Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays

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The E5 Alpine Crossing


  • Complete the classic Alpine crossing from Oberstdorf to Meran
  • Experience three countries in one legendary trek; Germany, Austria and Italy
  • A unique itinerary helps beat the crowds for a quieter trekking experience
  • Stay in the Bella Vista mountain hut and unwind in the outdoor spa-area
  • Relax in comfortable 3* hotels/guesthouses and feast on local specialties

Take on the famous E5 Alpine crossing from Germany, through Austria and finishing in Italy’s South Tyrol. This classic inn to inn route is long-distance trekking at its best and is a must for Alpine fans. Hike from mountain pass to mountain pass, taking in the scenery and serenity of the traditional Alpine towns and villages along the way.

Experience a taste of the mountain hut life by spending one night in the fantastic Bella Vista hut, in a private room, where you can relax in the outdoor sauna and jacuzzi, before refuelling on hearty mountain dishes.

This unique tour allows you to complete the crossing while enjoying the comfort of private rooms in high standard accommodations, as well as bag transfers to help lighten the load.

Day 1: Arrive in Oberstdorf

Oberstdorf is easily accessible and can be reached by train in 2.5 hours from Munich airport, 3 hours from Stuttgart airport or 4 hours from Zurich airport.

Oberstdorf is Germany’s southernmost village and is nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps. The village is car-free, making it a pleasant place to wander around before starting your E5 adventure. A popular base for all kinds of adventurers, there are plenty of outdoor and equipment shops should you need to pick up any last minute bits and pieces.

We recommend taking an extra night in Oberstdorf, to enjoy the village and to warm up on one of the numerous nearby hiking trails.

Overnight: Oberstdorf (or surrounding area)

Day 2: Bus to Spielmannsau, walk to Holzgau, transfer to Madau

Start your E5 adventure by taking a local ‘Wanderbus’ (a shuttle service specifically designed for hikers) to the hamlet of Spielmannsau (20 mins). From here the ascent to the Kemptner hut begins and the scenery becomes increasingly impressive. Keep your eyes peeled for marmots as they like to call the grassy meadows here home.  Continue to ascend to the Mädelejoch (1,974m), a mountain pass that also marks the German/Austrian border.

Start the descent through Rossgumpenalm passing the Simms waterfall and arriving in the hamlet of Holzgau, famous for its beautifully preserved buildings and their painted facades. A pre-booked transfer (35 mins) takes you from here to Madau; your overnight location.

Walking: 14 km, ascent/descent: 1000m/900m

Overnight: Madau

Day 3: Walk to Zams

Today the longest and most strenuous stage of the entire Alpine crossing awaits. From Madau, follow a steep path to the Memminger hut at 2,242m. From here, continue to ascend on rocky terrain, using your hands for some light scrambling, to reach the panoramic Seescharten pass (2,599m). The perfect place for a break; enjoy the amazing views back to the hut and the surrounding peaks.

Begin the steep descent on loose scree taking care and plenty of breaks to enjoy the views. This is a tough day, and you should count on being out and about for 8-9 hours.

A slightly easier alternative is to walk over the Alperschontal to the Ansbacher hut from where you can descend to Schnann and catch a bus to Zams (40 mins)

Walking: 17km, ascent/descent: 1300m/1950m or 16km, ascent/descent: 1250m/1350m

Overnight: Zams

Day 4: Walk to Wenns

Start the day off on a gentle note by taking the cable car (10 mins) out of Zams to Krahberg at 2,200m. Follow a beautiful high trail before beginning the descent to Wenns.

On the way you will come across typical Alpine huts like Goglesalm, Galfunalm and Larchenalm, any of which are perfect for a refreshment and sample of the local delicacies. From Larchenalm, there are two route choices; we recommend following the scenic Alten Almenweg down to Wenns.

Walking: 12.5km, ascent/descent: 380m/1590m

Overnight: Wenns

Day 5: Bus to Mittelberg and walk to Rettenbachferner, bus to Sölden

Today is, in our opinion, the most spectacular and exciting stage of the E5 crossing.

Take the bus to Mittelberg  (10-45 mins, depending on where your accommodation location) at the end of the Pitz valley to begin today’s walk. The tough ascent to the Braunschweiger hut at 2,759m is made easier by the stunning waterfall views and glimpses of the Mittelbergferners glacier. From the hut, prepare for a veritable Alpine hike to the Pitztaler Jöchl, which at 2,995m is the highest point of the E5 Alpine crossing. At these heights, you are likely to walk over late-lying snow on the rocky paths to the Jöchl, and some light scrambling is required. All this effort is rewarded with simply breath-taking views. From the pass, you really feel like you are on top of the world as you look below to Austria’s famous Öztal valley.  Descend and catch a bus to Sölden (20 mins).

Walking: 8km, ascent/descent: 1362m/380m

Overnight: Sölden

Day 6: Bus to Vent and walk to Bellavista Hut

Hop on the bus from Sölden to Vent (30 mins) where you will leave the standard E5 route behind and walk through the narrow Rofental valley to the small Hoch-joch Hospiz hut. From here, the trail meanders through the tranquil Hochjoch valley towards Italy; accompanied by views of the Schnalstal glacier.

Not long after the Italian border, the Bellavista hut awaits, where you can experience the mountain hut feeling without sacrificing on comfort or sleep! The outdoor jacuzzi and sauna are waiting for you. Watching the sun set while relaxing in the jacuzzi with views to the glaciated peaks and valleys really is a special experience.

Walking: 15.5 km, ascent/descent: 1315m/375m

Dinner & Overnight: Bella Vista Hut

Day 7: Walk to Vernago and bus to the Meran area

Leave behind the high-mountain greys and whites of the last couple of days and descend into the lush green Schnalstal valley. Follow a pleasant descending path to Kurzras. From here, take a high trail which offers great views of the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Vernago. Enjoy a final refreshment at one of the rustic huts and take in the scenery before starting the descent to Vernago and catch a bus to the Meran area (40 mins) for your final overnight where you can celebrate your achievement of crossing the Alps on foot!

Walking: 12.5km, ascent/descent: 150m/1180m

Overnight: Meran area

Day 8: Onward Travel

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and make your way to Meran city centre from where you can catch a train to Munich, Venice or Milan airports.  


Stay 6 nights in high-quality, friendly 3-star standard hotels and guesthouses and 1 night in a comfortable mountain hut in a private room.

Please be aware that twin & double rooms in Austria and Germany (Doppelzimmer in German) are typically 2 single mattresses side by side in one double bed frame with two separate duvet covers and pillows.

In Oberstdorf, we cannot guarantee you will be staying in the town centre as it is such a popular base for walkers and many hotels have a two night minimum restriction in the high-summer months. In this case, we will accommodate you in the surrounding areas. This also applies to Meran. Accommodation in the city itself is quite hard to come by so in these cases we will accommodate you in Meran’s environs; Naturns, Rabland, Algund or Vernago/Vernagt.

Some examples of accommodations we typically use are listed below. If unavailable then we will book you into accommodation of the same or a higher standard.  

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the nature of the tour. Single rooms are on request and  a supplement is payable.

Hotel Upgrades

Hotel upgrades are available at each overnight location (with the exception of the Bella Vista Mountain hut) to a 3 or 4* hotel. Please see below for a selection of our upgrade hotels.


7 continental breakfasts are included. This is usually in buffet form and there are many filling breakfast items available which are perfect for hikers; e.g. boiled eggs, ham, cheese, fresh bread and muesli.

Lunch is not included and can be picked up at local supermarkets or ‘Backerei’ along the way. If you are staying in a remote area, most accommodations will also be able to provide you with a packed lunch for the day, ask upon arrival (payable locally). There are also various lunch options along the way in typical alpine chalets and huts.

Dinner is included in the Bella Vista hut and consists of three courses.

The Explorer Hotel in Oberstdorf does not offer a full restaurant service. There is a Bistro-Bar where you can pick up small dishes like Flammkuchen (pizza like, but without the tomatoes!), Sandwiches and Salad. For more dinner options in Oberstdorf, we recommend a short walk into the town itself where there is a large choice of restaurants. 

In Bavaria, sausage is king so be sure to try one of their specialities like ‘Weisswurst’. ‘Käsespätzle’ is a kind of eggy pasta topped with melted cheese and sometimes crispy fried onion– it’s the ultimate comfort food!

Typical Austrian dishes include the classic ‘Schnitzel’ (can be made from chicken, veal mutton, but usually from pork) and be sure to try some ubiquitous home-made ‘Apfelstrudel’.

Tiroler specialities include ‘Tiroler Gröstl’, a bacon, onion and potato fry-up topped with a fried egg, or ‘Kiachl’ a fried yeast dough pastry that can be served sweet or savoury.

If you have any dietary requirements please let us know at the time of booking.




Explorer Hotel

Located just outside of Oberstdorf, the Explorer Hotel is a popular base for adventurers. Fill up on the hearty breakfast before starting your E5 adventure.




Berggasthaus Hermine

Berggasthaus Hermine

An idyllic mountain guesthouse located in the Madauer valley, directly on the E5 trail. Rustic, traditional rooms and delicious food awaits you.




Pension Haueis

Pension Haueis

This charming family run guesthouse is located in the centre of Zams. Relax on the outdoor terrace with a well-earned drink and take in the surrounding mountain views.




Landhaus Gasser

Landhaus Gasser

The Landhaus Gasser guesthouse is found in the centre of Wenns, not far from the bus stop. Rooms are simple yet spacious and comfortable and the owners prepare a great breakfast!




Heiners Pension

Heiners Pension

Claudia, Sebastian and their friendly team offer a warm welcome to their traditional Alpine ‘pension’. Located in central Sölden, it also includes an on-site restaurant offering superb local dishes.




Bella Vista Hut

Bella Vista Hut

Located in the middle of the mountains, really is a special place. Enjoy the mountain hut atmosphere while benefiting from the privacy and comfort of your own private room. Relax tired muscles in the outdoor sauna and jacuzzi before feasting on some good home-cooked mountain food.




Hotel Kreuzwirt

This 3* hotel is well placed in Naturns and has a wonderful atmosphere. It’s a fantastic place to finish your E5 tour! There is an on-site restaurant which isn’t to be missed!




Hotel Neue Post- Holzgau

Hotel Neue Post- Holzgau

Boasting wonderful mountain views, this family-run hotel is well situated in the middle of the village. On sunny days, relax on one of the two sun terraces or benefit from the sauna, steam bath or herbal steam




Hotel Jägerhof - Zams

Hotel Jägerhof - Zams

Bright welcoming rooms and an extensive spa area make the Hotel Jägerhof a fantastic upgrade option. Enjoy the cosy, alpine atmosphere and the local specialities in the on-site restaurant.




Hotel Edelweiss- Vernago

Hotel Edelweiss- Vernago

Benefiting from a unique location directly on Lake Vernago, a warm welcome awaits from the friendly team. The Alpine style hotel boasts a fantastic wellness area overlooking the lake as well as a great restaurant





This walk is available to start on any day of the week from the middle of  June  to the middle of September. 

On the 1st of September 2019, the Otztal Cycle Marathon takes places
which involves road closures, limited public transport and in-demand
accommodation. For this reason we are unable to confirm any bookings
starting between the 26th and 29th August (inclusive).  

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the nature of the tour. Single rooms are on request and  a supplement is payable.

Grade & Fitness

This trip is graded ‘strenuous’ overall, as the walks are tough, crossing high mountain passes over rocky, rough and exposed terrain. The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, making progress more difficult if it becomes wet underfoot. Some sections include rope which is bolted into the rock face to aid ascent/descent. This itinerary includes long hiking days with times ranging between 6-9 hours of walking each day. The highest point of this tour is 2,995m. It is likely, even in the height of summer, that you will walk over late-lying patches of snow or snow fields. Average daily ascent/descent is 1000-1500m. You should have Alpine hiking experience, a head for heights and be in great shape to undertake this tour.

Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The E5 is well way-marked, and together with detailed route notes, maps and the Macs Adventure Smartphone App enabling you to follow the route using your phone's GPS, you will have no problems finding the way.

Baggage Transfer

Bag transfer of one bag per person (up to 20kg) is included as standard. Bag transfer is only possible on the following days; from Oberstdorf to Zams (day 3), from Zams to Sölden (day 5) and from Sölden to Maren (day7). On the days where bag transfer is not possible (day 2, day 4 and day 6), you will need to carry your overnight things in your day bag and then you will be reunited with your main bag the following night. 

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear, sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof gear, walking shoes/boots, and lots of other useful bits and bobs.

Getting to Oberstdorf

Fly into Munich, Stuttgart or Zurich airport and then take a train to Oberstdorf (2.5, 3 or 4 hours). The national railway of Germany is operated by Deutsche Bahn. Information can be found in English on their website.

Getting from Meran

From Meran you can travel by train to any other Italian destination, or to Venice or Milan airports ( both about 5 hours). You can also travel to Munich airport by train which takes about 5 hours in total. The national railway of Italy is Trenitalia and information can be found in English on their website.





  • 6 nights in comfortable guesthouses/hotels
  • 1 night in a private room in a mountain hut
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 1 Dinner
  • Bag transfers on days 3, 5 & 7
  • Shuttle bus transfer on day 2
  • Route notes, maps, info pack, GPX tracks and access to our GPS smartphone app
  • 24/7 telephone support from our German and UK offices


  • Flights and travel to Oberstdorf and from the Meran area
  • Lunches, 6 dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Public transport/cable cars
  • Travel Insurance
  • Taxi transfers or public transportation if you wish to shorten a walk
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the program


  • Single room supplement(s) if applicable.
  • Additional nights during the holiday.
  • Hotel upgrade (available on 6 nights)

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised so that we can secure the best accommodation options for you.

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded ‘strenuous’ overall, as the walks are tough, crossing high mountain passes over rocky, rough and exposed terrain. The weather can also change quickly in the mountains, making progress more difficult if it becomes wet underfoot. Some sections include rope which is bolted into the rock face to aid ascent/descent. This itinerary includes long hiking days with times ranging between 6-9 hours of walking each day. The highest point of this tour is 2,995m. It is likely, even in the height of summer, that you will walk over late-lying patches of snow or snow fields. Average daily ascent/descent is 1000-1500m. You should have Alpine hiking experience, a head for heights and be in great shape to undertake this tour.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Your bags will be transferred from your accommodation as per the itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation. Due to the mountainous nature of the area, we are unable to deliver bags each day. Your main bag will be transferred to Zams, Sölden and the Meran area. On all other days, you will need to carry your overnight things and you will be reunited with your main bag the following day.We ask you to limit your luggage to one bag of up to 20kg per person.

What equipment do I need?

Your detailed information pack will be sent to you after you book. This has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.

What happens if I can’t walk a stage?

You can use public transport or a local taxi to continue to your next overnight stop. Your accommodations will be able to help with arrangements, or we are able to assist you from our German and UK office. 

Amazing E5 Crossing


Having done the Tour de Mont Blanc with Macs a couple of years ago we decided to try the E5 crossing. We were very lucky to have good weather as the week before there had been 40cm of snow. The walking was strenuous especially the Madau to Zams which according to our data was 26km not 17km as stated by Macs? The walk to the Bellavista Hut was confusing as all the signposts stated the German name for the hut. All the accommodation was first class and all the staff were lovely and friendly. I would advise an additional night in Merano in Hotel Bavaria as they are both stunning. The only downside for us was the bus/taxi times which meant you had a deadline on some days.

Northern Hikers



E5 worth every step.


Excellent walk offering a variety of terrains in the Austrian Alps. Accomodation delightful and appreciated with helpful hosts.


Melbourne, Australia




The E5 trail is excellent. Great sense of adventure to cross three countries and five mountain passes. Very good choice of accommodation and good choice of routes and trip length. Watch out for the walk to Zams which took us 11 hours Try to stay in Holzgau which has an amazing sky bridge. Zams and Solden hotels were great

Family trip



Stunning hike!


Tough but well worth the effort. MacsAdventures did a great job with organisation. The mobile app was excellent




Great hikes, good detail and great customer service


We kept changing who was going on our trip and Mac Adventures always made the changes, answered all our the questions....Craig was a saint. Issued a 70% refund when someone dropped out a month before.




E5: unforgettable scenery


The scenery in the Otztal Valley in Austria was unforgettable. The amount of snow added to the splendour. The walk from Vent to Bellavista (Schone Aussicht) was one of the best ever. The final setting of Lake Vernago (Vernago) was the cherry on the cake.

Don't look down



Awesome trip


It truly was a great trip and well supported. No complaints at all.


Montana, USA


A beautiful hike in the bavarian alps


My husband and I have done the Tour de Mont Blanc and have hiked the Julian Alps. We enjoy the strenuous hiking so we decided to try the Bavarian/Tirolian Alps. It was a bit of an adventure getting to the starting off point. The trains going from Munich to Obertsdorf were slightly confusing but we eventually got there. From then on, we had to take public transportation almost every day to reach the day's hike's starting off place. The hikes themselves were beautiful and challenging. Though we were told that mudslides might disrupt some of the bus service, we weren't told that some of the hikes required navigating through quite a lot of snow. Also, for one of the last hikes, we were given the Italian name for the destination instead of the German name which was the name on all of the markers.

Hiker Hil

Pennsylvania, USA


Let Mac do your "Leg Work"!!!!


I great affordable way to have the adventure of a life time. Why do all the organizing when Mac does it for you. We had to add a person and add a day and Nick Robinson at Mac put it all together for us Last Minute. We will us Mac again and again. Let Mac do the "leg work" and then go out and play and get the "leg work".




Bavaria to South Tyrollean Italy via Austria - as you do


I knew the E5 would be a tough hiking trip and it was! The scenery and areas that needed traversed to complete the trip are simply stunning. Some of the most dramatic alpine scenery I've seen.

Andy Keys



The E5 Alpine Crossing

4.7 11


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