Mariazell, a city in the southeast Austrian state of Sytria, is probably the most well-known pilgrimage site in Austria. Surrounded by the Sytrian mountains, the city and its basilica are idyllic. To make your visit truly special, you can embark on your own pilgrimage and hike to the city.
You can reach Mariazell via a network of long-distance hiking trails that stretch into all corners of Austria. The routes, waymarked by 06, follow the traditional pilgrimage routes to the city. In this Collection, I introduce the Styrian pilgrimage trail. Over a distance of 140 miles (230 km), you will walk from south to north through the wonderful region.
I’ve split the pilgrimage into ten stages, each finishing in a town or village with a cosy bed and hot meal. The routes are up to 18 miles (30 km) long, with some shorter days too. You can always split the stages to suit your own needs and fitness. Surrounded by fresh air and stunning nature, you can embark on your own spiritual journey away from your busy daily life. Embarking on a daily routine of walking helps you to reflect and enjoy the present.
The Mariazell Way also has many cultural highlights. You walk through Sytria’s ancient fields and forests, old farms and small villages. Many chapels and crosses along the route mark the historic pilgrimage. You can also visit magnificent castles and palaces. The route also leads through Graz, the Styria’s capital. You can take a day off here to discover the city’s UNESCO designated centre and Eggenburg Palace.
Your hike begins at the southern end of the Koralpe mountain range. From here, you descend to the flatter terrain around Graz, which lies at 1,148 feet (350 m) above sea level. As you hike north, the mountains get bigger and you climb up to 4,920 feet (1,500 m). The best time of year to hike the Styrian Mariazell Way is from May to October when the paths are free from snow.
The start of the long distance trail in Soboth can be reached by bus from Eibiswald. However, the bus runs infrequently. Eibiswald, the start of the second stage, is easier to reach with the S-Bahn from Graz. From Mariazell, you can take buses and trains through the mountains to Lower Austria and Graz. The area is generally well-connected to public transport so you can easily shorten your pilgrimage or walk the individual stages as day hikes.
Once from south to north through Styria: The first stage of this Mariazell path begins in Soboth, which is close to the border with Carinthia. Up to here you can hike on the Carinthian variant of the pilgrimage route.Today always leads you roughly to the east. First of all, you slowly run downhill. The route leads through forest and across meadows. In several hairpin bends you descend into the valley of the Krumbach to climb up the other side. Here you cross a country road and soon dive back into a forest where you climb a hill. This is followed by a long descent, which takes up about half of the daily route. You pass clearings with lonely courtyards and finally reach the foothills of Eibiswald. Along the streets you get to the center of the community. In Eibiswald you will discover a historic town center at the stage destination.If you want to go to Soboth by public transport, you can take the S6 from Graz to Wies-Eibiswald and take bus number 782 to Soboth. This bus runs twice a day from Monday to Friday. Eibiswald is easier to reach. There you can start your Mariazell path with the second stage.
On the second stage of the Mariazeller Weg, you leave Eibiswald in a northerly direction and continue your hike on the dirt road as you exit the village. The first kilometers alternate forest sections, meadows and small settlements. This way you will soon reach Vorderdorf, which you will cross straight to hike further north.Behind Unterkraß and Oberkraß the path continues in the forest. In a clearing you will pass the stately Limberg Castle, which is now used as a youth recreation center. Then you hike downhill to Schwanberg, but walk past the place on the south side to climb a hill again. Here it goes steeply uphill to a wonderful view. In and around Schwanberg you have several options to stop in a restaurant, inn or tavern.North of Schwanberg, the last big climb of the day follows up to the Wolfgangikirche. Shortly before that you have the opportunity to stop again. From the exposed chapel you have a wonderful distant view to the north. You can already see the Schöckl and the Hohe Veitsch, which you will come closer to in the next few days.On the other side of the mountain it goes on narrow paths through the forest down to the stage goal. High above Deutschlandsberg you can discover the castle of the same name, which stands on a hill to the west. A trip before or after dinner is worthwhile.
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The third stage continues north. Today there are a lot of ups and downs on the program over just 30 kilometers. On the outskirts of Deutschlandsberg it goes a short distance through a forest and then on across meadows and fields. You cross the idyllic Wildbach valley and climb on the other side over a ridge to Bad Gams.Behind the place, after several turns, turn east to climb the highest peak of the day. On the top of the mountain is a wooden lookout tower, from which you have a wide panoramic view. If you look north-east here, you will see where you are still walking today.Then it goes downhill again to Stainz, which is wonderful for a lunch break. You can get to Stainz Castle via the Jakob Rosolenz staircase. Take a little time here to explore the impressive grounds.On field and forest trails you can enjoy the Styrian landscape for the next few kilometers to the north. Again and again you come across small settlements and lonely courtyards. The place Mooskirchen at the gates of Graz is today's destination. It welcomes you with colorful flowers. Enjoy the evening with a glass of regional wine or a schnapps from the village.
Today's destination is the Styrian capital Graz, a cultural highlight of the Mariazeller Weg. It's best to get up early in the morning and then have even more time in the evening to enjoy the city.You still leave Mooskirchen in a northerly direction, but then turn east in the next town of Kleinsöding. Here you cross a small, wooded ridge. After the next depression, the still quite comfortable up and down is slowly becoming more and more up. Past Mühlriegel and Riederhof you climb another mountain range. At the top you turn left and continue to climb on your back. On your right you can already see the foothills of Graz.The climb to the Buchkogel is steep. At the top is a lookout tower, from which you can get an overview of Graz. Then you descend north over your back. You continue to stay in the woods west of Graz and run a loop here to finally enter the city at Schloss Eggenberg.Straight ahead from here to the east you will reach the city's main train station. The choice of accommodation and restaurants is almost endless. Think about taking a day off in Graz because there is a lot to discover. The city combines historical sights with modern buildings.
Through Graz you walk towards the northeast. At the Hilmtich you enter a forest. Houses are slowly becoming fewer and you leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind. Relatively cozy and with only a moderate incline, you get to the first highlight of the stage: the Basilica Mariatrost, which is located just outside Graz. The imposing, baroque building is definitely worth a break.The path runs across meadows and fields, in between also through small forests. How to get to Niederschöckl. There are inns here if you want to stop for lunch.Then most of the altitude meters are due for this day. It is always uphill, again and again through small villages. The landscape of the day lasts until the end of the stage. In St. Radegund there is still a worth seeing calvary.
In the northwest of St. Radegund there is finally the mountain that you have often seen on your way here: the Schöckl. Climbing its 1,445 meter high summit is your first task today. You pass the valley station of the mountain railway, which could also relieve you of the ascent of the day. On a path with roots and stones, it is sometimes really steep.The amenities of a popular excursion destination are waiting above: several huts offer food and drinks. You can take a break here with a clear conscience and maybe enjoy a second breakfast. Because the rest of the stage was almost only downhill. On the left you can make a detour to the summit cross before you continue. From there you have a beautiful view of Graz and thus the direction from which you came.For the descent you turn northeast. You hike over the forested slopes of the Graz mountains - that's the name of the low mountain range north of the Styrian capital. This is how you get to Arzberg, where you can visit a mine tunnel. Loaves of cheese ripen in the caves in the mountain, where silver was mined in the past. It is only five kilometers to the stage goal. So you can take a little time in Arzberg. To the north you pass the next town Wiedenberg and soon you will reach Passail.
The seventh stage of the Styrian Mariazell Path leads you through beautiful alpine landscapes. From Passail it goes first a short distance to the north. But soon you will turn to the right to climb comfortably to Krichenlee. Behind the village you leave the populated area and enter a picturesque landscape with forests and meadows.Via the ox stop - past the Schwarz- and Bründlkogel - you hike steadily uphill. Along the back of the Saukogel you will reach the Sommeralm. Now you stay at a similar height in a northern direction. You go around the right hand side of the drawing and then pass the Mitterbachkogel on the left.Then you follow the path a bit downhill to Straßegg, where the Stroßeggwirt is waiting for you with food, drink and bed. The pass connects the Mur Valley in the west with the Feistritztal in the east.
After breakfast you start your hike northeast. Four peaks line up to your left. First you pass the Reschenkogel, then the Beißenkogel and then the Feichtkogel. Half bypass the fourth summit, the Aibelhöhe, and continue hiking north.On the slopes you keep roughly at a height, then climb up towards Fürstkogel. But you also circle this summit on the left and then follow a forest road downhill. On winding paths you descend to the Schanz Pass, where an inn invites you to stop.After the break it goes up again. Through forests you come to the Stanglalm, where you can also get something to eat and drink. Then there is a long descent: from almost 1,500 meters you hike down to 600 meters. Almost the entire route runs in the shady forest. Arrived down in the Murzal valley, you are also in Mitterdorf, where you will spend the night.
After a night in the cozy civilization, you leave Mitterdorf to the northwest. The ascent begins in the village, which then continues in the forest. Every now and then meadows interrupt the shade of the trees.After the first ascent, the path gives you a short break on a plateau. If you want to extend it, you can stop at the Hundskopfhütte. However, this is only open on summer weekends. We continue north, where you walk past the Hochreiterkogel on the left. The path describes a large curve to the west as it rises and falls again and again.At the Pretal saddle you cross the pass road and always climb uphill on the other side on your back, then walk around the Eisnerkogel on the right. You hike downhill into the saddle and on the other side continue uphill on your back. Then you hold onto the slope and make a left turn around a path. On the other hand, your night quarters are waiting with the Rotsohlalm.
The last stage of the Mariazeller Weg through Styria has it all again: It is a good 27 kilometers to the finish. On the way you are amazed by the wonderful views of the ever increasing mountains.From the Rotsohlalm you keep to the left under your back and walk north under the Hohe Vietsch. Through forest paths you get to the Niederalpl Pass, where a ski area is operated in winter. The first places to stop for refreshments are above: the Wetterin hut and a little further the Weissalm hut. A few more steps and you are already at the Ochsenbodenalm.The rocky summit of the Tonion can be seen in a northwesterly direction. You walk past this on the left. The path soon leads through a forest. As soon as you enter meadows again, it is not far to the Mooshuben settlement. There is an inn here where you can fortify yourself for the last five kilometers.Now a big left turn and you meet the Salza, which flows south past Mariazell. You cross the river and walk left in the valley to the center of town, where your long hike ends at the basilica.Public transport runs from Mariazell in several directions: The Mariazellerbahn takes you to Lower Austria on a wonderful train route. Post buses also travel in this direction. In the direction of Graz you can take the bus to Bruck an der Mur and from there by S-Bahn.