Top Road Trips for a Tour of Austria

Vienna is the last stop on the “Journey Through Austria” self-drive itinerary.
Vienna is the last stop on the “Journey Through Austria” self-drive itinerary.

Clients seeking adventure, culture, history and the outdoors would do well to consider a trip to Austria. The country is filled with natural scenery and cultural havens, such as Vienna and other centuries-old cities, where visitors can venture out and explore on their own. For those looking to experience independently all that the country has to offer, you might suggest renting a car and setting out on a journey.

An international driver’s license is required for all car rentals; it is fairly simple to obtain one from a local auto club. A number of major U.S. rental companies are represented in Austria, while a range of European firms and multiple credit card companies offer free supplemental rental car insurance.

National parks serve as ideal spots to begin exploring Austria, from high alpine scenery in the west to the flat landscapes in the east. In addition, the Austrian Tourist Office offers a range of sightseeing and driving experiences, including its “Journey Through Austria” itinerary, which is set up in stages. Stage One, from Bregenz to Lech, is a 48-mile stretch traveling through Bregenz, Lake Constance, Bregenzerwald and Lech. The path winds through the capital of Austria’s westernmost province of Vorarlberg (Bregenz) which dates back 2,000 years to Celtic times and still maintains its medieval streets. Travelers will also view the onion-domed Martinsturm (St. Martin’s Tower), a Baroque landmark, as well as the contemporary art museum Kunsthaus Bregenz.

Later on the journey, Stage Four, from Zell am See to Villach/Velden, will delight nature lovers with a drive along Grossglockner High Alpine Road, leading straight into Hohe Tauern National Park. The 30-mile route continues on to the highest mountain in Austria, the Grossglockner. Among the sights are Alpine meadows, mountain forests and large cliffs. Nature sightings of marmots and ibex are also common, and a variety of exhibits along the road offer several playgrounds for children to experience nature and have a bit of fun at the same time.

For guests who like the idea of driving independently through the Austrian countryside, but are wary of taking the adventure completely into their own hands, “Absolutely Alps,” also offered through the Austrian Tourism Office, is a completely curated route, which also includes stops through Switzerland and Germany. The entire mapped out drive visits cities such as Zurich, Interlaken, St. Moritz, Bregenzerwald, Salzburg, Nuremberg, Bamberg and Munich.

Travelers along this route can look forward to seeing more than 50 museums and 100 art galleries, mountain and lake vistas (including a view of the Matterhorn), as well as a stop at Kornmarktplatz. Travelers can then head over to the exhibitions at the Kunsthaus Bregenz, home to a collection of contemporary art, or check out new Vorarlberg Museum, with its roots dating back to Roman times.

Good to know: Multiple road regulations are enforced along this itinerary. All drivers are required to carry a reflective safety vest in their car at all times. Prior to entering Austria’s and Switzerland’s motorways and highways, toll stickers are required on all vehicles. Stickers can be obtained from the gasoline stations as well as post offices and sundries, and seat belts are required for all children. Also, anyone under the age of 12 must sit in the back seat.

More information on renting a car or traveling on one of these itineraries can be found at