What is the Alpe Adria Trail?
Stretching from the Grossglockner (the highest mountain in Austria), to Muggia on the Adriatic coast in north-eastern Italy, the Alpe Adria trail takes in 3 countries – Austria, Slovenia and Italy, and covers an impressive 750km of well-marked walking trails over 43 stages. If you haven’t heard of it, that is because it is relatively new (though many of the trails are not), inaugurated in 2011 thanks to close cooperation between the local tourist boards in each country as well as the various Alpine associations, who contribute to its maintenance.
Despite the trail starting in the Austrian alps and taking in the ski resorts of Kranjska Gora and Tarvisio, there are comparatively few Alpine stages, with most of them winding through open countryside, past brilliant blue lakes, alongside flowing rivers, and starting/ending in picturesque villages and towns in Carinthia, western Slovenia, and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy. Along the way you can see first hand how the cultures blend and change along the way, with languages, cuisine and traditions spilling over national borders. Visit the sites of famous WW1 battles, ruined castles and medieval churches, stop off at vineyards to taste the local wines, or sun yourself on the Adriatic coast, whichever section of the trail you choose you will experience something truly special.
How difficult is it?
The stages can vary a great deal in length, with the shortest being around 11km, and the longest 28km (between Gradisca d’Isonzo and Duino), so you can expect to be walking between 4 and 8 hours per day, with altitude differences of up to 1,500m.
The trails are not particularly technical, so are suited to anybody with a reasonable level of fitness and some good hiking boots. While there are some slightly rockier paths and steeper inclines along the Alpine stages, there are none that are especially difficult or narrow.
How to get there
Nearest airports: Klagenfurt, Salzburg, Ljubljana, Trieste, Venice
Nearest train stations: Mallnitz, Villach, Velden, Cormòns, Gradisca d’Isonzo, Trieste
What is the best way to see it?
On foot, naturally. Dogs are allowed (if kept on a lead at all times) but bikes are not (though there is a dedicated cycle lane between Tarvisio and Grado in Italy if you prefer to explore on two wheels). Camping is also not permitted, but there are a number of hotels, huts, guest houses and restaurants at the different stages along the route so you can feel well rested before you tackle the next leg. Luggage transfers are readily available so you can take a small rucksack with you each day and meet your suitcase again at your next stop.
You can start from either end of the trail, though heading North to South seems to be by far the most popular option.
Obviously hiking the entire route would be a huge undertaking, needing at least 6 weeks start to finish with some rest days. If you don’t have the time (or the stamina) a good starting point would be the ‘Ring of the 3 Nations’ that encircles the point where the three countries meet, covering 134km in 7 stages. You can then start and end your tour at the same point, taking in some of the highlights of the trail like Borgo Lussari, a tiny, picturesque hamlet on Mount Lussari, stunning Lake Fusine in Italy, and the beautiful city of Villach in Austria.
Mount Lussari, Italy
ActivityBreaks.com offers various packages for different sections of the trail, including accommodation, maps and luggage transfers to make planning your trip as easy as possible:
The ring of the 3 nations A 7-night trip that covers this circular mini trail that links up with the longer Alpe Adria Trail
3 night Alpe Adria walking tour Ideal for those who like the sound of the above break but can’t take a whole week off work, this 3 night break covers Valbruna in Italy to Kranjska Gora in Slovenia, with a return transfer back to the start at the end of the tour.
On the trail of the First World War This short 3-night tour explores the areas of northeastern Italy that saw heavy fighting in WW1, including where the famous battle of Caporetto took place, ideal for anyone interested in history.
Alpe Adria gourmet food and wine tour A 4-night tour through the Colli wine region along the Italy/Slovenia border and its vineyards, ending on the Adriatic coast. Includes 2 typical dinners and a wine tasting with lunch.
If you have any special requests in terms of itinerary or start/end point, contact us for a tailor-made itinerary.
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All images courtesy of alpe-adria-trail.com