Grossglockner High Alpine Road - Austria

scenic driving road you always wish to return to, with or without detour

4y ago

A trip to Austria without a drive on Grossglockner High Alpine Road is to me like having my morning coffee without a little milk in it - only in emergency situations. This scenic driving road truly is one of those you always wish to return to, and if it would mean you would have to recalculate your route or wake up a few hours earlier to fit a drive in your schedule, I still believe it would be worth it. It is always worth it.

No other road in Austria looks like it, and Grossglockner looks different each time I arrive.

Sara Näse

“The next morning I was at the gates again 8 am and the lady in the toll booth greeted me good morning with the words “drive carefully, it is very slippery up there”. After going almost sideways out from a hairpin corner closer to the top of the pass – hopefully making it look more like a controlled drift and not Bambi on ice to a pair of curious eyes who saw me coming– I took in what she had said earlier and slowed down a little to enjoy the morning views instead. Truth is it was very slippery on the roads the first hours before the sun started to warm up the road, more slippery than I expected. But I would also like to use this opportunity to say that the Cayman GTS has a phenomenal way of making you feel safe in the driver’s seat even when you are going a little sideways, intentionally or unintentionally. “

Grossglockner, named after the highest mountain in Austria, is a toll road in the Austrian Alps. It opens each year early May and closes for the winter early November. Although the toll booth does not open before 5-6 in the morning summertime, there are other ways for the night owls to experience it, as there are hotels inside the toll gates. Book a room, drive it once, twice, even all night if your tank is big enough (additional fuel canisters are optional).

The day ticket at €35 per car might sound expensive compared to what we are used to pay for entrance to other toll mountain roads in Austria, but the worth of what is included in the price cannot even be measured in money. Tarmac in excellent condition. 48 kilometres and 36 bends. Wonderful straights. Breathtaking views around each corner. You can and should also drive up to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe at 2369 m, where you can admire the Pasterze Glacier. Services on the road, the only thing you might miss is a petrol station.

“Driving behind the Porsche 918 Spyders was already a pleasure – two cars that sound mind-blowingly good when they take off. Then I had the opportunity to jump in the passenger seat in one for a ride up the mountain. The acceleration power from standstill to what felt like a very high speed was so brutal that approaching the first hairpin corner, without driver showing yet signs of planning to hit the brake, I for a very short moment wondered if the driver will be able to slow down the car in time. After a few corners I knew the answer – no doubt he will. ”

Thanks to the landscapes and excellent road condition this road will always be one of my favourites in the Austrian Alps. No matter where I am heading after it, I will always want to do an U-turn before the toll gate just to drive it one more time in the other direction. No matter how many times I drive it, I do not think I will ever feel I have had enough. It is that nice.

The 2,576 m altitude makes Grossglockner the highest paved mountain pass in Austria. About 270,000 vehicles and 900,000 visitors experience it each year, so you will most likely never be completely alone on the road if you drive it daytime. But when most people are asleep, petrolheads start their engines...

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Comments (5)

  • yeah, lienz is located in east-tyrol :) which is actually more carinthia than tyrol, but that's out of context here.. i live about 1h away from the großglockner in carinthia, nice to read about it here :)

      4 years ago
  • Benedikt, you are right, mistake corrected :-) I never realized Grossglockner actually is not part of Tyrol, because I always stay in Lienz (that then again is part of the Tyrol), and it is so close... Changes quickly ;-)

      4 years ago
  • actually it isn't in tyrol at all but in salzburg and carinthia.. really amazing place!

      4 years ago
  • Roadvana

      4 years ago
  • Amazing! Drove it a month ago, definitely a must for a petrolhead traveler!

      4 years ago