Austria’s Grossglockner High Alpine Road (Großglockner Hochalpenstraße in German) is a paved serpentine road that steers you into the heart of Hohe Tauern National Park in the Austrian Alps and directly to the base of the Grossglockner (3798 m), Austria’s highest mountain.
This is simply one of Europe’s finest mountain roads. Panoramic views of Austria’s highest peaks 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.
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.
Grossglockner High Alpine Road – Scenic Route in the Austrian Alps
- Road Length: 48 km
- Opening Times: Early-mid May until Early November, weather depending. Check opening times here.
- Pricing: 38 EUR for private cars, 28 EUR for motorcycles
- North Entrance: Fusch an der Großglocknerstraße in Salzburg
- South Entrance: Heiligenblut am Großglockner in Carinthia
- Must-do hike: Glocknerhaus – Margaritzenstausee – Sandersee – Franz-Josefs-Höhe
- Where to Stay: Panoramarestaurant Kaiser Franz-Josefs-Höhe (budget), or Berggasthaus Wallackhaus (midrange) located on the high alpine road
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Grossglockner High Alpine Road Map
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is highlighted in grey. Hiking trails are highlighted in blue and places to stay are marked in black.
When can you drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
This scenic route through Hohe Tauern National Park is generally open from early-mid 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.
- Early May – May 31: 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- June 1 – August 31: 5:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
- September 1 – Early November: 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
How much is the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
As of 2022, driving the Grossglockner High Alpine Road costs 38 EUR for private cars and 28 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 (2571 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 (2132 m) – Trailhead to Margaritzenstausee and Sandersee, and a great place to have lunch.
- Nassfeld Speicher (2233 m) – A small lake fed by two waterfalls just off the road between the Glocknerhaus and Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe.
- Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe (2369 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
- Trailhead: Glocknerhaus (2132 m), Grossglockner High Alpine Road
- Destination: Sandersee, or Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe
- Distance: 4.1 km to Sandersee (one-way), 5.5 km to Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe (one-way)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Altitude Difference: 470 m
- Time Needed: 2 – 2:30 hours one-way, 4-5 hours total out-and-back
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 (3,018 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
Tips for Hiking in Hohe Tauern National Park
- Pack snacks and sufficient water.
- Wear Grade B/C hiking boots like the women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX / Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (what Kati and I wear) or the men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX.
- Use Maps.me (offline maps app) to locate trails and trailheads.
- Get a Grossglockner Hiking map.
Where to eat along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road?
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 Josef Haus and Panoramarestaurant and Restaurant Freiwandeck.
We ate a delicious lunch at Glocknerhaus after finishing our hike to Sandersee.
Where to stay along the Grossglockner High Alpine Road
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 Fusch an der Großglocknerstraße (north entrance). If you’re planning a road trip through Austria, this is something you’ll definitely want to include in your itinerary.
The following guesthouses and hotels are all located directly on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.
Midrange | Berggasthof Wallackhaus is the best place to stay if you want to experience sunset and sunrise along the Grossglockner route. With its unbeatable location, you can extend your exploration of the area and relish the Hohe Tauern mountains from your hotel room. Breakfast included.
Midrange | The Panoramarestaurant Kaiser Franz-Josefs-Höhe offers comfortable double or twin rooms, which include breakfast on request. You can eat dinner at the on-site restaurant. Located directly at the Franz-Josefs-Höhe, the location of this accommodation could not be better. Great value for money!
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More Information for Your Trip to Austria:
- Austria Travel Guide
- Vienna City Guide
- Wine Tasting in South Styria
- Filzmoos in Summer
- Mayrhofen in Summer
Hiking in Austria:
- Best Day Hikes in Austria
- Best Treks in Austria
- Hut to Hut Hiking in Austria
- Austrian Alps Hiking Destinations
Learn More about the European Alps: