Solo hiking in Austria, but not alone
By Anthony Page, Solo Travel Editor, July 2010
Austria is a hikers paradise with 1000s of kiliometers of marked trails just waiting to be explored. Austria is also a solos paradise with affordable single rooms (at half the price of a double in many cases) and excellent free guided walks provided by the national parks service. You need never be alone in the Austrian Alps.
Getting to and around Austria
Austria is easily accessible by road, rail and air and is very much at the centre of Europe. I decided to travel by car from the UK to enable myself the freedom of getting around without the cost of a rental car which can be very high in July.
However the rail network is so extensive that you really don't need a car, even some of the most remote villages in the valleys have a rail station.
The Tryol area is well served by airports at Innsburck and Munich is not too far away either and both have rail connections to the main hiking resorts.
Driving from the UK is a whole day affair with a car ferry too but worked out remarkably afforable for one person, even cheaper than flights in July. It is however a long drive through the autobahns of Germany, which are not for the faint-hearted!
Accommodation in Austria for singles
Austrian hotels appear to have a policy of keeping some rooms as single rooms which is great news for the solo traveler!
Single rooms in many cases were actually half the price of doubles too and the one's I stayed in were generally on the large size, in some cases had two bed so could have easily been sold as twins!
There are of course an extensive network of hostels too with the YHA or Hosteling International being particularly well represented in the Austria.
Then you have the mountains huts which seem to cover all entire alpine area of Austria! These are very afforable and sociable places where you usually sleep in bunks in large rooms. Austrian people, and indeed hikers from other countries tend to be very friendly and sociable so the mountain huts make a great option for the single hiker. Most huts also do cooked meals too.
Hiking in Austria Solo
The National Parks service of Austria has a fantastic scheme where they provide free guided walks. These can range from a 1 hour stroll around a botanical garden to full on 8hr hikes up some pretty high mountains.
Every year they produce a booklet that lists all the walks and the dates they are taking place with details of the distance, meeting place etc.
To book your self on these walks all you have to do is contact the local tourist office and put your name down.
If you do want to walk solo then Austria is ideal as there are always people around on the busier routes, however, it is never a good idea to go too far off the beaten track if you are alone because if something happens to you then finding help might be a real issue.
If you do go off walking alone in the Alps, or anywhere, then you should always tell someone you are going and what sort of time you are expecting to be back so in the event of an emergency your rough whereabouts will be known.
It is also advisable to take a mobile/cell phone with you, but you cannot rely on reception everywhere and this should just be a back up.
Other things to do in Austria alone
Away from the Alps you have the magical cities of Salzburg, Innsbruck and of course Vienna. Austria is a small country and very easy to get around. There is an extensive network of hostels and couchsurfing opportunities which are ideal if you are alone.
The danube runs through the country and provides an excellent way to see the country at a slower pace such as by bike or even barge.
One great idea if you are on your own in Vienna is to use the excellent hop on and hop off bus service. The service costs about 20 euros and runs from 10am to 4pm in the summer and is a great way of seeing the sights.
I used the Lonely Planet guide to Central Europe
Free guided walks proivided by the National Parks Service
Good place for researching Austria is Austria Info