The Ötschergräben, compared to the Grüner see or even the Barenschützklamm, is the most popular excursion destination in Austria. The gorge next to the Ötscher mountain is now often referred to only as the Grand Canyon of Austria. The gorge, about 2-2.5 hours from Vienna, is an ideal one-day program for residents of the Austrian capital.

Of Austria's many beautiful natural treasures, the Ötschergraben is a real gem. There are several gorges around the Ötscher mountain itself, the most popular of which is the Ötschergraben.

Crossing fantastic locations, a mountain stream flows further and further into the gorge. On wooden planks and beautiful wooden bridges, you can see countless waterfalls along the way; the most famous of which is the 80 m high Mirafall waterfall.

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The gorge, written in German as Ötschergräben, was shaped by the river Ötscherbach into its attractive form today.

The canyon is also recommended for those who don’t hike every weekend but have a little stamina and love nature. The gorge is not particularly technical, and the elevation change is not significant either.

Perhaps what may be important is that if you have a serious fear of heights, consider coming here carefully, as, in the gorge, you often have to walk on wooden planks attached to the side of the rocks.

Photos and videos

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The gorge can also be explored with older children, making hiking ideal for families.

Where is the Ötschergraben canyon?

The gorge is located 2-2.5 hours from Vienna and Graz in the province of Lower Austria. The gorge is located in the Ötscher - Tormauer Park, one of Austria's protected parks.

The more popular approach to the gorge is from Wienerbruck. Here you can approach the entrance. You have to walk along the shores of Lake Stausee to reach the entrance to the Ötschergraben gorge.

The canyon also has two entrances. If you are not from Wienerbruck but from Mariazell, you should park at the train station.

  • Distance from Vienna: 134 km / 2.5 hours
  • Distance from Graz: 143 km / 2.5 hours
Ötschergraben map - Vienna distance

Parking

You have to pay for the use of the car park in the park. For cars, the daily fee is 5 euros. You can only pay for parking with change at a machine.

Ötscher - Tormauer Nature Park

The park, with its 170 km² territories, is mainly known for hiking and trekking. The nature park, which has existed since 1970, was previously a popular destination for nature lovers. The park offers many sights, but the most famous is the Ötschergraben gorge.

In addition to the gorge, you will also find a limestone cave in the park. The small cave is 575 m long and 54 m deep. 

Even a lake was found inside. It is about a 45-minute walk away via Kienberg, Gaming, or Lackenhof.

Notable is even the so-called Holzknechtmuseum, i.e. the lumberjack museum, which your child would surely enjoy. Through the museum, young and old alike can gain insight into the life of logging. The museum is open every day from May 1 to the end of October.

Ötscher mountain (1893 m)

The view of the Ötscher mountain will surely show up several times during the tour. Your way inside the gorge leads around a mountain that reaches 1893 meters. Although the tour does not lead up to the mountain, the sight of it can entertain you on the go.

Ötschergraben with children

The gorge can also be explored with older children, making hiking ideal for families. Children also have a discount on admission, while under six years of admission are free - although the tour is not recommended for children.

Tickets, prices

The entrance fee to the gorge is used to maintain the park.

  • Adult ticket: 4 euros
  • Child ticket: 2 euros
  • Under six years: free

Opening hours

The gorge can be visited every day from May to October. The gorge is most beautiful in spring, and the water of the streams is the widest. In this case, the waterfalls also provide the best view due to a large amount of water rushing down.

  • Season: May to October
  • Opening hours: 08:00 - 16:30

Hiking route

The excursion route to the gorge is shown on the line starting from Wienerbruck. The tour is not a round trip! It runs from one entrance of the gorge to another, between which you can get back to the starting point by train.

  • Length of the tour: 18,2 km
  • Duration of the tour: 6 hours
  • Difficulty: medium (not technical, but long)

The best way to get there is to leave the car at Mariazell train station and start the tour by transferring to Wienerbruck by train. So when you finish your tour in Mariazell in the afternoon, you don’t have to drive back - your car will be waiting at the station.

The tour is relatively long but not too difficult. The route is well signposted throughout. In the gorge, you must follow the yellow sign first and then the red one.

What is a gorge?

The gorge is a deep, steep-sided, narrow, upper section-like valley. The name used in limestone mountains is close; the ones which develop in arid climates, debris, or volcanic-sedimentary rocks are called a canyon. Source: Wikipedia

Entrance

At the entrance, you will find an information office where you can use the toilet, buy a ticket for the train and get a map that makes it even easier to find your way around.

The hiking trails are well marked. It is necessary to walk safely in the gorge, in several places, you have to cross-sections chained into a high rock wall. At the end of the gorge, there will be only a shorter steep section at the exit.

Attractions

  • View of Ötscher Mountain
  • Erlaufstausee River
  • Ötscherbach River
  • Lassingfall Waterfall
  • Hydroelectric plant
  • Mirafall Waterfall
  • Ötscherhias safe house and hut - here you can shorten the tour and also have lunch
  • Schleierfall Waterfall

During the tour, you will advance through several planks, bridges, and tunnels carved into the rock wall. The carefully designed and maintained wooden plank network takes you sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left side of the river. You can admire the crystal clear water, fast-flowing mountain streams, and many waterfalls during the tour.

Although the first waterfall is the Lassingfall, which the hydroelectric plant later follows, the highlight of the day is the large waterfall of the Ötschergraben gorge, Mirafall waterfall, which is 80 meters high.

Before you reach Mirafall Falls, you walk past the Ötscherhias hut, where you can even have a well-deserved lunch back from the waterfall if you wish.

Saturated from the hut, you can continue your way following the yellow sign up the canyon. This time your destination will be another waterfall, the Schleierfall. (Stay on the yellow sign to reach the waterfall.)

At Greimelsteg, you will encounter an intersection where you still have to endure and go up a few meters. That's how you get to the waterfall. If you’ve admired it, go back to the intersection, where this time you’re going to turn to the red sign. Following it, you get out of the gorge.

Bathing and swimming

Did you know? Before the hut, the brave, who are not afraid of the cold water of the Ötscherbach, often take a dip.

Huts

The popular hut of the gorge is the Ötscherhias hut. Unfortunately, the cabin is relatively small, so it can be difficult to find space - so be sure to have enough sandwiches and drinking water.

Schutzhaus Vorderötscher

Following the red signs, you will reach the alpine pasture, where you can even relax at the Vorderötscher hut and shelter and spend the night here in summer.

  • Address: Ötscherstraße 22, 3224 Mitterbach-Seerotte, Austria
  • Adult: 43 euros /  night
  • Child: 30 euros / night
  • Warm lunch: 11:00 -16:00
  • Warm dinner: 18: 00 - 20:00
  • Camping prices: you can also camp at the hut. Adult: 25 euro/ night

Dog-friendly?

You can bring a dog into the gorge. According to our latest information, entry to the park is free for dogs. Dogs can only be brought into the park on a leash!

But on the train (which operates between Mariazell and Wienerbruck) you have to pay after dogs that the owner in a small carrier does not transport.

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