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Hut to Hut Hiking: The Best Way to Hike Long Distances

Hut to hut hiking is a type of multi-day hiking in which you overnight in mountain huts along a long-distance hiking trail.

Mountain huts range from rustic refuges, offering only the bare essentials (e.g. mattress, outdoor drop-toilet), to luxurious, fully staffed mountain lodges (with a restaurant, running water, bedding, etc…). 

Though the amenities of a hut will vary from country to country, and from hut to hut, it’s important to know that huts are first and foremost accommodations for hikers and climbers. Mountain huts are not hotels. Don’t expect privacy and ensuite bathrooms.

Mountain refuges are generally situated at high elevations in remote places, only accessible by foot. Given their location, huts are generally seasonal establishments, only open in summer. 

There are many established hut to hut hiking trails around the world. Some classic routes you may have heard of are the Alta Via 1 in Italy, GR20 in Corsica, Tour du Mont Blanc (not strictly hut-to-hut), Eagle Walk in Austria, and the Routeburn Track in New Zealand.

This hut to hut hiking guide presents popular hut-to-hut hiking destinations and our favorite hut-to-hut hiking trails.

Württembergerhaus Mountain Hut, Lechtal Alps, Tyrol, Austria

Why We Love Hiking Hut to Hut

  1. It makes multi-day hiking accessible.
  2. You don’t need heavy gear (e.g. tent). Without the burden of a heavy pack, you can tackle demanding, high-altitude trails more easily and safely.
  3. Hut to hut hiking can be a great introduction to local culture and local cuisine (especially in the Alps).
  4. You get to wake up in the mountains directly on the trail.
  5. Effortless sunrises and sunsets.
  6. You’re more likely to see wildlife
  7. It’s inherently simple and stress-free (unless there’s extreme weather). Every day, you get up, eat breakfast, and then hike from point A to point B.
  8. Often, hut-to-hut hiking trails are not accessible to day hikers. That means less foot traffic and greater solitude.
  9. It’s soul-cleansing. Hiking 5-8 hours a day over the course of several days feels like a complete mind, body, and soul cleanse. 
  10. It’s empowering to travel long distances with only your own two feet.

The European Alps

Pfeishütte, Karwendel High Trail, Austria
Karwendel High Trail

The European Alps are the largest alpine chain in Europe. The Alps sweep across eight countries – Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Slovenia, Germany, Liechtenstein, and Monaco – in one giant arch.  

Across the Alps, there’s a vast network of mountain huts (Hütte, Rifugio, Koča, Cabane, Cappana, Refuge). These huts are generally managed by regional Alpine Clubs. 

Because camping is largely forbidden across the Alps, hut-to-hut hiking is the only way you can hike longer distances. 

Growing up in the States, I (Sabrina) always assumed multi-day hiking was gritty, taxing, and gear-intensive.

But, after our first hut-to-hut hike in the Dolomites in 2017, my WORLD and perspective changed.

It was like stepping into the Narnia wardrobe and entering a magical realm where every hike ends in a cozy mountain hut, with delicious home-cooked meals, glasses of wine (or beer), and comfortable beds.

Is that heaven, or what? Since that transformative experience in the Dolomites, we’re on a mission to document the best hut to hut hiking trails in the Alps. Here are some of our favorite treks to date.

Kati and I are partial to hut-to-hut hiking in the European Alps. We like the comfort of fully-staffed mountain huts, where we can savor 3-course meals every night and drink as much espresso and wine as our hearts desire.

We love the charm, atmosphere, and hospitality of the mountain refuges (Hütte, Rifugio, Koča, Cabane, Cappana, Refuge). And most importantly, we feel really safe staying and eating in huts in the Alps. 

And while some may argue that the Alps are too busy, I’d argue that many ranges in the Alps are widely overlooked and unknown. 

If you’re new to hiking in the Alps, also read The Alps in Summer: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting and Hiking in the European Alps: Essential Tips. For trail inspiration, including walks, day hikes, and hut hikes, read Best Hikes in the Alps.

Hut to Hut Hiking Trails in the Alps

Württembergerhaus Mountain Hut, Lechtal Alps, Austria
Eagle Walk Lechtal Alps

Below, we’ve linked to all the hut-to-hut hikes we’ve done in the Alps, ranked by difficulty. 

Moderate Hut to Hut Hiking Trails in the Alps

Lager Room, Mountain Hut in the Alps, Hut to hut Hiking

Difficult Hut to Hut Hiking Trails in the Alps

Very Challenging Hut to Hut Hiking Trails in the Alps

Related: Best Treks in Europe

Do You Need Permits to Go Hut to Hut Hiking in the Alps?

Breakfast at Saarbrücker Hut, Silvretta Alps, Montafon, Austria

No, you don’t need to secure permits prior to your hike. 

When Can You Go Hut to Hut Hiking in the Alps?

Carschinahütte hut, Rätikon Alps, Austria
Rätikon Alps High Trail

Generally, you can hike hut to hut in the Alps from late June until mid-late September.

Opening and closing times will vary depending on snow conditions. If conditions are favorable, some huts may stay open until mid-October. 

How to Make Reservations for Mountain Huts in the Alps 

Pfälzer hut breakfast, Rätikon Alps, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein Panorama Trail


There is no uniform system for booking huts in the Alps. Some huts may have an online booking system. Other huts can only be booked by email, or by phone. To figure out how to book a certain hut, simply navigate to the hut’s website for booking instructions. 

In most huts, you’ll pay for your overnight stay and any food/drinks you consume in the evening, before you go to bed. 

Some huts, along popular trails, may require a deposit in advance. 

You can learn more about how to book huts in these guides:

Austria | Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria and Austrian Mountain Huts

Slovenia | Hut to Hut Hiking in Slovenia and Slovenian Mountain Huts

Italian Dolomites | Hut to Hut Hiking in the Dolomites

Self-Guided Hiking Tour Company

Dreizinnenhütte, Rifugio Locatelli mountain hut, Sexten Dolomites

If booking multiple huts sounds too time-consuming and laborious, you can always book your tour with a self-guided hiking tour operator.

Companies like Alpenventures UNGUIDED and Slotrips book all the mountain huts for you and provide additional support like personalized guidebooks and itineraries, answering questions, gpx files, etc…. You still hike independently (without a guide), but you don’t have to worry about the logistics.

Alpenventures UNGUIDED Self-Guided Hiking Tours

10-Day Alta Via 1 – Italy

10-Day Tour du Mont Blanc – Italy, France, Switzerland. This is the tour that we booked when we hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc.

7-Day Bernese Oberland Traverse – Switzerland

14-Day Walker’s Haute Route – France and Switzerland

6-Day Hut to Hut Light in the Austrian Alps – Austria

8-Day Culinary Delight Hut Hiking Tour – Austria

Slotrips Self-Guided Hiking Tours

Crossing the Julian Alps – This 7-day hiking trip in Slovenia includes the 5-day hut-to-hut trek across the Julian Alps plus hotel accommodation before and after the trek.

Mountains and Lakes Hut-to-Hut – This 7-day hiking trip in Slovenia includes a 3-day hut-to-hut trek in the Julian Alps plus hotel accommodation before and after the trek.

Triglav National Park Adventure – 4-day hut-to-hut hike the Julian Alps starting and ending in Lake Bohinj, Slovenia.

Guided Hiking Tour Company

Trekking in the Slovenian Alps, Slovenia

If you’re new to alpine hiking, or you’re a solo hiker, we recommend joining a guided small group hiking tour.

Here are some standout tours that are a great introduction to hut-to-hut hiking in Slovenia.

Discover the Slovenian Alps is an 8-day hiking tour, which combines a 3-day hut-to-hut hike in Triglav National Park with moderate day hikes. During this guided hiking trip, hikers will stay 2 nights in mountain huts and 5 nights in 3-star hotels. This well-balanced itinerary links together Ljubljana, the Seven Lakes Valley, Lake Bohinj, Lake Bled, Vrsic mountain pass, Soca Valley, Mount Mangart, and the Vipava Valley wine region. There are fixed and guaranteed departure dates in July, August, and September.

Best of the Julian Alps Hut-to-Hut is a small group hiking tour that leads hikers across the heart of the Northern Julian Alps. Fit hikers may choose to summit Mount Triglav with an IFMGA-licensed mountain guide, who will also provide all the necessary via ferrata equipment (extra fee applies). This 3-day guided tour departs every Monday from July to September. This is a great option for solo travelers. You can also book a private guided tour. 

When to Book Mountain Huts

Mountain Hut Dormitory in the Swiss Alps

We recommend booking 3 – 5 months in advance.

For popular treks like the Tour du Mont Blanc, people book 6-8 months in advance. If you’re struggling to secure huts, we recommend booking this 10-Day Tour du Mont Blanc with a flexible start date.

If your dates are flexible, you can probably book huts a few weeks in advance. We book as early as possible to secure private rooms. Note: many huts only offer dormitory-style accommodation. 

Alpine Mountain Hut Amenities

Pfälzerhütte (2108 m), Raetikon Alps, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein Panorama Trail

Dry Room. A dry room is a communal space in the hut, where you place all your wet clothing. Dry rooms usually have cubbies, or a dry rack for your hiking boots as well. 

Shared Bathroom. Bathrooms are always communal, unless you’re staying in a very upscale refuge.

Indoor Flush Toilets. Most huts have indoor toilets. However, some high-altitude mountain huts only have outdoor composting toilets.

Showers. Showers are usually token-operated and cost 3-4 EUR for a 3-4 minutes shower. Showers are a luxury. Not every mountain hut has a shower.

Dining Room. All managed huts have an indoor dining room, where breakfast is laid out and dinner is served. Dinner is usually served at a specific time. It’s important to be punctual.

Outdoor Terrace. Mountain huts usually have an outdoor terrace where you can bask in the sun, enjoy a drink, and relax.

Bedrooms. When booking your overnight stay in a hut, you will have a choice between 2-bed bedrooms, 4-bed bedrooms, 6+ bed bedrooms, 10-12 best dormitories, and a mattress dormitory (“Lager”). Some huts do not offer private rooms and only have dormitories.

Mountain Hut Essentials 

Saarbrucker mountain hut room, Montafon Trek, Austria
Montafon Hut Circuit

Cash to cover all your expenses during the hike. Most huts do not accept credit cards.

Slippers/Indoor Shoes. In most mountain huts, you must take off your shoes before entering the sleeping quarters. Some huts provide slippers, but we recommend bringing your own waterproof indoor slippers. We always bring our crocs

Sleeping Bag Liner. In most managed huts in the Alps, bedding is provided: fitted sheet, blanket or comforter, and pillow. However, a sleeping bag liner is mandatory for hygienic reasons. We use the Sea to Summit Silk-Cotton Blend Travel and Sleeping Bag Liner, which is 70% cotton and 30% silk. When shopping for a sleeping bag liner, choose a lightweight liner with a pillow insert.

Reusable Water Bottle or Hydration Bladder. Unless otherwise stated, the water in mountain huts is safe to drink. You can fill up your water bottle at no extra charge. If the water isn’t drinkable, the hut will sell bottled water. You can always purify your water for peace of mind. 

Optional: Alpine Club Membership Card. To learn more about alpine club membership benefits, read Hiking in the European Alps.

Lightweight Trekking Backpack (36 L – 40 L). The best hut-to-hut hiking backpack is the women’s Osprey Kyte 36 and the men’s Osprey Kestrel 38.

Learn More: Hut to Hut Hiking Packing List

New Zealand

Mueller Hut, Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Mueller Hut

New Zealand is an outstanding destination for hut to hut hiking. Unlike the Alps, backcountry huts aren’t catered and don’t offer the same comforts and amenities.

You need to pack all your food and cooking equipment with you. Nonetheless, hut-to-hut hiking is the best way to access some of the most pristine areas of NZ. 

Hut to Hut Hiking Trails in New Zealand (Great Walks)

There are 10 Great Walks in New Zealand. These hut-to-hut hikes range from 3 to 6 days. The backcountry huts situated along the great walks are managed by the DoC (Department of Conservation) and must be booked in advance. 

Great Walks in the North Island 

  1. Lake Waikaremoana Track: 3-4 days, 46 km point-to-point 
  2. Tongariro Northern Circuit: 3-4 days, 43.1 km circuit (November – April)

Great Walks in the South Island 

  1. Abel Tasman Coast Walk: 3-5 days, 60 km point-to-point
  2. Heaphy Track: 4-6 days, 78.4 point-to-point 
  3. Routeburn Track: 2-4 days, 33 km point-to-point (November – April)
  4. Kepler Track: 3-4 days, 60 km circuit (November – April)
  5. Milford Track: 4 days, 53.5 point-to-point (November – April) 
  6. Rakiura Track: 3 days, 32 km circuit 
  7. Paparoa Track: 3 days, 55 km point-to-point  

Do You Need Permits to Go Hut to Hut Hiking in New Zealand?

No, but it’s essential to book and pay for huts in advance.

When Can You Go Hut to Hut Hiking in New Zealand?

Hiking to Angelus Hut, New Zealand
Angelus Hut, New Zealand

The Great Walks season begins in late October/early November and ends in late April. During the “Great Walks Season” bookings are required for huts and campsites. Huts generally have gas cooking stoves and resident wardens. 

Outside of the Great Walks Season, facilities are greatly reduced (gas is not provided, running water is turned off, no rangers are based in the huts, etc…).

Along some Great Walks (e.g. Tongariro Northern Circuit, Milford Track), bookings are not required and huts are first come first served. You pay with a backcountry hut ticket or a backcountry hut pass, which you can buy from a DOC visitor center. 

However, there are more hazards, due to weather and winter conditions. You should expect challenging track conditions. For example, there’s a risk of avalanches along the Tongariro Northern Circuit and additional hazards like flooding along the Routeburn Track.

Bridges are often removed over winter to avoid damage from avalanches. So, you must be able to cross large, swift, icy rivers. 

We would never consider hiking outside the Great Walks Season. 

How Do You Make Reservations for Backcountry Huts in New Zealand 

Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand
Angelus Hut, New Zealand

Great Walk huts must be booked online and paid in advance. Here’s the Great Walks booking system

In addition to the Great Walk huts, there are also many other backcountry huts in New Zealand. We stayed in several DoC huts, booking a few weeks prior to our stay. 

Learn more about booking and paying for backcountry huts

When to Book Backcountry Huts in New Zealand 

Book several months in advance. 

Backcountry Hut Amenities 

NZ Backcountry huts are very rustic. 

Expect to sleep in a bunk bed in a shared dormitory. Beds have mattresses and nothing else. 

There’s a communal kitchen and dining area. You must bring all your food with you. Often, you have to prepare your meals using your own portable stove and fuel. 

Depending on the hut, toilets may be a fancy flush toilet or a drop toilet. 

Backcountry Hut Essentials 

Bring the following items with you on a hut-to-hut hike in New Zealand. For a complete list, check out our NZ Hiking Guide.

Read more about New Zealand:

More Hut to Hut Hiking Destinations

Picos de Europa: Mountain Range in Northern Spain. We hike this 2-Day Refugio Jou de los Cabrones Trek.

High Tatras: Mountain Range in Poland and Slovakia. We hiked the 4-Day High Tatras Trek in Slovakia 

Corsica: Island in the Mediterranean Sea. The GR20 is one of the most celebrated hikes in the world.

Pyrenees: Mountain Range in France and Spain. The GR10 is a 866 km-long-trail that runs the length of the Pyrenees mountains on the French-side.

Himalayas: Mountain Range in South and East Asia. We hiked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.

What is Hut to Hut Hiking

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Moon & Honey Travel is an independent blog created by two passionate hikers. We are able to provide free content to you, because of ads and affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Happy travels and happy trails, Sabrina and Kati

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