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Alpine crossing on E5 – From Oberstdorf to Meran

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  • Start of the tour at Spielmannsau
    / Start of the tour at Spielmannsau
    Photo: Julius Arndt, Community
  • / Ravine Sperrbachtobel
    Photo: Roland Schreivogel, Outdooractive Premium
  • / View from the alpine hut "Kemptner Hütte"
    Photo: Rastin Pries, Community
  • / Alpine hut Untere Roßgumpenalm
    Photo: Hartmut Wimmer, Outdooractive Premium
  • / Alpine hut Untere Roßgumpenalm
    Photo: Hartmut Wimmer, Outdooractive Premium
  • / Waterfall
    Photo: Markus Mühler, OASE AlpinCenter e. K.
  • / Lake behind the alpine hut "Memminger Hütte"
    Photo: Ortwin Sick, Community
  • / Lake behind the alpine hut "Memminger Hütte"
    Photo: Deebee Dee, Community
  • / At the alpine hut Oberlochalm
    Photo: Markus Mühler, OASE AlpinCenter e. K.
  • / View back from the alpine hut "Oberlochalm"
    Photo: Markus Mühler, OASE AlpinCenter e. K.
  • / View back from the summit station of the cable car Venetbahn
    Photo: Julia Gebauer, Outdooractive Editors
  • / View from the alpine hut Larcheralm onto our further way
    Photo: Julia Gebauer, Outdooractive Editors
  • / We look back from the hut Gletscherstübele to Mittelberg
    Photo: Julia Gebauer, Outdooractive Editors
  • / Upwards to the alpine hut "Braunschweiger Hütte"
    Photo: Deebee Dee, Community
  • / On the way up to the alpine hut "Braunschweiger Hütte"
    Photo: Rastin Pries, Community
  • / At Braunschweiger Hütte
    Photo: Matthias Riese, Community
  • / At lake Weißeskarsee
    Photo: Markus Mühler, OASE AlpinCenter e. K.
  • / Seescharte
    Photo: Raoul Bourckel, Community
  • / View from Seescharte, on the right the peak Silberspitze
    Photo: Julia Gebauer, Outdooractive Editors
m 4000 3000 2000 1000 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 km Vernagt-Stausee Wasserfall beim … Hütte Venetbahn Bergstation Similaunhütte Weißeskarsee Seescharte Larcher Alm Meran
The classic alpine crossing: 6-day tour on the route E5 from Oberstdorf to Meran through the beautiful alpine terrain.
Distance 173.9 km
36:00 h
8,353 m
9,040 m

For many hikers, an alpine crossing is a long-cherished dream. Not only the classic long-distance trail from Munich to Venice but also the route E5 leads from valley to valley and from peak to peak. Within 6 days, the crossing leads alongside the most famous and most popular section of the trail from Oberstdorf to Meran.

In the first 4 days, we follow the "classic" E5, then we continue on an alternate route to Meran. We cross three countries within six days whereby the alpine world around us changes within hours. Altogether, we master 4950 m in altitude upwards and 6470 m descent and walk 106 km.

There are lots of possibilites for sleeping over and getting food supplies along the way. The accommodations can be chosen between huts and hotels. According to your own convenience you decide for a more rustic or a more comfort place. There are many possibilities to get tasty meals at the huts. If you want to bring your own meals you will find a shop in the valleys every three or four days.


Author’s recommendation

It is important that you plan your trip in advance and that you book the huts beforehand. Between June and September, the route is very popular and accordingly there are lots of guided groups on their way.
Profile picture of Julia Gebauer
Julia Gebauer
Update: December 04, 2020
Highest point
Similaun hut, 3,041 m
Lowest point
Meran, 302 m
Best time of year

Rest Stop

Berggasthof Spielmannsau
Sennalpe Oberau
Braunschweiger Hütte
Memminger Hütte
Kemptner Hütte

Safety information

For this tour you need an average to good physical condition and experience in the mountains. Technically, the tour is not very difficult. At some spots, you need surefootedness and head for heights, difficult parts are secured though and can be mastered without problems. Technical aids are not required at any spot. The path is mostly marked well and paved carefully, which is why you should not experience any difficulties concerning orientation. Since we are walking through alpine terrain, we should watch out for weather changes, snowfalls (even during summer!), exposed parts of the path and we should be prepared well for small injuries. Changing weather can make it necessary to take another version of the tour.

Tips and hints

From Wenns in Pitztal you can take the bus to Mittelberg, which is the starting point for the ascent to Braunschweiger Hütte. The hike through Pitztal may be very worthwhile, but you have to plan an extra day to make that stage by foot.

The stage from Vernagt Lake to Meran will also be taken with the bus in this tour description. If you want to hike that part, you have to include one day in addition.


Spielmannsau next to Oberstdorf (989 m)
47.347433, 10.304925
47°20'50.8"N 10°18'17.7"E
32T 598562 5244599



Turn-by-turn directions

Stage 1: 

From Oberstdorf over Spielmannsau (1002 m) and Sperrbachtobel up to the alpine hut "Kemptner Hütte" (1846 m).

Climb: 850 m elevation gain; 8 km, 3 h

After we walked or drove from Oberstdorf to Spielmannsau (10 km), the first stage of our tour starts into the direction Allgäu main crest and "Kemptner Hütte". From the Mountain Inn Spielmannsau we follow the small path and reach the goods cable lift (1048 m), which drives up to "Kemptner Hütte". Before we reach it we turn right into the forest and walk along the river Trettach. Over a bridge we cross the stream Sperrbach, then the way becomes steeper and curvier. Now we follow the ravine of Sperrbach. After we leave the ravine, the valley opens in front of our eyes and we can already see the aim of this stage, "Kemptner Hütte". A last curve leads us to the accommodation for this night. 


Stage 2: 

From "Kemptner Hütte" to Mädelejoch (1974 m) and over Roßgumpenalm through Höhenbachtal to Holzgau im Lechtal (1070 m), further through Madautal (1400 m) and up to the alpine hut "Memminger Hütte" (2242 m)

Climb: 950 m elevation gain, descent: 850 m elevation loss; 14 km, 6 h

From "Kemptner Hütte" we walk toward southeast across a gangplank (438) to Mädelejoch (1974 m) between Kratzer and Muttlerkopf at the border between Austria and Germany. We walk on a rocky path along mountain pines and grassy slopes, toward south across the upper (ruinous) and the lower "Roßgumpenalm". We reach that alpine hut after we cross a forest. There is the possibility to have a meal or sleep over at "Roßgumpenalm". After passing the hut we cross the stream Roßgumpenbach and we walk on the left of the stream on a driveway through the valley of Höhenbach (Höhenbachtal). At a coffeeplace we stay at the right and we walk toward southeast and pass the stunning Waterfalls of Simms to Holzgau im Lechtal (1070 m). Along a tarred road we pass the church and finally we reach the Restaurant Bären (Gasthof Bären). From here we use the offer of the cab company Feuerstein, which brings us through Madautal until we reach the goods cable lift of "Memminger Hütte" (1449 m).

The according footpath (19 km) is almost entirely tarred and therefore a little monotonous and it costs additional time. 

Now we are guided by the marking along the stream and we follow it until we reach a bridge. We cross the stream and turn left and through curves we climb upwards. Soon we walk across meadows and we reach a steep stage which we avoid by turning left after we crossed a river. Then we turn right and we reach a waterfall. Here we cross the river again and soon we reach a pasture. Below Seekogels we proceed into a big corrie in which "Memminger Hütte" (2242 m) is located on the right side. If we are lucky we spot some steinbock along the way before we reach the aim for this stage and end the day with other hikers at the hut.


Stage 3: 

From "Memminger Hütte" over Seescharte (2664 m) through Lochbachtal and Zammer Loch to Zams im Inntal (800 m), with the cable car Venetbahn up to Krahberg (2208 m) and on a high route to Larcheralm (1860 m)

Climb: 450 m elevation gain, descent: 2100 m elevation loss; 29 km, 9 h

This third day is not the easiest one. More than 2000 metres climb-down lay ahead of us and then a short way up until we reach Seescharte. We start early in the morning at "Memminger Hütte" and walk south until we reach the shores of lake Unterer Seewisee in which the surrounding peaks are reflected. Before we reach the lake we turn left and we walk halfway around the water. We cross an inflow and climb a cirque upwards. At a crossing the sign "E5" shows us the way to Seescharte. Toward southeast we reach another lake which we pass and then we cross a stonefield. The last part to the wind gap ist quite steep, rocky and full of scree. If there is snow perhaps one has to go on all fours. At the top there is little space, if two groups arrive at the same time, it could already become narrow. In front of us we now have the famous Silberspitze and the long way down to Lochbachtal and Inntal which we still have ahead of us. Beyond Seescharte the way descends, first on stony ground and then over steep serpentines along mountain pines and alpine brooks. At Oberlochalm (open in August) we find a crossing of rivers from which Lochbach originates. It is a good place to take a short break. Later we cross a little forest and then return to the river. The rivers Medriolbach and Lochbach are crossed on tree trunks across the water. After heavy rains both river can rise massive - then we have to cross undergrowth if the path is flooded. Next to Jägerhütte we walk on pastures further until we reach Unterlochalm (1448 m, open in july, september and october). Then the way leads for a short period upwards until we reach Zammer Loch. Even if we had only around zero degrees in the morning when we startet - in summertime it gets really hot here and we made sure to have the according clothing in our bagpacks. We now follow a path upwards through rocky terrain. Due to the gravel it is good to have solid shoes here. On the right hand it goes down steeply into the ravine in which the river Lochbach curls. When we reach Zams there is again a good possibility to take a little break at Märchenwiese ("fable meadow", 991 m) before we climb down into the valley. On the way down we master some curves and some parts of the way with lots of roots on the ground. Arrived in Inntal we reach a bike lane. And as well the Highway next to it reminds us that we are back in the civilization. From the bike lane we turn left and cross the Highway Inntal before we reach a small green rest area. Here we find as well a little well where we can refresh ourselfes and fill up our dinking bottles. Our next reference point is the church in Zams. We turn left into the Burschlweg and reach the shore of the river Inn. We stay left of the mainroad, cross again a bridge and soon we reach the church. From here we walk toward southwest until we reach the station at the bottom of the cable car Venetbahn. Happy about this technical achievement we hover up to Krahberg (last trip at 5 p.m.!). We leave the peak out and walk on the panorama-path at its southern side within two hours without big elevation difference until we reach Larcheralm (1820 m, open until 15. of october, the "Kässpatzen" - traditional home-made cheese pasta are exceptionally delicious). Here we sleep over as well (important: booking in advance!). In the summertime alpine roses line the way which leads us past Goglesalm and Galflunalm and until Larcheralm where this long and demanding stage of the tour finally ends.


Stage 4:

From Larcheralm to Wenns in Pitztal (976 m), with the postbus through Pitztal to Mittelberg (1734 m) and up to the alpine hut "Braunschweiger Hütte" (2760 m)

Climb: 1000 m elevation gain, descent: 900 m elevation loss; 14 km, 5 h

After a very good breakfast at Larcheralm we start the next stage with new power. Along a driveway we walk within about 1 h down to Wenns. We reach the mainstreet and Pitztaler Hof. Here is as well the busstop located from which the postbus brings us through Pitztal to Mittelberg. After a 1 hour drive we reach the last busstop at about 1736 m. From there we turn further towards south and we walk for about 30 minutes along a driveway until we reach Gletscherstube in which we can take a little break again before we take the three hours long ascent to "Braunschweiger Hütte". After some time we reach the goods cable lift of the hut. The way leads gently upwards, the brook Pitze runs at our right hand. Then the path becomes much steeper, but the stunning mountain scenery makes the effort worthwhile. We are now surrounded by a beautiful world of glaciers and waterfalls and we enjoy the view upon lake Riffelsee. We can not miss the path upwards. Usually that part of the road is slightly crowded. A bench on the left side of the route invites to take a little break before we take the last 1000 m elevation gain up to "Braunschweiger Hütte", which is the highest situated accommodation of the tour. At the sun terrace we sit with a cold drink and the beautiful view of Wildspitze, the second highest mountain in Austria.


Stage 5:

From "Braunschweiger Hütte" over Rettenbachjoch (2988 m) to Rettenbachferner and across Tiefenbachgletscher to Vent in Ötztal (1896 m)

Climb: 600 m elevation gain, descent: 1420 m elevation loss; 18 km, 6 h

At "Braunschweiger Hütte" we leave the classic route of E5 which leads through Bozen to Verona. We should just take this stage at stable weather because if there is fog or fresh snow it can be difficult to find the way to Rettenbachjoch. And as well the crossing of Rettenbachferner is not very easy, since we have to pass ground which is covered by glaciers. But there is no danger of crevasses, this part of the glaciers is used as a ski area and therefore it is secured appropriately. If you do not want to take this route, you can walk a different version of the tour though. After we leave "Braunschweiger Hütte" we use a stone wall as orientation. First we climb down moderately, then we pass some water pipes and we climb up again. We are still walking along the stonewall and we walk upwards until we reach the ridge. Now we are at the summit station of the chairlift, which runs down to Restaurant Rettenbachferner. But we start now to cross Rettenbachferner. In a big turn toward south we approach the summit station of the cable car Seitenkar-Bahn which we reach after a smaller turn toward north. With 3051 m this is the highest point of the entire tour. From here we already see the self-service-restaurant Tiefenbachferner to which we walk down. It is located amidst the gigantic and obstructed glacier ski area, which looks miserable in summertime. While walking down we have to master a way with debris and partly snowfields which do not even melt in summer. We leave the huge Parking lot at Tiefenbachferner behind, as well as the little lake. Now we walk on a gravel path and we begin with the long (4 h) descent to Vent, this "panorama path" offers beautiful views of the surrounding. Arrived at the tarred street in Vent we turn left into the place Vent and we go to our lodging. In Vent you will find as well shopping possibilites (for example the small supermarket opposite of Hotel Post).


Stage 6:

From Vent through Niedertal over the alpine hut "Martin-Busch-Hütte" (2527 m) to the alpine hut "Similaun-Hütte" (3019 m), down to Tisental and then to Obervernagt in the valley Schnalstal (1690 m) and until the lake

Climb: 1100 m elevation gain, descent: 1200 m elevation loss; 23 km, 7 h

For the last stage of our crossing of the Alps from Oberstdorf to Meran we orient ourselves again at the crossing from where we turned left yesterday to reach Vent. Coming from the village we go straight ahead (leaving "panorama path" on the right). We cross a bridge across the river Venter Ache. The alpine hut "Martin-Busch-Hütte" is here already signposted and the way which leads us in about two hours to the alpine hut is difficult to miss. A wooden bridge, a drag lift and a shepherd's hut lay along the way, until we reach the alpine hut. We use the possibility to refresh ourselves and then we start the next section of about two hours to the alpine hut Similaun-Hütte. The way Nr. 16 leads us through Niederjochtal to the mountain ridge. After passing the hut we turn left at a crossing and walk along a little stream. We leave the alpine meadows behind and proceed on a way full of debris. At a height of about 2600 m we turn right onto a lateral moraine of Niederjochferner. The way gets steeper and we are thankful for our hiking sticks. After crossing a little brook we turn left and reach the center of a glacier, here we walk on ice for the second time on our crossing of the Alps. It is not difficult to stay oriented on this short section on the glacier and it is not necessary to use ropes or crampons. We walk upwards at the right edge of the glacier and our view goes up to an old little customhouse - we walk here next to the border between Italy and Austria. In a turn across the glacier we reach a stony path and soon the alpine hut "Similaun-Hütte" at Niederjoch (3019 m) - and again we reach the line of 3000 m altitude. In a privatly managed hut we enjoy an excellent lunch. Afterwards we go toward south until we see the emeraldgreen gleaming lake Vernagt and in the very far the mountainpeaks of Ortlermassiv. At the goods cable lift of the hut we take way Nr. 2, which brings us in about 2,5 hours to the lake. This steep path is not too easy, it is very rugged, exposed and steep. Take care especially if the rocks are wet! Finally the way gets wider and leads us across alpine meadows, where sheeps are grazing. Soon we pass a farmhouse and we cross a forest area before we reach Tisenhof. This is a typical, old South Tyrolean farm where you can enjoy a snack at the nice sun terrace. Within 20 minutes we walk down to the lake, first on a tarred street and then we turn right into a gravel path to Vernagt. At the shore of the lake there is a busstop next to the chapel. From here we take the postbus 261 from Schnalstal through Vinschgau to Meran (about 90 minutes). In Meran we sleep over. We finish our crossing of the Alps in the southern flair with a glass of red wine and some dolci.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport


With the train to the station Oberstdorf. There is a special bus that takes hikers from Oberstdorf to Spielmannsau (and vice versa). 

Getting there

A7 until Dreieck Allgäu, A980 until AS Waltenhofen, further on B19 until Oberstdorf, with the taxi, bus, carriage oder by foot to Spielmannsau.


There are several Parking lots in Oberstdorf.



47.347433, 10.304925
47°20'50.8"N 10°18'17.7"E
32T 598562 5244599
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

Stephan Baur, Dirk Steuerwald: Fernwanderweg E5. Bergverlag Rother 2008.

Author’s map recommendations

Kompass Wanderkarte 120, Europäischer Fernwanderweg E 5, Teil Nord.

Book recommendations for this region:

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Recommended maps for this region:

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  • Solid alpine boots
  • Comfortable, sporty and weather-compatible clothing
  • Backpack (~35 l) with rain jacket
  • Protection against sun and rain
  • Cap, gloves
  • Sleeping bag, slipper socks for the time in the huts
  • Washbag
  • Pyjamas
  • Earplugs
  • Hiking sticks
  • Map, compass, GPS device
  • Headlamp, bivy bag
  • Depending on the season: crampons, gaiters
  • First aid kit
  • Water bottle
  • Cereal bar, nuts, dried fruits
  • Pocketknife

Basic Equipment for Long-Distance Hikes

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID

Camping Equipment

  • Tent (3- or 4-season)
  • Stove (including fuel and utensils)
  • Sleeping mat. Sleeping bag with suitable temperature rating.
  • Food
  • Toiletries and medication
  • Toilet paper

Things to Bring if Staying in a Mountain Hut

  • Toiletries and medication
  • Quick-drying towel  
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Sleepwear
  • Alpine club membership card if applicable / ID
  • Coronavirus mask and hand sanitizer
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.
Travel Guide: Italy Tyrol Landeck Schnals

Questions and answers

Question from Sjoerd Martens  · July 01, 2021 · Community
Hi there, I see a big difference in the details. for example you mention 104km, bur the route indicates 174 km. Which details are correct?
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Answered by Christian Friedl · July 01, 2021 · Community
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Question from Jan Scheepers · January 30, 2021 · Community
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Answered by Kai Stuber · January 30, 2021 · Community
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Question from Liviu Cseki · July 10, 2020 · Community
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Answered by Andreas Bender · July 10, 2020 · Community
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Wander Verliebt
July 20, 2021 · Community
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When did you do this route? August 04, 2018
Video: Wander Verliebt, WanderVerliebt
Sophia B
September 14, 2020 · Community
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Danilo P.
July 20, 2020 · Community
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When did you do this route? July 06, 2020
Photo: Danilo P., Community
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Photos from others

+ 68

173.9 km
36:00 h
8,353 m
9,040 m
Public-transport-friendly Multi-stage route Scenic Refreshment stops available Cultural/historical interest Geological highlights Botanical highlights Flora and fauna Cableway ascent/descent


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  • 6 Stages
recommended route Difficulty moderate Stage 1
Distance 6.1 km
Duration 2:46 h
Ascent 846 m
Descent 1 m

Die erste Etappe der Alpenüberquerung auf dem E5 führt uns von Oberstdorf/Spielmannsau hinauf zur Kemptner Hütte.

from Julia Gebauer,   Outdooractive Editors
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 2
Distance 25.6 km
Duration 11:01 h
Ascent 1,440 m
Descent 1,034 m

Die zweite Etappe der Alpenüberquerung auf dem E5 führt uns von der Kemptner Hütte bis zur Memminger Hütte.

from Julia Gebauer,   Outdooractive Editors
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 3
Distance 29.6 km
Duration 14:27 h
Ascent 2,071 m
Descent 2,510 m

Die dritte Etappe der Alpenüberquerung auf dem E5 führt uns von der Memminger Hütte zur Larcheralm.

from Julia Gebauer,   Outdooractive Editors
recommended route Difficulty moderate Stage 4
Distance 40 km
Duration 5:00 h
Ascent 1,050 m
Descent 957 m

Die vierte Etappe der Alpenüberquerung auf dem E5 führt uns von der Larcheralm bis zur Braunschweiger Hütte.

from Julia Gebauer,   Outdooractive Editors
recommended route Difficulty difficult Stage 5
Distance 27.3 km
Duration 11:50 h
Ascent 1,330 m
Descent 2,187 m

Die fünfte Etappe der Alpenüberquerung auf dem E5 führt uns von der Braunschweiger Hüttenach Vent im Ötztal.

from Julia Gebauer,   Outdooractive Editors
Mountain tour · Oetztal
Von Vent im Ötztal nach Meran
recommended route Difficulty moderate Stage 6
Distance 52.8 km
Duration 8:57 h
Ascent 1,272 m
Descent 2,884 m

Die sechste Etappe der Alpenüberquerung auf dem E5 führt uns von Von Vent im Ötztal zum Vernagt Stausee und von dort mit dem Bus nach Meran.

from Julia Gebauer,   Outdooractive Editors
Duration : h
Distance  km
Ascent  m
Descent  m
Highest point  m
Lowest point  m
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