The Austrian Alpine Association supports 36 Mountaineering Villages in Austria with the platform "Bergsteigerdörfer" or Mountaineering Villages. This moniker is given to those places which have deliberately dedicated themselves to soft tourism. No large ski facilities, no multi-lane roads, no big hotel complexes. Small, authentic places, embedded in the original natural landscape and equipped with a high level of alpine skills.
The "Bergsteigerdörfer" or Mountaineering Villages of the Austrian Alpine Association are little-touched mountain resorts with an authentic character that want to meet important aspects in sustainable Alpine tourism. In addition to the mountain-hiking expertise, a positioning in the more demanding area of Alpine Mountaineering should also be given. They guarantee professional tourism facilities for climbers, have an excellent landscape and environmental quality and above all are committed to the preservation of local cultural and natural values.
The Mountaineering Villages initiative was funded with the support of the Ministry of Life and the Rural Development Program 2014-2020. The model effect of Mountaineering Villages must be to achieve the goal of sustainable development in the Alpine region whilst remaining in harmony with nature and complying to the relevant legal provisions such as the implementation protocols of the Alpine Convention.
A uniform marketing platform has been made available to the communities of the Mountaineering Villages. Furthermore, projects are promoted and above all - to mutual benefit – the cooperation enables a broad exchange with other Mountaineering Villages and partners. This brand stands for a demanding mountain tourism, which sets itself apart from standard tourism and offers an economically viable combination of nature conservation, identity preservation and Alpine challenge.
Mountaineering Villages are communities that have not participated in the so-called "development-capital-event-roundabout". There may be different reasons for this, either because they were not interesting for ski tourism due to purely topographical circumstances or because of conscious decisions. However, these communities have one thing in common: they have something that many other regions in Austria have not had for a long time: a largely unspoiled natural and cultural landscape, a centuries-old alpine tradition and a strong sense of self-confidence.
The mountaineering Villages are further characterized by their location in the alpine region, by a certain smallness (no more than 2,500 permanent inhabitants), by a down-to-earth tourism infrastructure, by numerous untouched mountain peaks, by a formative alpine history and by alpine competence. In addition, protected mountain huts of alpine clubs or comparable huts, a continuously signposted network of trails and trained mountain and hiking guides form the basis for all mountaineering villages. Despite many similarities, all mountaineering villages have their own personal charm and set their priorities differently.
In the neighboring countries Germany, Italy and Slovenia has long been great interest in Mountaineering Villages. An extension of the initiative to the neighboring Alpine regions in close cooperation with the respective regional and national Alpine associations and under the umbrella of the Alpine Convention is already bearing fruit. Bilateral agreements between the initiator Österreichischer Alpenverein and the other Alpine Associations ensures that the philosophy and criteria for new Mountaineering Villages are respected and that the initiative remains in the hands of the Alpine Associations.
As of 2022, the following communities, valleys and / or places belong to the group of Mountaineering Villages:
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