Here you will find the answers to frequently asked questions…


The former five colors of the Via Alpina trails (red, purple, yellow, green, and blue) were only the trail designations and say nothing about the difficulty of the path! As long as the paths are free of snow, no mountain or climbing experience is necessary, nor are ropes, crampons, or ice axes. Sometimes you follow wide paths, sometimes narrow trails (no glacier crossings).

Nevertheless, the Via Alpina is an alpine hiking route. Some sections are exposed (a head for heights is required!) and surefootedness is necessary, especially in wet conditions or on old snowfields. Sometimes you have to cross scree fields and less frequented paths at lower altitudes can be overgrown. Despite the efforts of the local marking teams, orientation can sometimes be difficult, especially in fog. It is therefore important to take topographical hiking maps and a compass with you. Of course, you should always plan your hike according to the fitness level of the weakest member of a group, taking into account the distances and, above all, the altitude to be covered.

For further information on individual stages, please contact the tourist offices, the hut managers, the local mountain guides or hiking guides and the local Alpine clubs or hiking associations. The contact details of the local alpine clubs and hiking associations can be found on the websites of the following umbrella organizations:

Slovenian Alpine Club: www.pzs.si
Italian Alpine Club: www.cai.it
South Tyrolean Alpine Association: www.alpenverein.it
Austrian Alpine Association: www.alpenverein.at
German Alpine Association: www.alpenverein.de
Liechtenstein Alpine Club: www.alpenverein.li
Swiss Hiking Trails: www.wandern.ch
Swiss Alpine Club: www.sac-cas.ch
French Hiking Federation: www.ffrandonnee.fr
French Alpine Club: www.ffcam.fr
Monegasque Alpine Club: www.club-alpin.asso.mc

In the Alps, the hiking season usually lasts from June to October, although some areas are accessible all year round. Above 2000 m and sometimes below, snowfields can persist into the summer (until early July, especially on north-facing slopes and rocky areas), while snow can remain from the end of September, making crossings much more difficult. Find out locally about the accessibility of the stages if you want to set off at the beginning or end of the hiking season. Contact tourist offices, hut operators, local hiking guides and mountain guides, local Alpine clubs or hiking associations – see above. Also check the exact opening times of the huts or accommodation: The months given in our stage descriptions are only an approximate indication. Outside opening hours, many – but not all – Alpine Club huts also offer a winter room for overnight stays. However, you sometimes have to pick up the key in advance!

The weather can change very quickly in the mountains. Be prepared for heat as well as snowstorms in the middle of summer and expect thunderstorms in the late afternoon (avoid exposed ridges then!).


Hiking boots with a good profile and good ankle support, several layers of clothing for changing temperatures, rain protection (also for the rucksack), hiking poles as required. Sun protection, first aid kit. Never rely on cell phones to get help; reception outside populated areas is very patchy and you may not be able to charge your battery regularly. Bring hiking maps and a compass. And of course food, if there are no huts along the way, plenty of water (depending on whether there are springs along the way) and snacks to keep you going in case of emergencies.

For overnight stays, we recommend a light sleeping bag made of silk or cotton for your comfort and for hygiene reasons, which is even compulsory in the huts of the Austrian and German Alpine Association. Also a headlamp or flashlight. Avoid unnecessary weight and don’t take too many toiletries with you, as many mountain huts don’t have showers anyway (limited water and energy supply, difficult waste water disposal). Also prefer biodegradable products.

Yes and no. Due to the remoteness of the huts, hut managers have to be very careful with their supplies. They therefore appreciate it if they know in advance how many people want to stay overnight and, above all, eat with them. In addition, some huts can be fully booked in high season and at weekends. It is therefore best for you and the hosts if you give them a quick call. You can usually do this the evening before in the hut you are staying in. Some huts are connected to an online reservation system , but there is no system for the entire Via Alpina. However, if you are traveling alone or in pairs, you will usually always find a place to sleep.
There are big differences when it comes to accommodation in villages. Here too, it is best to book directly or via the tourist offices about a day in advance so that you don’t have to move from one accommodation to the next after a strenuous day of hiking.

There is no overall agreement with accommodation providers along the route regarding discounts for Via Alpinists. However, most of the major European Alpine clubs or hiking associations are part of the so-called “UIAA Reciprocal Agreement”. This means that if you are a member of one of these associations, you will receive considerable discounts in all huts belonging to another association (up to 50% on overnight stays and sometimes also on meals). This investment is certainly worthwhile for a long-distance hike. Please note: the English-speaking “Britannia” section of the Austrian Alpine Club accepts members from all over the world (www.aacuk.org.uk).

Nowadays, most hikers buy breakfast and dinner on site in the alpine huts. This significantly reduces the weight of your backpack and gives you the opportunity to try regional specialties. The sale of meals is an important source of income for the hut owners, as they often only keep a very small proportion of the accommodation fee or pay rent to the organization that owns the hut.

Nevertheless, the Alpine Club huts accept self-catering as a courtesy, especially for hikers on a budget. Only a few huts have their own kitchenettes (almost exclusively in France and Switzerland) or allow cooking on the tabletops. You may then have to cook outdoors. Stoves or stoves are provided by even fewer huts.

In privately run huts, self-catering is usually not permitted.

Of course, you will find many springs and streams along the Alpine hiking trails as well as fountains in many mountain villages. However, it can rarely be guaranteed that it is actually drinking water. Drinking from springs and streams in or below grazing areas (herds of cattle and wild animals) is not recommended. Consider using commercially available water purification systems.

In limestone areas, there are very few springs with water, especially at the beginning and end of summer. Ask at your starting point. You may need to take your drinking water with you for the whole day.

In some mountain huts you may have to pay for drinking water, especially in limestone areas, if there is no spring near the hut at the beginning or end of the season.


Whether with or without a tent, spending the night in the open air is an excellent way to experience nature – and cheap too. But it can also have a negative impact on the environment. In addition, many areas in the Alps are used for forestry or grazing and may be publicly or privately owned. Therefore, the rules for bivouacking vary greatly from country to country, but also from area to area. In most national parks and areas under strict nature protection, spending the night outdoors is prohibited or regulated, as it is in the Austrian provinces of Tyrol and Carinthia and in several municipalities in various parts of the Alps. Checks by security guards and fines for non-compliance with the regulations are possible.

Outside the above-mentioned areas, it is theoretically often necessary to obtain permission from the landowner(s), which is of course usually not easy to do in remote areas. Bivouacking above the tree line is usually tolerated there for one night and a small group of people, as long as the necessary precautions are taken (see below). Organizers of tours and the like who want to camp regularly in one place must obtain permission from the landowner(s) or the authorities.

In contrast to the North American wilderness, for example, only a few areas in the Alps are specifically designated for overnight stays in the open air. Outside of opening hours, however, many Alpine Club huts offer an open winter room for sleeping. If the huts are open, you can ask the hosts for permission to camp nearby and possibly use the sanitary facilities for a small fee.

For responsible bivouacking:

– Avoid sensitive areas favored by wildlife, such as transition areas between forest and meadows, groves, areas with lots of animal tracks, bushes, wetlands, floodplains and islands;
– Set up camp at least 100 meters away from watercourses to avoid contamination;
– Use camping stoves carefully and only light a fire where it is permitted and after you have removed all flammable material in the vicinity. Never leave a fire unattended until it is completely out;
– Do not make noise, especially at dusk when wildlife is most active;
– Set up a natural toilet at least 50 meters away from water bodies; bury excrement and biodegradable toilet paper or cover them with stones etc., take all other materials (sanitary towels, tampons etc.) with you;
– Wash yourself and do your dishes at least 30 meters away from water, using only biodegradable products;
– Keep your dog on a lead at dusk and at night;
do not leave any food (or plates and pots with leftover food) outside overnight;
– Of course, leave the place as you found it. Take all garbage with you (including compostable material, which takes years to decompose at high altitude) and dispose of it in the appropriate garbage bins in the valley (or even better at home).

You can study and print out the following official topographic maps free of charge:
www.geoportail.gouv.fr/ (France)
map.schweizmobil.ch (Switzerland with Liechtenstein),
www.austrianmap.at (Austria),
geoportal.bayern.de/bayernatlas (Germany),
geopedia.si (Slovenia),
www.trekking.suedtirol.info (Italy: South Tyrol).

During the hike, you can use one of the many apps available for smartphones. We particularly recommend Outdooractive, Komoot, AllTrails, iPhiGéNie with the French maps, Monolit2go with the maps of Slovenia, but also OsmAnd and twoNav..

But be careful: save your battery, because you can’t charge it in every mountain hut, as many only have a limited power supply!

The Outdooractive map linked on our website is intended to help you plan your hike. The stage descriptions have been created by a large number of partners in all Alpine regions and are updated with varying frequency depending on the region. We are aware of the fact that there are inaccuracies and differences in quality in the descriptions, as well as in the marking of the paths. We recommend that you take a smartphone, a GPS device and suitable topographical maps at a scale of 1:50,000 or 1:25,000 with you on the way. A compass is also recommended.

You can order different maps from any good bookshop that sells travel literature or directly from the following websites (often with discounts for club members):

www.dav-shop.de (Eastern and Central Alps, also some for the Western Alps)

www.alpenverein.at/shop (Eastern and Central Alps)

www.pzs.si/index.php?stran=Trgovina&kat=6 (Slovenia)

www.shop.wandern.ch (Switzerland)

https://boutique.ffrandonnee.fr/topoguides (France)

There is no current guide about the Via Alpina. But there are a lot of hiking reports shared in our COMMUNITY.

The Via Alpina is intended for hiking pleasure. Therefore, many sections are not suitable for mountain bikes and in some places mountain biking is even prohibited. When Pietro Marescotti rode his mountain bike on the five trails of the Via Alpina, he could only actually cover about a third of the route in the saddle and had to push his bike for a third and carry it for the last third. Although he really enjoyed his tour, we cannot recommend the Via Alpina as a mountain bike route.
However, there are plenty of mountain bike trails around the Via Alpina. Ask at tourist offices and specialist associations for tips. However, always be considerate of other trail users and the flora and fauna.

The Via Alpina network does not organize tours itself. In our community, you can find other hikers to join you and you can also exchange experience on guided tours.

The Via Alpina very often passes close to railroad stations. On average, there is a place with a bus connection every two to three days. Try to choose starting and finishing points for your hike that are accessible by public transport.
It may take a little longer to get there and back, but you won’t have to worry about how to get back to your car after a long hike. Public transport also often offers the opportunity to meet people. The more the services are used, the greater the incentive to maintain and expand them!
If you are staying overnight in a village, your host can sometimes even pick you up from the bus stop or your starting point on request and take you to the starting point of the next day’s hike.

Most train connections within Europe and many bus routes can be found on the multilingual websites www.bahn.de and www.sbb.ch.

Leave your car at home if possible!
Mountain huts are making great efforts to reduce their energy consumption, so please do your bit for the environment on the way there.

All eight Alpine countries are part of the Schengen area, i.e. citizens of EU member states and more than 30 other countries as well as all travellers with a residence permit for a Schengen country can move freely on the Via Alpina for 90 days (within 6 months) as long as they carry a valid photo ID.

If you do not fall under this regulation, you can apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy or consulate of the country you are entering first or where you will be staying the longest. With the visa, you have the right to visit the entire Schengen area for 90 days within 6 months. In addition, a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of your stay is required, as well as valid travel insurance.

If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you must apply for a residence permit in one of the countries (Visa D) – which can unfortunately be difficult if you do not have a fixed address.

As far as health insurance is concerned, nationals from EU countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland have the same access to public healthcare as citizens of these countries in all Alpine countries with the exception of Monaco. In some countries, treatment is free, in others you have to pay part of the costs and in others you have to pay the costs in full and then apply for reimbursement. A European Health Insurance Card simplifies the procedures (see ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=559&langId=en).

If you are coming from another country or to cover additional rescue, travel, accommodation and repatriation costs in the event of illness or an accident and for liability, you should take out suitable travel and health insurance. All major hiking clubs or associations offer their members their own insurance policies.

Vaccinations are not mandatory for the Alpine countries (as at January 2024).

After almost being wiped out in the 18th and 19th centuries, large predators seem to be returning to the Alps: Bears are reappearing in the Eastern Alps, wolves in the Western Alps and lynx throughout the Alpine region. These animals are very shy and will almost always try to avoid meeting you.

Do not approach wild animals (including ibexes, chamois and marmots…) any closer than they are comfortable with. Running cows can be impressive, so keep a safe distance.

The white Pyrenean mountain dogs (Patou), which are reared in the French Alps with flocks of sheep to protect them from attacks by wolves and stray dogs, can become aggressive if you get too close to the herd. It is better to give the dog and sheep a wide berth, stay calm and do not threaten the dog in any way.

Rabies cases are very rare, but occur mainly in dogs, foxes and bats. If you are bitten by a dog, consult a doctor within a few days.

Only two venomous snake species live in the Alps: the asp viper (Vipera aspis) and the adder (Vipera berus), which can be recognized by their vertical elliptical (cat-like) pupils. Snakes also only attack if they are surprised. Stomp on them firmly before settling on sunny meadows or rocks. After a bite, a doctor should be consulted within a few hours, although there is normally no danger of death for adults.

Beware of one of the smallest alpine animals: there are relatively many ticks, some of which transmit Lyme disease. Look for ticks on your body in the evening after the hike and remove them. If a tick bite becomes infected, contact a doctor or pharmacist.

In most areas, yes, but in some nature reserves (such as most national parks) dogs are not allowed as they could harm the wildlife living there. In the stage descriptions you will find information about the protected status of an area and usually a link: Please inquire about the applicable regulations!

You often have to keep your dog on a lead when crossing cow or sheep pastures. Respect the work of the shepherds. Dogs are not normally allowed to sleep in mountain huts.

Also find out about vaccination requirements for animals in each country where you want to hike.

Many tours also include luggage transportation by van or pack animals. In addition, some local providers or mountain huts organize backpack transport on request. Ask in the Communitiy for tips!

The Alps are the largest natural area in Europe, but also a cultural area that has been inhabited since prehistoric times and is now home to around 14 million people, mainly in the cities. Every year, 60 million people visit the Alps. The ecological and cultural balance is delicate. Please:
– Stay on the marked trails. Leaving the paths leads to erosion as the rainwater follows your tracks;
– Do not disturb the wildlife, especially at dusk (feeding time);
– Do not take flowers or minerals;
– Be extremely careful when making a fire – find out if it is allowed at all (see also above Can you bivouac);
– Don’t leave any garbage behind, even putrescible garbage that takes years to decompose at high altitude, and dispose of it in the appropriate bins in the valley (or even better at home). Leave unnecessary packaging at home.
– Close gates and fences behind you to prevent farm animals from escaping;
– As far as satisfying natural needs is concerned: stay off the path and at least 50 m away from watercourses (never in caves or ruins!) and bury excrement and recyclable toilet paper. Please take sanitary towels, tampons etc. with you into the valley;
– Find out about specific regulations in national parks, nature reserves and other protected areas and adhere to them (also use the links in our stage descriptions);
– If possible, travel by public transport. If you come by car, park in the designated parking spaces so that you don’t block anyone’s path.

Stick to the saying: “Take only impressions, Sleave only footprints!”

Your safety and that of other hikers is important: plan your hike carefully and check the fitness of all participants before and during the hike (see also entries under Difficulty, Weather and Equipment above). Be careful not to kick loose any stones that could injure others. If a stone does come loose, shout a warning to other hikers! Stay calm in the event of an accident. In many cases, you can help yourself and others. If this is not possible, dial the international emergency number 112, but be careful, in many mountain regions there is no network coverage for your cell phone. Call for help, make light signals or wave large items of clothing to draw attention to yourself. An injured person should normally remain at the scene of an accident and must never be left alone.