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Adventure of the Week: E5 Alpine Crossing
3 Min Read
11 November 2020
Adventure of the Week: E5 Alpine Crossing

We love offering a wide range of walks. It means that there is something for everyone, rewards for every level of walker. To make exploring the world on foot as open as possible to everyone, we like to make sure we have leisurely walks in beautiful places where you can relax, soak in the local culture and not worry too much about how difficult the walks are going to be. However, sometimes the greatest reward comes with the most considerable effort and to see the truly magnificent, sometimes we have to push ourselves harder than usual. Classic Alpine walking comes with this reputation, but oh the rewards! Strap on your boots, take a deep breath and start to climb on the heady paths of the E5 Alpine Crossing.

In a nutshell

Cross the Alps from the southern part of Germany, through Austria and into Italy where your trip comes to an end. This tough walk comes with the rewards of a quiet, extremely beautiful path, taking you over peaks, through valleys and exposing the wild beauty of the Alps. There are lovely accommodations including a night in one of the most sought after Alpine huts to add to the flora and fauna bursting around you in abundance.

Distance: The trip is a mere 80km. '80km', you may scoff, 'I could do that in my sleep!' and indeed there are some walking days where you will be walking a mere 8km, however, see below before instantly signing up for this trip.

Grade: Strenuous. Yes, it is a toughie! Most days involve you walking up the equivalent of Ben Nevis, (the highest mountain in the UK) though some days will be steeper and some not so steep.  The paths are in excellent condition as you would expect in the Alps, but the walking is tough, make no mistake.


The E5 is one of those lovely trips where you cross borders without really knowing it, taking you to places in the world where borders don't really matter, only nature matters. Starting off in Oberstdorf, the most southern village in Germany. This is a little outdoor paradise, full of kit shops where you can pick up anything you think you will need for the crossing.  After a short, bus transfer your walk begins, climbing up over the Mädelejoch (1,974m) and into Austria.  The next few days are spend ascending and descending in Austria before crossing into Italy for your final two days walking.

Why Walk Here?

This is epic Alpine walking at its very best. If you have tackled the Tour du Mont Blanc, this is the next logical step.  Yes, it is tougher, but the rewards are so much more. The feeling of discovering a pristine area of untouched beauty is one of those rare moments in life. The sense of achievement in crossing over the most extensive mountain range in Europe is massive, and at times you will feel like a proper explorer, standing staring over vistas of unparalleled beauty with not another soul in sight. While we sell many pilgrimage routes, to me there is very little more spiritual than this.

The whole area is geared towards hiking, and you feel part of something more significant just being in this area. The little buses you will take are Wanderbus, specifically designed for walkers, the towns are full of walkers and climbers discussing the day's events, it is just a lovely, inclusive place to be. Madau, the first town you walk to is stunningly beautiful, and all through the route, you will pass mountain huts where you can stop to sample some of the local fare or have a little liquid refreshment! One of the highlights is a night in the wonderful Bellavista hut in Italy.

Staying in a private room, you will have access to the jacuzzi and sauna and can watch the sunset over the Alps in the cleanest freshest air you will ever experience. Even the toilets have fantastic views! Nature and its sheer power and beauty are the real stars of this trip though. You will walk past several majestic waterfalls, glimpse mighty glaciers and views over Austria's beautiful Öztal valley. You will have views over the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Vernago and walk amongst snow-capped peaks all week. 

If you are lucky, you will get a chance to spot Marmotts, Ibex, Chamois, the grandeur of the Eagle Owl and many other raptors.  In Spring the wildflowers are almost overpoweringly beautiful in colour. This is a trip to escape the modern world and drink in the joys that nature provides.

Planning and preparation

Walking the E5 Alpine Crossing trip means a simple flight and train at either end of your journey. To get to Oberstdorf, you can fly into Munich, Stuttgart or Zurich and take a 2.5-4 hour train journey.  At the other end, you can connect to anywhere in Italy from Meran by train.  Milan and Venice airports are both around 5 hours travelling. We have specialists who love the Alps and know all there is to know about the E5, so don't hesitate to get in touch with them with any questions you may have by emailing at

Minna Harshbarger

Written by

Minna Harshbarger
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