be there the middle of August, so no worries about being too early for the season. Thank you again for all the information!
 

PatrickLondon

100+ Posts
Now I come to think of it, I think it's the American lady's daughter who runs the apartment rental business now. I have been there to their flat downstairs, but none of us have never seen the rental part of it. They're on Facebook and a number of other booking sites as well, and their email is haus.ruetzbach@aon.at.

And if that doesn't suit, there are loads of other places in and around the village.
 
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Andrew

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Next summer's schedules are subject to change, but searching early July (too early for August) on Momondo, I see Gatwick-Innsbruck non-stops on a Saturday on Thomas Cook, EasyJet, British Airways, Monarch, and Austrian.
 

Andrew

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
You know, maybe I can blame searching on a different device while traveling, but I was sure I had a July date, but the tab was still open today and it was showing a March date. Now I'm not seeing so many flights for summer. I don't know if they have that many more flights for ski season or if summer flights aren't fully loaded. Anyway I think there's some chance of the latter, and you can book closer to the summer schedules taking effect in late March. Your land arrangements aren't that affected, knowing that you can go from Heathrow if needed.
 

wco81

10+ Posts
I spent 2 weeks in Austria, flying in and out of Munich from the US at the end of last August (supposedly the period of the year with the least amount of rain in the Tirol and Salzkammergut).

I didn't go per se for walks or long hikes but ended up doing plenty of it.

From Munich, I drove to the Lermoos, Austria:

https://www.zugspitzarena.com/en/region/villages/lermoos

You can get a pass for the region's cable cars for about 50-60 Euro for 3 or 4 days and that includes one ride up to the top of Zugspitze.

On the lower cable cars, like Grubigstein, you can ride up and then walk back down in a couple of hours I believe, with sweeping panorama views. I didn't walk down as my primary goal was photography and in a day, I could use the pass to get to other cable cars so I had to drive to these others, which are less than 10 miles from each other.

Then after 3 or 4 days, I drove onto Innsbruck. They have a similar deal with a pass for cable cars in the area with the Innsbruck Card. I again drove around all over hitting several cable cars including the Nordketterbahn. Again, looked like these have trails to walk down but they also have mountain bike trails for people who are into extreme sports. Some of the trails may be pretty steep, allowing you to go down fast on these bikes.

I visited Salzburg and Hallstatt as well on this trip. There was a lot of rain in Hallstatt until the day I left. I stopped at Dachstein and took the cable car up. There was fresh snow up there in late August, early September. Hiked about 30-40 minutes in snow, in my shorts. Was beautiful and it wasn't too steep but you reached Five Fingers platform, which had spectacular views over Lake Hallstatt and the mountains around it.

Then my last stay was in St. Wolfgang. Had a room with a balcony overlooking the lake. Simply spectacular. Only bummer was I didn't get a chance to take the cogwheel train up as it was foggy up there.

It's pretty difficult to find flat walks in what is a mountainous region. And you may deny yourself chances to see some of the natural beauty. But in the summer, it appears you can walk down after taking some of these cable cars up so you can get plenty of exercise. Though one thing to beware, sometimes walking down can be hard on your knees and backs too if the trail is uneven. I found walking down some of the trails in Cinque Terre to be difficult because it was rocky and you were always hunting for the next place to plant your foot without turning your ankle and some parts of the trail made you take an awkward step down.

I don't think there are rocky trails in Austria though. Maybe muddy or gravelly.
 

artnbarb

1000+ Posts
Deciding on an area was the most challenging part! We'll be staying in Neustift in the Stubai Valley, just south of Innsbruck. This area was recommended by @PatrickLondon earlier in this thread! Thanks to everyone who made suggestions - I don't think there's a bad/unscenic area of Austria, do you?

We thought we'd fly into Innsbruck, but in the end Munich worked better, so we'll rent a car and drive 2 1/2 hours. Having a car and flying out of Munich will make flying to Italy so much easier.

Here's the place we chose, Haus am Wald. Fingers crossed!
 
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PatrickLondon

100+ Posts
I don't know that particular place, but it looks to be close to the regular bus stop in Milders, which will be handy (and the buses are free with the Stubaicard). I'm sure you'll enjoy the walks in the locality - drop into the tourist office in Neustift town centre (opposite the church) to get more details of what's available. An easy introduction would be to get the bus to the Grawa fall, and then back along the Wilde Wasser Weg - all fairly level but spectacular views of wild water. Check the opening times of the different alms along that route, such as the Tschangelairalm on the river and the Falbesoner at Ranalt - they're nice places for refreshments and light meals.
 

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