The Alpe Adria Trail is an incredibly beautiful long-distance hiking trail in Europe. It consists of 37 stages and runs from the Alps in Austria through Slovenia to the Adriatic coast in Italy. As it is still rather new for a long-distance trail (it was officially “launched” in 2012), it’s still relatively unknown. So, unlike the famous Camino de Santiago, the Alpe Adria trail still offers the opportunity to enjoy the solitude and calmness of nature - without having to wander far off the grid. That’s one of the reasons, which make it my favorite long-distance hiking trail in Europe. Add the incredibly varied scenery, the amazing culinary highlights, and the lovely people you’ll meet all along the route, this is definitely THE European thru-hike, every hiker and nature lover should have on their bucket list.

I hiked the Alpe Adria Trail in the spring of 2022. It was an incredible experience for me that enabled me to really create space for what matters to me: immersing in nature, finding calmness, and reconnecting with myself. Because it was such an inspiring experience for me, I want to support you in setting out on your very own personal adventure as well. So I am sharing some of my learnings and experiences on the trail. In this article, I’ll highlight three amazing mountain huts on the Alpe Adria trail, that you should definitely not miss while hiking the AAT:

All three of them offer breathtaking views, exceptional local culinary highlights, and are run by unbelievably dedicated and kind people.

View of mountain hut in Slovenia while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

What are the downsides of staying at a mountain hut?

I want to highlight that mountain huts in general can offer a very unique experience. This experience also comes with a few (potential) downsides. They are normally very secluded and especially at night, it can get very quiet. This can sometimes also be a bit eerie. Especially if nature is going wild with a heavy downpour or a gigantic thunderstorm that feels like it’s happening right above your head (which, I guess, it kind of is). I personally always feel very close to the raw, unspoiled nature of the mountains when staying in a mountain hut - and I love it.

At the same time, you’re normally very close to other guests and hikers who are spending the night. Most huts offer very basic, no-fuss accommodation in form of shared dorms and bathroom facilities. This makes a lot of sense because any luxury becomes exponentially expensive (both in monetary terms and in regards to sustainability cost) when offered at several thousand feet above sea level. Part of the mountain hut vibe is also that they’re usually rather old and made of wood. With all its wonderful natural benefits, wood also creeks and rattles. Especially if it’s very windy, which kind of happens rather often when you’re climbing up a few thousand kilometers to a mountain summit. In addition, walls are normally thin and you often share a room (or a wall) with at least one snoring fellow hiker.

Lastly, the food served on most mountain huts is typically rather traditional local cuisine, which in my experience often includes many meat-heavy dishes. However, I have recently made the wonderful experience that more and more huts also offer vegetarian and even vegan options, which is so cool to see. Especially given the fact that it’s quite hard to get a variety of food up there. Depending on how the hut is connected, it might even need to be carried up there on foot.

I’m not writing all of this to put you off, I just want to also share the potential downsides of staying at a mountain hut. While I absolutely love the experience, I am aware this might not be for everyone. That being said, the three huts I share in this article all created an unforgettable experience for me while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail. And I am sure, if you’re open to embracing the experience, they all have the potential to do the same for you.

Mountain hut in front of Julian Alps while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

Route Overview of the Alpe Adria Trail

To get a better understanding of the Alpe Adria Trail, let’s get an overview of the general route of the trail first.

The AAT starts right at the foot of Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. It moves through Austria’s region Carinthia along beautiful mountains and valleys, with ever-new views of lakes, meadows, and forest landscapes. Some of the highlights in Austria include the Nationalpark Hohe Tauern in Kärnten, a total of 4 lakes: Millstätter See, Ossiacher See, Wörthersee and Faaker See, the Nockberge mountain range, and the Dreiländereck, where Austria, Slovenia, and Italy meet.

View of Millstätter See und Alexanderalm mountain hut while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

The Alpe Adria Trail then passes into Slovenia and leads along the emerald-green Soca river over mountain passes and through beautiful valleys. Apart from the ever-present Soca river in the Soca valley, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of mount Triglav at the border of the Triglav National park. With an elevation of over 2,860m (ca. 9,400 ft), Mount Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia and the highest peak of the Julian Alps. During my thru-hike on the Alpe Adria Trail, I’ve been told that every Slovenian person “has to” hike up mount Triglav once in their life. Not one of the worst “life tasks”, from my point of view, but hey, I’m also writing a whole blog about hiking and nature, so I guess, I’m kind of biased.

Mountain hut in front of Julian Alps while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail in Slovenia

After passing Tolmin, a cute little Slovenian town that is well-known across Europe for its music festivals, the Alpe Adria trail leads you into the hilly regions of northeast Italy. The famous “Poti miru” (path of peace) leads hikers out of Slovenia and into Italy. The trail passes right through an open-air museum, exhibiting the “linea d’armata” (third line of defense) the Italian army built during the First World War in the fight against the Austro-Hungarian troops on Monte Kolovrat. The Italian section of the Alpe Adria Trail leads through beautiful hills with rich forests, meanders through beautiful vineyards, and charming Italian towns until it finally reaches the Adriatic sea. From there it leads back into the countryside and crosses over to Slovenia again, before reaching its final destination, the Italian town of Muggia.

View of Adriatic coastline while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

The team around the AAT has done an amazing job at providing lots of information on the Alpe Adria trail, its stages, and history. You can find some of the most important information and lots of further reading on their website.

Now, let’s get to the three amazing mountain huts on the Alpe Adria trail, that you should definitely not miss!

Alpengasthaus Marterle in Rangersdorf

The gorgeous mountain hut Alpengasthaus Marterle is part of the municipality Rangersdorf in the upper Möll valley of Kärnten.

View of Marterle Church in Rangersdorf on the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria

Its location is right next to Austria’s highest pilgrimage church - Marterle - at an elevation of almost 1900m. It’s also a great starting point for several different hiking routes. If you’re hiking the Alpe Adria Trail and like an additional challenge, you can get up very early to hike up to Ebeneck in the morning to watch the sunrise from there before breakfast. It’s roughly 2.3km & 430m of elevation to the peak at 2283m. Apart from the incredible sunrise views, it’s also likely that you’ll see mountain goats on that hike. If you’re thru-hiking on the Alpe Adria Trail, I’d say it’s definitely possible to add this leg before breakfast, as the upcoming stage isn’t quite as demanding as the one leading up to Marterle. However, I personally found it more challenging than described in the official trail info and would definitely put it at medium rather than easy. There was a large part of the trail, which was nearly impossible to walk because it was so overgrown and the constant ascend made it relatively demanding on the knees.

View of mountain and valley scenery from Alpengasthaus Marterle while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

The food at Alpengasthaus Marterle is excellent. On offer are a selection of traditional local dishes from hearty lunches or dinners to sweet delights for your afternoon coffee break, like their delicious Kaiserschmarrn (to be fair, maybe this is not the best “snack” if you want to hike on afterward, but definitely a traditional Austrian dish no one with a sweet tooth should miss 🤤). For dinner, I can highly recommend the Käsespätzle served with a green salad. Also a very traditional local dish which I guess could be translated as “thimble dumplings made with cheese”. Just to warn you: calling it a generous portion, would be an understatement. I asked for a half-portion and wasn’t able to finish it, no matter how delicious they were. All food is prepared by Erica, the owner of the hut herself. And she’s not only an incredible cook but also a very kind, fun, and open-hearted host. The breakfast consisted of a buffet with fresh buns, different spreads, muesli, yogurt, and some fruit. It was also totally okay to pack a sandwich and an apple for lunch, which I always highly appreciate on hut stays.

Alpengasthaus Marterle in front ouf mountain scenery while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

The rooms of the hut are located on the first floor just above the dining area. There’s also an additional wing leading off the main hut with a few more rooms. There’s a variety of shared and private accommodations and you’re able to book whatever you’re most comfortable with. The rooms are super cute and cozy, the bed I slept in was very comfortable and the blankets and pillow provided were super warm and of high quality.

Room at Alpengasthaus Marterle on the Alpe Adria Trail

Obviously, it’s still a mountain hut so the walls aren’t very thick and the wooden floor and walls tend to squeak. Which I think makes up half the charm of a mountain hut. While I was staying there in spring 2022, they were renovating some of the rooms just above the main guest area, so I’m sure once they’re done with that, the sleeping quarters will be even more comfortable. All rooms have access to shared bathroom facilities. The rooms facing south have a beautiful view over the valley and some even have a balcony from which you can watch the sunrise. Absolutely breathtaking. But even the rooms facing north have a nice view over the meadow at the foot of the mountain range.

View from Alpengasthaus Marterle on the Alpe Adria Trail

As already mentioned, the team is amazing. Not only Erica, but everyone at the hut is incredibly friendly and kind. It’s a super familiar atmosphere, you get to know each other easily and as far as I could tell, the hut is also regularly visited by locals.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed staying at Alpengasthaus Marterle and would recommend it to anyone hiking the Alpe Adria Trail (and everyone else, too, really). The beautiful scenery, the peace, and the serenity as well as the incredibly warm and welcoming hosting by Erica and her team made it a wonderful experience.

View of Marterle Church in Rangersdorf on the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria

AlexanderAlm at Millstätter See

Ouf, where to start? Alexanderhütte was by far my favorite place to stay along the entire Alpe Adria Trail.

View of Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail

The location of this beautiful mountain hut is just perfect. It offers an absolutely mesmerizing view over the valley below in which the lake Millstätter See glitters in front of a picturesque mountain backdrop. The hut is also the ideal starting point for several (circular) hiking routes, for example up to Tschiernock at 2088m. From here you’re able to see three surrounding summits of over 3.000m.

View from Tschiernock close to Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail

Alexanderalm is located at 1.780m and depending on the weather, you’re literally above the clouds here and I kind of found it hard to take my eyes of the view. But luckily, I didn’t really have to. During the day, you can sit outside on their large terrace and enjoy a refreshing drink and some heartily delicious food (more on that later). A lovely feeling to gaze aimlessly over the lake and mountainscape, letting your mind wander while zipping on a cool drink and enjoying a light summer breeze.

View of Millstätter See from Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail

But what I actually enjoyed most, was hanging out in the spacious, comfortable guest room of Alexanderalm in the evenings. It has a large window front, so you can still admire the view. With the added benefit, that when it’s cold outside, the room is heated by a large fireplace, which makes it extremely cozy. During the day the hut is quite busy with many day visitors, which is a great opportunity to meet many friendly and like-minded people. You might even be lucky enough to enjoy a small live concert! Now if that’s not the picture-perfect hut experience, I really don’t know what is.

Guestroom Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria

But I also really enjoyed seeing the guest room slowly empty and calm down until only a few people remained who were spending the night. The peace and calmness were wonderfully relaxing and it felt very much like hanging out in your own living room with a few good friends. Watching the sun slowly set over Millstätter See, the atmosphere was just brilliant. With all that, AlexanderAlm really is one of the best places to stay on the Alpe Adria Trail.

View of Millstätter See at sunset from Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail

Now, the food. I’ve hardly ever had such high-quality dishes on a mountain hut - or anywhere really. The entire hut is family-owned and run. Just like their own organic farm and farm shop.

On their website, you can read up on their philosophy, part of it states:

“Natürlichkeit, Unverfälschtheit, Angepasstsein, Verbundenheit und Auseinandersetzung mit dem was uns umgibt, Familiensinn.”

This quote clearly shows their focus on organic, natural ingredients, mindfulness, sustainability, as well as a sense of family and belonging. And you can literally feel the love, passion, and dedication they put into every detail of running Alexanderalm. I especially noticed it in the food.

Food at Alexanderalm mountain hut on the Alpe Adria Trail

Part of their philosophy is the concept of “slow food”, which connects indulgence with a deep sense of responsibility. Meaning that every meal you’re served isn’t only incredibly delicious, but also made of healthy, organic ingredients from their own farm and prepared with love and mindfulness. If you want to learn more about the Slow Food movement, you can read more at the local collective Slow Food Kärnten. It’s a concept that deeply resonates with me, as it doesn’t only take into account the taste of the food, but also its ingredients and the way it’s produced, processed, and prepared. So, on a more practical note. Definitely try the “Kärntner Kasnudel” and the vegetarian “Wanderglust” (see the picture above), as well as their Kaiserschmarrn and “A klane Almsünd”. If you want to take a sneak peek at their menu already, you can download it here (in German).

Food at Alexanderalm mountain hut on the Alpe Adria Trail

If I had known how good the food is, I’d probably have stayed there 3 nights instead of 2 on my thru-hike on the Alpe Adria Trail. The breakfast is an amazing buffet with a huge variety of fresh ingredients. From homemade spreads over cut meat and cheese. Freshly baked bread and buns, muesli, milk from their own cows as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. On my last night, I left very early at 4 am to see the sunrise from the summit of Kamplnock (which is a roughly 1 - 1.5 hour hike from Alexanderalm). So they packed me a very big lunch package including Bircher muesli with fresh fruit, several cheese sandwiches, and some cut vegetables. Pretty much the best lunch package I had on the trail.

Alexanderalm at Dawn, a mountain hut on the Alpe Adria Trail

The rooms at Alexanderalm are just above the guest room, similar to Alpengasthaus Marterle. There are fewer rooms at Alexanderalm at the moment, but they are just building a new guest house, which will hopefully be done this season so even more guests can stay there. There’s a mix of bedrooms of different sizes. You can find more information about the rooms as well as some great pictures on their website. They provide towels and bedding and there are shared bathroom facilities on the same floor. Alexanderalm’s regular season is from May to October, but they just launched the possibility to rent the entire hut in the off-season in a self-catering offer.

View of Millstätter See from Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria

Last but not least, the team of Alexanderalm is just amazing. While staying there I had the chance to chat with them about the hut, their philosophy, and life in general. I felt really welcomed and connected and it made my stay even more special than it already was through the amazing location and the heartwarming food.

Food at Alexanderalm mountain hut on the Alpe Adria Trail

By the way, Alexanderalm lies at the end of stage 12 of the Alpe Adria trail. If you follow the regular route, you’ll hike up to Tschiernock on your way there. But I’ve taken a different route, discovered another stunning viewpoint, and included a rest day at Alexanderalm, which was one of my best decisions while hiking the AAT. If you want to read more on that check out my 2-week itinerary for the Alpe Adria Trail.

View of Millstätter See from Alexanderalm on the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria

Erjavčeva’s hut at Vrsc Pass

Erjavčeva’s mountain hut is an absolute hidden gem in the Slovenian countryside. It’s located on a small hill just beneath the Vršič mountain pass. It’s actually not directly part of the Alpe Adria Trail, but lies roughly in the middle of stage #23 of the AAT, between Kranjska Gora and Trenta. It thus offers an ideal possibility to split this rather longer stage into two. And I’m so happy I did this. For one, the previous stage was quite tough (for me) and I was still pretty tired. Secondly, Erjavčeva’s hut became one of my favorite places to stay on the Alpe Adria trail.

Erjavčeva’s mountain hut at Vrsc Pass, Slovenia on the Alpe Adria Trail

The location is just perfect. It’s set on a beautiful meadow between large larch trees and just in front of the impressive view of the Vršič mountain. Right from the large terrace of the hut, you can see the famous “Girl in Stone”, which according to an old tale was bewitched by the mountain spirits. But if you tell her your woes, she might be able to relieve them. Luckily, food will definitely not be one of them, because it’s very good here at Erjavčeva’s hut.

Erjavčeva’s mountain hut at Vrsc Pass, Slovenia on the Alpe Adria Trail

The food at the hut is homemade and they place great emphasis on using local ingredients, meaning their menu changes with the seasons. You should definitely try some homemade traditional Slovenian dishes, like the Štruklji. To my delight, there was also a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer.

Food at Erjavčeva’s mountain hut at Vrsc Pass, Slovenia on the Alpe Adria Trail

They also proudly serve local wines from a small manufacturer, which are prepared without any additives. Apparently, you can drink as much as you want without waking up with a big headache the next morning… I did not test this, so no guarantees. But if you try, please let me know. 😁 The breakfast was extremely generous with freshly scrambled eggs, fresh bread, and a variety of spread, cheese, etc. It was enough for me to also pack some leftovers for lunch.

Food at Erjavčeva’s mountain hut at Vrsc Pass, Slovenia on the Alpe Adria Trail

The sleeping quarters are made up of traditional mountain hut-style rooms. They are simple, yet perfectly clean and have everything you need after a long day’s hike. There’s a variety of private rooms as well as several dorms in different sizes. You can find out more about their rooms on their website. Bed sheets are provided and there are shared bathroom facilities on the same floor, making Erjavčeva’s mountain hut at Vrsc Pass an ideal place to stay on the Alpe Adria Trail in Slovenia.

Erjavčeva’s mountain hut at Vrsc Pass, Slovenia on the Alpe Adria Trail

The team was super nice and really accommodating to all the guests’ wishes and needs. I was super impressed by how a very small team of three people managed to cook, serve, and accommodate all the guests during my stay. The hut is a bit larger and thus doesn’t feel quite as intimate as Alexanderalm or Alpengasthaus Marterle.

Bonus tip: Have some Strukje at Koča na planini Kuhinja

Another wonderful mountain hut is Koča na planini Kuhinja in Slovenia. It’s located at Planina Kuhinja at the border of the Triglav national park and just below mount Krn. You’ll walk past it on stage #26 of the Alpe Adria trail, roughly halfway between Drežnica and Tolmin. It’s a lovely hut with an even more lovely owner and just didn’t make this list, because I didn’t actually spend the night there.

View of Planina Kuhinja at Triglav national Park in Slovenia

However, I did stop to have some coffee and a Strukje. And let me tell you, I did not regret it. The Strukje was definitely homemade and filled with red berries and cream and tasted heavenly. Especially after the long hike up from Drežnica. If you’re hiking the Alpe Adria Trail, this would again be a good spot to split this stage, if you’re feeling a little exhausted after being on the trail for several weeks at this point.

Strukje at Koča na planini Kuhinja in Slovenia while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail

Wondering where to spend the night on the Alpe Adria trail? These three mountain huts are a must!

The Alpe Adria trail is an absolutely gorgeous long-distance trail in Europe, leading through three different countries: Austria, Slovenia, and Italy. The trail offers various accommodation possibilities, but there a three mountain huts, you should definitely not miss while hiking the Alpe Adria trail:

  • Alpengasthaus Marterle in Rangersdorf (end of stage #3 on the AAT)
  • Alexanderalm at Millstätter See (end of stage #12 on the AAT)
  • Erjavčeva’s hut at Vrsc Pass (middle of stage #23 on the AAT)

No matter which hut you stay at, I truly hope your experience will be as wonderful, inspiring, and meaningful as my experiences were at each of them.

View of Alexanderalm mountain hut while hiking the Alpe Adria Trail in Austria

Can’t wait to set out on the Alpe Adria Trail yourself? Check out my other articles to get your itinerary and backpack ready: