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The Austrian Alps deliver beauty both natural and shaped by human hands

Begin your mountain adventure with a wander through the Baroque old town of Innsbruck. Then don your hiking boots to explore the Zillertal, before taking a high Alpine road trip and a tour deep into the natural wonders of Salzburgerland. Round things off with some sailing in the Austrian Lake District.
The village of Hallstatt in Upper Austria is a highlight of the World Heritage-listed Salzkammergut region – Austria’s Lake District

AUSTRIAN ALPS

@olivertomberry

PHOTOGRAPHS MATT MUNRO

Plan your trip

1 With its imperial architecture and mountains on all sides, Innsbruck has a unique claim to be the capital of the Alps (p50).

2 Classic Tyrolean scenery in the Zillertal’s valleys creates a natural arena for hiking, rock-climbing and yodelling too (p52).

3 Fuel up for one of Europe’s most legendary drives: the soaring Grossglockner High Alpine Road (p54).

4 Beneath the mountains of Salzburger-land a world of frozen grandeur opens up to explorers (p56).

5 Finish your trip by unwinding in the Austrian Lake District, where sailing boats pass in the shadow of the peaks (p58).

ETT/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK, JTB PHOTO/SUPERSTOCK, MARIHA-KITCHEN/ISTOCK/GETTY, MATT MUNRO MAP ILLUSTRATION: ALEX VERHILLLE. PHOTOGRAPHS: EVER

HOW TO GET THERE

Innsbruck is the entry point for this trip – its airport has direct flights from Gatwick on easyJet (from £110; easyjet. com), and Austrian Airlines also flies there from Manchester via Vienna. Salzburg could be used as an alternative airport. The choice of direct routes from the UK for both Innsbruck and Salzburg is lower in summer than it is in ski season, so some routings might involve transfers in Vienna or Frankfurt.

HOW TO GET AROUND

Having your own car is really the only practical way to explore the mountains. All the main car hire firms can be found at Innsbruck’s airport and train station. A week’s hire with Europcar starts at around £155 (europcar.com). Weather can change quickly in the mountains, so it’s worth checking road conditions and the latest forecast before you set out. In winter, snow chains are mandatory on many roads. Many places in this feature are linked by trains, but may require multiple connections (oebb.at).

HOW LONG TO SPEND

Austria is a relatively compact country, but mountain roads can be long and winding, especially once you get off the autobahn. A week should be long enough to cover the route, but 10 days would allow some time to factor in extra outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing and sailing.

WHAT TO BUDGET

Apart from popular ski resorts in peak winter weeks, accommodation prices are standard for Western Europe. Walkers’ hostels are the cheapest places to stay, generally costing under £30 a night; mid-range hotels cost between £80 and £120 for a double room, while luxury venues with spas and pools are likely to cost upwards of £140 per night. In places that stay open during the off-season, discounts are often available. Main dishes in restaurants generally cost from £10 to £25, and while beer is cheap (around £3 for a large stein), wine can be expensive.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - May 2016
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