A lot of things in life don’t always go to plan and that’s the fun of it, usually. Two friends of mine and I had been planning a week-long hike in the Austrian Alps for months, we sent round pictures of preparations and details of the exact route in a dedicated WhatsApp group and couldn’t wait for that well-deserved break.

Then both of them became ill, I was left stranded at my parents’ place and by the time they felt better, we only had three days left. All the huts and hotels were reserved already, so we just made the best of that weekend.

Here’s a little guide to help you sort out a very short mountain getaway that will still leave you with enough time to experience life on a hut, breathe in enough fresh mountain air and maybe help you find some cows to take a selfie with.

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Packing your backpack

The weather may be quite chilly. We were in the Vorarlberg region in mid August and temperature was between 7 and 15°C up there. So pack as little as possible but by no means expect summer to be what it is down in the valley.

Another word of wisdom: Hiking is actually a sport. It’s a super fun and terribly exhausting one, but you can’t do seven days of intense hiking without having prepared for it. So up your gym game or do whatever muscle training is most up your street, otherwise you’ll want to call a helicopter to pick you up on day 2… And no, I don’t speak from experience!

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Getting there

We took the train to Langen am Arlberg from Cologne, and then another bus to Lech which took the whole day. So I’d definitely recommend flying to Innsbruck and then take the train for the last bit instead if you’re pressed for time.

If I were you, I would choose my route based on how easy your starting point can be reached. Normally, there are hourly buses going to any mountain village but just make sure you don’t waste half your holiday on transport. As a general rule of thumb for longer hikes though: the harder it is to reach a certain hut, the prettier nature will be there.

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Organising your route

The German Alpine Association (DAV) will become your best friend as you chose and nail down your route. They have detailed guides on huts, hiking routes and current weather conditions. Becoming a member costs about 50 euros a year and gives you discounts on meals in the huts and accommodation. Most huts require you to reserve beds, otherwise there might not be enough space for everyone and trust me, you don’t want to walk all the way down again after six hours of sweating and swearing.

Always have a detailed map with you and never leave your path, that can get dangerous for yourself and nature alike.

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Life in the mountains

It’s is a very special atmosphere in the early afternoon, when hikers start flocking to the terraces and finally get rid of their backpacks. People gather at the terrace, have tea or beer and play cards until dinner time. And trust me, you’ve never worked so hard for a Schnitzel in your entire life!

Bring a light sleeping bag (to cover the bedding) an insulated vacuum tumbler like the Yeti bottle for making your own clean water and cash. Normally, the huts have Wifi and showers, they also serve breakfast and dinner. People usually go to bed quite early (10ish) and get up at 6am for an early start in the mountains to avoid the midday heat. Fellow hikers will also help you figure out your route for the day, if it’s raining or you got a big muscle ache, you might have to be a little flexible and find an alternative.

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Have you ever been hiking in the Alps? What were your experiences? Let us know below!  Caroline_Schmitt_Travelettes_Austria_Alps_Hiking - 20

All photos by Caroline Schmitt