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National Parks in Austria – A Visitor’s Guide

National Parks in Austria – A Visitor’s Guide

The national parks in Austria contain unique landscapes and natural formations in Central Europe. Each of the seven national parks has individual purposes for the conservation of their respective regions and providing visitors breath-taking scenery for boosting tourism.

Each of Austria’s national parks is worth visiting for creating memorable experiences in some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Gesäuse National Park

Gesäuse National Park is the newest national park in Austria, established in 2002. The park features some of Austria’s best landscapes with lots of outdoor activities commonly enjoyed in the park.

Gesäuse National Park centers around a section of the Gesäuse Mountain Range, as well as includes valleys and rivers. The diverse landscape gives it scenic appeal, perfect for enjoying the sights of going on scenic drives through the park.

This highest peak in the Gesäuse National Park is the Hoctor peak, reach a height of over 2,000 km. The summit makes for a great hiking destination for breath-taking views of the region.

Some of the favorite outdoor activities enjoyed here include rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. In addition to the mountain peaks, the Enns River is another must-see destination.

Gesäuse National Park has a visitor center to provide information and fun for all ages. The easily accessible park is excellent for nature day trips from the nearby Austrian cities.

Thayatal National Park

Thayatal National Park represents one of Central Europe’s last remaining near-natural valleys. The Thayatal Valley, a centerpiece of the park, maintained its scenic beauty and abundant plant and animal life.

Sightseeing to discover flora and fauna in the park is a mainstay activity — hiking trails run throughout the park, each with varying lengths and difficulties for widespread suitability.

Officials established Thayatal National Park in 2000, and it’s the smallest park in the country. Even so, it’s still home to nearly 1,000 butterfly species, over 1,200 plant species, and even rare mammals such as the wildcat. The lush green forests of the park showcase much of the rich biodiversity.

The visitor center is a great place to start while visiting Thayatal National Park. It provides information about the park and directions to reaching trails such as a popular route along the Dyje River. Another top attraction is a visit to Burg Hardegg.

Thayatal National Park

Photo: jn.koste/Shutterstock

Hohe Tauern National Park

Hohe Tauern National Park is Austria’s largest national park and the largest in Central Europe. It comprises of a region of the Central Eastern Alps, namely the shove Tauern mountain range.

The mountainous region of the park extends to high elevations with glaciers and glacial valleys; it continues to lower altitudes for grassy and forested areas with lakes and other natural landscapes. The highest peak in the park is at Grossglockner, with an elevation of almost 3,800 meters.

The diverse plant and animal life is impressive, thanks to the varying elevations. The park remains a natural habitat for famous Alpine wildlife such as the Alpine ibex, Alpine marmot, and bearded vulture.

Hohe Tauern National Park achieved its status for the preservation of the beautiful scenery within the park. It’s become a hotspot for sustainable tourism. Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor activities within the park, including common Alpine sports.

The park’s location makes it a popular stop for tourists driving through the region or day trips to explore the park’s wonders.

Hohe Tauern National Park

Photo: John_Silver/Shutterstock

Nock Mountains

Nock Mountains National Park is in the central area of the Nock Mountains, an extensive range in Austria. The region achieved national park status for protecting the landscape, known for the natural scenery. Although not one of the top parks in the country, it remains an attractive destination for nature-lovers and scenic hikes.

Nock Mountains National Park holds the Eastern Alps largest spruce, larche, and pine woods of the region, home to a diverse biosphere, including Alpine animals and flora. Hike along the trails for a chance to glimpse so of the unique alpine animals. Many of the common animals include Alpine hares, snow grouses, and chamois.

Tourism in the park centers around the Nock Alps Road. The road provides visitors with scenic drives throughout the region, as well as easy access to the top hiking paths or viewpoints. Guided tours are available for better navigation of the park or to learn more about the scenery and sites.

Nock Mountains

Photo: Rene Pi/Shutterstock

Neusiedler See–Seewinkel

Neusiedler See–Seewinkel National Park is Austria’s first park, established in 1993. While all of the other national parks in Austria are government-owned, this park is privately owned by local farmers, who open it up to the public to enjoy the sites and attractions.

Neusiedler See–Seewinkel National Park is in Eastern Austria, along the border of Hungary. Its location between the edge of the Alps and the Little Hungarian plain creates a mix of plants and animals thriving within the region. One of the most notable landmarks in the park is Lake Neusiedl, Central Europe’s largest endorheic lake.

A visitor center is available at Neusiedler See–Seewinkel National Park, along with other visitor facilities. There are also small villages within the park, where visitors can find local vineyards. Some of the top activities at the park include biking routes, walking paths, and bird watching.

Neusiedler See–Seewinkel national park in Austria

Photo: Tupungato/Shutterstock


One of the largest remaining floodplains in Middle Europe is within the region considered the Danube-Auen National Park. The national park focuses on the landscapes developed around the Danube River – the landscape is varied with meadows, wetlands, forests, etc. Thanks to the diverse landscape, the park features a very biodiverse ecosystem.

Danube-Auen National Park is home to over 5,000 species of plants and animals, such as 700 plant species, 100 bird species, 50 fish species, and more. Some of the popular species native to the region include the Danube crested newt, Eurasian kingfisher, and the European pond turtles.

The park, established in 1996, grew into a well-known park in Austria for activities such as bird watching and cycling. The park is a breeding ground and migration area for nearby birds. It also includes cycling paths. The park’s visitor center is an excellent resource for first-time visitors or accessing the available guided tours.


Photo: Fotokon/Shutterstock


Kalkalpen National Park features the largest forested area in Central Europe. The park, established in 1997, preserves a section of the Northern Limestone Alps mountain range. The limestone formations make it Austria’s largest karst region, an underground drainage system, and caves developed from the rocks.

Aside from conservation efforts, Kalkalpen National Park developed for tourism. There are many trails designated for hiking, mountain biking, and riding horses through the scenic landscape. Two of the highlights of the parks include climbing to the top of the Hoher Nock peak for excellent views or discovering the Vogelsang Klamm waterfall.

Other popular activities occur during the wintertime, including Alpine skiing and snowshoe hiking.

There is a visitor center within Kalkalpen National Park with information and guided tours of the park. For some of the best views, visitors can climb to the top of the viewing tower and get panoramic views of the landscape.

National Park Kalkalpen in Austria

Photo: Richard Semik/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

How many national parks are there in Austria?

There are seven national parks in Austria, protecting the Austrian Alpine region and marine areas of the country.

What is the largest national park in Austria?

Austria’s largest national park is the Hohe Tauern, the largest in Central Europe, with an area of over 1,800 square kilometers.