Getting to Austria by Road / Car – Autobahns, Alpine Passes

Being a landlocked country one can drive into Austria from the neighboring countries and driving is one fantastic experience in the whole of Europe. In Austria the experience is well accentuated due to the scenic beauty. There are however some rules that need to be adhered to by visitors, while driving here.

Rules while driving in Austria-

First, an international driving license is required.
Second, even during daytime the car lights need to be switched on.
Third, Toll stickers are required on all vehicles coming into Austria.. One can get this from gasoline stations, post offices, Austrian Automobile clubs etc. These are available in the neighboring countries as well.
The rates are as follows –
• 12 month sticker – euro 73.80 for cars and motor homes weighing up to 3.5 tons
• 12 month sticker – euro 29.50 for motorcycles
• 2 month sticker – euro 22.20 for cars and motor homes weighing up to 3.5 tons
• 10 day sticker – euro 7.70 for cars and motor homes weighing up to 3.5 tons
 Fourth, a reflective safety vest is mandatory in the car. While hiring the car, one needs to ensure it is provided.

Some interesting drives –

The Benner Pass lies along the border of Austria and Italy. This is the lowest (1370m) of the Alpine passes. The motorway E45 runs through this pass – from Innsbruck to Verona via Bolzano. This is heavily used route for north Europeans driving to the Mediterranean south. It is also famous for the Europabrucke (Bridge Europe) just outside Innsbruck and north of Brenner Pass. This is an engineering marvel with a height of 180 m and stretch of 820m. It carries six lane autobahns over the valley of the Sill River. In summer months it is so green on both sides and one can see and feel the height of the bridge. But since it does not have any suspensions/towers etc. normally associated with a bridge, one could just drive by and not know that s/he has just crossed such a bridge. (Video clip given here – a little hazy since it’s taken through closed windows of the car)

Other Alpine passes in Austria are –

• Präbichl :  Eisenerz to Leoben in Austria
• Aflenzer Seeberg : Mariazell to Bruck an der Mur in Austria
• Semmering : Gloggnitz to Mürzzuschlag in Austria. The Semmering Ski Resort is located here. It hosts skiing world cup events and is easily accessed from Vienna (about an hour away).
• Grossglockner-Hochalpenstrasse : Zell am See to Lienz in Austria (the Grossglockner is the highest peak in Austria). Grossglockner-Hochalpenstrasse lies between Heiligenblut and Fusch. It closes in winter – from November to early May.
• Radstädter Tauern Pass :  Radstadt to Mauterndorf in Austria. It goes onto Sankt Micheal and further to Katschberg Pass. The Obertauern ski resort is here.
• Schoberpass : Liezen to Leoben in Austria
• Resia Pass: Nauders to Merano – Austria & Italy
• Timmelsjoch: Ötztal valley to Merano – Austria & Italy 
• Brenner Pass: Innsbruck to Brixen – Austria & Italy

Austrian Autobahns:
An autobahn is a freeway built for high speeds. The lowest speed allowed is 60 km/hr in Austria. These are expensive and well maintained roadways, hence tolls are common here. In case of trucks, tourist buses etc. there is a go-box attached to the vehicle which calculates the usage of the autobahns by the vehicles and charges them accordingly. There are other cheaper road networks supporting the autobahns called Schnellstrassen.
List of Austrian Autobahns –

• A1:  West Autobahn from Vienna to Wals-Siezenheim and the German Autobahn A8
• A2:  (South) Süd Autobahn from Vienna  to Arnoldstein and the Italian Autostrada A23
• A3: (Southeast) Südost Autobahn from Guntramsdorf and the A2 to Wulkaprodersdorf
• A4:  (East) Ost Autobahn from Vienna to Nickelsdorf and the Hungarian Motorway M1
• A5 :  (North) Nord Autobahn
• A6:  (Northeast) Nordost Autobahn from Bruckneudorf and the A4 to Kittsee and the Slovakian Motorway D4
• A7 :   Mühlkreis Autobahn from Linz and the A1 to Unterweitersdorf and the A9
• A8:  Innkreis Autobahn from Sattledt, the A1 and the A9 to Suben and the German Autobahn A3
• A9:  Pyhrn Autobahn from Sattledt, the A1 and the A8 to Spielfeld and the Slovenian Motorway A1
• A10:  Tauern Autobahn from Salzburg and the A1 to Villach, the A2 and the A11
• A11: Karawanken Autobahn from Villach, the A2 and the A10 to the Karawanken Tunnel and the Slovenian Motorway A2
• A12:  Inntal Autobahn from Kufstein and the German Autobahn A 93 to Landeck
• A13:  Brenner Autobahn from Innsbruck and the A12 to the Brenner Pass and the Italian Autostrada A 22
• A14:  Rheintal/Walgau Autobahn from Hörbranz and the German Autobahn 96 to Bürs
• A21:  Wiener Außenring Autobahn from Altlengbach and the A1 to Vösendorf and the A2
• A22:  Donauufer Autobahn from Vienna and the A23 to Stockerau
• A23:   Südosttangente Vienna
• A25:   Welser Autobahn from Ansfelden and the A1 to Wels and the A8