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The Hills Are Alive (and Kicking): A Three-Day Hut-to-Hut Hike in Austria’s High Alps —

Often, when we think of European vacations, we think of cities. Sipping espresso in gilt Baroque cafes. Ogling masterworks in gargantuan museums. Dutifully following Rick Steves audio tours through the old towns of Prague, Rome, Paris.

What we tend to forget, amid all this civilization, is that Europe also has some of the most stunning wilderness in the world.

Exploring it can provide a much-needed counterpoint to the pavement and crowds of the great urban centers. A chance to breathe deeply, and without competition, through landscapes that both thrill and restore.

Best of all, this natural beauty is eminently accessible — via long-distance, off-road hiking trails taking in coastline and scenery that might well be privatized in the U.S.

A couple years ago, I wrote about one multi-day hike along the north coast of Cornwall, England: breathless, ocean-splashed hiking followed by afternoons of clotted cream and scones.

And just this week, I had the chance to hike a very different three-day trail through some of the highest — and most beautiful — peaks in Central Europe: The Lechtal Alps of western Austria. They’re virtually unknown to Americans or, really, anyone outside Germany and Austria.

This post will help you discover how to hike them yourself. Then, I’ll provide a specific itinerary for a three-day loop hike that you can access without a car.

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