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A Journey through Austria In Nine Stages

Visit Austria’s most beautiful cities and spectacular landscapes on this epic road trip from Lake Constance in the west to Vienna in the east, which showcases the incredible diversity and cultural wealth of this small country in the heart of Europe. We have split the drive in 9 stages, but to truly enjoy the trip and take in the best Austria has to offer, we recommend allowing at least two to three weeks for this journey.

Stage 1: Bregenz to Lech (77 km)

Start your journey in Bregenz, on the eastern shore of Lake Constance, the third-largest lake in Central Europe. From Bregenz, drive southeast to the picturesque Bregenzerwald region. For centuries this area was home to craftsmen, woodworkers and artisans and their legacy is still very much alive today. From the Bregenzerwald head high up into the mountains to the famous Alpine resort of Lech am Arlberg.

Stage 2: Lech to Innsbruck (117 km)

From scenic Lech it is only a 40-minute drive to St. Anton am Arlberg. A renowned ski resort in winter, St. Anton beckons with beautiful hiking trails in summer. Continue to Innsbruck, the Capital of the Tirol region, and enjoy its unique blend of urban and Alpine lifestyle, cultural attractions and outdoor action.

Stage 3: Innsbruck to Zell am See (146 km)

On your way east from Innsbruck to Zell am See, stop in Kitzbühel, a former silver mining town known across the globe as one of the world’s most elegant ski resorts. Arrive at Zell am See in the afternoon and be amazed by its spectacular scenery: the bluer-than-blue Lake Zell, the snow-white peaks of the Hohe Tauern mountains and the charming village center will make you want to stay longer than intended.

Stage 4: Zell am See to Villach/Velden (177 km)

On your way to Austria’s sunny southern province of Carinthia, you will cross the Alps on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, one of the world’s most famous Alpine roads. The 48-kilometer route leads you through the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park and continues on to the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner (3,798m) and its glacier, the Pasterze. With 36 bends and an ascent to 2,504 meters, drivers will have no shortage of thrills and stunning vistas. Finish your day in Villach, gateway to Austria’s southern Lake District or in the resort town of Velden, located on the western shore of Lake Wörth.

Salzburg, Austria Zell Am See, Austria

Stage 5: Villach/Velden to Graz (190 km)

On you way eastwards, stop at the spectacular Hochosterwitz Castle, one of Austria’s most impressive medieval fortresses. Built on a limestone rock rising 150 meters above the valley, it strikes an imposing figure. After visiting the castle, continue on to Graz, Austria’s Culinary Capital and second biggest city. Straddling both sides of the River Mur, it's well-known for its modern architectural highlights, southern flair and renaissance city center, designated a World Cultural Heritage.

Stage 6: Graz to Hallstatt (176 km)

After a few days in Austria’s south you head straight across the Alps again, from Graz to Hallstatt - one of Austria’s most picturesque villages and heart of the famed Salzkammergut Lake District. The town is known not only for its scenic beauty and spectacular landscapes, but also for its remarkable 5,000-year history. Both the local World Heritage Museum and the Salzwelten Hallstatt - probably the oldest salt mine in the world – provide an excellent glimpse of that history.

Stage 7: Hallstatt to Salzburg (71 km)

It takes only a bit more than an hour to get from Hallstatt to Salzburg, the city of Mozart and the Sound of Music, but you could spend days exploring the picturesque Salzkammergut Lake District. On the way to Salzburg you will pass numerous lakes and quaint villages including beautiful Bad Ischl and Lake Wolfgang. From St. Wolfgang head up to the top of the Schafberg for epic views over the region.

Stage 8: Salzburg to the Wachau Valley (240 km)

After exploring Salzburg’s outstanding cultural offer and scenery, make your way east to Linz, Austria’s third-largest city known for its excellent modern art and science museums. From Linz continue your drive along the Danube until you reach Melk, gateway to the picturesque Wachau Valley and home to Melk Abbey, one of the most impressive Baroque monasteries in the world. Dürnstein and Krems are two more highlights on your drive through this beautiful region. With its authentic villages, gently rolling hills and lush vineyards, the Wachau Valley is one of the most striking UNESCO world cultural heritage sites to be found.

Stage 9: Wachau Valley to Vienna (85 km)

Make your way along the Danube to the last highlight of your trip: Austria’s capital Vienna, known for its stunning architecture, imperial heritage and outstanding cultural offer. Most historic sights are located in the 1st district of Vienna, including the Imperial Palace, the Spanish Riding School, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the State Opera. The Ringstrasse surrounding the city centre is one of the world’s most beautiful boulevards and was built on the site of the former city walls.

You won’t need your car anymore in Vienna (unless you still want to take daytrips from the city e.g. to the wine regions in Burgenland) as the public transport system in the city is excellent.

This top drive was provided by the Austrian National Tourist Office

Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria

For an amazing experience in Austria, don't forget to book car hire with DriveAway, simply use our online booking engine above or contact our friendly reservations staff.