The E5 Alpine Crossing (Extended)
- Complete the classic E5 Alpine crossing on this extended itinerary
- Experience three countries in one legendary trek; Germany, Austria and Italy
- Appreciate the outstanding views as you walk from Oberstdorf to Meran
- Stay in comfortable hotels and spectacularly located mountain huts
- Delicious mountain food featuring Tyrolean specialties such as Tiroler Gröstl
ItineraryDay 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.
In Oberstdorf many hotels have a minimum stay of 2-3 nights on weekends. If you arrive on a Friday or Saturday we will accommodate you in the neighbouring town of Sonthofen. There is a surcharge for weekend arrival.
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. There are limited evening dining options in the hotel itself, if you would like something heartier than the bistro options on offer, warm up with a short walk to the village of Oberstdorf itself where there are several dining options.
Spread over 5 buildings, this chalet-style hotel with spa area is located in Sonthofen in the Bavarian Alps.
Your alpine crossing starts with an included transfer to Spielmannsau. From there, start the ascent to the Kemptner Hütte and the Mädeljoch on the German-Austrian border. Enjoy the beautiful view over the Lechtal Alps, and descend through the Höhenbach Valley to Holzgau. The pretty village is known for its Lüftl paintings that adorn the walls of the houses.
The Gasthof Bären is located in the quiet mountain village of Holzgau, surrounded by a unique mountain backdrop.
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 bath.
Residence 111 is located in Holzgau in the Lech Valley nature reserve in a historic building decorated with traditional "Lüftlmalerei".
A shuttle bus will take you to the start of the hike in the Madautal valley (approx. 30 min, included). Ascend through the idyllic Alperschonbach to the Alperschonalpe and past the alpine pastures of the Knappenböden up to the highest point, the Flarschjoch, at 2464m. Then it's a comfortable 15-minute descent to the beautifully situated Ansbacher Hütte. Spend your first night in the mountains in this simple, rustic hut.
The Ansbacher hut is a simple alpine club hut in a beautiful location with a spectacular view over the Karwendel mountains. Staying in a dormitory. Dinner is included, and the innkeeper serves hearty mountaineering meals in the cosy dining room.
It will be difficult for you to part with the dream location of the Ansbacher Hütte. Descend via the Schnann Gorge to Schnann where you will catch a bus to your overnight in Zams or Landeck
This family-run hotel is located in Landeck in Tyrol's Inn Valley. The hotel is steeped in history. Guests were hosted at the Schrofenstein as early as 1848, more than 170 years ago. The name is derived from the Schrofenstein castle ruins, which stand majestically upon a cliff overlooking the area of Landeck.
The cosy, family-run guest house with 15 rooms was built in 1978 and is furnished in traditional Tyrolean style.
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.
Depending on availability we will accommodate you in hotels along the Pitztal. After arrival in Wenns you may have to take the bus for a short distance (10-20 min).
The Landhaus Gasser guest house 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!
The Gasthof Pitztaler Hof in Wenns offers a spa area and spacious rooms. All rooms have a seating area with satellite TV, and some rooms have a balcony.
The B&B Pension Elisabeth welcomes guests to a Tyrolean ambience. Rooms are simple but comfortable and a good breakfast gives you the perfect start to the day . The associated 4* Hotel Sonnblick is right across the street, where you can dine in the restaurant at reduced prices in the evening.
In the morning, you will take the bus to Mittelberg at the end of the Pitztal valley. The ascent to the Braunschweiger Hütte is accompanied by a magnificent waterfall and the glacier tongue of the Mittelbergferner. At the hut, you have the opportunity to climb the local mountain Karleskopf (approx. 30 min. ascent) or explore the nearby glacier tongue.
The Braunschweiger Hütte is a simple alpine club hut. It is located at 2759m in the Ötztal Alps at the end of the Pitztal Valley. Overnight stays are in dormitories. On the terrace, you have a dramatic view of the Ötztal glacier.
This is the most spectacular part of the E5 hike. Crossing of the Pitztaler Jöch is only recommended for those who are surefooted and don't have vertigo, but the view at the Jöchl (2,699m) over the Ötztal Alps is indescribable. From the Jöchl steeply descend over rugged boulders to the restaurant of the Rettenbach ski area. If you wish, you can continue hiking along the E5 to the cable car station, Gaislochkogelbahn, from where you float down to sophisticated Sölden or take the glacier bus from the Rettenbach Restaurant to Sölden (approx. 40 min).
Ascent/descent: approx. 350/940m
Alternatively, you can also descend via the Rettenbachjoch (2,990m) to the cable car station of the Rettenbachferner or take the cable car down from the Rettenbachjoch. This is considered a technically easier option.
Approx. 10 km, Ascent/Descent approx. 370/950m
The family-run Pension Sportalm with its own spa area enjoys a quiet location, just 200 meters from the Gaislachkoglbahn Cable Car. Rooms are decorated in a modern Alpine style and are spacious and comfortable.
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.
After a morning bus ride to the mountaineering village of Vent, depart from the standard E5 route and hike either through the narrow Rofental to the small hut Hochjoch-Hospiz or take the Venter chairlift to Sareis and hike the spectacular 3-hut panoramic trail via the Breslauer Hütte, Vernagter Hütte to the Hochjoch Hospiz. This original mountain hut takes you back to the good old mountaineering days.
Through the Rofental valley: approx. 8 km, Ascent/Descent: 520/50m
Via 3-Hütten-Höhenweg: approx. 14 km, Ascent/Descent: 690/630m
The small alpine club hut Hochjoch Hospiz takes you back to the good old days of mountaineering. The rooms are wood-panelled and hearty food is served in the cosy dining area.
An enjoyable hike through the alpine Hochjoch valley with views of the Schnals Valley Glacier takes you into Italy. Shortly after, you are greeted by the beautifully situated Bellavista hut. From here, hike to the 3289m high peak "Hintereis" if you wish. The easy but steep ascent is worthwhile, with views over the surrounding mountains. Admire the Hintereisferner glacier as it rolls out in the valley and above it, the Weißkugel, at 3739m, is the region's highest peak.
Hochjoch Hospiz - Bellavista Hut:7 km, Ascent/Descent: 600/160 m
Bellavista hut - Hintereis summit - Bellavista hut: 4 km, Ascent/Descent: 430/430m
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.
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 transfer to Merano (40 mins) for your final overnight where you can celebrate your achievement of crossing the Alps on foot!
We recommend an extra night to explore the beautiful old town of Merano with its Mediterranean flair.
A place of relaxation and well-being in Merano's greenest and most beautiful area between the botanical garden of Castle Trauttmansdorff and the old town with the thermal baths. Rooms are carefully furnished, television, telephone, safe, bathroom with shower, bidet, hairdryer, 2 floors with private balcony.
In the elegant Merano villa district of Untermais, Villa Laurus is a haven of peace and the ideal starting point for your explorations in Merano. You can relax in the hotel's own garden with a pool.
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!
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and make your way to Merano train station from where you can catch a train to Munich, Venice or Milan airports.
Other InformationIs it for me?
This extended tour is perfect for experienced Alpine hikers looking for their next challenge. With an extra three nights on the trail, this itinerary is perfect if you want to enjoy all of the E5 whilst taking your time crossing the Alps. Despite the shorter hikes, the E5 is a high alpine route and requires a level of alpine experience, a head for heights, surefootedness and is not suitable for beginners. As a result of this, the shortened walking days have you spending more overnights in alpine huts, allowing you to experience waking up in the mountains and a wonderful sense of camaraderie with your fellow walkers.
Classic Routes | If you’re the active, outdoorsy type, who’s interested in taking on the great routes of the world or looking for a challenge, then our Classic Routes are for you. We’re talking the West Highland Way, Tour Du Mont Blanc and the Passau to Vienna Danube Cycle Path, to name but a few!
Inn to Inn Walking | Walk from place-to-place changing accommodations each night. Generally staying in B&B’s, inns, and guesthouses.
Groups > 10
We have graded this trip as moderate to strenuous. Crossing the Alps on the E5 is not suitable for beginners as it crosses 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. Despite being the relaxed version, this itinerary still includes long hiking days with times ranging between 4-6 hours of walking each day and average daily ascent/descent is 1000m.
Please be aware that there may be some residual snow lying in patches on the highest passes, but this will not require any special equipment or skills; just a steady foot and experience. 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 snowfields. Walking poles are essential for this tour. To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape and be an experienced walker, having already done Alpine walking.
Crossing the Alps on the E5 is an extraordinary experience. The hikes on this relaxed itinerary are shorter than on the classic version. Nevertheless, the individual daily stages are demanding and expect walking times of approx. 4 -6 hours a day. It would help if you had a high level of fitness to enjoy this unique experience. We recommend you train regularly before travelling. Expect the alpine paths at high altitude to run over scree, rock and alpine pastures, some of which are very exposed to the elements and have rope fixes in place to assist you. Furthermore, the E5 is not suitable for children.
If you have no previous alpine hiking experience, we recommend a less technically demanding tour such as our Across the Swiss Alps: Klosters to Tirano or Tyrolean Alps Garmisch to Innsbruck.
Stay 6 nights in high-quality, friendly 3-star standard hotels and guesthouses and 4 nights in comfortable mountain huts (1 x private room and 3x dorm rooms). 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. Furthermore, baggage transfer is not available every day as the mountain huts are too remove to receive them. Therefore you will have your bags only on your overnights in the valleys.
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 on the itinerary. If unavailable, then we will book you into accommodation of the same or a higher standard.
Single Rooms & Solo Walkers
The trip is not suitable for solo travellers due to the nature of the tour. Single rooms are on request, and a supplement is payable.
Hotel upgrades are available at each overnight location (with the exception of the mountain huts) to a 3 or 4* hotel. Please see the itinerary for the upgraded options.
10 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 all of your overnights in mountain huts 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.
The E5 is well way-marked, and together with detailed route notes 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.
- 6 x overnight stays in comfortable guest houses/hotels
- 1 x overnight stay in a mountain hut in a private room (shared bathroom)
- 3 x overnight stays in a mountain hut in a shared room
- 4 x Dinners in the mountain huts
- Luggage transfer from Zams, Sölden and Meran
- Route notes, maps, info pack, GPX tracks and access to our GPS smartphone app
- 24/7 telephone support from our German and UK offices
- Transfer from Vernago to Meran Area
- Taxi transfer from Oberstdorf to Spielmannsau
- 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.
- Tourist Tax (2-3Euro per town)
- Any items not specifically mentioned in the program
- Additional nights during the holiday
- Hotel upgrade (available on 6 nights)
This walk is available to start on any day of the week from July to the middle of September.
On the 9th of July 2023, the Otztal Cycle Marathon takes place which involves road closures, limited public transport and in-demand accommodation. For this reason, we are unable to confirm any bookings starting between the 2nd to the 6th of July
The Alps have generally warm and sunny summers and cold and snowy winters. Storms can develop rapidly in the Alps and hiking trail becomes prone to landslides, avalanches, or flash floods due to the swelling of nearby water sources. If rain is forecast make sure that you are prepared with extra gear and footwear that is mud-friendly.However, the weather in the Alps can change very quickly, particularly at altitude. You should be prepared for all weather eventualities as even snow can fall in the summer in the mountains, regardless of the time of year.
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.
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.
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, from Zams to Sölden and from Sölden to Meran. On the days where bag transfer is not possible, 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.
The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all the 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.
In your information pack you will find a detailed packing list which includes walking boots, walking poles and waterproof clothes amongst other things. You may want to bring crampons for extra grip in case of snow on the high trails.
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