Lake Schwarzensee in Sölktäler Nature Park | © TVB Schladming-Dachstein | SupersusiCom Lake Schwarzensee in Sölktäler Nature Park | © TVB Schladming-Dachstein | SupersusiCom
Treasures of nature in the green heart of Austria

Relaxing holidays in Styria's nature

Quiet and peaceful, yet full of life – nature's diversity in the green heart of Austria ranges from vineyards and alpine pastures to forest ponds, rivers and orchard meadows.

These landscapes are good for body and soul, which also makes nature an essential element of the Grünkraft Steiermark offers.

The impressive Gesäuse National Park

With an area of 12,000 hectares, Gesäuse National Park is almost 35 times the size of Central Park in New York. In total, it occupies 0.7 percent of the area of the federal state of Styria, and it's one of its most beautiful natural treasures:

  • The areas along the untamed waters of the river Enns are some of the last breeding grounds for sandpipers.
  • The wild forests are left pristine: Endemic rarities such as the dianthus plumarius blandus – a subspecies of the cottage pink and unique in the world – grow on the impressive rock faces on the left and right banks of the Enns.
  • The natural habitats of forest, water, rock and alpine pastures contribute to the high biodiversity of Gesäuse National Park. Insects in particular feel right at home there. More than 1,230 butterfly species have already been identified in the national park.
  • What is special about Gesäuse National Park is that nature can develop freely, and processes such as avalanches or windthrows are allowed to happen. On about three quarters of the total area, forests continue to develop. Old trees die and make way for new ones. Rivers also get to choose their natural course. They are allowed to overflow their banks and thus reshape their surroundings. 

Gesäuse National Park is best experienced together with a seasoned National Park Ranger or on rafting and kayaking tours on the rivers Enns or Salza. For the latter, there are marked places to get in and out of the river, which can be used at set times.

The two visitor centres – Weidendom Adventure Centre and the Gstatterboden National Park Pavilion – offer opportunities to delve even deeper into the multifaceted world of natural phenomena at Gesäuse National Park. The living structure of the Weidendom ("willow dome") on the banks of the Enns with its research workshop area and the walk-in ecological footprint is particularly impressive.

The six themed trails through the national park are especially exciting for families with children. Adventure-seekers can follow in the footsteps of Wild John on the forest trail that starts at Weidendom car park, for instance, and then explore the Johnsbachtal valley. Immediately afterwards, they can continue their tour of discovery on the Rauchboden Trail. Here, stunning views of the Enns below and the imposing rock faces of the Gesäuse above will amaze visitors of all ages.  

Hikers and mountaineers get their money's worth on the numerous marked long-distance hiking trails and via ferratas. On the Luchstrail, they can experience three unique protected areas – Gesäuse National Park, Limestone Alps National Park and Dürrenstein Wilderness Area – at their wild and beautiful best.

The via ferratas in the Gesäuse National Park were created in harmony with nature and offer challenging tours with magnificent views. There's also a variety of other trails available for all types of preferences and requirements, from accessible walking trails to difficult climbing tours.

Adventure tip: The nights in the Gesäuse are among the darkest in all of Europe. During "Sternderl-Schauen" ("stargazing") at Weidendom Adventure Centre, visitors can see up to 6,000 stars in Austria's dark night sky. Stargazing is especially beautiful at new moon. On these days, shooting stars shoot across the sky, and stars that are thousands of light years away seem close enough to touch.

Seven natural wonders in Styria

Nature parks in the green heart of Austria

The seven nature parks of Styria comprise a variety of natural and cultural landscapes, which are characterised by their pristine condition as well as by their natural and cultural highlights. What's more, there are also numerous opportunities to experience nature.

"Schützen durch Nützen" ("Protecting them by using them") – that's the motto of the nature parks, for instance. Through harmonious and, above all, conscious coexistence of man and nature, natural habitats can be preserved and protected long term.  Yet it's not only visitors who enjoy immersing themselves in the intact nature of the green heart of Austria. More importantly, the nature parks provide a protected habitat for rare plants and animal species.

Nature Park experiences at a glance

On the flower and herb meadow | © Steiermark Tourismus | Tom Lamm

Nature park hosts 

Our Nature Park hosts are quality-checked hotels, guesthouses, farm holiday businesses and private room landlords. Every single one of them is a certified ambassador of the Nature Park-philosophy. They are experts for healthy living, healthy food, healthy living spaces and provide you with nature experiences in "their" Nature Park.

Your Nature Park hosts in Styria

The Styrian Red Beech Paradise

UNESCO WORLD NATURAL HERITAGE Dürrenstein-LASSINGtal

The wilderness area around the Lassingbach, which would be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2023, covers an area of 3,500 hectares and thus the same number of football fields. Located in the immediate vicinity of the Gesäuse National Park and the Steirische Eisenwurzen Nature & Geopark, guided tours of the wilderness area are also offered.

Landscapes of international geological importance

THE UNESCO GLOBAL GEOPARK STEIRISCHE EISENWURZEN

Since 2002, the Eisenwurzen Nature Park has also been allowed to call itself a European Geopark, and in 2004 it became a member of the "Global Geopark" network under the auspices of UNESCO. In 2015 followed the recognition as "UNESCO Global Geopark", as part of the UNESCO World Heritage. In the GeoDorf Gams with the GeoPath of the same name, during guided tours in the Arzberghöhle and the Kraushöhle or during hikes through the Nothklamm and Palfauer Wasserlochklamm, geology, ecology and culture can be experienced.

A habitat for endangered animal and plant spe