Winter hiking in Central Europe
While some of you are so dedicated that you are willing to stand or sit by the water for hours on end, let’s admit that most people are not necessarily that tough. Therefore, we thought that we would recommend something in between fishing and tucking in on the sofa for a nice winter day.
What could be more fun than a day out hiking in nature? Not to mention that in these days with the pandemic still lurking in Europe, the best place to meet friends is the outdoors. And since we are somewhat biased, this time we will point to a couple of spots here in central Europe.
Starting with the easier ones, we recommend a short and sweet hike, a day trip to the Veliki Rinjak Peak in Croatia’s Risnjak National Park where the routes are paved, and scenery is sure worth the effort.
In neighboring Hungary, wor.my’s homeland we would like to bring your attention to the National Blue Trail that runs across 1128km (700 miles) of the countryside. It can be completed in a series of moderate, short as well as longer walking tours. Along the way, one has the opportunity to see castles and forts, three world heritage sites, a selection of natural wonders, as well as the breath-taking Danube Bend close to the border between Hungary and Slovakia.
National Blue Trail
Also a neighbor, this time of Hungary, is Austria, where the picturesque town of Hallstatt serves a starting point great hikes in a network of easily passable trails known as the Austria Lake District. Travelers can choose from hills, lakes and villages. Hallstatt itself is a town – especially in wintertime – that looks like something out of a fairy tale.
Another recommendation from Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, where turquoise waters and waterfalls linked with wood walkways await. The park and its sixteen lakes can be seen in 6-8 hours, but one can easily dedicate several days to explore and enjoy it. While the greenery is outstandingly picturesque, the snow, ice and frozen waterfalls add an extra charm in winter.
If one is up for more effort, we recommend another neighbor of Croatia, Slovenia. Mount Triglav is popular among locals, and should not be missed by any nature lovers, especially mountaineers visiting the country. There are two challenging routes to the 2864m summit, both via ferrata or fixed cables. Calculate with 2 days for this program.
The High Tatras in Slovakia is an experience you don’t want to miss. In Europe’s only alpine mountain range, there are more than 100 lakes, as well as waterfalls and valleys to explore. Also, there are many kinds of hut-to-hut hikes. As a bonus, one can spot local wildlife such as marmots and chamois.
Moving further west and towards more expert trails, our next pick is Höllental, Zugspitze in Germany. The country’s highest peak, Zugspitze, is one of Bavaria’s most beautiful spots. One can find several easier routes on the way up, Höllental (literally Devil’s Valley) is undoubtedly the most challenging. The roughly 10-hour hike of some 9km (5.6 miles) uphill requires a lot of experience, but it presents the best views of the area, so is well worth the effort.
Frozen Morskie Oko
Our final recommendation takes us to Poland, namely to Orla Perć in the Tatra Mountains. It is the destination that asks for the most experience and endurance. The Tatras range is best seen from Orla Perć (literally Eagle’s Path). However, getting there is perhaps Europe’s most challenging hiking route. The 4.5km (2.8 miles) route, originating from the Zawrat pass and concluding at the Krzyżne pass, is picturesque albeit uneven and rather dangerous. It’s best to hire a guide and invest in mountain climbing equipment.
Regardless of the spot, the season or any other factor, prepare, prepare, prepare. And most importantly, make sure you know and understand the route and your own limits.
Sources: muchbetteradventures.com, kempinski.com