Aug
12

Driving the Epic Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse in Austria

Grossglockner High Alpine Road or Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse (Großglockner Hochalpenstraße in German), named after Austria’s highest mountain at 12,460 feet, the Grossglockner is not only one of the finest and highest alpine roads in Europe but literally a king of all scenic road journeys.

Good to Know

German ß is known as Eszett, sz. ß is almost always substituted by the double S (digraph ss) rather 

than sz as in Grossglockner rather than Groszglockner.
roadtrip through austrian alps grossglockner hochalpenstrasse großglockner hochalpenstraße

Classic sports cars and bikes whoosh around the 36 hairpin bends to climb to about 3,000 feet in less than 48 kilometers, on the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse that connects Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße (north) in Salzburg with Heiligenblut am Grossglockner (south) in Carinthia.

Curvy roads grossglockner pass austria
You are lucky if you have blue sky while driving the Grossglockner 🙂

The road weaves its way through lush green alpine meadows and bends around Austrian alps steering you deep into the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria’s Oldest National Park stretching over the counties of Carinthia, Eastern Tyrol, and Salzburg.

grossglockner highest mountain pass in austria

No wonder, it remains a one-stop destination for bikers and motorsport enthusiasts.

This alpine route has been a critical but extremely risky trade route. Hikers used to pray to the Gods at the Hochtor (the high pass) to be kind to them.

The idea behind the construction of the graded panoramic Grossglockner road was to deal with the aftermaths of losing the World War I – to overcome high unemployment rates, to yield new identity for the First Austrian Republic and to generate income by attracting tourists.

Built on ancient Celtic and Roman trails, the Grossglockner High Alpine Road was planned by Franz Friedrich Wallack, an Austrian construction engineer, and initiated on August 30th, 1930. It nearly took 5 years and 4000 laborers to open it to visitors on August 3rd, 1935.

Since then, it has been deemed as an engineering marvel.

grossglockner hochalpenstrasse austria

Grossglockner High Alpine Road with more than 900,000 visitors every year is the second-most famous destination in Austria after Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna that receives close to 4 million visitors every year.

It definitely tops the list of best places to visit in Austria that include Hallstatt, Wachau Valley, Salzburg, Graz, Innsbruck, and Vienna.

Read our Guide to Renting a Car in Europe if you plan to drive across awe-inspiring

Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse by a rented car.

Driving the BEAUTY Called Grossglockner

We started our drive from Salzburg (north entrance) towards Carinthia (south entrance) quite early in the morning.

driving towards grossglockner pass from north side salzburg
the beauty of grossglockner

The excitement was evident as we had heard a lot about Austria’s majestic and highest mountain pass road.

We paid the toll and drove ahead. The Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse opened before us like a pleasant gift.

kassa toll point fusch wild and erlebnispark ferleiten

Boy, we were literally wowed! The views bowled us over. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

It more than lives up to its name!

It in fact is out-and-out package – lush green meadows, colorful flower pastures, rugged mountainscapes, curly bends and turns, snow-clad peaks, cascading waterfalls, intriguing flora, and fauna, squawky chirping of marmots, the howling icy wind at the hilltops, and the thrill of untamed adventure.

Mini-me was as happy as a Sunday in Paris, full of song, and dance, and laughter.

mini-me posing at grossglockner austria
grossglockner high alpine road covered in snow in june

Young kids normally don’t enjoy the road journeys as much as adults no matter how scenic the drive might be. They get restless and bored cramped up in a car.

A drive over the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a delightful and unforgettable experience for adults and kids alike.

The scenic drive surprisingly unfolds into a fun, sporty, and informative journey.

The Grossglockner road is lined with oodles of information points, kid-friendly activities, museums, expositions, themed playgrounds, and panoramic hikes and trails located on either side of the road.

grossglockner pass austria

The activities and attractions on the way make for great stop-offs to get insights into the history of the Grossglockner, forthcoming plans, and exciting details about the alpine habitat of Hohe Tauern mountainscape.

Themed playgrounds along the way let the kids run, rollick and have fun while the parents can relish the time off with mesmerizing views.

Die Goldgräberstätte (The Gold Digger Site) at Piffkar, Schneevergnügen am Hochtor (Snow Fun at the Hochtor) at Hochtor, Bau der Strasse (Construction of the Road) at Fuscher Lacke, and Ei zum Schmetterling at Schöneck.

Did you Know?

MURMI, the furry and cute Glockner marmot is the mascot of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road. 

Grossglockner Route, Stops, and Lookout Points

Wild-& Erlebnispark Ferleiten (1145 m)

Ferleiten is just before the toll booth.

It has a wildlife park with over 200 wild animals from the Alps, fun and adventure park for kids and a restaurant.

wild erlebnispark ferleiten grossglockner

They also provide Golf Caddy tours of the Hohe Tauern National Park.

The entry ticket costs 8 Euros per adult and 4 Euros per child (4-14 years) and you get a discount with the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse day ticket.

Piffkar (1620 m)

The first point after the Fusch an der Glocknerstrasse toll station, Piffkar not only has a playground for kids but also an exhibition (Salzburg’s Tallest – the Fascination of Mountains) and affords a 30-minutes nature trail through larch meadows.

piffkar grossglockner high alpine road austria
Hochmais Information Point (1850 m)

A short walk downhill from the main road takes you to Hochmais where you can learn about the facts about the glacier, Rotmoos nature reserve, and vegetation zones at high altitudes.

hochmais information point grossglockner hochalpenstrasse austria
Haus Alpine Naturschau (2260 m)

Haus Alpine Nature Exhibitions at the Oberes Nassfeld presents alpine ecology during the construction of the popular mountain road in a unique way.

haus alpine nature exhibition grossglockner pass
haus alpine naturschau grossglockner austria

The other attractions include marmot show and special exhibitions, “Salzburg’s Tallest – Mountain Journeys” open-air installations, Welt der Flechten im Hochgebirge (World of Lichen in the High Mountains) nature trail.

Edelweiss-Spitze (2571 m)

Popularly known as Biker’s Point, Edelweißspitze the highest vantage point of the road at an altitude of 2571 m. It’s a detour through a short winding access road that divaricates the main road.

edelweißspitze bikers point grossglockner pass austria

The vantage station offers a 360-degree panoramic view of more than thirty mountains over 3,000 m high.

Note

The lookout point is easily accessible by bike, thus the name - Biker's Point.

We had a small car so could reach to the top but it was scary because of gusty winds and narrow 

bends. It's really not fit or safe for large cars and buses to drive up to Edelweißspitze.
Fuscher Törl (2428 m)

Fuschar Törl look-out terrace is a lovely photo point. This point offers the first view of the Grossglockner point to those coming from the north side, Salzburg.

Fuscher Torl grossglockner hochalpenstrasse austria

Here, you can also visit the memorial site dedicated to the laborers died during the Grossglockner’s construction.

Infostelle Greifvögel (Birds of Prey Information Point at 2320 m)

Again a little downhill, different informative boards furnish details about the native birds of Alps.

Lammergeiers (bearded vultures,) golden eagles, alpine chough, and white-winged snowfinch are some of the alpine birds you can spot in the Austrian Alps.

Fuscher Lacke (2262 m)

The return drive from the Edelweißspitze leads you to a little mountain lake, Fuscher Lacke.

fuscher lacke grossglockner high alpine road austria

A brief walk from Fuscher takes you to Mankei-Wirt where kids can meet and have fun with cute alpine marmots. The innkeeper, Herbert Haslinger tame marmots.

gasthof fuscherlacke mankeiwirt grossglockner

Bau der Strasse (Building the Road) exhibition at preserved Wegmacherhaus on the lake presents the events during 5 years of construction of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

Pro-Tip

Try the local delicacy, Kaiserschmarrn with a cup of  Häferl coffee at Gasthof Fuscherlacke 

Mankeiwirt.
Geologische Freiluftausstellung Tauernfenster (Geological Education Path at 2290 m)

The knowledge gained at Haus Alpine Nature exhibition is reviewed at this ancient Roman and Celtic path.

The exhibition Tauernfenster – the collision of two continents features Hohe Tauern Window (Tauernfenster) is an important geological structure of the Eastern Alps.

hohe tauern window tauernfenster grossglockner pass
Pic Credits: Bruck Grossglockner
Hochtor Pass Summit (2504)

The fastigium or the head of the Grossglockner Pass and a regional border point between Salzburg and Carinthia, Hochtor was thought of as a gateway to the underworld because of its risky and exposed terrain.

The exhibition Passheiligtum Hochtor (High Gate Pass Sanctuary) recreates the olden times.

hochtor tunnel grossglockner road
hochtor pass summit grossglockner

Hikers can enjoy a 30-minute educational hiking trail, Kelten-, Säumer- und Römerweg (Celt, muleskinners and Roman trail) across the main alpine ridge and/or about 5 hours hiking trail to Brennkogel via lake Brettersee from Hochtor-Südportal (Hoctor tunnel.)

Grossglockner Panoramabahn (Grossglockner Panoramic Cable Car)

A panorama lift takes you to Schareck summit at an altitude of 2604 m that affords a view of 40 three thousand metres Tauern mountains.

grossglockner panoramabahn schareck

Also, Heiligenblut-Schareck cable car transports you to the ski area in Schareck.

Check the prices and opening hours.

Schöneck

A 10 minutes botanic loop trail – Wunderwelt Glocknerwiesen (Magic World of Glockner Meadows) surprises you with vibrant flowers and larch trees.

schoneck wunderwelt glocknerwiesen grossglockner road
schoneck wunderwelt glocknerwiesen grossglockner

A botanic exhibition helps kids to discover alpine nature and wildlife.

Alpincenter Glocknerhaus

Its another detour or branch-off.

At a roundabout, a straight road leads to the Glocknerhaus and Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe when coming from the north (Salzburg) and the curvy left takes you to Heiligenblut.

alpincenter glocknerhaus grossglockner high alpine road
view from alpincenter glocknerhaus grossglockner

At an altitude of 2132, Glocknerhaus is a house of Austrian Alpine Club (Alpenverein Klagenfurt) and a base for hikers, mountaineers, and tourists.

You can enjoy lunch with a view at their restaurant.

NaßfeldSpeicher, a small lake above the Glocknerhaus is a beautiful pitstop while going from Glocknerhaus to Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe.

Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe (2369 m)

The vantage point, which Emperor Franz Josef along with Empress Elisabeth aka Sissi visited in 1856, thus, the name is the last leg of the Grossglockner drive.

It offers unique panoramic views of the mighty black mountain at an altitude of 3798 m, the Grossglockner along with the longest glacier in Austria, Pasterze, and the mountains Glocknerwand, and Johannisberg.

You can climb up to the vantage station by car or by walk. There’s a limited shuttle service between Glocknerhaus for Kaiser-Franz.

Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe vantage point grossglockner

You can visit the visitors’ center with its unique exhibitions (Success Story of the Automobile, In Love with the Alps, Glacier Life,) Glockner cinema, Glockner panorama room, and many other special attractions.

You can walk to Wilhelm Swarovski Beobachtungswarte (Swarovski observatory) where you can spot the alpinists, marmots, and ibexes using powerful binoculars.

Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe also serves as a starting point for many interesting Grossglockner hiking routes.

Gamsgrubenweg Trail, known as the Alpen Panoramaweg leads through multiple tunnels across the Pasterze and branches-off at Hofmannshütte ruins to the Wasserfallwinkel, a special preservation area.

Tunnels are a real bet here, equipped with sound, space, and light installations, the tunnels take you to the mystical world of legends around the origin of Pasterze.

A journey through the tunnels finishes at the heart of the National Park. Gamsgrube can be hiked in about 30 to 40 minutes.

Pasterze Glacier Trail is a moderate hike along the well-marked trail. It’s around 40 minutes hike downhill and about an hour and a half hike uphill.

From the Alpincenter Glocknerhaus descend to Stausee Margaritze Lake (Magritzenspeicher) to cross the dam wall that goes over the Elisabethfelsen peak and Sandersee Lake to reach the Pasterze. Now, ascend to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe.

It’s not easy to walk the paths in both directions especially with kids unless you have time and energy or you are a serial hiker.

Better ride the historic glacier railway, Gletscherbahn to cut back the climb.

It is open from May 30 until September 22 from 10 am to 4 pm and a roundtrip costs 13 Euros per adult and 6.50 Euros per child. It’s discounted for the Kärnten Card National Park holders.

Glocknerrunde circuit, as well as the highly acclaimed Alpe-Adria Trail, are the long-distance hiking trails from Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe.

Kasereck Information Point (1911 m)

The last point before arriving in Heiligenblut, Kasereck gives information about the Oberes Mölltal region’s natural and cultural landscape.

Kasereck Information Point heiligenblut grossglockner hochalpenstrasse
views along the grossglockner hochalpenstrasse

Don’t miss to stop by the picture-perfect Gothic pilgrimage church in the quaint village of Heiligenblut.

Heiligenblut church grossglockner austria

Grossglockner Map

Here’s a map of Grossglockner High Alpine Road for you to understand the route in a better way.

We got this at the toll station.

grossglocknar hochalpenstrasse map route planner

You can download the map in a PDF format and print.

Alternatively, you can also use this route planner to chalk out your Grossglockner adventure.

When can you take the Grossglockner Drive

The road is open from early spring to early autumn (early May until late October) as the route is risky to drive in winter due to snow and harsh winds.

The mountain pass is the busiest in the summertime. We visited in June and it was overwhelmed with bikers, bicyclists, and sports car enthusiasts.

Opening Hours

May 1 – May 31: 6:00 am to 8:00 pm
June 1 – August 31: 5:00 am to 9:30 pm
September 1 – October 26: 6:00 am – 7:30 pm

*Last entrance 45 minutes before the night lock

Note: Driving to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe is only allowed until 3:30 pm for security reasons.

Pro-Tip

Please check the Grossglockner weather forecast before planning a Grossglockner drive as it's risky 

plus it carries a hefty toll. You can check the current weather conditions and views of the 

Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse with the Grossglockner webcam.

Grossglockner Toll

Driving the Grossglockner is a little pricey but worth every penny.

A day ticket costs 36.50 Euros for private cars and 26.50 Euros for bikes from 6 am to 6 pm; 26.50 Euros for cars and 20 Euros for bikes after 6 pm. The return trip on the same day comes free of cost.

For more information on prices, check the official website of Grossglockner.

There’s a toll station located near Wild-& Erlebnispark Ferleiten if you’re driving from Salzburg (North), and another one near Heiligenblut, if you’re driving from Carinthia (South) where you can buy the tickets. You can also buy online from Grossglokner’s website.

Note

SalzburgerLand Card gives an option of a  free drive along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

Restaurants at the Grossglockner

Food with a view – this is what you experience, a perfect harmony of gorgeous vistas with delish food while eating at any one of the restaurants at the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

Here’s a list of restaurants and cafes along the road for you to take a break and feed your hunger for food and views, both at the same time:

  • Restaurant Fuschertoerl
  • Edelweisshütte at Edelweiss-Spitze
  • Haus Alpine Naturschau
  • Römerhütte
  • Restaurant Fuscher Lacke
  • Gasthof Fuscherlacke Mankeiwirt 
  • Restaurant Schöneck
  • Knappkasa
  • Karl-Volkert-Haus
  • Alpincenter Glocknerhaus
  • Restaurant Kaiser Franz Joseph Haus
  • Panoramarestaurant
  • Restaurant Freiwandeck
gasthof fuscherlacke mankeiwirt grossglockner
Gasthof Fuscherlacke Mankeiwirt 

Places to Stay Near Grossglockner

If you plan to hike in the region, there are several basic accommodations available on the Grossglockner itself.

We stayed in Lienz. You can opt to stay at Heiligenblut, Winklern or Lienz when coming from Salzburg (north) and Fusch or Bruck or Zell am See or even Salzburg when coming from Heiligenblut (south.)

Check out the best places to stay near the Grossglockner recommended by travelers:

Familienhotel Moos-Alm, Lienz

A perfect place to stay at a great price with great location – gorgeous views of the Lienz Dolomites.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check reviews on TripAdvisor

Luxor City Apartments, Lienz

Beautifully managed apartment in the heart of Lienz.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check reviews on TripAdvisor

Gradonna Mountain Resort Chalets & Hotel, Kals am Großglockner

Right next to Großglockner Resort Kals-Matrei, this property has been rated exceptional by travelers for its location, food, and hospitality.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check the reviews on TripAdvisor

Chalet Hotel Senger, Heiligenblut am Großglockner

A traditional Austrian-style beautiful hotel enveloped by the mountains of Hohe Tauren National Park, Chalet Hotel Senger is located in one of the best-rated locations in Heiligenblut.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check the reviews on TripAdvisor

Panoramahotel Lärchenhof, Heiligenblut am Großglockner

Panoramahotel Lärchenhof is situated just a few meters away from Großglockner Bergbahnen Cable Car (ski lift) in Heiligenblut, and thus, an excellent location score.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check the reviews on TripAdvisor

Nationalpark Lodge Grossglockner, Heiligenblut am Großglockner

Close to the Gothic church of Heiligenblut and the ski lifts, the Nationalpark Lodge Grossglockner affords panoramic views of Alps and is exceptionally rated for yummy buffet breakfast.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check the reviews on TripAdvisor

Hotel Römerhof, Fusch an der Großglocknerstraße

Located at the foot of Grossglockner, Hotel Romerhof is just 10 km away from Zell am See/Kaprun Europa Sports Region. A free ski shuttle is available.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check the reviews on TripAdvisor

Ferienwohnung Traumblick Dolomiten, Winklern

An apartment with gorgeous mountain views, Ferienwohnung features 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a balcony, a patio with a garden, and a children’s playground and fits in anyone’s budget.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Ferienhaus Unterblasbichl, Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße

Holiday home with perfect location and the perfect price. You won’t always get good deals like this, you see!

Check the availability on Booking.com

Hotel Pension Schmittental, Zell am See

One of the top picks in Zell am See by travelers, Hotel Pension Schmittental is just a km away from the city center. The cycling and hiking trails start at its doorstop and ski slopes are just 100 meters away. All in all, an ideal choice to spend a night during your Grossglockner expedition.

Check the availability on Booking.com

Check the reviews on TripAdvisor

Find the Best Deals on Hotels in and around the Grossglockner

Booking.com

Have you ever got a chance to drive the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse? How was your experience? I’m sure, it must have been awesome. Still, I’d love to know!

And if this post helped you plan a great drive to the Grossglockner or if you liked the story, be a sport and please share it with the world.

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driving through the Austrian Alps grossglockner high alpine road
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