The E5 Alpine Crossing (Extended)11 Days & 10 Nights
- 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
What To Expect
Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent active trip.
Hut to Hut Hiking | A point to point walking trip, staying in a new location each night, usually with remote mountain huts or refuges included
This trip is suitable for:
Ideal if you have an interest in:
- Personal Growth
- Alpine Hiking
Activity Level & TerrainWe 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.
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.
Experience & FitnessCrossing 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.
- 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
- Transfer Holzgau to Madau
- Shuttle bus from Meran to Oberstdorf
- 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
- Single room supplement
- Additional nights during the holiday
- Taxi from Oberstdorf to the start of the hike in Spielmannsau
- Additional luggage transfer to Holzgau and Wenns
When To Go
This walk is available to start on any day of the week from the middle of June to the middle of September.
On the 30th of August 2020, 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 25th and 29th August (inclusive).
Weather and Climate
The Alps have generally warm and sunny summers and cold and snowy winters. However, 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, 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 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
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.
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.
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.
The Gasthof Bären is located in the quiet mountain village of Holzgau, surrounded by a unique mountain backdrop.
Surrounded by alpine meadows and mountains, the family-run Landhaus Marion offers rooms and apartments with south-facing balconies. The centre of Holzgau is a 2-minute walk away.
Die kleine Pension liegt mitten im Naturpark Tiroler Lech, eingebettet in Wiesen und Wäldern zwischen den Allgäuer Alpen und Lechtaler Alpen.
A transfer takes you to the start of the hike in the Madautal valley (30 minutes, included). Gently ascend on a gravel road through the idyllic Alperschonbach to the Alperschonalpe. Hike through the alpine meadows of the Knappenboden whilst ascending to the Flarschjoch ridge, the highest point of today, sitting at 2,464m. Continue on an easy descent from here to the Ansbacher hut, for your first overnight in the mountains in this simple, rustic hut.
Ascent /Descent: 1250/180 m
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.
Wake up deep in the mountains, in the Ansbacher Hütte. Start your walk after a hearty breakfast in a hut, descending to Schnann. Starting with a steep descent as the trail makes its way down into the Inn valley, through the Schnanner gorge, before reaching Schann. From here catch a bus (departs once an hour) to Landeck and Zams.
Ascent /Descent: 50/1250 m
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.
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.
Surrounded by an impressive mountain landscape, this rustic 3-star hotel awaits you in St. Leonhard in the Pitztal.
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 you have the chance to hike to the Karleskopf mountain summit (approx. 30 minutes ascent) or explore the nearby glacier tongue.
Ascent / Descent: 1050/50 m
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.
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. If you wish, continue to the Gaislochkogelbahn gondola station, or you can take the glacier bus from the Rettenbach restaurant to Sölden (approx. 40 minutes, approx. € 15).
Ascent /Descent: 400/1000 m
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.
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.
Through the Rofental: approx. 9 km, Ascent/Descent: approx. 550/50 m
Via the 3-hut high path: approx. 14 km, Ascent/Descent: approx. 700/630 m
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.
Hike through the alpine Hochjoch valley, with views of the Schnalstal glacier as you cross the border into Italy, where the Bellavista hut awaits. The beautifully situated Bellavista Hut where you can experience the mountain hut feeling without sacrificing comfort or sleep! Watch the sunset while relaxing in the jacuzzi with views of the glaciated peaks and valleys really is a special experience.
From the hut, you can climb to 3289m, up to the "Hintereis" summit (1 hour). The easy but steep ascent is worthwhile, as the view over the mountains is breathtaking. The Hintereisferner glaciers unfold in front of you in the valley and the Weißkugel towers above it, at 3739m the highest peak in the region.
Hochjoch Hospiz - Bellavista Hut: approx. 7km, Ascent/Descent: approx. 600/160 m, walking time approx. 3 hours.
Bellavista hut - Hintereis summit - Bellavista hut: 4km, Ascent/Descent: approx. 430 m, walking time approx. 2 hours.
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 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!
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!
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.
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 (5h).
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