Driving the legendary Grossglockner High Alpine Road in the Alps

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Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Explore Austria’s breathtaking landscapes on an unforgettable journey along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, a breathtaking route that offers nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This mountain pass is a must-visit location for anyone looking to discover the magnificence of the Austrian Alps because of its breathtaking vistas, varied flora and fauna, and rich history. We will delve into the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in this extensive guide, examining its fascinating attractions, providing helpful advice for your visit, and optimizing our content for the keywords you provided.

Where is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road located?

A well-known mountain pass in Austria, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is 48 kilometers (29.8 miles) long and provides an exhilarating driving experience. The spectacular route that links the Austrian states of Salzburg and Carinthia winds through the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park. The road has numerous hairpin bends, steep inclines, and breathtaking views of the surrounding alpine landscape, including the majestic Grossglockner, Austria’s highest peak. It has a maximum elevation of 2,504 meters (8,215 feet). Also, there are numerous attractions along the well-maintained road, including scenic overlooks, visitor centers, and hiking trails.

The map below shows where this road is located:

Information about the route:

the route that links the Austrian provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia through the Austrian Alps. This breathtaking drive is a popular destination for both tourists and locals because it provides unmatched views of the nearby mountains, glaciers, and valleys. Alpine Landscapes, Hiking Trails, and Wildlife Encounters are the main draws.

The Austrian Alps contain soaring peaks, pristine lakes, and an abundance of wildlife. They are home to some of Europe’s most breathtaking landscapes. Indeed, with its abundance of hiking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, and outdoor activities suitable for all skill levels, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road makes a fantastic starting point for exploring the area.

The Pasterze Glacier Trail, one of the area’s most well-known hiking routes, leads you through lovely valleys, past placid lakes, and up to the foot of the Pasterze Glacier, where you can take in expansive views of the surrounding mountains. The Gamsgrubenweg hike is another well-known trail; it takes you to a high alpine meadow and offers avid hikers a difficult but rewarding experience. There are lots of opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to see the abundant wildlife in the area. Inhabitants of the area include marmots, chamois, and ibex. In order to learn more about the local wildlife and its habitats, visitors can also join guided tours.

History of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road:

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road boasts a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century when it was initially constructed as a scenic route for tourists. The road underwent improvements in the 1930s to cater to the burgeoning tourism industry in the Austrian Alps. Today, the road remains a crucial link between the provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia, drawing thousands of visitors annually.

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road offers visitors a chance to indulge in the region’s culinary delights, with numerous mountain huts and restaurants along the route. Sample traditional Austrian dishes, such as Wiener Schnitzel, Kaiserschmarrn, and Apfelstrudel, while enjoying the spectacular views of the surrounding alpine landscape.

Road preview:

You can obviously see a portion of the route in this YouTube video to get an overview of the journey:

Going to the Grossglockner High Alpine Road:

The drive is easily accessible from the nearby towns of Zell am See and Lienz. Indeed, from Zell am See, just follow the B311 road south towards Bruck, and from Lienz, take the B107 road north towards Heiligenblut. Both routes will guide you to the base of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, where your adventure commences.

There are other roads to discover in Austria such as the Gerlospass or the Arlberg Pass .

You can obviously visualize how to get there on this approximative map of the drive:

Is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road open?

While the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is open from early May to late October, the optimal time to visit is during the late spring, summer, and early fall months when the weather is more agreeable. During the winter months, snow and ice can make the road more difficult to navigate, so it is crucial to check local weather and road conditions before embarking on your journey. In addition to the natural beauty, the Austrian Alps also offer a rich cultural experience. Visitors can explore the history of the region, with connections to the early 20th-century tourism boom and the construction of the route. The area is dotted with museums, galleries, and historic sites that provide a glimpse into the lives of those who built and traversed this stunning mountain pass.

Anyone seeking to experience the splendor and adventure of the Austrian Alps must visit the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. This mountain pass has something to offer everyone with its difficult drive, breathtaking views, and variety of attractions. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is sure to make an impression, whether you’re an experienced adventurer, a wildlife enthusiast, or just looking for a scenic drive through the Austrian wilderness.

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Grossglockner High Alpine Road Scenic Drive In Austria

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Queen of the mountain passes and one of the best alpine roads in Europe: the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria . You can enjoy views of Austria’s highest mountains and astonishing peaks without hiking, or even getting out of your car (though we warmly recommend getting out of it from time to time). The Grossglockner High Alpine Road truly lives up to its name: it offers mountain panoramas anywhere the eye can see.

This post is about planning your one day Grossglockner road scenic drive, with the best stops and short hikes along the way. Being a toll road it’s a pricey attraction, but it’s worth visiting nevertheless. And the most important thing for a delightful time there: visit on a clear and sunny day .

I know it’s easier said than done, because high mountains are unpredictable, and it’s not uncommon to have rainy and cloudy days during your entire stay. But you want to enjoy peak views and alpine panoramas on your Grossglockner road trip, and you can’t do that when the landscape is lost in the clouds. You need some luck.

Best place to stay for driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road :

  • luxury : Feriendorf Ponyhof , Fusch an der Glocknerstraße
  • mid-range : Hotel Post Fusch , Fusch an der Glocknerstraße
  • budget : Panoramarestaurant Kaiser Franz-Josefs-Höhe , Heiligenblut

The best alpine road in Europe?

Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

Grossglockner High Alpine Road (or Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse as they say it in German) is surely a strong candidate, and we wouldn’t hesitate to grant this title to it if we hadn’t visited too many wonderful mountains in other European countries, too. 😛 But even so, we were very much impressed!

The Grossglockner mountain road is a 48 km long paved serpentine road that connects Fusch an der Großglocknerstraße in Salzburg with Heiligenblut am Großglockner in Carinthia. With 36 picturesque switchbacks that take you up to over 2500 metres altitude, this scenic drive leads you into the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park , to the base of 3798 meters high Grossglockner peak.

Read this, too: The Best Scenic Drives In Europe From 9 Years Of Travelling

The idea of this road was born after Austria-Hungary lost the First World War. The new Austrian state struggled with high unemployment rates, so an opportunity to employ many people was just as appealing as to create an emblematic tourist attraction that also generates income. Planned by an Austrian engineer, Franz Friedrich Wallack, Grossglockner High Alpine Road was built between 1930-1935. It gave jobs to almost 4000 people, and it resulted in that wonderful scenic drive that millions of tourists visit each year.

Is just one day enough for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?

Nassfeldspeicher , Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

If you’re an avid hiker, you can spend any amount of time in the mountains. Since countless short and long hiking trails start along the road or cross the area, you could surely spend a lot of time exploring the Grossglockner High Alpine Road hiking trails.

But one day is enough to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road itself, stopping to enjoy the views, and even doing one or two short hikes .

The best stops along Grossglockner High Alpine Road

All. Drive it all the way – there and back. Stop at all the viewpoints, take your time, walk around. It’s one of those places where the journey is just as enjoyable as the destination – the dedicated viewpoints or hiking trails. But let’s see those, as well.

The best viewpoint stops

All viewpoints on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road route are worth a stop, but there are some that are even more spectacular than usual.

Edelweiss-Spitze (2571 m) vantage station offers a 360-degree panoramic view of more than thirty 3k peaks, and also the best view of the road itself from above, winding among the surrounding peaks. It’s a short detour from the main road.

View from Edelweiss-Spitze, Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

Hochtor Pass Summit (2504 m) is the regional border between Salzburg and Carinthia, and the viewpoint after the tunnel offers great alpine views. Beware, you’ll be exposed to the wind here, so don’t leave your windbreaker in the car.

Glocknerhaus (2132 m) is a great place for a scenic lunch, with a pretty view of Margaritzenstausee (an incredibly turquoise lake). It’s also the trailhead to Pasterze Glacier Trail if you choose the longer route via Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee.

Nassfeldspeicher (2233 m) is between Glocknerhaus and Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe, and it’s a lovely little lake fed by two waterfalls. You can even walk up to Nassfeld Waterfall, it’s a very short hike.

Nassfeld Waterfall, Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe (2369 m) is the icing on the cake. It offers views of Grossglockner and Pasterze Glacier. It has a visitor center and a large parking garage, and this is the starting point for the shorter version of the Pasterze Glacier Trail and also for Gamsgrubenweg, a hike through old tunnels. And why the name? Emperor Franz Josef and his wife, Sissi visited it in 1856.

The best short Grossglockner hikes

Pasterze glacier trail.

Pasterze Glacier Trail, Alps, ustria

If you choose only one Grossglockner hike to do, let it be this one, as the Pasterze Glacier Trail is undoubtedly the very best short trail in the area. It’s a 50 minute hike from Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe , and if you want to keep it even shorter, ride the historic glacier railway, Gletscherbahn, on your way up.

If you’re looking for a longer trail, you can choose the ~4 hours hike on the Glocknerhaus – Margaritzenstausee – Sandersee – Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe route . In this case, you can ride the shuttle back to Glocknerhaus, but check the timetable beforehand as it’s not that frequent.

Pasterze Glacier Trail, Alps, ustria

Either way, you’ll get great close views of Pasterze Glacier . At approximately 8.4 kilometres, it’s the longest glacier in Austria, though it’s rapidly receding, by about 10 metres each year. Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee are two lakes fed by the glacier, and you have a view of them from the road, as well. You’ll hike along Sandersee on both routes, and even though it’s not your usual clear mountain lake (it gets lots of dirt from the glacier), it’s very impressive because of the surrounding landscape.

Warning: don’t climb on the glacier. It’s extremely dangerous!

Gamsgrubenweg

Here’s another straightforward one of the Grossglockner hiking options: another lookout point for the Pasterze Glacier. It’s a 30 minutes, almost flat walk from Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe via several lit tunnels. The trail is called Gamsgrubenweg, and you can continue it after the glacier viewpoint, but the short version of it goes through only the first few tunnels and provides a viewpoint after each one. It ends where you look at Pasterze Glacier from above.

Gamsgrubenweg, Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

Kelten-, Säumer- und Römerweg from Hochtor

We didn’t have time for this, but it’s another short (~30 minutes) educational hiking trail that takes you to the old pass that was used in the time of Celts and Romans. (The name of the trail means “Celts, sumpters and Romans path” in English.)

Read this, too: 4 Fabulous Gorge Trails In Austria

Grossglockner High Alpine Road is expensive – but here’s a way to save money

Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

Yes, this most famous of Austria’s scenic drives is also the most expensive one we’ve encountered in Europe so far. But it was built to be a tourist attraction, to give easy access to those wonderful views – and it’s excellent in that! Naturally, it comes with a matching price – which you can check on their official website. It’s 40 EUR for one day for a private car in 2023.

But you know what? There’s a way to visit it for free: with a Hohe Tauern card (also called National Park ‘Kärnten Card’). This card is not available for purchase, but you can get it free of charge if you book your accommodation at one of the inclusive business partners between April and November.

No, we were not paid to promote this card, and honestly, we didn’t even know about it before our totally random, last-minute trip to Austria the past summer. It was pure luck that we were handed a pair of them (one per person) when we checked into our accommodation. But it gave us free access to so many breathtaking attractions in the region, that the next time we go, we’ll make sure to book a partnering accommodation again. And the most expensive attraction we got as a surprise was a one day ticket to Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

What’s the best time to visit Grossglockner High Alpine Road?

Pasterze Glacier Trail, Alps, Austria

It’s usually open from mid-May until early November , but it depends on the current weather conditions each year. Also, the road has opening hours which are roughly from sunrise to sunset and are different depending on the month of your visit.

Grossglockner opening times throughout the year:

  • Until 31 May: 6 am to 8 pm
  • June – August: 5.30 am to 9.00 pm
  • After 1 September: 6.00 am to 7.30 pm

Where to stay along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?

We stayed in Niedernsill for several days, and we explored the region in every direction from there. Since Tomi was born and we travel with a baby (and later a toddler), we find it more comfortable to drive 20-40 minutes more each day, but stay at the same accommodation for as long as we can.

If you prefer to be very close, Fusch an der Glocknerstraße and Heiligenblut are the obvious choices. Hotel Post Fusch is a great mid-range option, located in Fusch on the Großglockner High Alpine Road and offering rooms furnished in a traditional Alpine style, with nice alpine views.

Feriendorf Ponyhof is a 4-star hotel, also in Fusch , treating guests with scenic balcony views, an indoor pool and a heated outdoor pool. Families will love the ponies, the local petting zoo and the playground.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option at a good location, Panoramarestaurant Kaiser Franz-Josefs-Höhe in Heiligenblut offers simple rooms, located at 2400 meters above sea level on the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs Höhe. Haus Maria in Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße is also a great choice , located near the north entrance of the Grossglockner drive.

If you’re late with booking and struggle to find available rooms, look for places in Zell am See or Mittersill , because they offer plenty of accommodation options.

Is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road kid-friendly?

Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria

In general, yes, you can make it enjoyable with kids. It’s not a long drive, and there are many places to stop and explore. That’s the challenge, as well. Kids, especially babies and toddlers, hate getting in and out of the car too often. And once they are immersed in an activity, they want to do it for a longer time. While you as an adult would stop frequently, but spend only 10-15 minutes at a viewpoint, it’s hard to do it this way with small kids (or there will be a lot of whining), and then one day won’t be enough. So it should likely be a compromise.

On the other hand, there are many easy trails, rushing mountain streams and pretty waterfalls along the way that kids will surely enjoy. Even toddlers can hike on some trails, and you can do even more with older kids.

Read this, too: Why Is It Great To Hike With Kids In The Austrian Alps?

Some of the especially kid-friendly stops are: Piffkar viewpoint with a playground and an exhibition, Birds of Prey Information Point with information boards about native birds of the Alps, Fuscher Lacke with a mountain lake and a themed playground.

We did it with one-year-old Tomi, and the hardship was frequently putting him into the car seat, then taking him out 10 minutes later. He just didn’t want to get in after a while, and he couldn’t sleep in the car due to the frequent stops either. But it’s really a scenic drive where you stop every 5-10 minutes. We haven’t only survived, but enjoyed it altogether, though we wouldn’t do it with a one-year-old again. We’d wait a year or two.

Disclosure: Please note that affiliate links are used in this post, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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Bea is a travel writer and the co-founder of Our Wanders, an adventurous family travel blog. She’s been traveling for more than 10 years, seeking outdoor adventures, fairy tale castles and unique experiences. She's passionate about sharing all she has learned along the way, and she's an expert in planning trips of any length. She’d love to help you plan your own amazing trip, too.

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A thrilling drive on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria

Posted on September 3, 2017 January 24, 2024 Author Priya Leave a comment

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Have you heard of the Grossglockner Road in Austria? The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is the highest mountain pass road in Austria and makes for a fun and challenging road trip.

Once we made the drive ourselves, I could understand why sports car enthusiasts ( like Mr.Suburbia  ) aspire to drive the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse – Grossglockner High Alpine Road . Also called Grossglockner Mountain Road or Großglockner Hochalpenstraße , the drive that passes through the Hohe Tauern National Park is not just stunning, with seemingly endless views over the range of 37 mountains as the road climbs to 2,504 meters but it is thrilling and draws you in with a series of 36 hairpin bends that challenges you at every turn!

Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria : Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

ROADS WERE MADE FOR JOURNEYS, NOT DESTINATIONS. CONFUCIUS

This couldn’t be more true for our day on Grossglockner high alpine road, it was more about the drive, the journey than the destination.

WHAT IS IN THIS POST

Grossglockner High Alpine Road Drive

We left Salzburg to the start of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse (at Bruck an der Grossglockner ), the drive took about one and a half hours.  The Grossglockner Road is between  Fusch-Ferleiten in Salzburg to Heiligenblut in Carinthia.  We drove through a few tunnels dug through the mountains, passed Zell am See and a few other pretty villages along the way.  The drive over the Grossglockner can take an hour or more, depending on what you want to see and do along the way.  

Highest Alpine Road in Austria : Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

When we started the drive on the Grossglockner Mountain Road, it was raining and the roads a little slick and the mountains covered in a veil of fog.  Once we got halfway up the drive, the fog cleared up enough to open up views of the limitless mountain ranges of the Alps laced with snow.  

Entrance to the High Alpine Road in Austria : Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

We saw some pine trees, grazing cows, verdant meadows filled with wildflowers, streams, and waterfalls in shades of icy blue.   We stopped multiple times to capture the ever-changing landscape, there were plenty of restaurants and cafes en route to stop for coffee or lunch. There were marked trails for hikes along the way as well, that we could have stopped but we kept soaring up the road.

Map | Grossglockner Road, The Highest Alpine Road in Austria: Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse

We made our way up the last hairpin bend and kept climbing till we made it up to the viewpoint where you can see the mountain peaks and Grossglockner glacier, the Pasterze . The highest point of the mountain road is the Edelweiss-Spitze located at above 2,500 meters. Several 3,000 m peaks can be seen from here but the largest of them all is the Grossglockner .

Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria: Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse | OutsideSuburbia

At 12,460 feet, the pyramid-shaped Grossglockner is the highest mountain in Austria. There is a visitor center with a Swarovski look-out and free underground car park from where you can enjoy the view of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner.  The Grossglockner High Alpine Road makes Austria’s highest mountain accessible for everyone to enjoy!

Highest Alpine Road in Austria : Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

Lookout Points, Stops & Hikes on the Grossglockner Road in Austria

You can just drive and not stop anywhere and still enjoy the Grossglockner High Alpine Road but if you have time plan for a couple of stops, small hikes, listen to the cowbells, sounds of waterfalls…

Stopping for views on Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria: Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

Piffkar – At 1620m Piffkar is the first point after the  Fusch an der Glocknerstrasse  toll station. If you have little kids it is a great stop to see the exhibition , Salzburg’s Tallest – the Fascination of Mountains and also go an easy 30-minute hike along a nature trail through the meadows.

Hochmais  – A short walk downhill from the main road takes you to Hochmais Information Point (1850 m) where you can learn about the glacier, the flora and fauna and all about the Rotmoos nature reserve.

Oberes Nassfeld – At the Haus Alpine Nature Exhibitions ( Haus Alpine Naturschau -2260 m)   you can learn about alpine ecology and the construction of the alpine road.

Fuschar Törl   – This look-out terrace is a great photo opportunity and a must-stop spot at 2428m. It offers the best view of the Grossglockner point, especially to those coming from Salzburg.

Highest Alpine Road in Austria : Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

Edelweiss-Spitze – At 2,571m this is the highest vantage point along the High Alpine Road. The turnoff to Edelweiss Spitze is marked and you will find a large parking lot by Restaurant Fuschertörl, where you can stop for lunch or just continue driving up the narrow road to Edelweiss-Spitze. 

Glocknerhaus  – This is the Trailhead to the reservoir Margaritzenstausee and lake Sandersee. The hike from Glocknerhaus to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe is an absolute must if you can spend half a day. We stopped at the trailhead but didn’t have time for the hike. It is well-marked and easy-to-follow hike that takes 4 hours round trip.

Hairpin bends and fog on the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse - Grossglockner Alpine Road in Austria #HighAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

Nassfeld Speicher –  A small lake fed by two waterfalls just off the road between the Glocknerhaus and Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe. Stop for 10 to 15 minutes

Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe  (2,369 m) – Lookout Point of Grossglockner and rapidly receding Pasterze Glacier. There is a visitor center and a large parking garage here. This is the starting point for the Gamsgrubenweg.  Gamsgrubenweg is 2 hour hike that begins at  Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe.  A series of tunnels usher take you closer to a Pasterze Glacier Viewpoint and it is an easy hike that everyone can enjoy.

Stopping for views on the Highest Alpine Road in Austria : Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria

Best time to drive on the Grossglockner Alpine Pass 

Late spring and summer is the best time to drive The Grossglockner High Alpine Pass which is the highest surfaced mountain pass road in Austria. We were there in early August. The route is treacherous in winter and is closed from early November until May. Even when it’s open, visibility can be hampered by dense fog, so check weather forecasts before tackling the route.

Fusch town : check out the post for more photos and information about the High Alpine road drive in Austria #Roadtrip #Austria #HighAlphineRoad

Tips for driving on the Grossglockner Mountain Road

Grossglockner Mountain Road is busy enough all year round, but there are more visitors, cars, motorcycles, hikers and bicyclists in the summertime.  The official hours are from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, you can’t enter the last 45 minutes of the day, because you could get stuck there overnight. The road is open during daylight hours May through October. In the late fall and early winter, check to see if the pass is open before going.

Where to Start:  At Bruck in the Salzburg valley, and continue through the Ferleiten toll entrance.

Top tip:  Start early in the morning to beat the hordes of motorbikes and tourists. There is a toll of around €35 for a car.

You can read more about the history,  details of the construction of how this popular old trade route became a sought after the road to conquer.  There are family friendly stops along the way with museums, play areas and hiking options with different levels of difficulty. If you planning to spend more time in the area, Hotel Römerhof is a family-run 4-star hotel in Fusch that looks lovely where there is an on-site restaurant, lounge and swimming pools to relax after the Grossglockner High Alpine road drive and hikes.

I could appreciate why 900,000 visitors per year make their way up this twisty road once I experience it firsthand.  Are you a road trip enthusiast?  

Do you have other suggestions for some amazing drives? We have done the Amalfi drive and would love to drive the Trollstigen in Norway soon!

If you like scenic road trips, here are a few you might like:  Amalfi Coastal drive Moorea Island drive Best of Alps Drive Ring Road in Iceland Douro River Valley Drive Texas Road trips

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Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria : An epic Road trip on Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse #HighestAlphineRoad #Roadtrip #Austria #OutsideSuburbia

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Kali Todd

Grossglockner High Alpine Road: A Scenic Highway Adventure

grossglockner road trip

Written by Kali Todd

Budget Travel Guides & Tips

August 9, 2023

Austria | europe | travel guides.

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grossglockner road trip

In the enchanting mountainous landscape of Austria is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, a breathtaking route that meanders through the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, Europe’s largest conservation area and home to more than 10,000 animal species. This iconic mountain pass offers renowned panoramic views, close encounters with nature, and classic alpine charm.

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road stretches nearly 30 miles, 48 kilometers, and takes visitors on a winding journey starting in the charming town of Fusch, just a short 25-minute drive from our base in Kaprun. A series of toll booths line the street, where visitors pay a toll of €40 for one regular-size private car or €30 for a motorbike to gain access to the famous Grossglockner route for the day. Grossglockner is a driving route that does require a private mode of transportation or a third party tour agency.

The famous road was initially presented in 1924 but was quickly squashed because the country had its focus on rebuilding after the loss of WWI rather than tourism. It also did not help that cars were only owned by the wealthy at this time. In 1929, Austria’s economy suffered from the onslaught of The Great Depression and needed projects to keep citizens working. Finally, the Grossglockner plan was erected with the hope that high-end tourism would pay off the construction costs and generate income via a toll charge. Construction began on August 30, 1930, and concluded 5 years later in 1935 with the help of 4,000 workers. 

Panoramic Wonders ​

grossglockner road trip

As visitors gain altitude on the drive, the landscapes dramatically transform, revealing an ever-changing mountainous canvas. Grossglocker High Alpine Road’s most alluring features are its endless array of panoramic viewpoints and strategic stops throughout. At the heart of the drive is Grossglockner mountain, towering as the highest mountain in Austria at 12,461 feet (3,798 meters).

Alpine Critters ​

Because Grossglockner High Alpine Road is located in Hohe Tauern National Park, there is an abundance of flora and fauna. The National Park covers an amazing 716.6 square miles (458,624 acres). Marmots can be found basking in the sun in the spring and summer months, and a watchful eye may be able to spot ibexes, chamois, and golden eagles. Nature enthusiasts and photographers have opportunities at every turn to encounter wildlife. 

Glacier Sights

grossglockner road trip

Along the route are hikes to some of Austria’s most awe-inspiring glaciers such as Pasterze Glacier, the longest glacier in the Eastern Alps. A hike starting from the road leads the Glacier’s viewpoint, allowing for an up-close encounter with the stunning frozen formation. A 4.6-mile loop trail, Pasterze Glacier and Gamsgrubenweg from Franz-Josefs-Höhe , offers picturesque views without the crowds. A shorter 0.9-mile loop, Kaiser-Franz-Josefshöhe – Panoramic Trail Kaiserstein , is also available.

When To Visit

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is generally open from the first of May to the first of November, depending on weather conditions. The summer months from June to August are the most popular, as the road is clear of snow, and the weather is generally pleasant. However, for those seeking fewer crowds and a cooler ambiance, the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn offer a quieter experience amidst the changing colors of nature. I visited in October and the change in landscape to a golden fall hue was remarkable.

grossglockner road trip

Grossglockner has different operating times depending on the time of year you visit:

Opening Times: May 1 – May 31 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM June 1 – August 31 5:30 AM – 9:00 PM September 1 – November 1 6:00 AM – 7:30 PM

Last entry is 45 minutes before closing. Note that weather conditions can change in an instant and can cause changes to opening and closing times and dates. For the most up-to-date information, call +43 (6546) 650 or visit www.grossglockner.at.

Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe Visitor Center is open 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM while all other shops and exhibits are open 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Situated throughout the drive are several information centers that provide fascinating insights into the region’s geology, glaciology, and ecosystem. Visitors can learn about the efforts to preserve this unique alpine habitat and gain a deeper appreciation for why preservation is so important. 

grossglockner road trip

Where can I start the drive? Entrance gates are available in the towns of Fusch (North Entrance) and Helligenblut (South Entrance).

What tickets are available? Grossglockner High Alpine Road has day tickets, 2nd-day tickets, 3-week tickets, annual passes (not available for rental cars), and round-trip tickets (if doing the loop as I did which covers the Felbertauern Road toll on the west side of Grossglackner mountain). Ticket prices range from €32 – €113 for private vehicles/motor homes. For a full list of pricing, visit here . 

What form of payments are accepted for the toll? Both cash and card are accepted at the toll booths. Tickets can also be purchased online here .

Can I exit and re-enter Grossglockner High Alpine Road on the same day? Yes, as long as you have your day pass, you may re-enter as many times as you wish for free.

Are there any tours available along this drive? Yes, there are both free and paid tours available within Hohe Tauern National Park, along Grossglockner High Alpine Road. 

Free Guided Tours are available on the panoramic Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe trail, available from mid-July through the end of September at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM daily. Participants will meet at the information point in the Visitors Center Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe. This trail walk is 1 hour and suitable for children 6 and up.  Paid Guided Tours are also available. The Kings of the Alps – Ibex Observation Tour available through the Hohe Tauern National Park places you with an experienced national park ranger for a 1.5-hour hike to spot ibex and possibly marmots, golden eagles, and bearded vultures. This tour is approximately 2.5 hours in total and is suitable for children 6 and up. If you stay at a partner business, this tour is free (list of partner accommodations found here ) via the National Park Kärnten Card that cannot be otherwise purchased. Regular tour prices are €20 for adults and €13 for children. Grossglockner toll price is not included in this tour. Tours run on Fridays from late May to late October. Registration must be complete by 4:00 PM the day prior and can be completed here .

Tours of Grossglockner High Alpine Road are also available for those with no private cars. Bob’s Special Tours offers the Grossglockner excursion from Salzburg.

How long should I spend at Grossglockner? A visit to Grossglockner High Alpine Road can easily be a full-day event, especially if stopping to do some hiking. 

Do I need specific clothing? Weather in the Alps can be unpredictable, so you should be prepared for sudden changes. Dress in layers and bring warm clothing, even in the summer months. Don’t forget a rain jacket in case a quick shower passes through.

Is there food available along the drive? Yes, several food huts are available, also listed in the map below:

  • Edelweisshütte
  • Shop Fuscher Törl
  • F.A.T. Mankei
  • Restaurant Skihütte Roßbach-Klause
  • Selbstbedienungsrestaurant Hoher Sattel
  • Panoramarestaurant Kaiser Franz-Josefs-Höhe und Kaiser Franz-Josef-Haus
  • Gletscherrestaurant Freiwandeck

Map of Stops

For my trip to Grossglockner, I based in Kaprun which is a fantastic town to stay in within close proximity to so many natural wonders in the area. Grossglockner High Alpine Road can be driven out and back, or you can make a loop by driving south through Lienz and back up through Matrei in Osttirol. Because there is a toll booth at both the North and South of Grossglockner, it is up to you how you want to drive this stunning area of Austria!

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10 Comments

Susan JoyAmongChaos

This has got to be one of the most beautiful and charming drives I’ve seen! Adding this one to my bucket list!

Olga

I bet this road is very pretty, especially in the fall. I can already imagine how many great pictures I can make there. I hope we will visit Austria when the kids will be older.

Marga

I’ve heard about this place but didn’t realise it was this beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Sarah @ Exploring All Genres

Wow, what a beautiful area. I can only imagine how much more beautiful it is in person. If I ever make my way to Austria, this would be a place I would have to visit.

valerie

Wow! This is so pretty! My aunt goes to Austria every year and she says it is her favorite place to be. This is definitely on my travel list!

Jade

I really need to get to Austria again!!! Beautiful.

Elaine

Beautiful trip, Austria is on my bucket list.

Aubrey Johnston

This looks so beautiful, I love the stunning pictures!

Melanie O'Brien

Wow the scenery looks stunning! I must visit one day.

Thyme with Tina

This looks absolutely stunning! Seems like I will be adding Austria as my next trip 🙂

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IMAGES

  1. Driving the Epic Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria

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  2. Driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria (+ Map)

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