The Karwendel Alps, often called just the Karwendel, are a mountain range in Austria and Germany. The mountain range that straddles the border of the two countries boasts dramatic peaks, deep valleys and lush alpine meadows. Massive limestone formations and karst topography characterize the area. The landscape is mostly untouched by human development, so it is a refuge for many plant and animal species.

The region has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional Alpine farming practices still in place. Visitors can experience local customs, cuisine, and festivals celebrating this heritage.

Map - Where is Karwendel?

The Karwendel Alps are located in the northern part of the Tyrol region of Austria and the southern part of the German state of Bavaria. It extends approximately 120 kilometres from west to east. The mountain range and the park around it are easily accessible from several cities in both countries. On the Austrian side, you can stay in Scharnitz, where the fabulous Gleirschklamm gorge is located. On the German side, choose Mittenwald, the lovely alpine gem.

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Karwendel map

Karwendel Nature Reserve Park

A significant part of the mountain range is protected in the Karwendel Nature Park, Austria's largest nature park (not a national park). The park was established in 1928 to preserve the region's unique natural and cultural heritage. Its area is approximately 727 square kilometres.

The countryside offers excellent hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and climbing opportunities. Many marked trails and routes suit all experience levels, from easy hikes to challenging alpine climbs. It is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The alpine meadows are decorated with wildflowers in the warmer months, and the forests provide shelter for species such as chamois, ibex, marmots and bald eagles.

Alpenpark Karwendel
Biking routes cross the area. Don't be shy to hop on a local e-bike. 

The ten highest peaks

  1. Birkkarspitze - 2749 meters
  2. Greater Solstein - 2649 meters
  3. Lalider peak – 2608 meters
  4. East Karwendelspitze - 2586 meters
  5. High Plate – 2560 meters
  6. Vorderer Sonnwenjoch – 2457 meters
  7. High Gleirsch - 2377 meters
  8. Soiernspitze - 2257 meters
  9. West Karwendelspitze - 2238 meters
  10. Arnplattenspitze - 2234 meters


Its highest peak is the Birkkarspitze, which is 2,749 meters above sea level. Located on the border of Austria and Germany, reaching its peak requires advanced climbing skills. Several routes lead to the summit, but the most popular approach starts from the Austrian side and Eng Valley. This route involves a long, strenuous hike or climb requiring proper equipment and preparation.


More about Karwendel

  • The limestone formations in the Karwendel are estimated to be around 250 million years old.
  • With its vast network of well-marked trails, the Karwendel offers you more than 1,000 kilometres of hiking opportunities.
  • Among the mountains are numerous mountain huts that provide shelter, food, and refreshments to hikers and climbers. One popular hut is the Karwendelhaus, located at an altitude of 1,765 meters.
  • It is home to several picturesque alpine lakes, including the stunning Achensee, Ferchensee, Lautersee, and Ahornboden, known for its unique flat terrain and photogenic scenery.
  • The Hafelekar Peak near Innsbruck offers a rare glimpse of the "Green Alps". This occurs in certain weather conditions when warm, moist air from the valley floor rises and cools, causing the vegetation to appear green even at high altitudes.
  • You can find exciting via Ferrata routes that offer adventurous climbers the opportunity to traverse rocks and vertical walls using safety cables and metal ladders.
  • The Karwendel is known for its diverse flora, with more than 1,500 plant species, including rare and protected alpine flowers.
Isar is one of the most significant rivers in the area. 
The Karwendel region has a rich history of trade and travel. Several historic routes and trails, such as the Via Claudia Augusta and the Old Salt Road, once passed through the area, contributing to its cultural significance.
Hikers and mountaineers exploring the Karwendel Alps can find refuge in a network of mountain huts and shelters. These huts offer a place to rest, eat, and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Gleirschklamm gorge


Mittenwald is a charming town located in the Bavarian Alps of southern Germany. It is renowned for its stunning natural surroundings, traditional Bavarian architecture, and rich cultural heritage. It is nestled amidst the Karwendel Mountains, part of the larger Bavarian Alps. The town is surrounded by picturesque landscapes, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and nature lovers.



You can experience typical alpine weather, with cold winters and mild summers. In the mountains, temperatures can be significantly colder, and snow can last year-round.

Ski lifts

Cable cars and elevators operate in some parts of the countryside. However, it is important to note that the availability and operation of the lifts may vary depending on the season and local weather conditions.

  • Karwendelbahn: The Karwendelbahn is a cable car operating near Pertisau in Austria. From Pertisau, it takes visitors to the Zwölferkopf mountain, which offers stunning views of the Karwendel Mountains and the Achensee, a beautiful alpine lake.
  • Hafelekarbahn: The Hafelekarbahn is a cable car in Innsbruck, Austria, that takes visitors to the Hafelekar peak. It offers a breathtaking view of the city and the surrounding mountains.
  • Seefelder Jochbahn: The Seefelder Jochbahn is a cable car in the Seefeld district of Austria. The lift takes passengers to the Rosshütte, which provides access to hiking and skiing areas with views of the Karwendel and Wetterstein mountains.
  • Mittenwald Cable Car: The cable car takes tourists from Mittenwald in Germany to the Karwendelhaus, a mountain hut starting for various hiking trails.

Visitor Centers

  • Besucherzentrum Karwendel: Center in the heart of the Karwendel Nature Reserve.
  • Pertisau Information Point: This information point is located in the town of Pertisau on the shores of the Achensee.
  • Innsbruck Tourist Information: Innsbruck, the gateway to the Karwendel, has several tourist information centres.

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