small mountain hut in the dolomites


How to: hut-to-hut hiking in Europe

Publication date: 30 May 2024

Hiking 101PreparationTips

A great way to discover the hiking trails in Europe is to go on a hut-to-hut hike in the Alps, Pyrenees, or Scandinavia. They are also known as a hut-to-hut tour or hut-to-hut trek. Europeans know this as a huttentour, huttentocht or randonnee. One of the most asked questions we get is: how can I start with hut-to-hut hiking? It’s time to dive into this topic with all your questions about hut-to-hut hiking, mountain huts, and other related topics.

On a hut-to-hut hike, you walk from one mountain hut to another. Most of the time, these mountain huts are high up in the mountains, above the tree line, providing you with food and shelter. Some mountain huts are basic, but more and more mountain huts are tending to be a more comfortable and unique stay up in the clouds.


Elmar Teegelbeckers

Passionate hiker Elmar spends months of his time on the trail. He’s usually on the lookout for hidden gems in one of his favourite countries such as Slovenia, Switzerland and Japan. He founded in need for a community and detailed information about the trails. Before this, he worked for the Alpine asscociation in the Netherlands[ (NKBV) but lost his heart to the trails.

With this website and socials, he hopes to shape an inclusive community for hikers all over world. No matter your speed, experience or level, you can get out there to enjoy the trails and connect with the heartwarming hiking community. Life is so much better outside and he hopes to inspire hikers to take their first, or next, step on the trail.

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Hut-to-hut hiking in Europe


man hiking towards mountain hut
What is hut-to-hut hiking?

Alright, hut-to-hut hiking. You may think of hiking to a very tiny shelter up on the mountain, but if we talk about hut-to-hut hiking in Europe, we’re talking about hiking from mountain hut to mountain hut, most of the time above the treeline, and sleeping in these huts during your trek. These mountain huts range from very basic dormitory-style sleeping places to very well-designed single-bedroom mountain huts with star-worthy cuisine. Most of the mountain huts tend more towards a basic overnight stay, always with a kitchen where you can buy food and you’ll always have a comfy place to sleep. Most mountain huts are owned by the Alpine Associations of the countries like the SAC in Switzerland, OEAV in Austria or the DNT in Norway. Other mountain huts are privately owned (often more luxurious) or owned by a local association. It’s a great way to explore the mountains during a hut-to-hut trek because you’re staying high in the mountains without going back to the valley every day.

What is a mountain hut?

Mountain huts are basically simple shelters in the mountains. Over the years, they have become somewhat more comfortable, but they are certainly not luxury hotels. They provide warm shelter, a place to sleep, and most of the time you can buy food in the mountain hut. Usually, you’ll book a dormitory-style sleeping space and sometimes they’ve single rooms available and when you’re lucky even a shower. There is always a shared room with tables and chairs where you can play board games and where the dinner is served. Mostly they serve dinner at the same time around 6 PM and 7 PM for the whole hut. Sometimes you can choose from a menu, but most of the time they serve everyone the same, like a big pasta. Of course, if you have some allergies, they can always make something else for you.

How difficult is hut-to-hut hiking?

There are hut-to-hut hiking trails for every level. You can opt for a hut-to-hut hike for beginners on easy trails or you can choose a difficult hut-to-hut hike only for experienced hikers without a fear of heights. There are also trails for families. Research the chosen hike extensively and if you’re doubting the difficulty of the trail, you can always ask the local tourism board for more information. Consider that you’re hiking up in the mountains, often above the treeline, and that weather conditions may rapidly change quickly with rain or thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Keep an eye on the weather conditions every day before you set out.

mountain hut during sunriseHow can I find a hut-to-hut hike?

In the Alps and Pyrenees alone, there are thousands of mountain huts. You can create a hut-to-hut trail by yourself or you can choose a ´designed´ trail like the Alta Via 1, Tour du Mont Blanc, or GR20. There are hundreds of designed hut-to-hut hiking trails for all different levels, from easy trails for beginners to trails for skilled hikers with some scrambling or Via Ferrata involved. You can find the hut-to-hut hiking trails on our website, but also on hundreds of other websites, most of the time from the local region where you tend to hike.

Hut-to-hut hiking trails

Where can I find all the mountain huts?

First: most of the mountain huts in Europe are situated in the Alps (France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia) and Norway. To find a mountain hut in a specific region, there’s not one place where you can find all the mountain huts in Europe. Every country has its own portal and sometimes even the region has its own place where you can find the mountain huts. The best thing you can do when you’re considering a hut-to-hut hiking trail is to choose the region you want to hike and dive into that region with maps, online information, and if you need to, you can always send an email to the local tourism board who will be happy to help you. If you opt for a ¨designed¨ trail, you can find the mountain huts on multiple resources from that specific trail.

Do I need to book the mountain huts?

Yes! Mountain huts are getting more popular every year. It’s always wise and recommended to book the mountain huts in advance. Most mountain huts have a website where you will find the phone number or the email address with which you can make a reservation. This is often possible well in advance and they answer quickly. Keep in mind that some huts are unmanned in certain seasons if the phone is not answered. Making a reservation via email is sometimes possible if no one answers the phone. When the hut uses a central reservation system, like the Alpine Associations, this will be mentioned on their own website. Make sure you receive a confirmation of your reservation.

Many huts of the Austrian, German, Swiss, and South Tyrolean Alpine Associations can be booked through the online portal of the Alpenvereinshütten. Huts in the French Alps can be booked through the website of the Fédération Française des Clubs Alpins et de Montagne. However, not all huts are listed in these online portals, like private mountain huts.

Also, there are a lot of travel companies who will book the whole trail for you. You can choose to book the tour as an individual trip, without a guide, or you can choose a group tour with a hiking guide. There are plenty of options so you don’t need to worry about your reservations of the mountain huts.

mountain huts in the AlpsHow far in advance do I need to book mountain huts?

We always recommend that you book as early as possible. Generally, huts in the high season and along popular routes are quickly fully booked, sometimes shortly after the booking system opens. If there are many huts in an area, you have more alternatives for your trip. If it becomes difficult to book the huts on your desired days, if possible, you can see if you can walk the route in the opposite direction – this is definitely worth considering for popular hiking routes that most people walk in the same direction. Since other hikers might cancel their overnight stay, it may be worth keeping an eye on the reservation systems or calling the hut warden now and then to see if a spot has become available.

How to get discounts in mountain huts?

With your membership in an Alpine Association like the DAV, NKBV, OEAV, or SAC, you can get up to 50% discount at Alpine Association huts. Check in advance if the hut offers a discount for members and indicate that you are a member when making your reservation. If you are going on a hut-to-hut hike in the mountains, you must have your membership card with you because the hut warden checks whether you are a member before you pay.

Find your hut-to-hut hike


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