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Open Air in the Green Heart of Austria: Hiking and Cycling in Styria - Al Fresco Holidays

styria

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Located in the south east of the country, Styria; with its rich wineries, sun-soaked, verdant hills and alpine scenery, isn’t called Austria’s ‘Green Heart’ for nothing.

From breath-taking gorges and looming mountains to pleasant green meadows, Styria has a reputation for being a paradise for nature-lovers, and as a result, it’s gained a name for itself as one of the best hiking and cycling destinations in the continent.

There are numerous cycling routes and hiking trails across the region, offering a great diversity of scenery and level of challenge. Seasoned cyclists and hardened hikers will find routes to satisfy their thirst for adventure, and novice walkers and casual bicycle users will also find a route that gives them a taste of the open air, without breaking too much of a sweat!

Natural accommodation for a natural holiday

When looking for a place to stay in Styria, rather than booking a hotel, consider a campsite, which offers a far greater level of immersion with your natural surroundings. For example, the Camping Bella Austria site, located in stunning woodlands around the small town of St Peter am Kammersberg, has a real back-to-nature feel to it, and a dip in the swimming pool is always appreciated after a long day cycling or hiking!

Just a Few Cycling Highlights in Styria

If you’re armed with a bicycle and raring to take to the hills and mountains of Styria, here are just a few of the best routes available to you:

Graz to Schilcher Wine Country

Schilcher Wine Country

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This popular cycling trail begins in Graz, the capital of the region and a great place to explore for a day or two, with two UNESCO World Heritage sites in the heart of the city.

After leaving the city, you’ll swiftly find yourself in fertile countryside, surrounded by pumpkin fields and traditional villages, before eventually arriving in the heart of the country’s wine region. There are a few lakes along the way where you can stop off and have a quick swim, before sampling some of the local produce at the wineries. The trail ends back in Graz, and takes approximately a day and a half, taken at a fairly leisurely pace.

River Enns Cycling Trail

If you’re looking for something a little more challenging, then the River Enns trail is an excellent option. The route takes around 3-4 days to complete and leads a beautiful path through three states in total: Styria, Salzburg and Upper Austria.

Part of the main attraction here is the ever-changing landscape that you’ll experience as you follow the river route. Dramatic mountains gradually give way to gentler rolling fields, until you finally reach the River Danube at Steyr.

Feistritz Valley Cycling Trail

Romantic, wild landscapes and dense, mysterious forests make up the scenery on the Feistritz Valley trail. In the east of the region, it’s one of the best cycling routes for nature lovers, and the landscape is among the most impressive in the entire country.

It takes roughly 7–8 hours to complete and you can also incorporate a steam train ride from Weiz, which offers another way to experience the remarkable panoramas of the land.

Some of the best walking routes in Styria

If you’d rather explore the terrain by foot, then here are just a few of the best walking trails available in Styria:

The Bistriski Vintgar Gorge trail

Bistriski Vintgar Gorge

Source: Flickr

If you like your landscape to be rugged, wind-swept and dramatic, then this is a wonderful walk to enjoy. It generally takes around 3–4 hours, and is relatively undemanding, even for an inexperienced walker.

The walk not only leads you to the gorge, but past other impressive sites, such as early Roman quarries, ancient settlements and pretty waterfalls.

Koralm Crystal Trail

The Koralm Crystal Trail is more suited to experienced hikers, with mountain elevations of up to 2000 metres; it takes approximately 3–4 days to complete. The route is mainly alpine, and as a result, you can expect great views of the land below, woodland and plenty of flower-filled mountain meadows.

The trail also leads you through Styria’s wine producing region, and past many of the best wineries in the area.

Hirschbirne Pear Trail

This easy walk, which winds a lazy path through thick forests and pretty fields (often lined with pear trees), is perfect for walkers with children who want to enjoy the surroundings as a family.

The trail concludes in Pollauberg, a famous church of pilgrimage in Styria, and in total, should take only 2–3 hours to complete.

Whatever your age or ability, if you’re a nature lover and want to spend a week or two enjoying fresh air and spectacular scenery, a holiday in Styria might be just the thing you’re looking for.

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