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The E5 Alpine Crossing (Extended)

11 Days & 10 Nights 4.6 Read 14 reviews
  • 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
Cross the Alps on the famous E5, from Oberstdorf to Meran on an extended itinerary. A perfect Alpine trek for those who prefer less challenging days with plenty of time to absorb the outstanding views, take lots of photographs and enjoy picnic lunches. This legendary route starts in Germany taking you through tranquil luscious green Austrian valleys before catching a glimpse of the Otztal glacier and reaching the Italian Meran. Spend nights alternating between comfortable guest houses and overnights in spectacular mountain huts. Enjoy the camaraderie of fellow walkers whilst breathing in crisp alpine air high up in the Alps. Combine this with mountainous scenery and delicious local specialities and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic adventure along the E5.
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.

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

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.


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

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

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
  • Transfer from Vernago to Meran Area
  • 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
  • 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, 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.

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 Day 2: Transfer to Spielmannsau, walk to Holzgau 9 miles / 14 km Day 3 Bus to Madau and Walk to the Ansbacher Hut 7.5 miles / 12 km Day 4 Walk to Landeck 4 km Day 5: Walk to Wenns 8 miles / 12.5 km Day 6 Walk to the Braunschweiger Hut 4 miles / 6 km Day 7 Walk to Solden 6 miles / 10 km Day 8 Walk to the Hochjoch Hospitz 5 miles / 8 km Day 9 Walk To the Bellavista Hut and a 3000m peak 4 miles / 7 km Day 10: Walk to Vernago and bus to the Meran area 8 miles / 12.5 km Day 11: Onward Travel

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