Hohe Tauern National Park

In the vast landscape of Austria, the Hohe Tauern National Park (in German: Nationalpark Hohe Tauern), situated in the Austrian Alps, stands as a sanctuary of nature, inviting explorers, scientists, and anyone with a yearning for adventure to discover its hidden treasures. This article unfolds a journey through its glacier-carved valleys, challenging peaks, and wildlife in its purest form, offering a comprehensive look at its natural wonders, activities, and the importance of its conservation.

Hohe Tauern National Park, established in 1981 to preserve the unique natural beauty and biodiversity of the region, is the largest in Austria and a cornerstone of European conservation. Its complex geography, including some of Austria’s highest peaks, vast ice masses, and deep valleys, creates a mosaic of natural habitats that are home to an impressive variety of flora and fauna.

Hohe Tauern National Park

Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest in Austria, encompassing vast areas of the Central Alps in the main chain of the Eastern Alps. It is located in the Hohe Tauern region, between the sources of the Isel, Möll, Mur, and Salzach rivers, extending approximately 100 km from east to west and around 40 km from north to south. With an area of about 1,800 km², the park is situated in the federal states of Salzburg, Tyrol, and Carinthia.

Fauna, Flora, and Biodiversity

The park is a refuge for endemic species and a crucial stopover for migratory birds, highlighting its global importance for biodiversity conservation. From alpine edelweiss to impressive golden eagles, Hohe Tauern’s biological diversity is a testament to Austria’s natural richness, achieving an extensive protected area with diverse species as does Kalkalpen National Park with its magnificent variety of butterflies.

Wild flora of Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria

Hohe Tauern is the natural habitat of more than half of all Austrian amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Golden Eagle

The golden eagle, with its wingspan of up to 220 cm, is a mighty presence in the skies of Hohe Tauern. With its unique bone formations above the eyes, this raptor impresses with its "proud" appearance.

Bearded Vulture

Bearded Vulture in Hohe Tauern

The bearded vulture, a rare specialty in the alpine region, is the largest bird in the park, with a wingspan of up to 2.9 meters. Its presence is a rarity and a symbol of the diversity of wildlife in Hohe Tauern.


The alpine ibex, with its robust build and powerful horns, is one of the most impressive mammals in the region. Its ability to climb and jump in difficult terrain makes it an integral part of the alpine ecosystem.


The diurnal chamois, resembling a goat, is a common sight in Hohe Tauern. Territorial fights between rival males during the mating season are an impressive spectacle in the alpine meadows.


Marmots in Hohe Tauern

The alpine marmot, locally known as "Mankei," is a common inhabitant of the alpine meadows. With its whistles, it warns its family of danger, thus contributing to the community’s safety.

The rich wildlife of Hohe Tauern is a testament to the importance of preserving and protecting this unique natural environment.

Main Attractions and Points of Interest

From the Pasterze Glacier to the summit of Grossglockner, the park offers a series of impressive natural attractions. Visitors can marvel at the Krimml Waterfalls, the highest in Austria, or embark on hiking trails that traverse landscapes of unparalleled beauty.

Activities, Excursions, and Tourist Attractions

Hohe Tauern National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. With trails that stretch for miles, designated skiing areas, and unique bird-watching opportunities, it offers unforgettable experiences in all seasons.

Jagdhausalmen (Hunting Lodge Pastures)

The Jagdhausalmen, located at the end of the Defereggental valley in East Tyrol, are Austria’s oldest mountain refuges and represent one of the most photographed spots in Hohe Tauern National Park. This idyllic landscape features 15 stone cabins and a chapel, set among rugged rocks and lush meadows, evoking an atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of the Tibetan landscape. People have inhabited these valleys of the Hohe Tauern mountains for over 5,000 years, adding a rich history to this impressive alpine region.

Gschlösstal Valley

Gschlösstal Valley, Austria

Matrei in East Tyrol is a charming village located in the Gschlösstal Valley, known as one of the most beautiful places in the Eastern Alps. Innergschlöss, in East Tyrol, stands out as one of the most impressive corners of this mountainous region. From this idyllic spot on the border with the neighboring province of Salzburg, visitors can admire the mighty glaciers of Hohe Tauern National Park and some of its most iconic mountains, such as the Großvenediger. The peaceful walk to Innergschlöss offers numerous opportunities to capture spectacular photos, leaving a lasting impression on those who visit.

View of Kalser Lucknerhaus from the Großglockner

From the Großglockner, the view of Kalser Lucknerhaus is breathtaking. Located at the end of the Kalser Glacier Road, Austria’s highest peak seems within reach. The popular Lucknerhaus inn serves as the perfect starting point for numerous excursions in Hohe Tauern National Park. Additionally, it is an excellent base for those wishing to undertake the ascent of the Großglockner.

Umbal Waterfalls Nature Trail

The Umbal Waterfalls Nature Trail offers visitors the opportunity to explore the impressive Umbalfälle, a series of waterfalls along the mighty Isel River. Along this trail, visitors can learn about the river and its waterfalls, as well as enjoy the natural beauty and visual spectacle that the Umbalfälle offer.

Zedlacher Paradise

Zedlacher Paradise, located in the Virgental valley of East Tyrol, is home to the ancient Zedlach larch forest, which is approximately 600 years old. This forest offers fascinating discoveries for visitors. Along the themed trail, there are seven stations providing information about the forest, its varied fauna, and its interesting ecosystem. The circular route is easy to complete and usually takes around three hours, during which visitors can enjoy the serenity of the natural surroundings. Along the way, charming restaurants like Wodenalm and Kräutergasthaus Strumerhof can be found, where visitors can enjoy a delicious meal after their walk.

Adler Single Trail

The Adler Single Trail is the latest addition to the Bikepark Kals am Großglockner in East Tyrol. This exciting route starts at the top of the Kalser Gondelbahn cable car, at an altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level. Before starting the descent, it is recommended to take a moment to enjoy the majestic views of the numerous mountains over 3,000 meters that surround this beautiful corner of Tyrol.

The trail is 3.7 kilometers long and is characterized by its flow and fun along the descent through flower-covered meadows. Although it does not feature particularly steep sections, it offers an exciting experience for mountain bikers. On the single trail difficulty scale, the Adler Trail is rated as S1, meaning it is easy and suitable for cyclists of different skill levels.

Mountain Biking

The mountain bike ride from Dorfertal to Johannishütte offers cyclists the chance to explore the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park while riding through the charming Dorfertal valley along the rushing Dorferbach river. Along the way, cyclists will be greeted with impressive views of the towering Großvenediger, which rises majestically to 3,657 meters above sea level.

The final destination of this adventure is the Johannishütte refuge, where cyclists are rewarded with a delicious meal after their effort. Local specialties such as "Preiselbeerkrapfen," "Bauernschöpsernes," and the famous apple strudel await visitors. This mountain refuge is one of the oldest in the Eastern Alps and was completely renovated in 1999, offering a cozy and traditional atmosphere to rest and recharge after a day of mountain biking adventure.

Hiking from Johannishütte

The hike from Johannishütte to Defreggerhaus and Schartl offers hikers the opportunity to explore a fascinating world of glaciers and permanent ice near the Großvenediger, one of Austria’s highest mountains. The starting point is Johannishütte, a cabin located on the southern side of the mountain, accessible both by taxi and on foot for those hikers in excellent physical condition.

After leaving Johannishütte, the next stop is Defreggerhaus, another cabin located at 2,964 meters above sea level, which serves as an important base for mountaineers wishing to ascend the Großvenediger. However, on this route, we do not head to the cabin but continue towards the so-called Schartl, a ridge situated just over 3,000 meters above sea level, offering impressive views of the Mullwitzkees glacier and the surrounding mountains of Hohe Tauern. The ridge is the highest point of this hike but does not require special glacier equipment and is relatively easy to climb.

Tour of Kals-Glockner

Ascending the Glockner Road in Kals, the towering peak of Großglockner, standing at 3,798 meters high, rises around you. Just outside the hamlet of Kals/Burg, the Kals Glockner Road winds towards the Ködnitztal valley and ascends the mountain in tight bends. Over seven kilometers of winding road, you can enjoy views of glacier-carved valleys, mighty peaks, and wild, rugged landscapes. The picturesque route ends at the parking lot of the Lucknerhaus Lodge, at 1,920 meters above sea level. Known for its panoramic views, from this point, you can see more peaks rising above 3,000 meters than from anywhere else in the country, including the highest, Großglockner. The deeply traditional Lucknerhaus Lodge is a perfect place to enjoy authentic Tyrolean hospitality and savor delicious specialties.

Hike to Kalser Tauernhaus Cabins

The hike to the cabins from Kalser Tauernhaus to Dorfer See starts with an exciting entry: access through the steep Dabaklamm gorge into the Dorfertal valley, north of Kals am Großglockner. From there, the adventure continues with a landscape combining flower-filled meadows, charming alpine cabins, and the serenity of a beautiful lake. Although the hike is relatively long, it is not particularly difficult, making it suitable even for families with children who wish to enjoy a day outdoors in nature.

Katin Meadows Flower Hike

The thematic flower hike through Katin Meadows is a 5.5-kilometer route that starts in Bichl, in the Virgental valley, and traverses one of the most interesting botanical areas of Hohe Tauern National Park: the Katin meadows. These steep pastures rise over 2,000 meters above sea level and host a fascinating variety of flora, such as tiger lilies, Turk’s cap lilies, bellflowers, aconites, nigritella, and saxifrages. Many of these species are not found elsewhere in the region. Additionally, these meadows are the natural habitat of numerous rare butterflies. If you’re lucky, you might also spot chamois and deer, and possibly even a golden eagle. The return through wetlands also offers a fascinating experience. On the way back, there is an option to stop at the Stabanthütte refuge.

Lasörling High Trail

The Lasörling High Trail takes its name from the majestic Lasörling mountain range and offers an exciting traverse showcasing the best of East Tyrol. This multi-day trek, from Matrei in the Defereggental valley to Prägraten am Großvenediger in the Virgental valley, stands out for the diversity of landscapes it passes through. From ancient larch forests to mountain panoramas, the Lasörling High Trail offers an unforgettable experience for hikers.

The adventure begins with a steep ascent through the forest, offering impressive views that leave no walker indifferent. However, enjoying these views requires considerable effort, as the trail features nearly 5,000 meters of positive elevation over 57 kilometers. Although the journey can be completed in four days, each day of hiking requires between five and eight hours of physical effort. Fortunately, shelters and refuges along the trail provide a well-deserved rest and food.

The Lasörling High Trail can also be explored in individual segments, as each refuge offers access to the valley. Additionally, Hohe Tauern National Park offers guided tours on this trail, usually lasting three days. However, it is important to note that the Lasörling High Trail is a demanding route, reserved for experienced hikers comfortable on difficult terrain with a good level of physical fitness and appropriate equipment. Reaching the summits, such as the 3,098-meter-high Lasörling peak, can pose a challenge in terms of height and safety. To get to the trail’s start, take the train from Ströden to Matrei.

Hike from Matrei i. Osttirol to Kals-Matreier-Törl-Haus – Glocknerhaus Kals

The mountain hike from Matrei i. Osttirol to the Glocknerhaus Kals offers hikers an unforgettable experience with impressive views of the Virgental valley and the glaciers of the Venediger mountains, with the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, as a constant companion.

The adventure begins with a picturesque ride on the Goldriedbahn cable car to the mountains. From the top of the cable car, the imposing figure of the 3,798-meter-high Großglockner seems within reach. Then, hikers set off from Kals-Matreier-Törl and Bergstation Blauspitz on a marked trail with numerous information panels about the flora and fauna of the Alps.

Along the way, hikers have the opportunity to stop at the Gasthaus Glocknerblick restaurant, where they can learn more about local herbs and plants. Additionally, it’s worth visiting the Gothic parish church in the village of Kals, dedicated to St. Rupert. This church, one of the oldest in the region, dates back to the reign of Charlemagne in the 8th and 9th centuries and offers a fascinating look into the area’s religious and cultural history.

Hike to Trelebitschsee

The mountain hike to Trelebitschsee takes hikers through the idyllic Debanttal valley, located in Hohe Tauern National Park, characterized by dense pine forests and impressive mountain landscapes. This route leads to one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the Schober massif, Trelebitschsee, surrounded on all sides by high mountains with a history dating back to the Ice Age.

During the hike, hikers have the opportunity to spot marmots and chamois as they progress through the valley, and they might even be lucky enough to see a golden eagle overhead. The waterfalls found above and below the Trelebitschalm refuge, along with the impressive views of the Sattelköpfe peaks, add an extra element of beauty to this hiking experience. Overall, this hike offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in nature and enjoy the majesty of the Austrian Alps.

The influence of the park extends beyond its natural boundaries, enriching local culture and traditions. The region’s gastronomy, events, and festivities offer a deep insight into life around Hohe Tauern.

Typical Gastronomy of the Region

Explore the delicious typical cuisine of Hohe Tauern and discover the authentic flavors of Austria with the following recommendations to recharge after your visit to the national park.

Typical Dishes of the Region

Austrian cuisine offers a variety of typical dishes that reflect its rich culinary history, influenced by the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as the culinary traditions of neighboring countries like Italy and the Balkans. Here is a selection of some characteristic dishes that are sure to satisfy your appetite:

  1. Wiener Schnitzel: This dish is a national pride in Austria. It consists of a breaded and fried veal cutlet, although chicken or pork versions can also be found. It is usually served with French fries or potato salad and a touch of lemon.
  2. Sausages: These are very popular in Austria, and there are various types available. Some of the most well-known include Wiener Würstchen, Bratwurst, and Käsekrainer. They are a popular street food and are usually served with bread, mustard, and ketchup.
  3. Tafelspitz: This dish consists of boiled beef served with apple puree, sour cream and chive sauce, and often accompanied by pickled horseradish.
  4. Käsespätzle: Spätzle are a type of irregular gnocchi cooked with cheese and served with fried onions. They are delicious and comforting.
  5. Tiroler Gröstl: Originating from the Tyrol region, this dish is made with potatoes, meat, onions, and sausages, all sautéed in butter.
  6. Goulash: This meat stew, originally from Hungary, is very popular in Austria. It is made with beef or pork, tomato sauce, and paprika, and is often served with spätzle.
  7. Knödel: These dumplings made of flour, egg, and various ingredients can be served with broth or as a main dish.
  8. Frittatensuppe: A beef broth soup with crepe-like noodles cut into strips.
  9. Kartoffelsalat: A potato salad with vinegar, oil, mustard, and spices, often served as a side dish.
  10. Brettljause: A board of assorted cheeses and cold cuts, ideal as a main dish or to share as an appetizer.

These are just a few examples of the delicious Austrian cuisine you can enjoy during your visit to the country. Bon appétit!


The typical desserts of Austria are a delight you cannot miss during your visit to the country. Here are three irresistible options:

  1. Apfelstrudel: This delicious pastry filled with apples, sugar, raisins, and cinnamon is an Austrian classic that will make you feel at home. The combination of sweet and spiced flavors is simply irresistible. Besides the classic apple version, you can also try it with cherry or cottage cheese.
  2. Sacher Torte: Originating from Vienna, this cake is a symbol of Austrian pastry. It consists of a chocolate sponge cake filled with apricot jam and covered with a layer of chocolate glaze. It is traditionally served with whipped cream, and its taste is simply delicious.
  3. Kaiserschmarrn: This dessert, whose name means "emperor’s mess," is a real treat. It consists of fluffy pancakes torn into pieces and served with a variety of sweet sauces, such as jam or chocolate, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It is an indulgent dessert that will surely leave you wanting more.

These desserts are just a sample of the incredible variety and quality of Austrian pastry. Do not hesitate to try them during your visit and enjoy a true feast for the palate.


Austria offers a variety of beverages for all tastes. Here are some typical options you must try during your visit:

  1. Beer: Beer is an important part of Austrian culture, and there is a wide variety of types to choose from. Weissbier, or wheat beer, is especially popular and refreshing. You can also try other varieties such as Pilsner, Lager, or Märzen.
  2. Wine: Austria is known for its excellent wine, and Riesling is a must-try. This dry white wine is highly appreciated for its fruity flavor and refreshing character. You can also explore other varieties like Grüner Veltliner or Zweigelt.
  3. Glühwein: If you visit Austria in winter, you cannot miss Glühwein. This beverage consists of hot red wine seasoned with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. It is perfect for combating the cold and is traditionally served at Christmas markets in Vienna and other parts of Central Europe.

These are just some of the typical beverages you can enjoy during your stay in Austria. Cheers!

Climate in Hohe Tauern

The climatic conditions of Hohe Tauern National Park vary with elevation.

The first stage is the montane zone, characterized by dense forests of beech and fir. Next is the subalpine zone, situated between 2200 and 2300 meters in height, where larch and Swiss stone pine forests dominate, followed by dwarf shrubs. Above this is the alpine zone, where vegetation primarily consists of alpine meadows because it is above the tree line. The final stage is the nival zone, where only isolated plants can be found due to the extreme snow conditions.

Climatic variations in Hohe Tauern National Park are not only due to altitude but also factors such as the direction and slope of the terrain, as well as sun or shade exposure. These climatic conditions also differ between the north and south sides of the Alps, with the tree line reaching higher altitudes in the south than in the north.

How to Get There

Located at coordinates 47°08′08″N 12°19′31″E, Hohe Tauern National Park is the largest national park in Austria and one of the largest in the mountainous area of Central Europe. It is situated in the Eastern Alps region, encompassing parts of the federal states of Salzburg, Tyrol, and Carinthia. This national park stretches along the main chain of the Eastern Alps, in the area known as Hohe Tauern, between the sources of several major rivers such as the Isel, the Möll, the Mur, and the Salzach.

Transportation map of Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria

The park can be accessed by bus, train, plane, and car.