With an emphasis on flowers, our special interest walking holidays in Austria offer the perfect getaway for nature lovers. Along the way, you’ll identify splendid flora on our walking trails with the help of our handy wildflower guide and expert tour leaders.
The national flower of Austria, Edelweiss flourishes in remote mountain crags and rocky limestone slopes. The flower’s name translates from the German edel for ‘noble’ and weiß for ‘white’.
Its flower blossoms in a distinctive white star formation, coming into glorious bloom between July and September. Edelweiss petals are covered in little downy hairs, believed to protect the flower from alpine frost. These dainty hairs give a wonderful illusion that the plant is covered in fresh, crisp snow.
According to tradition, giving this flower to a loved one symbolises dedication – it is said that Emperor Franz Joseph I handpicked this bud for his wife, Empress Elisabeth, on a hike to the Pasterze Glacier.
Ever since, the symbol of the Edelweiss has been embedded in popular culture with artworks, Hollywood movies, jewellery designs, coins, beer brands and folk songs all taking inspiration from the alpine flower.
Mountain arnica or wolf’s bain
Cultivated for its healing properties, mountain arnica has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. Pressed for its essential oils, arnica is added to body creams and salves to treat bruises, sprains and inflammation.
A nationally protected plant in Austria, mountain arnica generally flowers between May and August with rays of dainty orange-yellow florets. It can be found in grassy meadows with poor nutrient or clay soils.
Flowering from summer to autumn, the golden hawksbeard has a characteristic rosette-shaped flower and a vivid, flame-orange colour.
Found in abundance in alpine Zermatt, this plant thrives at great altitudes, with varieties known to bloom as high as 2,800m.
Alpine anemone or pasque flower
Belonging to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) the alpine anemone’s upright, ornamental petals can be seen in a kaleidoscope of colours: white, yellow, purple, pink and indigo.
The common name of the pasque flower comes from Pâques, the French word for Easter – the time when the flower begins to blossom. A low-growing plant, keep an eye out for this variety in dry meadows and at the base of rocky slopes.
Gentiana acaulis or trumpet gentian
This much-loved alpine flower comes into blossom from late spring into autumn and has a characteristic trumpet-like petal shape.
Its tiny, striking blue flowers form a low, slow-spreading carpet of the most amazing shade of deep indigo. This resilient plant has been recorded growing as high as 3,000m above sea level and thrives in highly acidic, limestone soil found at extreme altitudes in the Alps.
Tempted to see these beautiful flowers flourishing in their natural habitat? Why not take a look at our guided routes across alpine Austria’s wildflower country on one of our Ramblers Walking Holidays?