The Grossglockner High Alpine Road (Großglockner Hochalpenstraße in German) is a paved serpentine road that steers you into the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park and directly to the base of the Grossglockner (3,798 m), Austria’s highest mountain. This is simply one of Europe’s finest mountain roads. Panoramic views of Austria’s highest peaks and other Austrian mountain ranges encircle you as you drive deeper into the High Tauern mountains. Highly accessible, although pricey, the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße is an unforgettable way to spend a day.
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Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Scenic Route in the Austrian Alps
Construction on this 48-km road began in 1930 and was completed five years later. Today, 900,000 people visit each year. The Grossglockner High Alpine Road connects Fusch an der Großglocknerstraße in Salzburg with Heiligenblut am Großglockner in Carinthia. You can drive in either direction, as no particular direction is more beautiful. If you’re trying to figure out where to stay before, or after driving the Grossglockner alpine road, consider Heiligenblut (south entrance to the alpine road) and Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße (north entrance). Check out Woferlgut – Wellness & Sport Hotel in Bruck. If you’re planning a road trip through Austria, this is something you’ll definitely want to include in your itinerary.
When can you drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
This scenic route through Hohe Tauern National Park is generally open from early May until early November. When we visited in mid-June, the road conditions were perfect. However, because of the long winter, some hiking trails were still closed. In terms of time or day, the road is open roughly from sunrise to sunset.
May 1 – May 31: 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
June 1 – August 31: 5:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.
September 1 – November 1: 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
How much is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
As of 2019, driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road costs 36.50 EUR for private cars and 26.50 EUR for motorcycles (see pricing table). There’s a toll station located near Wildpark Ferleiten if you’re driving from Salzburg (North), and another one near Heiligenblut, if you’re driving from Carinthia (South). If you have a SalzburgerLand Card, you can choose between one free drive along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (like we did), or a 24-hour Salzburg City Card. The SalzburgerLand Card grants guests free or discounted access to 190 attractions across the state of Salzburg. You can choose between a 6-day card or a 12-day card (see pricing here). It’s a great deal if you’re planning on doing a lot of activities in Salzburg!
Where to stop along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
The most notable stops along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road are:
Edelweiss-Spitze (2,571 m) – Highest vantage point along the High Alpine Road. The turnoff to Edelweiss Spitze is signed. You’ll find a large parking lot by Restaurant Fuschertörl, but continue driving up the narrow road to Edelweiss-Spitze.
Glocknerhaus – Trailhead to Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee, and a great place to have lunch.
Nassfeld Speicher – A small lake fed by two waterfalls just off the road between the Glocknerhaus and Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe.
Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe (2,369 m) – Lookout Point of Grossglockner and rapidly receding Pasterze Glacier. There is a visitor center and a large parking garage here. This is the starting point for the Gamsgrubenweg.
Read Next: Best Places to Visit in Austria
Where to hike along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
Glocknerhaus – Margaritzenstausee – Sandersee – Franz-Josefs-Höhe
The hike from Glocknerhaus to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe is an absolute must. Well-marked and easy-to-follow, this moderate hike takes 2 hours one-way. It’s also the first stage of the Alpe Adria long-distance trail, which starts at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe and ends in Heiligenblut. Though you can hike in either direction, we recommend starting in Glocknerhaus, because the views unfold spectacularly as you near the foot of Grossglockner.
Initially, the trail descends from Glocknerhaus to the reservoir Margaritzenstausee and then continues left along the water and over two reservoir cement walls. The water of Pasterze Glacier feeds Margaritzenstausee. Next, the trail ascends to Sandersee (lake). From here, you’ll have a great view of Pasterze and Grossglockner. You can either continue all the way up to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe or turn back here. If you continue to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, it’s possible to take a shuttle back to Glocknerhaus. However, these shuttles are very infrequent (max 3 per day). Inside Glocknerhaus, there’s a timetable for the shuttle bus, which you can check before you set off.
This 2-hour return hike begins at Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe. The trail is suitable for everyone. A series of tunnels usher you closer to a Pasterze Viewpoint. The panoramic views from the Gamsgrubenweg trail look stunning. Unfortunately, the tunnels were closed during our visit, because of ice and snow. Next time!
Hochtor to Brennkogel
This 5.5-hour return hike begins at Hochtor and ascends to Brennkogel (3018 m). After 2 hours, it passes Brettersee, a crystal clear mountain lake. Another 1 hour of hiking brings you to the summit of Brennkogel (also called Goldberg). This is a 680 m ascent. This trail was also closed in mid-June.
Read Next: Best Hikes in Salzburg
Where to eat along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
There are many places to stop and grab a bite to eat along the route. You can eat at Restaurant Fuschertoerl or Edelweisshütte at Edelweiss-Spitze. Other options include Haus Alpine Naturschau, Römerhütte, Restaurant Fuscher Lacke, Restaurant Schöneck, Knappkasa, and Karl-Volkert-Haus. It’s also possible to eat at Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe, where you’ll find Restaurant Kaiser Franz Joseph Haus and Panoramarestaurant and Restaurant Freiwandeck. We ate a delicious lunch at Glocknerhaus after finishing our hike to Sandersee.
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- We received complimentary Salzburgerland Cards. All opinions are our own as always!