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The E5 Alpine Crossing

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.6 Read 14 reviews
  • Complete the challenging 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, strenuous 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.
This self-guided tour is perfect for experienced Alpine hikers looking for their next challenge. It is ideal for those who don’t want to sacrifice on comfort, and enjoy hiking away from the crowds. Stay in 3* hotels/guesthouses and spend one night in a mountain hut (private room). It is graded extreme with an average daily ascent/descent of 1000-1500m and terrain that covers scree, rocky and exposed paths with sections of rope to aid ascent/descent.

Tour Type:

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.

This trip is suitable for:

Groups > 10

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Long-Distance Trails
  • Accessible by Rail
  • Alpine Walking

Activity Level & Terrain

This trip is graded ‘extreme’ 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 snowfields. The 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.


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.

Experience & Fitness

The tour includes long hiking days with walking times of 6-9 hours. Each day, you climb up or down an average of 1000-1500 vertical meters. You should have a very good condition to be able to enjoy this unique experience. We recommend you to 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.


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.

If you arrive at the weekend we will accommodate you in a hotel in Sonthofen. Sonthofen is located only a few kilometres from Oberstdorf as if you arrive on a Friday or Saturday there is a surcharge for a weekend arrival.

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 specialties 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 specialties 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 savory.

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

  • 5 nights in comfortable guesthouses/hotels
  • 2 night in a private room in a mountain hut
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 2 Dinner
  • Bag transfers on days 3, 5 & 7
  • Transfers on day 1
  • Route notes, 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
  • Flights and travel to Oberstdorf and from the Meran area
  • Lunches, 5 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
  • Additional nights during the holiday
  • Hotel upgrade (available on 6 nights)

When To Go

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.

Weather and Climate

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.

Getting to the Start

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 the End

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.

Luggage 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.

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.


What happens if I can’t walk a stage?
What equipment do I need?
How do the baggage transfers work?
How fit do I need to be?
How far in advance do I need to book?


Day 1: Arrive in Oberstdorf/Sonthofen Day 2: Transfer to Spielmannsau, walk to Holzgau, bus to Madau 9 miles / 14 km Day 3: Walk to Zams/Landeck 11 miles / 17 km Day 4: Walk to Wenns/Pitztal 8 miles / 12.5 km Day 5: Bus to Mittelberg and walk to Rettenbachferner, bus to Sölden 5 miles / 8 km Day 6: Bus to Vent and walk to Bellavista Hut 10 miles / 15.5 km Day 7: Walk to Vernago and transfer to the Meran area 8 miles / 12.5 km Day 8: Onward Travel

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