The E5 Alpine Crossing8 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
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 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.
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.
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.
ItineraryDay 1: Arrive in Oberstdorf/Sonthofen
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.
Dieses Hotel im Chalet-Stil mit Wellnessbereich verteilt sich auf 5 Gebäude und befindet sich in Sonthofen in den bayerischen Alpen.
Start your E5 adventure by taking a transfer 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 bus takes you from here to Madau; your overnight location.
Ein uriges Berggasthaus in Madau, das Berghüttenfeeling verspricht.
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.
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).
Depending on availability we will accommodate you in Zams or Landeck.
The cosy, family-run guest house with 15 rooms was built in 1978 and is furnished in traditional Tyrolean style.
Auch im historischen Gasthof Gemse können Sie übernachten. Er bietet Platz für 25 Gäste.
Die Zimmer sind einfach eingerichtet. Das Gasthaus verfügt über ein Restaurant im Landhausstil.
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.
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.
Die B&B Pension Elisabeth heisst Gäste in Tiroler Ambiente willkommen. In den schlichten, komfortablen Zimmern fühlen Sie sich wohl und ein gutes Frühstück macht Sie fit für den Tag. Das dazugehörende 4* Hotel Sonnblick liegt gleich gegenüber, wo Sie sich abends im Restaurant zu vergünstigten Preisen verköstigen können.
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).
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.
Available as an upgrade
The cosy Hotel Grauer Bär awaits you in a quiet area, just 100 meters from the Gaislachkogel cable car. It is located a few minutes from the centre of Sölden.
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 with a large panoramic terrace and outdoor sauna. Look forward to the especially delicious included evening menu here.
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.
Im eleganten Meraner Villenviertel Untermais ist die Villa Laurus Ihr Ruhepol und idealer Ausgangspunkt für Ihre Erkundungen in Meran. Im hoteleigenen Garten mit Pool können Sie entspannen.
The modern and family-run boutique hotel Aurora is located on the waterfront in the heart of the spa town of Merano.
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.
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