When I was researching the best hiking trails to do in Austria, I found it hard to find a comprehensive list of hikes.
There were blogs providing every detail about a single hike – usually the influencer photo spots like the Olperer Hut in the Zillertal Alps – but never a detailed list for serious hikers.
After giving up on online research, I went to Innsbruck with no plan in mind except to get some hiking information from the locals. They didn’t disappoint, with the locals pointing out several trails that would be worth a look – so I tried them out and ended up with my own list of the best hikes near Innsbruck.
1. Senderstal Valley
Duration: 6-9 hours
The Senderstal Valley hike starts from the village of Grinzens and provides the opportunity to walk over several peaks following a ridgeline.
Grinzens is located about a 30 minute bus ride from Innsbruck via Bus #404, which leaves from the Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof.
I started the hike from the Grinzens bus stop then headed for the first peak on the hike, Figl.
It’s a steep ascent up to Figl, winding through a pretty forest with regular views out to the mountains. This part of the hike will take about two hours.
From Figl, you continue a short way onto the Salfeins peak and to the Salfeinsee, a small lake which can sometimes catch reflections of the mountains. From there, you have the option to head down to the Kemater Alm (mountain hut) or continue onwards to the further peaks of Grieskogel, Breitschwemmkogel, Angerbergkopf and Schaflergkogel.
The length of this ridgeline offers up magnificent views of the Kalkkögel massif, which reminds me of the Italian Dolomites.
I completed this hike in early June and made it close to Angerbergkopf, but decided to turn back due to increasing snow cover beyond 2,300 metres in elevation.
Once I reached the saddle close to Angerberkopf’s peak, I returned to Greiskogel and headed down a trail leading to Kemater Alm.
From the hut, you can return to the Grinzens bus stop via a dirt road following a pretty creek and past local farms.
If you are just heading to Salfeinsee and back, then the hike will take around four hours. If you decide to proceed further along the ridgeline, the return hike will take approximately 6-9 hours return depending on how far you continue along the ridge.
You can also start this route in reverse, hiking up to Kemater Alm and then heading straight up to Greiskogel and beyond and skipping the Figl and Salfeins peaks.
2. Nordkette via ferrata
Duration: 4-5 hours
The Nordkette via ferrrata (Klettersteig in German) is not technically a hike – but it still gets you into the mountains with incredible views. You just have to head for heights and some rock scrambling skills.
The via ferrata takes you across seven peaks of Innsbruck’s Nordkette mountains over a total distance of 2.5 kilometres.
The via ferrata generally opens by end of June each year and remains open until mid October, depending on snow conditions.
To get to the via ferrata, you need to take the cable car from the Nordkettenbahn Hungerburg station above Innsbruck. Bus #J runs regularly from Innsbruck’s city centre to this station. The cable car runs from 8am to 7pm during the summer months.
When buying your cable car ticket, ask for a ticket for the via ferrata. This gives you a ticket up to the top station of Hafelekar (2,256m), and you will return from the mid station of Seegrube (1,905m). The cost is €35.30 return (as of November 2023).
If you need to hire via ferrata gear (helmet, via ferrata set and harness), you will need to stop at the Nordkette Shop at the Seegrube station on the way up. The cost is €25 for the day. Email the shop the day before to reserve your equipment.
The Nordkette via ferrata starts to the left of the Hafelekar mountain station. At the very start of the route, you’ll head steeply up a cliff face to get onto the ridgeline. From there, you head along the undulating ridgeline crossing several peaks, including the Seegruben, Kamin and Kemacher peaks, and are treated to spectacular panoramic views during the route.
The via ferrata will take about 4 hours to complete, depending on how busy it is as you can get stuck behind people at times in narrow sections.
At the completion of the via ferrata, return to the Seegrube cable car station, return your equipment and head back to Innsbruck.
3. Goethe Trail
Duration: 5-6 hours
The 10.5km return Goethe Trail starts from the right of the Hafelekar cable car station – taking you on the opposite side of the mountain to the via ferrata.
This trail is a good option if the via ferrata is not for you as the views are very similar.
The trail takes you along a narrow path on the side of the mountain, alternating between the north and south side of the ridge.
One side gives you views down to Innsbruck, the other side offers up panoramas of the Karwendel Nature Reserve.
The hike takes you to the Pfeishutte (mountain hut). Return the same way you came.
Duration: 5-6 hours
The hike to Hochtenspitze is a fun hike with great views. The hike starts from the Hoadl cable car station, which is reached via the village of Axamer Lizum.
You can reach Axamer Lizum by bus from Innsbruck in the summer months. You will need to change buses in Axams village.
It takes about an hour to reach the summit of Hochtenspitze from Hoadl, with the trail gradually climbing up a grassy hill before heading up loose rock.
You’ll need some route finding skills up this last section to the summit. While the trail is rougly marked, you need to pay attention. The trail can also be very slippery. Hiking shoes are definitely recommended on this hike due to the loose rock.
Once you reach Hochtenspitze, you can return the way you came or do a loop by following the signs to Halsl. The latter route winds along the base of several nearby peaks before passing over a saddle and then taking you down a steep scree slope.
You will then head up over another pass, before reaching the Halsl signpost. From Halsl, take a left to descend to the Hoadlbahn lower station.
Duration: 6-7 hours
The hike to and from Nockspitze will take you over not just one – but four peaks.
To start the hike, head to the town of Mutters and take the Mutteralmbahn to the top station. You can get to Mutters from Innsbruck by taking Bus #404 to Gotzens Dorfplatz, then change to Bus #405 to reach Mutters.
Once you leave the top cable car station, head straight before taking a left and then following the signs to Pfriemeswand.
Pfriemeswand is the first peak of the day, taking you to a cross with a superb view of Innsbruck and the Inntal Valley.
From there, you keep heading uphill and can take a short detour to the cross on the top of Spitzmandl for more views of Innsbruck. Then it’s onto the highest peak of the day, Nockspitze. This is a great spot for lunch with a grassy summit and 360 degree views.
From Nockspitze, head down the opposite side you came up and continue to the final peak of the day, Zwolferspitze.
You can then opt to walk down to Gotzens via the Birgitzkopfhaus chairlift station (about two hours), or return to the Mutteralmbahn to complete a circuit.
I actually loved this hike so much – I did it twice over two separate visits.
Duration: 3-5 hours
The hike up to Vittarspitze starts from the cable car station at Paschkogel. To get there from Innsbruck’s town centre, take Bus #J headed towards Paschkogel. The journey takes about 30 minutes.
You can then take the cable car up the mountain and then proceed to the trailhead. You can opt to hike up to Paschkogel, but I decided to skip that as it looked busy and headed straight for Vittarspitze, via the Boscheban Hut. The first 30-45 minutes of the hike is straightforward and mostly flat, but later it gets rocky and steadily steeper.
In the summer months, it’s possible to proceed beyond Vittarspitze. When I did the hike in early June, there was still snow patches so I turned around after summiting Vittarapitze. I returned to the lower station of Paschkogel on foot but you can also take the cable car down to return to the lower station.
This hike will take 3-5 hours return depending if you descend by foot or cable car.
Innsbruck is very simple to get around with an excellent bus network.
If you stay more than two days, your accommodation will organise an Innsbruck Card which entitles you to free trips on the bus network during your stay, and also discounts on several cable cars.
Bus #J runs regularly between the Nordkette Hungerburg station and the Paschkogel station during the summer months and you can catch it in several spots throughout the city centre.
I stayed in Gotzens, a village about 15 minutes from the Innsbruck centre and Bus #104 was handy to get here and also to trailheads at Grinzens, Mutters and Axams. This bus also runs regularly and you can catch it from the Innsbruck Haupbahnhof or at Gotzens Dorfplatz stop.
When to go and gear list
The best time to go hiking in Innsbruck is from mid June to mid October. If you go too early in June (like I made the mistake of doing), you may find some trails still have too much snow on them and you might be unable to get past. I returned to Innsbruck in August, which turned out to be a great time to visit as the snow was well and truly gone and the weather was sunny almost every day.
I recommend the following gear when hiking in Austria. Remember it’s the mountains so weather can change quickly and you should be prepared for all conditions.
- Hiking shoes
- Hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
- At least 2 litres of water and snacks/lunch
- Hiking poles (helps a lot on the loose scree slopes)
- Warm jacket
- First aid kit