Key information: Stubai Alps
- The Stubai is a vast and complex horseshoe of high, spectacular, glacier-bearing mountains around the central and lovely Stubaital, due south of Innsbruck and with its back to the Italian border.
- There are endless great walks here, from short explorations to multi-dayers.
- Walkopedia rating91
- Natural interest17
- Human interest6
- Negative points0
- Total rating91
- Length: Your choice
- Maximum Altitude: 3,413m
- Level of Difficulty: Variable
The Stubai is a vast and complex horseshoe (or perhaps, risking bathos, a curling tadpole with its head to the north-west) of high, dark, spectacular, glacier-bearing mountains around the central and lovely Stubaital valley system, due south of Innsbruck and with its back to the Italian border. It is more complicated than that, though: valleys wind into the mass from west and east, many with outstanding walking. The mountains around the head of the Stubaital are some of the most impressive in the Austrian Alps.
The scenery is spectacular, with superb views of snowy peaks, mountain lakes, shimmering glaciers and typical “Alpine” meadows massed with flowers. Far-reaching views from the highest points, from the Swiss Alps to the Dolomites. A variety of wildlife can be seen, including the lovable marmot, chamois, ibex and various raptors and vultures.
There are endless great walks here, from short explorations to multi-dayers. The Stubai are well loved, so the main paths won’t generally feel like you have got remote, although you can get away.
Its mountain huts are one of Austria’s glories, and there are plenty of them in this area (14 in the central Stubai alone), usually in superb or at the least very pretty and charming locations. The Cicerone describes the Stubai as “the ultimate district for multi-day hut-to-hut tours”. There are some superb multi-day hut-to-hut walks, and you can devise your own, to suit your tastes and capacities. You just need to look at maps and guidebooks and salivate. Note, though, that you do need to book ahead.
Höhenweg/Runde Tour/Rucksack route: one of Austria’s finest walks: this magnificent trek follows a horseshoe of excellent huts around the high Stubai mountains. Superb views and drama once you are “up”. Walkopedia covets this walk. Up to 9 days, although it can be shortened into a 6-7 day route by starting at the Nürenberger Hut. Shorter versions of this walk, still magnificent but needing less time-commitment include:
The Nurenberger Hut to the Dresdner Hut: climb the Langenthal valley to the Nurenberger Hut, then cross the high ridges at the heart of the great bowl at the head of the Stubaital on days 4 and 5 of the Höhenweg, on to the Sulzenau Hut via Mairspitze, then on to the Dresdner Hut, thence back to the roadhead by path or by cable car.
Dresdner Hut to Starkenberger Hut: take the cable car to near the Dresdner Hut, then make a classic 3½ day walk on days 6 to 9 of the Hohenweg, via the Neue Regensberger Hut and the Franz Senn Hut.
Stubai Glacier Tour: this high, tough, magnificent hut-to-hut trek crosses high passes and a number of glaciers. Only for the experienced or well guided! 6-7 days.
North-west loop: an easier but still interesting and beautiful route is the 4 day loop south from Kühtai into the mountains above the Nedertal and Sulztal, finishing back at Gries im Sellrain.
North-central day walking and bases: The most famous walking (but the most popular) is approached from the north.
The Sellraintal/Lünsenstal: a long valley system in the north of the range which leads deep into the biggest mass of mountains in the range, with a road enabling you to get well in and up in before you start a-walking. The Cicerone guide lists 7 exciting walks in the area, but there are many more to be made. Village base: Gries im Sellrain. The Lüsens gasthof at its head is a fine base for high day-walking or start point for multi-day adventures.
The Stubaital is the longest of the area’s valleys, burrowing, with its main tributaries, deep into the high clustering of mountains on the Italian border, in amongst crags and cracked ridges. With outstanding drama and beauty, it is the most populated and visited of the valleys, but it is also exceptionally walk-rich. The two main tributaries have wonderful valleys, the Pinnistal and the Oberbergtal. You can base yourself in the now pretty developed valley-bottom villages, or in high huts, and explore for days. Or you can create your own multi-dayer, even joining part of the Höhenweg.
The well-known walk up the eastern Pinnistal takes you in 4.5 hrs (10km or so) from Neder in the valley floor to the Innsbrucker Hut, superbly sited on a high pass at 2,370m, a long, demanding climb of some 1,400m (which can be shortened by taking a ride to the Pinnisalm). This is a wonderful ascent up a really lovely valley surrounded by cliffs and peaks, albeit much of the way on a vehicle track. You could return in a very long day, or stay in the hut and explore the highlands. This walk is the main starter day on the Höhenweg.
The western Oberbergtal is long and lovely, with the popular Franz Senn Hut high up the valley an excellent place for further exploration. It is some 3km / 1.5hrs from the road (which must be reached by minibus). Fantastic walks from the hut include: a climb to the famously sited Rinnensee lake on the western ridge, and, for the keen, on to the 3,000m+ Rinnenspitze; the Franz-Senn-Weg along the northern ridge back to the Starkenburger Hut high above Neustift (part of the Höhenweg); and the 2,677m Vorderer Sommerwand on the high ridge rising to the south of the hut, a reasonably easy 500m climb.
The central main valley, the Unterbergtal, ends in a (fortunately limited) spoilt ski area, a blot on the area’s otherwise special beauty, but one which can be avoided. It is the valley which gets the furthest into the heart of the range, closest to the Italian border. It is around this valley that several days of the grand horseshoe of the Stubaier Höhenweg swing. There are several wonderfully-sited huts high above.
You can take a trail south up the Langental to the Nürnberger Hut (also on the Höhenweg) at 2,278m in 3 hrs+. It is a great place to stay, again, with plenty to explore – see our Above the Nürnberger Hut page. The most famous local walks are the thrilling if at times exposed climbs along a stretch of the Höhenweg from the Nürnberger Hut over a ridge to the west to the outstandingly sited Grünausee, the northern of them taking in the Mairspitze Summit at 2,750m, and the long, climb to the 3,413m Wilder Freiger on the Italian border.
The Sulzenau Hut (a Höhenweg overnight) is beautifully sited in the heart of the great bowl of mountains, with exceptional views up to the waterfalls and dark craggy peaks and shimmering glaciers above (what’s left of them) and several top-notch walking option. The Stubaier Höhenweg comes through here, with alternative routes onward, to the Nürnberger Hut to the east, including a stiff climb to the view-dazzling Mairspitze (2,780m); and westward with alternative ways of crossing the high ridge on the way to the Dresdner Hut. You can also walk on the Lübecker Weg up the valley above the hut, to the base of the great Fernerstube glacier. And (with the right kit), one of the Stubai's easiest-climbed major peaks on the high border ridge with Italy, 3,419m Wilder Freiger.
The Dresdner Hut sits below the glaciers at the valley head: while the area around it is ski-scarred, it is a great starting-point for unforgettable shorter hut-to-hut walks (west-north, or east) along the Höhenweg, as there is summer cable car access to nearly, thus bypassing the need for the 600m climb from the road-head at Mutterberg.
Western day walking and bases:
The Windachtal winds to a very impressive terminus right by the Italian border. Several good walks, the best probably being the climb to the Seekarsee above Gasthof Fiegl.
The Sulztal leads up to the heart of the range, with the village of Gries at its heart and Längenfeld at its base. A wonderful base for walking, and a good start to multi-dayers. The steep climb (3hrs+ one way) to the Winnebachsee Hut, which is superbly sited, is worthwhile, and you can base yourself at the hut and make several marvellous walks from there. Even better is the pleasant track up the upper Sulztal to the Amberger Hut, which is set in the wide, richly meadowed upper valley (for instance to view the Sulztalferner glacier) and is itself surrounded by major peaks, including the 3,497 Schrankogl directly above it. Further walks can be made on up the valley or onto surrounding high ground for gorgeous views. Oddly, given its position at the heart of the range, there are no “normal” walks across the high range to the Stubaital valleys.
The Horlachtal nestles the lovely village of Niederthai at the roadhead and has the fine Gubener Schweinfurter Hut at its head, from which you can explore the lovely highlands or head on elsewhere in the range.
The northernmost valley of Nedertal also has some fine walking, although perhaps not in the same league as the others.
Längenfeld (at the base of Sulztal) and Sölden (at the foot of Windachtal) are good western-flank bases in the Ötztal, from which you can explore these valleys.
This can be tough walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather, where altitude can cause problems. Come fully prepared.
Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on the area and its facilities.
Walking in Austria – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including 10 in the Stubai Alps. As usual, an inspiring book (indeed Walkopedia was alerted to many of these walks by the Cicerone), packed with valuable information. Recommended. Also, Trekking in the Stubai Alps – Alan Hartley/Cicerone, about the Hohenweg (Rucksack Route/Runde Tour) and the Glacier Tour. THE book on these trails, with all the detail and care you would expect.
Find relevant books on Amazon.
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Books and Maps
Books on these walks (support us: find these and many more using our Amazon links box)
Walking in Austria – Kev Reynolds for Cicerone: more than 100 walks in the Austrian Alps, including 10 in the Stubai. As usual, an inspiring book (indeed, Walkopedia was alerted to some of these walks by the Cicerone), packed with valuable information, including good detail on the routes. As Austrian maps are good, it has less on each walk that some other Cicerones, but that is fine. Recommended.
Trekking in the Stubai Alps – Alan Hartley/Cicerone, about the Höhenweg (Runde Tour/Rucksack Route) and the Höhenweg/ Glacier Tour. THE book on these trails, with all the detail and care you would expect.
Find these and other books on Amazon.
Other books (support us: find books using our Amazon links box)
Find these and other books on Amazon.
Alpenvereinkart – Walking/Ski Maps Austria, Germany and Italy.
Freytag & Berndt’s WK241 map is a good 1:50,000 overview of the Stubai, with walking routes marked.
The basic maps in the Cicerone guidebook are useful in conjunction with more detailed maps.
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
May/June to September/October, depending on how high you want to walk. That said, Spring and Autumn are good times to walk, as they avoid the hot and busy high summer months of July and August.
Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather (wet frosts can last for days) and cold nights high up.
Innsbruck is the nearest airport (Munich and Venice further afield – you can then head on train or bus, or hire a car and drive). Skyscanner is an excellent (relatively new) site for finding the flights you need; or look at what’s available on TripAdvisor.
Innsbruck is the main access town/city and less than an hour by bus from the main valley-bottom villages.
Public transport is generally excellent – and integrated, with trains between the cities and plentiful buses, so it is viable to get to most places this way.
The valleys are reached by a service bus which shuttles to and fro all day along the valley bottoms, you can park a car in most of them too.
Car hire is reasonably easy.
Those on organised expeditions are likely to be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.
No permits are needed to do these walks.
Local taxi services generally exist in the towns, can (eg) take to or pick you up from a roadhead, or transport luggage.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
- Altitude: can affect some. Acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope
- Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change rapidly. Come prepared.
- Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
- Heights: can be dangerous; not for those who have difficulties with heights.
- Glaciers: are for the experienced/guided and properly equipped only.
- This can be remote country: help may be hard to get if things go wrong.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
You can walk here independently, but come fully prepared.
Some people form or join organised/supported expeditions, particularly to do multi-day walks. This can have advantages – the firm will have chosen the best routes, will book you into huts etc. And, they can arrange “slackpacking” – ie, having your bags carried from one night stop to the next, and walking with a day pack only, although this will limit the selection of walks you can do to lower-level ones, or you can need to carry night kit for some sections if you want to get remote.
And, walking here with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages. Choosing a suitable guide or company is of course vital.
If hiring a guide locally, meet him/her and get comfortable before committing. Make sure all requirements are understood and agreed – including the sort of routes you want to take, any overnight arrangements, and, of course, remuneration!
Expedition organisers include:
Check TripAdvisor for some reviews of this area and walk organisers which may prove helpful.
PLEASE HELP Walkopedia by recommending any reputable tour organizers that you know of – local or otherwise.
The area has an excellent selection of accommodation, from comfortable hotels, to guesthouses, to flats and rooms to let, to camping. There are various local accommodation websites.
Neustift and other villages have a lot of accommodation but have retained some charm and character.
There are numerous mountain huts in the area, usually in superb or at the least very pretty and charming locations. They provide good food as well as comfortable sleeping, from dormitories to double or family rooms. Most require you to bring a sleeping bag liner, although some a sleeping bag too. You do, though, need to book ahead.
The contact details of huts in a number of the best areas are in the Cicerone books as well as in local websites.
With the mountain hut network so good, there is less desire to wild camp in Austria than in many countries, and there isn’t much clear information on the rules. It appears to be discouraged, but, as long as you're sensible and low-key, there shouldn't be an issue. (Please let us know if this can be clarified further!)
See what the commentary on TripAdvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.
A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.
For accommodation in and around Neustift im Stubaital (start and end point of Höhenweg) contact the tourist office www.neustift.com
Stubai Tourist Office, Dorf 3, Stubaitalhaus, A-6167 Neustift, Tel: +43 (0) 501881 – 0, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotels range from 5* to simple bed and breakfast accommodation and camping.
Walkopedia stayed at the pleasant, friendly and reasonable value Pension Gletscherblick in Fulmes.
Other information and tips
www.aacuk.org.uk The Austrian Alpine Club (UK) is inexpensive to join, members benefit from reduced rates at alpine huts and full insurance cover.
Useful websites and information
There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
- The local tourist offices are usually very helpful and have useful information, including accommodation and mountain hut contact details. They will happily send brochures. See https://www.stubai.at/en/.
- Try www.flickr.com for pictures of this walk.
- Have a look at TripAdvisor – there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on this area.
Other things to do in the area
Austria has a huge variety of great walks. There is likely to be a good walk within range wherever you may be. The various books have a multitude of ideas.
Mountain biking; nature, including birdwatching; lake and river swimming.
The Stubai is popular for climbing.
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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