I could understand why sports car enthusiasts ( like Mr.Suburbia ) aspire to drive the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse – High Alpine Road, once we made the drive ourselves. Also called Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, the drive that passes through the Hohe Tauern National Park is not just stunning, with seemingly endless views over the range of 37 mountains as the road climbs to 2,504 meters but it draws you in with a series of 36 hairpin bends that challenges you at every turn!
We left Salzburg to the start of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse (at Bruck an der Grossglockner), the drive took about one and a half hours. The Grossglockner Road is between Fusch-Ferleiten in Salzburg to Heiligenblut in Carinthia. We drove through a few tunnels dug through the mountains, passed Zell am See and a few other pretty villages along the way. The drive over the Grossglockner can take an hour or more, depending on what you want to see and do along the way. When we started the drive it was raining and the roads a little slick and the mountains covered in a veil of fog. Once we got half way up the drive, the fog cleared up enough to open up views of the limitless mountain ranges of the Alps laced with snow. We saw some pine trees, grazing cows, verdant meadows filled with wildflowers, streams and waterfalls in shades of icy blue. We stopped multiple times to capture the ever changing landscape, there were plenty of restaurants and cafes en route to stop for coffee or lunch. There were marked trails for hikes along the way as well, that we could have stopped but we kept soaring up the road.
Starting point – the town of Fusch
We made our way up the last hairpin bend and kept climbing till we made it up to the view point where you can see the mountain peaks and Grossglockner glacier, the Pasterze. The highest point of the mountain road is the Edelweiss-Spitze located at above 2,500 meters. Several 3,000 m peaks can be seen from here but the largest of them all is the Grossglockner. At 12,460 feet, the pyramid-shaped Grossglockner is the highest mountain in Austria. There is a visitor center with a Swarovski look-out and free underground car park from where you can enjoy the view of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road makes Austria’s highest mountain accessible for everyone to enjoy!
I even managed to collect a little bouquet of wildflowers
We stopped at every opportunity, can you blame us?! How amazing are these views
On the way back we stopped back in Fusch town for some coffee
Where to Start: At Bruck in the Salzburg valley, and continue through the Ferleiten toll entrance.
Best time to drive: Late spring and summer – We were there early August. The route is treacherous in winter and is closed from early November until May. Even when it’s open, visibility can be hampered by dense fog, so check weather forecasts before tackling the route.
Top tip: Start early in the morning to beat the hordes of motorbikes and tourists. There is a toll of around €35 for a car.
You can read more about the history, details of the construction how the this popular old trade route became a sought after road to conquer. There are family friendly stops along the way with museums, play areas and hiking options with different levels of difficulty.
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I could appreciate why 900,000 visitors per year make their way up this twisty road once I experience it firsthand. Are you a road trip enthusiast? Do you have other suggestions for some amazing drives? We have done the Amalfi drive and would love to drive the Trollstigen in Norway soon!