With its outstanding natural beauty and sophisticated cities that fuse old with new, Austria is one of the most enchanting countries to visit in Europe. As there are so many pristine lakes, rivers, and mountain ranges to explore in between the urban areas, the best way to experience the place has to be with an epic Austrian road trip.
Renting a car and hitting the road in Austria gives you so much freedom to pick and choose which places you get to visit. No matter where you drive, you will find yourself surrounded by incredible landscapes the whole time, without even needing to leave the car. If you’re not sure where to begin, then my 10 day Austria road trip itinerary is here to help! This guide contains all the practical information you need as well as the most impressive destinations that let you experience a bit of everything that Austria is known for.
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Useful Info for Your Austria Road Trip
How to get to Austria
This Austria road trip itinerary is designed to start in either Vienna or Innsbruck. My guide starts in the east, in Vienna, and concludes in the west, at Innsbruck. However, you can flip it and do it in reverse if that suits you better!
Both Vienna and Innsbruck are served by an international airport. As the Austrian capital and largest city, Vienna International Airport (Flughafen Wien) connects nonstop to the vast majority of European cities. You can also find direct flights from the US, Canada, the Middle East, and some Asian cities.
As a smaller airport, there are fewer direct flights into Innsbruck Airport (Flughafen Innsbruck). However, you can fly nonstop from other Austrian airports as well as from a select number of European destinations including Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. There are car rental agencies located at both of the airports and in the cities themselves.
Best time to visit Austria
Austria experiences the four distinct seasons as per the Northern Hemisphere and other Central European nations, so the best time to visit Austria really depends on the type of experience you are after. The climate and temperatures differ depending on the altitude, so during the course of this road trip in Austria, you should expect the weather to fluctuate somewhat.
The peak travel season is the summer months of July and August when the temperatures are at their hottest, reaching typically 27-29°C (80-84°F) or sometimes even higher. Meanwhile, winter brings snowfall to the mountains and sees the ski resorts open up for the season.
In terms of the best time to visit Austria as part of a road trip, the shoulder seasons of late spring and autumn are the most pleasant overall. Temperatures are at their most comfortable, you will have less competition for accommodation and parking space, and tours and hotels will be a fraction cheaper. And to be honest, when you’re up in the mountains you will likely still see dustings of snow on the peaks.
Driving tips for Austria
Driving in Austria is a doddle, providing that you follow the rules and understand the local road rules. Naturally, you must wear a seatbelt at all times, not drive while under the influence, or when using your mobile phone. Here are a few more driving tips for your Austria road trip itinerary:
- During the summer season and warmer months, Austrian roads are a joy to drive. They are paved and well maintained. However, between December and March, snow and ice is likely at higher altitudes so you will need to ensure that your rental is fitted with winter tires and that you have snow chains in the boot.
- To drive in Austria, you must possess a full driving license from your home country as well as an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). You will need to arrange this documentation prior to arriving in the country to start your Austria road trip. If your driving license was issued by one of the member states of the European Economic Area, you will not need the IDP as your license is valid in Austria.
- Traffic rules and regulations are comparable to other European countries. In general, the speed limit is 100 km/h (62 mph) on Bundesstraße (freeways) and S Roads (expressways) and 130 km/h (81 mph) on Autobahn (highways). When driving through residential areas and inner cities, the speed limit is usually 50 km/h (31 mph), but you should stay alert for signs.
- In order to drive on the Austrian Autobahn and S Roads, your rental must display a vignette toll sticker. If your rental car doesn’t have one, you have to purchase a vignette before hitting the highways. For this Austria road trip itinerary, purchasing a 10-day vignette is the best option which costs 9.5 EUR (11.5 USD). You can buy the vignette at any of the petrol stations and then stick it to your windshield.
- Driving with your headlights on is optional during daylight hours and compulsory at night in Austria.
- ÖAMTC and ARBÖ are the two major breakdown assistance services in Austria and both operate 24/7. The numbers are 120 and 123, respectively. As a non-member you will be liable to pay a fee if you use this service.
- This itinerary for Austria includes a generous amount of hiking so it’s really important to have some sturdy hiking boots in your rental that you can throw on whenever you reach the trails. You should also have a significant stash of water ready for the hikes.
Overview of Your 10 Day Austria Road Trip Itinerary
Breakdown of your 10 days in Austria
This is your itinerary at a glance, with details about where you will need to book accommodation for each of the 10 nights. Remember, you can do the route in reverse if it suits your travel plans better.
- Day 1-2: Two full days in Vienna (overnight in Vienna)
- Day 3: Grüner See, Admont Abbey Library, arriving in Hallstatt (overnight in Hallstatt)
- Day 4: Full day in Hallstatt (overnight in Hallstatt)
- Day 5: 5 Fingers Viewing Platform (Dachstein), Gosauseen, arriving in Salzburg (overnight in Salzburg)
- Day 6: Full day in Salzburg (overnight in Salzburg)
- Day 7: Gollinger Wasserfall, Bluntauseen, Hohenwerfen Castle, arriving in Zell am See (overnight in Zell am See)
- Day 8: Stausee Mooserboden, Sigmund-Thun Klamm, Alpine Coaster Maisiflitzer Kaprun, Mitterberghof Jausenstation (overnight in Zell am See)
- Day 9: Krimml Waterfalls, arriving in Mayrhofen (overnight in Mayrhofen)
- Day 10: Olpererhütte, Innsbruck (overnight in Innsbruck)
Map for your Austria road trip
Below you can find a customized map that includes all the locations you’re going to visit on this Austria road trip itinerary. I marked the different parts of the road trip with different colors so you can easily see which places you’re going to visit on each day.
If you open up this post on your phone and you click on the bracket in the upper right corner of the map, it will automatically save this map to your Google Maps app so you can always have it with you. Super convenient, right?
The Perfect 10 Day Austria Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1-2: Vienna
Number one on your Austria itinerary is Vienna, the capital and largest city in the country, located in the northeast. The oldest part of the city and its most central district is the Innere Stadt, which is contained by a ring road. Within this neighborhood, you will find the majority of the key attractions and majestic architecture, including Baroque palaces and gardens, museums, and concert halls. No wonder that Vienna is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe!
Vienna is synonymous with classical music and was the home of musical masters including Mozart and Beethoven so you will find numerous references and recitals in town.
Two days in Vienna is plenty of time to explore the major landmarks of this elegant city. You will not need a car for these two days as it’s easier to get around the city via public transport and walking so you can pick up your rental car after your two days in Vienna are over.
Where to stay in Vienna
If this is your first time visiting Vienna then I recommend staying in the Innere Stadt. Hotels are more expensive but deals can always be found. Alternatively, you can choose accommodation in one of the outlying neighborhoods and connect to the Old Town easily by metro.
Trendy Wieden has affordable accommodation which is convenient for seeing the sights featured on this road trip in Austria. Landstrasse, to the east of the Innere Stadt, is another alternative for budget hotels. As you will not pick up your rental until the third day, you don’t need to worry about finding a hotel with parking.
Below you can find my suggestions for the best places to stay in Vienna for 2 nights.
LUXURY – Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna
Built as a hotel for the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873, the luxurious Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna can be found right on the famous Ringstraße boulevard in the heart of the city. The hotel features 2 restaurants, a bar and an exclusive spa and fitness centre.
MID-RANGE – Mercure Wien Zentrum
Located right in the heart of Vienna’s historic centre, the Mercure Wien Zentrum is only a 5-minute walk away from Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. Each non-smoking room at the Mercure Wien Zentrum has cable TV, a minibar and a private bathroom with toiletries.
BUDGET – Pension Dr. Geissler
Pension Dr. Geissler enjoys a central location in a side street of Vienna’s city centre. Situated in a typical Viennese building, it offers traditionally furnished rooms with a private bathroom and cable TV.
Best things to do in Vienna
Explore the Innere Stadt
Vienna’s old town is brimming with museums, monuments, and landmarks that you can explore on foot. Slip into your sneakers and spend a day touring the key sights. Look out for the ornate Anker Clock, the commanding Rathaus (city hall), the manicured Volksgarten, and the Wiener Minoritenkirche which features a mosaic of Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
Perhaps the most unusual building you’ll see during your Austria road trip, the Hundertwasserhaus was conceived by the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and architect Joseph Krawina in 1985. The concept was to create a space in harmony with nature and highlights include the grass on the roof and the trees that grow freely through the floors.
In a city famed for its lineage of classic music, you might want to book tickets to catch a show for yourself. There are various concert halls scattered throughout the Innere Stadt. Once you’ve confirmed the dates for your itinerary for Austria, check out what’s on at the Wiener Musikverein, Wiener Konzerthaus and the Vienna State Opera House. The main season runs from September to June.
This 18th century palace and gardens are located southwest of the Innere Stadt. Once the summer residence of the Habsburg royal family, this colossal complex is now the star attraction in Vienna. Queues are always long so I recommend booking a skip-the-line tour of Schönbrunn Palace to save time.
Another palace for your list, this one was built during the 13th century and has been restored and expanded in the following centuries. Originally the winter home of the Austro-Hungarian Empire leaders, the property is now the office of the Austrian president.
One of the most fun things to do in Vienna at night is to visit the Prater amusement park. The star attraction is the giant Ferris wheel which has been rotating since 1897 but there are plenty of other rides to satisfy all thrill-seekers.
Where to eat in Vienna
- Honu Tiki Bowls: Colorful cuisine in an equally colorful setting! You can select one of the signature bowls or customize your own. There are plenty of options to satisfy vegans, carnivores and seafood lovers.
- Das LOFT: Dine high above the rooftops of Vienna at this upscale restaurant that serves contemporary Viennese dishes, quality wines, and delectable cocktails. They’re also open for breakfast.
- Café Anzengruber: Located in the foodie haven that is Wieden, the 4th District, this is one of the best places for authentic schnitzel, goulash, and other traditional Austrian plates you must try during your 10 days in Austria.
- Restaurant Ofenloch: Another option for classic Austrian food this time in the heart of the Innere Stadt. This historic venue has an irresistible ambiance and an expansive menu.
Day 3: Vienna to Hallstatt
Pick up your rental and ready your playlist, your Austria road trip officially begins today as you journey into the mountainous state of Styria! The total drive time to today’s final destination, Hallstatt, is around 5 hours and the distance is 340 km (211 miles). But you will stop along the way before reaching your hotel in Hallstatt so allow extra time to visit the destinations listed below.
Once in Hallstatt, you will need to book 2 nights of accommodation. Refer to the next day if you want to learn about my recommendations for where to stay in Hallstatt!
Driving time: 2 hours and 15 minutes (175 km/110 miles) from Vienna to Grüner See
Leaving the city behind, Grüner See in an unbelievably beautiful pool of water formed by the snowmelt of the surrounding karst mountains. Translating into ‘Green Lake’, the water is an ethereal emerald hue. There is a huge parking lot at the entrance of the lake but since it’s a popular place among locals and tourists alike, it’s better to go early to secure a parking spot. Parking is 6 EUR (7 USD) for a full day (there is no hourly parking option) and you can only pay with cash.
It takes around 20 minutes to reach the lake from the parking lot on a gravel road, the trail is completely flat and very easy. You can walk around the lake in its entirety in around 30 minutes to appreciate the viewpoints and take photos. There is a small restaurant next to the lake if you need lunch or you can prepare a picnic to enjoy by the water. Note that swimming is not permitted in the lake due to conservation efforts.
Admont Abbey Library
Driving time: 1 hour and 40 minutes (87 km/54 miles) from Grüner See to Admont Abbey Library
The next scenic stop on today’s journey is a sensational library situated inside Admont Abbey. Stepping into the library feels as if you would enter the library from the Beauty and the Beast! The archive represents the largest monastic library in the world and the works span architecture, frescoes, sculptures, manuscripts, and printed tomes. Constructed by the architect Josef Hueber, the library hall was completed in 1776.
It registers 70 meters (230 feet) in length, 13 meters (43 feet) in height, and features seven ceiling frescoes that represent the Enlightenment. These were composed by the painter Bartolomeo Altomonte who was 80 years old at the time! 70,000 volumes are stored in the hall while the abbey in total contains around 200,000 books and manuscripts, with some dating as far back as the 8th century AD.
There’s a huge parking lot right next to the Abbey where you can leave your car while you explore the inside. A ticket to Admont Abbey Library costs 12.5 EUR (15 USD) and it also includes entrance to a bunch of museums such as the Museum of Fine Arts or the Natural History Museum. I’m not a museum kind of girl myself but I really enjoyed wandering around these museums so definitely give them a try! Depending on how many museums you want to visit, you can easily spend 2-3 hours inside. If you happen to visit at 11am or 2pm, you can also take part in a guided tour of the library which lasts for 40 minutes (it’s already included in your ticket price).
Please note that due to the current situation, the library only operates on a limited opening time. As of June 2021, it’s only open from 10.30am to 3.30pm and it’s completely closed on Mondays. The official website doesn’t get updated that much so if you want to go for sure, it’s worth calling them in advance about the current opening hours. We almost missed our chance to visit this masterpiece because of the incorrect opening hours on the website so if you want to avoid the struggle, make a call!
Outside of the library, it’s also worth taking a stroll around the beautiful gardens and popping into the Abbey itself (it’s free to visit). Admont itself is situated on the banks of the Enns River right in the middle of the Ennstal Alps so if you have more time, it’s also worth taking a wander around this picturesque town to savor the incredible scenery.
Arriving in Hallstatt
Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (78 km/48 miles) from Admont Abbey Library to Hallstatt
After wandering around Admont and taking in the scenic views, pop back into your car and drive all the way to Hallstatt. It takes around 1.5 hours to reach this fairytale town from Admont. In case you’re not staying directly in Hallstatt, you might need to calculate different driving times depending on where you’ll stay.
Day 4: Full day in Hallstatt
Hallstatt is a quaint lakeside village located in the mountainous region of Salzkammergut. It is known for its salt mining heritage and historic center which is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hallstatt’s setting on the shore of Hallstätter See (Hallstatt Lake) means that you have arresting views in all directions which really do look like something you’d see on a postcard. This is easily one of the prettiest places you’ll stay during your Austria road trip.
Cars are not allowed in Hallstatt Zentrum. So, you will need to leave your car at the parking lot suggested by your hotel while you carry on with your one day in Hallstatt.
Where to stay in Hallstatt
As Halsttatt is a small village, accommodation options are limited and it’s essential to book far in advance. However, as you will have your own car you can also consider staying further out of the village in either Obertraun or one of the other nearby hamlets. These are my suggestions for where to stay in Hallstatt for your two nights.
LUXURY – Hallstatt Hideaway
This adults-only resort is located right on the waterfront and comprises a deluxe portfolio of suites that offer lake views. Modern interiors feature a rustic twist and the most decadent options come with additional features ranging from private patios to private spa pools.
MID-RANGE – Heritage Hotel Hallstatt
All rooms and suites at this 4-star hotel provide lake views and are equipped with a private bathroom, coffee maker, and homely touches. The accommodation spans three buildings and there is also a restaurant and sauna on site.
BUDGET – Gasthof Bergfried
This centrally located guest house features compact rooms with en suite bathrooms with the option to upgrade to a balcony suite. The property offers a shared relaxation area with a spa and sauna.
Alternatively, if you have a car, you might want to stay a little further out of town in one of the surrounding hamlets. One of the best options is Obertraun, from where you can reach Hallstatt within 10 minutes by car or you can also take advantage of the ferry. We stayed at Haus Salzkammergut on our second visit to Hallstatt and absolutely loved everything about the hotel! Great location, amazing views from the balcony, lovely owners, cute doggie and delicious breakfast. I can only recommend this place! In case the hotel is full or you’re looking for something else, you can check all the accommodation options in Obertraun here.
Best things to do in Hallstatt
The center of Hallstatt is totally walkable and you can spend the morning exploring the main sites. Roam the Marktplatz Hallstatt with your camera, take in sweeping views from the top of Evangelisches Pfarramt and visit the ossuary (bone cemetery) at Michaelskapelle. You can also walk down to Small Island and head north of the village to appreciate the scenic viewpoints of Hallstatt.
Ride the ferry
Whether you stay in Hallstatt Zentrum or Obertraun, it is worth hopping on the ferry that connects the two towns in order to experience a different perspective of the river. The crossing takes around 25 minutes.
Ride the Salzbergbahn funicular up to this observation deck that rises 350 meters (1,148 feet) above the village and provides sensational views of the alpine landscape. You can also walk up but it is very steep and takes around 1.5 hours. The compromise is that you ride the funicular up and walk back down!
Take a tour of this 7,000 year old salt mine which includes exploring on foot and by traditional mine train. The mine is only accessible via the 90 minute guided tour which you can book online in advance to secure your spot. Access to the attraction is also via the funicular so you can plan these two activities for the same time.
A shorter waterfall option: you can walk to the Hallstatt Waterfall from Marktplatz in around 20 minutes. It gushes out from the vegetation and is a great way to warm up for a day of sightseeing or cool down in the spray during summer.
Waldbachstrub Waterfall Hike
It takes around 40 minutes to hike to the Waldbachstrub Waterfall from Parkplatz Echerntal or just over 1 hour from Hallstatt Zentrum. This is an easy trail with minimal incline and is a great way to experience the local nature and warm up for some more challenging hikes later in the Austria itinerary.
Gletschergarten (Glacier Garden) Hike
The Glacier Garden is another wonderful hike that you can do from Hallstatt or Parkplatz Echerntal. This assemblage of rocks and streams formed during the last Ice Age as the local glacier receded from the gorge. It takes 2-3 hours to cover the entire complex and it isn’t too demanding.
Where to eat in Hallstatt
- Restaurant Rudolfsturm: Located within a medieval tower, this place is worth it for the views alone. The menu is typically Austrian and they also do a great apple strudel.
- Restaurant Am See: This lakeside eatery offers charming views and the menu is rich with local dishes and fresh fish dishes.
- Pizzeria Kegelbahn: Situated across the lake in Obertraun, this Italian restaurant serves good quality pizza and pasta alongside soups, salads, and Austrian fare.
Day 5: Hallstatt to Salzburg
Today you’ll need to check out of your hotel in Hallstatt as it’s time to head to your next destination: Salzburg! You’re going to have two stops along the way so your driving time will be around 2 hours including both stops. I recommend starting the day as early as you can as you’ll have some exciting plans for the day!
5 Fingers Viewing Platform (Dachstein)
Driving time: 10 minutes (7 km/4.5 miles) from Hallstatt to Dachstein Krippenstein
Your first stop today is going to be the slopes of the Dachstein massif, a dramatic glacial mountain range that rises 2,700 meters (8,858 feet) in the region south of Hallstatt. Once you reach the summit, you can explore the 5 Fingers lookout, an ice cave, and 360° views.
You can park at the cable car, Dachstein Krippenstein, and then hop on the gondola up the mountain to experience incredible views as you soar. The ticket price depends on which attractions you’re planning to visit, you can check the different options here. For a reference, if you only want to visit the 5 Fingers platform, you’ll need to purchase a Panorama ticket that costs 34 EUR (40 USD), while the all inclusive ticket costs 51.2 EUR (60.5 USD) that includes a visit to the caves as well.
In a remarkable feat of engineering, the 5 Fingers observation platform protrudes 400 meters (1,312 feet) above the ground below and is shaped in the form of a hand with 5 ‘fingers’ stretching out to grasp the cool mountain air. Once you leave the cable car at Krippenstein (section 2), you’ll need to hike around 25-30 minutes to get to the viewing platform. The hike is really easy and well marked so it shouldn’t be a challenge even if you’re not in the best shape. And the views along the way are out of this world!
Within the same area as the lookout, you will also find the Dachstein Giant Ice Cave. Entering this huge cavern, you will encounter stalactites of all different colors before you catch sight of the massive wedge of ice filling the chasm. Guided tours of the ice cave last 50 minutes and require a 15 minute walk from the cable car station, Schönbergalm (section 1). If you do want to explore the cave, you will need to dress warmly as the average temperature inside is -2 °C (26.6 °F), even during summer. Make sure you pack layers for your 10 days in Austria!
You can find another cave at Schönbergalm (section 1) called Mammut Cave. It’s known as one of the largest karst caves in the world, hence the name. It takes around 15-20 minutes to reach the cave from the cable car station and as with the Giant Ice Cave, a guided tour lasts for 50 minutes as well. Depending on how much time you have, you can visit either of the caves or both, or you can just go for the 5 Fingers platform for the panorama – it’s completely up to you!
Driving time: 30 minutes (27 km/17 miles) from Dachstein Krippenstein to Gosauseen
Gosauseen is a cluster of three beautiful lakes located in the Alps of Upper Austria. You can drive to the Gosausee Parking lot and park your car here while you explore, or, you can park near the Gosaukammbahn cable car station and ride up to the lakes this way instead if you prefer.
There are a series of hiking trails that connect the lakes and give you the chance to explore phenomenal nature. The shortest option is to just walk around the first of the three lakes, Vorderer Gosausee, which takes around 1-1.5 hours in total. The more challenging options take you to the middle lake, Gosaulacke, as well as the third and final lake, Hinterer Gosausee. To visit all three bodies of water, you will need to allow around 5 hours. As the drive time today is around 3 hours, this is feasible if you depart from Hallstatt as early as possible and skip the caves at Dachstein. If you don’t want to fully drain your batteries, my recommendation is to visit only the first lake and rest a little bit after you arrive in Salzburg.
Arriving in Salzburg
Driving time: 1 hour and 10 minutes (80 km/50 miles) from Gosauseen to Salzburg
After exploring the lakes, you’ll need to drive around 1 hour to get to Salzburg, which will be the next destination on your Austria road trip itinerary. Once in the city, you’ll need to stay for 2 nights to be able to spend one full day in Salzburg. If you need recommendations of where to stay in Salzburg, check the next section for my tips!
Day 6: Full day in Salzburg
Salzburg presses its way up against the border with Germany in Western Austria and affords some of the finest views of the Eastern Alps. The Salzach River flows through the center of the city, with the Salzburg Alstadt (Old Town) resting on the left bank. As the birthplace of the legendary composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, much of the culture of the city revolves around his lineage.
Fans will no doubt want to visit both Mozart’s Birthplace and Mozart’s Residence and catch a recital while in town. But Salzburg is also abundant in museums, galleries, stately residences and gardens, restaurants and shops, and it’s really not a place to skip off your Austria road trip.
You can easily spend one day in Salzburg exploring the delights of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and strolling along the riverside.
Where to stay in Salzburg
As with Vienna, it makes sense to book accommodation as centrally as your budget allows. Hotels in Salzburg Altstadt are priced higher and you should expect to pay around 15 EUR (18 USD) per day for parking so do factor that into your plans and budget. If you stay further out in areas such as Itzling, Maxglan or Taxham then you will find that accommodation rates drop and you can transfer into the city center efficiently via bus. These are my suggestions for where to stay in Salzburg for your two nights.
LUXURY – Small Luxury Hotel Goldgasse
All suites at this deluxe hotel are artistically presented and some feature a private terrace. The property is situated in Salzburg Altstadt within walking distance to all the major landmarks and has a wonderful restaurant on the premises.
MID-RANGE – Hotel Wolf
Colorful rooms are comfortably designed with eclectic furnishings and immaculate bathrooms. The hotel is positioned within a building that dates back to 1429 and is located in the heart of Salzburg Altstadt. A fantastic breakfast is included in the rate.
BUDGET – Hotel-Flair
Rooms at this budget hotel in Salzburg are clean with plenty of space and each comes with a private bathroom. The property is conveniently located for walking to and from Salzburg Central Station and is a 30-minute walk into Altstadt Salzburg.
Best things to do in Salzburg
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salzburg Alstadt is where you will find the most historic buildings and streets in the city, as well as museums, public squares, shops, and cafes. You can call in at the shops on Getreidegasse, stroll down Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse, tour Mozart’s Birthplace, or dip into one of the Salzburg Museum institutions.
Mirabell Palace & Gardens
This resplendent palace dates back to 1606 when the prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich commissioned and gifted the residence to his mistress, Salome Alt. You can explore the sprawling gardens and peer into the public rooms of the estate. If you are a fan of The Sound of Music then this place will be familiar to you already!
This viewpoint is accessible via a climb up 260 steps to the Aussicht Kapuzinerberg. Your reward is the scenic views across the city towards Hohensalzburg Castle from the deck and they are worth the effort, I’d say they’re the best in town.
Ride the funicular up the mountain to get up close to the defining emblem of Salzburg, and one of Austria’s most iconic sights. Hohensalzburg Castle, the largest fully preserved castle in Central Europe, is home to a portfolio of museums that you can take your pick from. However, it’s the views of the city and the looming alps that more than justify making the journey.
Where to eat in Salzburg
- Imlauer SkyBar: Located on the sixth floor of the Imlauer Hotel, this swanky restaurant is the perfect place to start your day in Salzburg with brunch or wrap up a perfect day of sightseeing with a decadent dinner!
- Café Bazar: After tackling the viewpoint climb, you can recoup your energy at this historic cafe that looks across at Salzburg Altstadt. Considered the home of artists and poets, the menu spans lunchtime specials, sweet treats, and moreish specialty coffees.
- S’Kloane Brauhaus: Slip inside this 400 year old building and you will be greeted with the scents of traditional Austrian delicacies. The friendly staff are on hand to guide you through the menu to find your perfect dish!
- Lazarte: It might feel odd to dine on Latin American food during your Austria itinerary, but Lazarte delivers the real deal. Add a dash of spice to your trip and experience the flavors of Mexico, Peru, and beyond at this top rated restaurant.
Day 7: Salzburg to Zell am See
The distance from Salzburg to Zell am See via the specified attractions is 120 km (75 miles) and the drive time is approximately 2 hours. Tonight you will need to book accommodation in the little town of Zell am See-Kaprun for 2 nights.
Driving time: 35 minutes (28 km/17 miles) from Salzburg to Gollinger Waterfall
Head to Parkplatz Gollinger Wasserfall where you can leave your car and walk to this remarkable 75 meter (246 feet) waterfall which forms two tiers as it crashes down the cliff from the forest. Between the months of May and October, you must pay 5 EUR (6 USD) to visit the waterfalls on top of the parking fee which is also 5 EUR (6 USD). You’ll need to drive around 35 minutes to get to the waterfall from Salzburg which makes it one of the best day trips from Salzburg.
There are different viewpoints along the waterfall and you can even hike to the top which I 100% recommend! It takes around 10-15 minutes to reach the lower viewpoint while it will take you approximately 35-40 minutes if you want to go all the way to the top. The waterfall is super strong so be prepared to get a little bit wet! If you decide to go up, you’ll find a bridge that crosses over the water so that you can get very close to the water spray. It’s recommended to wear sneakers or hiking boots as the trail gets wet and slippery due to the mist.
Driving time: 7 minutes (3.5 km/2 miles) from Gollinger Waterfall to Parkplatz Bluntautal
Another day, another magical lake nestled between mountains and forestry to add to your Austrian road trip! Bluntausee changes color depending on the time of day you visit and what the weather is doing, so it might be emerald or sapphire tinted. You can follow the hiking trail around the perimeter in less than one hour however swimming in the water is forbidden.
Since it’s only 3.5 km (2 miles) from Gollinger Waterfall, you can easily walk from one place to the other but if you’d rather drive, you can leave your car at Parkplatz Bluntautal which is the closest parking lot to Bluntausee. From the parking lot you’ll need to hike for around 30 minutes to reach the lake. The trail is completely flat so the hike itself is really easy and it goes through a beautiful forest and crosses a crystal clear river. It’s absolutely worth visiting Bluntausee just for the scenery alone!
Driving time: 20 minutes (18 km/11 miles) from Parkplatz Bluntautal to Hohenwerfen Castle
In a country that is overflowing with beautiful castles, this one really takes the biscuit and is an essential sight during your 10 days in Austria! The hilltop fortress of Hohenwerfen Castle has stood in this spot for over 900 years and from the complex, you can look down at the Salzach River and across at the surrounding mountains and woodland.
Access to the castle is via funicular or a short but steep 25 minute hike. Once at the fortress, you can observe a demonstration of the resident birds of prey in addition to exploring the museums. There are always a number of temporary exhibitions which change throughout the year and seasonal events are hosted in the grounds. Entrance to the castle costs 10.4 EUR (12 USD) and if you want to take advantage of the elevator, you can buy a combo ticket for 14.4 EUR (17 USD).
Zell am See-Kaprun
Driving time: 50 minutes (57 km/35 miles) from Hohenwerfen Castle to Zell am See-Kaprun
Today’s final destination is Zell am See-Kaprun, a small town that sits on the shore of Lake Zell (Zeller See). The town is the gateway to the ski resorts and slopes of the Schmittenhöhe mountain that looms over the town and is accessible via cable car if you wish to take in the views.
You can go for a walk or hire some bicycles and cycle along the esplanade that begins at the southwest of the lake and skirts the circumference of the water. Down at the south corner, you also have the option to rent kayaks or stand up paddleboard and float your way across the lake. There are a number of pretty parks dotted along the lakeside where you can enjoy a picnic and the town has a good spread of restaurants and hotels.
Where to stay in Zell am See
Zell am See-Kaprun is small but it does have a substantial number of hotels and guesthouses. As with Hallstatt, I encourage you to book accommodation way ahead of your Austria road trip, and look further out of town if needs be. Here are my recommendations for where to stay in Zell am See-Kaprun for two nights.
This luxurious, family-run spa, golf and pleasure hotel offers unique holiday experiences in a beautiful location in Zell am See. Surrounded by a splendid natural landscape, the Salzburgerhof combines 5-star comfort with 4 lilies in the Relax Guide for its spa quality and the culinary pleasures of 3 toques by Gault Millau.
MID-RANGE – Hotel Neue Post
Only a 3-minute walk away from the Zeller Bergbahn cable car, which provides access to the Schmittenhöhe skiing and hiking area, Hotel Neue Post enjoys an exceptional location in the heart of the old town of Zell am See. Breakfast is available in the mornings and dining options include the Cäsar and the Basmati restaurants.
BUDGET – Hotel Glasererhaus
Just a 5-minute walk from the shore of Lake Zell in the heart of Zell am See, Hotel Glasererhaus offers individually furnished rooms, a wellness area, and free WiFi. The closest ski lifts are just 200 m away. All rooms provide cable TV and a private bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer. Most rooms additionally come with a balcony featuring a seating area.
Day 8: Highlights of the Kaprun Valley
Today you will explore the attractions of the Kaprun Valley before returning to your Zell am See accommodation for a second evening.
Driving time: 20 minutes (16.5 km/10 miles) from Zell am See-Kaprun to Kaprun Stauseen Parkhaus
Stausee Mooseroden is one of two high altitude reservoirs and dams in the Kaprun Valley that resemble fjords. At 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) above sea level, the water is a startling shade of turquoise that contrasts against the circling cliffs and snow capped peaks. The dam wall at the Moserboden is 107 meters (351 feet) high and almost 500 meters (1,640 feet) long.
Unfortunately you can’t drive all the way up to Stausee Mooserboden, so you’ll need to leave your car at Kaprun Stauseen Parkhaus (it’s free) and use the shuttle buses from there. The parking house has 11 floors and if there’s enough free space, it’s worth driving all the way to the top because that’s the direction you’ll need to go in order to find the ticket office and the shuttle buses. If you park on the lower levels, you’ll need to climb up the stairs to get to the top of the parking lot.
Once you purchase your ticket, you’ll need to get on the shuttle bus which will take you to a very cool open-air lift. This is the largest open lift in Europe and it will take you up on the 431 meters (1,414 feet) incline within minutes. After that, you’ll need to board another shuttle bus which will take you all the way to the reservoir. The whole process takes around 45 minutes and a return ticket costs 25 EUR (30 USD) per person.
During your exploration, you can follow short hiking trails to get a full perspective on this dramatic landscape from the surrounding viewpoints. If you’re up for a challenge, you can also try some of the via ferrata routes but for that, you’ll need to have proper gear. If you want something easier, you can just hike up to the upper viewpoint which takes 10-15 minutes and it’s fairly easy. The route is quite narrow and steep so it’s best to wear sturdy shoes and watch out for your steps.
Driving time: 6 minutes (4.5 km/3 miles) from Kaprun Stauseen Parkhaus to Sigmund-Thun Klamm
Once you’re reunited with your rental you can drive 5 minutes along the road to the next attraction on your Austrian road trip itinerary. Sigmund-Thun Klamm is a stunning ravine with an excellent wooden track that lets you walk past the water that thunders through the narrow chasm before culminating in a massive waterfall that falls like a veil.
You’ll find a couple of parking lots near Sigmund-Thun Klamm, the closest one is right at the crossing of Kesselfallstrasse and Klammweg. Once you park your car, you have to follow Klammweg and around 5 minutes later you’ll come across the ticket office which marks the entrance of Sigmund-Thun Klamm (an entrance ticket costs 6 EUR/7 USD). It takes around 20-30 minutes to go through the gorge and it’s important to note that the wooden track is one way only, you will have to take another road to get back to your car.
At the end of the trail you will reach another gorgeous lake called Klammsee that you can then complete a lap around. The lake is quite small and the trail around the lake is only 1.8 km (1.1 miles) so you can walk around the whole lake in 30 minutes. All in all, you should factor around 1.5-2 hours to fully explore Sigmund-Thun Klamm and Klammsee together. There are few places where you can experience such an extraordinary spectacle of nature and it’s worth taking the time to complete the full route.
Alpine Coaster Maisiflitzer Kaprun
Driving time: 6 minutes (4 km/2.5 miles) from Sigmund-Thun Klamm to Alpine Coaster Maisiflitzer Kaprun
The next item on today’s agenda isn’t one for the fainthearted but it’s great fun! The Alpine Coaster Maisiflitzer Kaprun is essentially a rollercoaster combined with a toboggan. Once comfortable in your two seater sled, you will charge down the track reaching speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph), and screaming is fully acceptable. The ride is open year round and you can opt for a single ride for 12.50 EUR (15 USD) or pay for 5 for 55.50 EUR (66 USD).
Dinner at Mitterberghof Jausenstation
Driving time: 25 minutes (15 km/9.5 miles) from Alpine Coaster Maisiflitzer Kaprun to Mitterberghof Jausenstation, then 15 minutes (9 km/5.5 miles) back to Zell am See-Kaprun
After a fairly strenuous and hair raising eighth day of your Austria road trip, you might just want to flop into your hotel bed. However, if you can summon the energy to drive a little bit more, this awesome restaurant is worth the 15 minute drive, especially on a balmy evening. From the outdoor dining terrace, you can drink up views across the Kaprun Valley and Zeller See. Although, on overcast days you might be seated above the clouds!
You’ll find wholesome Austrian fare on the menu as well as an excellent variety of desserts. The restaurant is actually part of a family run inn and you could even choose to stay here rather than in Zell am See if you prefer. In case you’re not hungry or you have other dinner plans, it’s still worth driving up to the restaurant for the view alone.
Day 9: Zell am See to Mayrhofen
The journey time from Zell am See to Mayrhofen via the below attractions is just shy of 2 hours, and the distance covered is 100 km (62 miles). You will need to book one night of accommodation in Mayrhofen for the penultimate evening of your Austria road trip itinerary.
Driving time: 55 minutes (55 km/34 miles) from Zell am See-Kaprun to Krimml Waterfalls
If you were impressed by the ravine yesterday then just wait until you clap your eyes on what is said to be the highest and most powerful waterfall in Europe! You’ll find plenty of parking lots near the Krimml Waterfalls, the closest one is P4 so if you find free space there, go for it! There is a small tunnel going under the main road right next to the P4 parking lot, you’ll need to follow this road to get to the ticket office. An entrance ticket costs 5 EUR (6 USD) and if you want to visit the nearby Water Worlds Krimml museum as well, you can purchase a combo ticket for 10 EUR (12 USD).
The Krimml waterfalls tumble over several layers and you can decide how far you want to hike. The first viewpoint is accessible via a 15 minute walk from the parking and this alone is impressive. However, if you want to walk all the way to the summit of the falls, it will take 2-2.5 hours to complete the 380 meters (1,250 feet) hiking trail, and then you’ll need to climb back down so factor in a 5-hour round trip. It does get steep and slippery due to the spray, so excellent hiking boots and a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Driving time: 55 minutes (44 km/27 miles) from Krimml Waterfalls to Mayrhofen
After an intense morning, you can look forward to checking into your hotel in Mayrhofen and taking a leisurely afternoon. It’s a further hour to reach Mayrhofen from the waterfalls if you take Gerlos Strasse. Since this is a private road, you’ll need to pay 10 EUR (12 USD) per car for the road usage. Sometimes this road gets closed due to weather circumstances so it’s worth checking it in Google Maps in advance before you go in that direction. If the road is closed or you don’t want to pay, you can take a detour and use another road to get to Mayrhofen, but it will take you 2 hour and 15 minutes this way.
Situated in the Zillertal Valley, in the province of Tyrol, Mayrhofen is another feeder town for the local ski resorts. You can ride the gondolas from the town up to the resorts where you’ll find loads of hiking trails if you have the energy, but the views are lovely on their own. The Pfarrkirche Mayrhofen is a cute church and you can take a stroll along the river in town.
If you need a restaurant recommendation for dinner, check out Goldkind. They’re the number one restaurant in Mayrhofen according to TripAdvisor and let me tell you, they’re not wrong! The restaurant caters to everyone from vegans and vegetarians to meat lovers. All the meals we tasted there were super delicious and the prices were reasonable as well (nothing too fancy or expensive). Give them a try, you won’t regret it!
Where to stay in Mayrhofen
As a lively ski town, Mayrhofen features a good spread of accommodation options. The following places are all centrally located and provide free on site parking which is perfect for your one night in Mayrhofen.
LUXURY – Huber’s Boutique Hotel
This stylish hotel comes with all the luxury trimmings including a pool, spa, and scrumptious breakfast. The top tier suites feature idyllic free standing bathtubs and spacious balconies.
MID-RANGE – Gutshof Zillertal
This beautiful lodge offers a spread of rooms and suites, including ‘Romantic’ and ‘Royal’ themed choices. There is a pool, sauna, spa, and garden terrace where you can unwind.
BUDGET – Brugger ApartHotel
Rooms at this inviting hotel are decorated in traditional Tyrolean style with wooden furnishings and feature a balcony, private bathroom and a seating area. Breakfast is included and the price is happily affordable.
Day 10: Mayrhofen to Innsbruck
Can you believe that it’s the final day of your Austrian road trip already? Today your final destination will be Innsbruck but first you’re going to take a little detour to reach one of the most epic viewpoints in Austria. Once you get to Innsbruck, you’ll need to book a hotel for one night.
Driving time: 40 minutes (25 km/15.5 miles) from Mayrhofen to Parkplatz Schlegeis Stausee (Olpererhütte)
First up on the agenda today is a demanding hike up to Olpererhütte, a mountain refuge that sits 2,388 meters (1,273 feet) above sea level. Olpererhütte is a 30 minute drive southwest of Mayrhofen. There is a parking lot marked as Parkplatz Schlegeis Stausee where you can leave your car as you tackle the Olpererhütte trailhead which starts a few minutes walk from the parking area.
This is another occasion where hiking boots are essential as the trail is steep and strewn with rocks and even some streams that trickle down the mountain which you’ll have to wade through. The hike up will take between 2-2.5 hours and then you’ll need to make your way down carefully as well so you can factor in 4-5 hours for the whole hike. This is by far the most challenging hike on your Austria road trip itinerary but trust me, it’s so worth it for the views!
Once you reach the summit you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the landscape. You can appreciate the scenery from the Panoramabrücke Olpererhütte, which is a suspension bridge that overlooks the valley and turquoise Schlegeisspeicher down below. And of course, you can get a much needed drink and snack at the hut. If you do not fancy the hike then you can enjoy a more relaxing walk around the shore of Schlegeisspeicher, or even head straight to Innsbruck and spend longer there.
Ps: Before you think I’m crazy, I just wanted to let you know that I obviously did not hike up to Olpererhütte in a skirt! I was wearing proper hiking shoes with leggings and a top and I just changed to this red skirt at the bridge for the photos. Don’t underestimate this hike and please don’t try to complete it in pretty dresses!
Driving time: 1 hour and 40 minutes (92 km/57 miles) from Parkplatz Schlegeis Stausee (Olpererhütte) to Innsbruck
The final destination on your Austria road trip (or first, if you’ve flipped the itinerary) is the colorful city of Innsbruck, capital of the Tyrol province. Most of the touristic attractions are situated within the Altstadt (Old Town) and you will find monuments, museums, and restaurants galore here. Notable sights include the 16th century palace, the Hofburg, and the Roman-style Triumphpforte which was erected in 1765. You can walk along the River Inn or hire a bicycle while a series of cable cars whisk you away high into the Nordkette mountain range which is situated in the Karwendel Nature Park.
If you completed the whole Olpererhütte hike then you’ll probably feel super tired so I recommend just to casually stroll around the Old Town and find a great restaurant for dinner. My personal recommendation is Gasthof Goldener Adler, which is allegedly the oldest restaurant in Innsbruck. They have a really nice terrace right in the heart of the historic old town and their menu is full of authentic Austrian delicacies.
Where to stay in Innsbruck
Innsbruck is teeming with budget friendly and luxury hotels and you can find decent deals in the city or elect to stay further afield if you are keeping your rental for the final night. Here are my top picks for where to stay in Innsbruck.
LUXURY – The PENZ Hotel
The city’s first design-led hotel is an architectural jewel, with its glossy exterior, stylized interiors, and rooftop breakfast restaurant. Speaking of breakfast, you can look forward to bubbles and salmon!
MID-RANGE – Faktorei
Sophisticated rooms weave minimalism with a rustic touch and a number are equipped with a balcony. On site you will find a bohemian cafe and a lovely bar where you can toast the end of your trip!
BUDGET – Cityhotel Schwarzer Bär Innsbruck
Sophisticated rooms weave minimalism with a rustic touch and a number are equipped with a balcony. On site you will find a bohemian cafe and a lovely bar where you can toast the end of your trip!
And that concludes your 10 day Austria road trip itinerary! Austria is a wonderful country full of beautiful alpine lakes, epic mountains, great hiking trails and super cute cities and towns. If you follow my Austria itinerary, you’ll be able to experience all the beauty and diversity Austria has to offer!
I hope that this article helped you plan your own Austria road trip and now you have an idea about all the best places to visit in Austria. If you have any questions about road tripping in Austria, what to see, or how to plan your trip, please don’t hesitate to email, message me on social media, or drop a comment below. If you’ve already visited Austria I’d love to hear what your personal highlights were so don’t be afraid to leave a note below!
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