Hiking, winter sports, mountain villages and nature in the alps
The Alps are one of the most visited regions of Europe, famous for their beautiful high mountains, valleys and often still untouched nature. Many urban dwellers come here to enjoy an atmosphere so different from what they know from their noisy cities, doing winter sports, hiking or just enjoying the amazing beauty of this mountainous regions.
Unfortunately, visitor numbers have grown drastically over the decades and most of the tourists get there by car. Pollution, traffic jams, and noise have become a real problem both for man and nature and many of the smaller towns struggle to deal with all those vehicles invading their limited roads and space. As much as 80% of the tourists come with their own car. At the same time, the average stay is relatively short with just around 8,6 days when compared to some popular summer destinations at the seaside.
The reason, however, is more habit and the idea of comfort than a lack of infrastructure. Getting to the Alps or close by plane is easy. There are excellent connections available via train and bus to get from the airport into the even the most far-flung villages and in total, this takes less time and money than coming by car.
Depending on the area you might want to visit, you can choose from four different airports that are all well-connected. Munich Airport (MUC) for the German part of the Alps, Zurich Airport (ZRH) for Switzerland, and Innsbruck Airport (INN) and Salzburg Airport (SZG) in Austria bring you close or directly into this beautiful mountainous region. You can use the main national airlines such as Lufthansa (LH), Austrian Airlines (OS), and Swiss Airlines (LX) to get there and also many budget-carriers offer cheap direct connections from many places all over Europe.
Munich and Zurich are even major European hubs with excellent international connections and great services. Flight delays, flight cancellations and other flight right related issues are rare there.
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- ✒The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe.
- ✒They stretch approximately 1,200 kilometers (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
- ✒Mont Blanc at the French–Italian border, is the highest mountain in the Alps with 4,810 m (15,781 ft).
- ✒The Alpine region has a strong cultural identity with a culture of farming, cheese making, and woodworking, among other regional practices in Alpine villages.
Reaching the mountains from the various airports
The Bavarian part of the Alps are relatively close to Munich and can be reached from Munich Airport (MUC) comfortably and without spending a lot of money. Using public transport from there, getting to famous places in the Alps such as Tegernsee takes just two hours. Garmisch-Partenkirchen with Germany´s highest Mountain Zugspitze is just three hours away.
If you go to Innsbruck Airport (INN) in Austria you will land in the middle of the Alps and might be even closer to your final destination in Austria. Places such as Neustift in Stubaital, Sankt Sigmund, Gries or Sellrain can all be reached from there in less than one hour.
Zurich Airport (ZRH) is also well connected to some fantastic valleys, mountains, and towns. The Glarner Alps, the Mürtschenstock, the Brunnistock and many other great spots are quite close. Apart from that, Luzern and the Vierwaldstättersee offer an amazing seascape surrounded by beautiful mountains and the whole region offers excellent railway and bus connections into all directions.
Salzburg Airport (SZG), another airport in Austria, is quite small and doesn´t have so many connections but might be a great way to get to some areas in the Alps that are a bit far off from Innsbruck and Munich. The Berchtesgaden National Park with its amazing wilderness is just nearby and also other beautiful places such as Zell am See or Saalbach-Hinterglemm can be reached from there quickly.
Alpine pearls — 25 places to visit for lovers of nature
As an effort to counter the trend of mass-tourism, pollution and over-exploitation in the Alps, the Alpine Pearls initiativepursues sustainable tourism in harmony with nature. 25 towns from all over the Alps have joined this association since its foundation in 2006.
They all do an effort to offer economic shuttle and bus services in their region, electric-cars, cheap bike and e-bike rentals and other facilities to enable visitors coming without a car to get around easily. Hotels and local businesses there have to comply with certain ecological standards to ensure a more conscious and balanced tourism as you won´t find it in the touristic hotspots.
If you are going to the Alps, you might want to check out these places: Germany (Bad Reichenhall, Berchtesgaden), France (Termignon), Austria (Neukirchen am Großvenediger, Werfenweng, Hinterstoder, Mallnitz, Weißensee), Switzerland (Arosa, Interlaken, Disentis, Les Diablerets), Slovenia (Bled) and Italy (Ceresole Reale, Chamois, Cogne, Mals, Moena, Valdidentro, Ratschings, and many others).