A 10-Day Scenic Road Trip Across Austria

Are you ready to dive into a journey through Austria's hidden treasures and breathtaking landscapes? This road trip will take you on a discovery of majestic architecture, enchanted trails, crystal-clear waters, glaciers, and snow-capped peaks, traveling along magnificent scenic routes by car and on foot. Pack your bags, let's go!

Day by day, we'll explore the historical and cultural riches of Austrian cities, stroll along mountain paths winding through the Alpine peaks, and immerse ourselves in the daily life of local communities. Through a combination of iconic landmarks and hidden gems, this itinerary is designed to satisfy all tastes, whether you're an art enthusiast, nature lover, or adventure seeker.
We'll also give a nod to the little ones, ensuring they have the maximum amount of fun!

...a journey is like a suit: it needs to fit perfectly and be comfortable at the same time.

There will be plenty of activities, and perhaps only the most "athletic" will manage to "dash" from one to the next within the "maximum time"! However, if you prefer a more "relaxed" trip, read through the entire article and cross out the attractions that appeal to you less (it will be tough). After all, a journey is like a suit: it needs to fit perfectly and be comfortable at the same time. A trip to Austria tailored to your preferences is possible; read on to believe it.

The Itinerary

Arriving in Vienna, the majestic capital with an imperial charm, we’ll start our journey by exploring the historic heart of the city. We'll admire the sumptuous Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palaces and stroll through the picturesque alleys of the city center. A visit to the famous Prater amusement park is a must for a healthy dose of fun and adrenaline.

We will then embark on a journey through the enchanting Wachau Valley, renowned for its terraced vineyards and ancient monasteries. Here, we’ll traverse perhaps the most beautiful stretch of the famous Danube Cycle Path. Pedaling along the riverbanks, we’ll stop at Melk Abbey, a baroque masterpiece dominating the surrounding landscape. We’ll then proceed to the fairy-tale city of Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, where we’ll get lost among its architectural and cultural treasures, including the enchanting old town. From here, we’ll head to the mysterious salt mines of Hallstatt.

After breathing the fresh mountain air in Zell am See and tackling the scenic Legends Trail in Kufstein, we’ll arrive in Innsbruck, a charming Alpine city surrounded by towering peaks. Here, we’ll have the chance to explore its historical heritage, visit the majestic Ambras Castle, and admire the sparkling creations of Swarovski Kristallwelten.

Continuing our journey, we’ll embark on an adventure through the spectacular landscapes of Lienz and Katschberg, where the wild nature of the Alps will captivate our senses and leave us breathless. Next, we’ll visit Carinthia, the land of lakes, with trails and sports activities of all kinds.

To conclude in style, we’ll reach the city of Graz, where we can visit the Universalmuseum Joanneum, one of Austria's largest museums. A visit to the incredible limestone caves of Lurgrotte Peggau will be the perfect end to our journey before returning to Vienna with a wealth of unforgettable experiences and precious memories of a truly extraordinary trip.

Ready to set off? Book your rental car now, prepare a playlist with your favorite music, and let yourself be transported on a journey through Austria’s history, culture, and nature.

Welcome to a new adventure brought to you by InformaViaggi through the wonders of Austria!

1) What to See in Vienna

Your first day of the journey begins with your arrival in Vienna, a city steeped in history, culture, and charm. Once you've picked up your rental car, you'll be ready to embark on this fantastic trip. The attractions to explore are numerous and all intriguing. Of course, one day won’t allow us to visit them all, so we’ll need to make choices based on our preferences. Whatever your passions, Vienna always has something to amaze you.

For art and history enthusiasts, Schönbrunn Palace offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of Austrian nobility, with its majestic gardens and sumptuous interior rooms. The Kunsthistorisches Museum houses one of the world's richest collections of artistic masterpieces. A visit to Schloss Belvedere (Belvedere Castle), one of the most beautiful princely residences in Europe, is a must-see as it houses the famous painting "The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt. Simply unmissable.

For a more relaxed experience, perhaps after visiting one of the aforementioned museums, a stroll through Vienna’s historic center is a perfect option. You'll be surrounded by breathtaking architecture and a regal atmosphere. The Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles Borromeo), with its majestic baroque facade, is a must-see for lovers of religious architecture.

If you’re traveling with children, the Prater Amusement Park is a must-visit. It’s a true green oasis in the heart of Vienna, offering attractions for all ages, from roller coasters to rides for younger kids.

The Ferris Wheel, one of Vienna’s most iconic symbols, provides a unique and exclusive view of the city. It's even more thrilling at night! Among the main rides at the Prater are the Prater Turm, a 117-meter-high tower that will make your head spin, and the Ejection Seat, which will shoot you towards the sky at a crazy speed. Labyrinths, Go-Kart tracks, and much more will delight kids of all ages. For those craving a tasty break, Schweizerhaus is ideal: a traditional Austrian restaurant where you can enjoy delicious local dishes.

Besides the fun attractions, the Prater also offers a zoo, a wax museum, and a racetrack. It’s the perfect place to spend a fun-filled day with family or friends.

Speaking of Viennese food, for dinner, you can choose from one of the many traditional restaurants scattered throughout Vienna’s center. You can’t miss trying the famous Wiener Schnitzel, the Viennese breaded cutlet. If you prefer something more informal, you can try one of the many food markets in the city, such as the Naschmarkt, where you can savor local specialties (and more) in a lively and authentic atmosphere. It’s the largest market in Vienna with over 120 stalls!

To end the day magically, Vienna boasts a top-tier musical offering. As the birthplace of some of the greatest composers in history, nothing pairs better with the elegant and refined atmosphere of this city than a classical music concert. Listening to the famous “Violin Concerto in D Major” by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, can make the experience even more memorable.

2) Wachau – Salzburg

Wake up! The second day of our journey begins with a delicious breakfast in the heart of Vienna, where we can enjoy the exquisite “Wiener Frühstück,” the “Viennese breakfast,” which includes semmel (small rolls) to spread with butter or jam, coffee or tea, and a glass of orange juice. After recharging, we head out to the picturesque Wachau Valley, a region renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and high-quality wine production.

One of the most enchanting ways to explore the Wachau Valley is by taking a wine and food tour, allowing us to taste the region’s renowned wines along the way. Once we arrive in Wachau, it will be possible to rent bicycles to fully immerse ourselves in the enchanting landscape that characterizes the 23 km of the cycle path winding through the valley. This stretch is famous for its vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see and for the gentle hills dotted with apricot trees, locally known as “marillen.”

The route ends in Melk, where a unique experience awaits us: the Benedictine Abbey made famous by Umberto Eco's novel "The Name of the Rose."

After exploring the Wachau Valley (just over two hours of easy cycling round trip), we set off towards Salzburg, arriving in the afternoon. We take advantage of the remaining time to visit the historic center of this enchanting city, famous for its timelessly charming baroque buildings. Strolling through the cobbled streets and picturesque squares, we will literally travel back in time, with the possibility of visiting splendid palaces, such as Salzburg Cathedral or Mozart's birthplace.

The nightlife is extensive: Salzburg is full of typical venues where you can enjoy tastings or relax with live music. A final stroll before bed will be the perfect dessert for this day.

For those wanting to extend the journey by a day, you might decide to stay in Salzburg for an extra night. You’d have plenty of things to visit during your extra day, starting with the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress that overlooks the city from above.

3) Lake Mondsee – Hallstatt – Zell am See

Day three of our journey promises plenty of adventures and exciting discoveries, guaranteed by some of Austria's iconic destinations.

The day begins with a pleasant breakfast on the shores of the picturesque Lake Mondsee, an enchanting spot where we can enjoy local delicacies surrounded by the magnificent scenery of one of Austria's most beautiful lakes.

After breakfast, we set off towards Hallstatt, a gem nestled among Austria’s mountains. On the way, we'll pass through the city of Bad Ischl, designated the European Capital of Culture for 2024. This spa town captivates visitors with its elegant architecture and pampers them with its world-famous thermal springs. If you're looking for relaxation, you might decide to spend the rest of the day here, indulging in the thermal baths and spas hidden in the heart of the Austrian Alps. If, however, you're still feeling energetic and seeking adventure, close your eyes and head straight for Hallstatt!

Hallstatt is a small Austrian village situated on the shores of Lake Hallstatter See, in the heart of the Salzburg Alps. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, this enchanted village is famous for its unmistakable wooden houses overlooking the water, creating a fairy-tale atmosphere. Here, we can have a unique experience by visiting its famous salt mines, one of the most iconic attractions in the region. These mines, which have been in operation for over 7,000 years, offer a fascinating journey through time, showcasing the history of the salt trade and the extraction techniques used over the centuries. The visit to the salt mines usually takes about 2.5 hours and provides an educational and fun experience for the whole family. It’s important to note that children under the age of 4 are not allowed to enter.

After exploring the salt mines, we continue our journey to Zell am See, another picturesque mountain town located on the shores of a crystal-clear alpine lake. With its breathtaking landscape, Zell am See promises to be an unforgettable, albeit brief, stop on our Austrian journey.

4) The Kaisertal Valley – Innsbruck

After a refreshing night in Zell am See, we prepare for an exciting hike along the “Legends Trail.”

Starting from the charming town of Kufstein, which is worth a visit for its picturesque historic center and splendid fortress, we enter the Kaisertal Valley, often considered the most beautiful valley in Austria.

The trek we propose immerses you in the pristine nature of the Austrian Alps. You can choose between a shorter route lasting about 3.5 hours or a more challenging 7-hour option, depending on your preferences and fitness level.

Along the trail, we will have the opportunity to admire majestic Alpine peaks, traverse untouched forests, and discover ancient paths rich in history and legendary anecdotes. There will also be numerous opportunities to stop and refuel at the many alpine huts we’ll encounter, providing an unforgettable experience in the wild nature of the Austrian Alps.

After completing our trek, we continue our journey to Innsbruck, the “Capital of the Alps.” The day will have taken quite a bit of our energy. A quick dinner and then straight to bed, as tomorrow will be another busy day!

5) Innsbruck – Top of Tyrol

Day five of our journey begins in the lively city of Innsbruck. Looking around, you’ll quickly understand why it’s considered the “Capital of the Alps”: towering peaks surround the city, providing unique vistas from every street and square. While Innsbruck is renowned for its numerous winter activities that animate the entire valley (a true must), it offers much more than that.

The city is a true hub of art and culture, providing magnificent surprises for enthusiasts and certainly capturing the attention of even the most casual observers. Just a few steps in the city center will make this evident.

To experience this firsthand, start your day by visiting Ambras Castle, the first museum in the world, which houses an extensive collection of artworks, ancient weapons, and historical curiosities. The regal atmosphere and majestic architecture of the castle transport us back in time, offering a glimpse into Austria’s glorious history.

If you’re a fan of gems and sparkling creations, head to the town of Wattens (a few minutes by car) to visit the famous Swarovski Kristallwelten, a unique experience that will immerse you in the magical world of crystals. Through innovative and fascinating artistic installations, we will discover the creativity and ingenuity behind these glittering works of art.

For nature and adventure lovers, a visit to the Top of Tyrol is a must. From Innsbruck, in just over an hour (about 45 km), you’ll reach the Stubai Valley. To enter this beautiful region, there is a toll of €2.50, but we assure you it’s worth it!

>There you’ll find a free parking area. Taking the funicular from the Eisgrat station, you will find yourself at about 2,900 meters altitude, from where a cable car will take you up to the platform at an altitude of 3,210 meters. A few more steps and you’ll be on one of the most beautiful panoramic platforms in the world. From here, you can admire over 100 peaks, mainly belonging to the Stubai Alps and the Dolomites.

From here, with a short walk, you can also reach a nearby small chapel. On the way down with the cable car, you can stop to visit the stunning ice caves.

After an intense day of exploration, we’ll return to Innsbruck, where we can conclude the day by immersing ourselves in the lively atmosphere of the historic center, enjoying traditional Tyrolean dishes in one of the city's many cozy restaurants, or taking a romantic stroll through the historic center.

6) Hohe Tauern – Großglockner

Starting to feel a bit tired? We’re only halfway through our journey, so there’s no time to be weary! There are still many breathtaking scenes and spectacular alpine landscapes awaiting us, beginning with today’s adventure. Let’s set our course for the Hohe Tauern National Park.

As the name suggests, this mountain range, located between Carinthia, Tyrol, and Salzburg, offers epic views of majestic peaks and secret valleys, beautifully shaped by ancient glaciers, some of which are still active, like the Pasterze.

There are numerous places to visit here, presenting an overwhelming array of choices. From ancient alpine huts to picturesque villages, the trails are plentiful.

The Hohe Tauern (their original name) feature some of the highest peaks in the country, but the undisputed king of this massif is certainly the Großglockner, Austria’s tallest mountain.

Fortunately, this is a road trip, and you have a vehicle at your disposal. This is also where you’ll find one of the world’s most beautiful scenic roads: 48 kilometers and 36 hairpin bends through a landscape of rare beauty, constantly overshadowed by the imposing Großglockner, which towers at 3,798 meters. Welcome to the Großglockner High Alpine Road.

Along the way, we’ll have the opportunity to admire crystal-clear lakes, ancient glaciers, and a variety of alpine flora and fauna. This masterpiece of road engineering was inaugurated in 1935 and has been declared a national monument since 2015.

After indulging in the mountain air, both for the car and on foot, it’s time to head home. But where? We’re heading towards the picturesque town of Lienz, located right at the foot of these mountains. Here, we can relax and recharge after a rather strenuous day, enjoying the tranquility and authentic atmosphere of this alpine locality.

If time and energy permit, we can take a stroll along the banks of the Isel River or explore the historic center with its charming medieval streets. Then it’s off to bed.

7) Katschberg

If the night was restorative, then you already know that today promises many thrills, starting with a picturesque breakfast on the shores of Lake Millstatt. We are officially in Carinthia. Let's enjoy the relaxation and the splendid view of the crystal-clear waters surrounded by mountains.

After breakfast, and perhaps a short lakeside stroll warmed by the early rays of sun, we set off towards the charming region of Katschberg.

If you're traveling during the Christmas season, you're in luck! You'll have the opportunity to take part in a truly magical experience: the "Advent Trail." This is a fascinating journey through enchanted landscapes and snowy forests, immersed in the most authentic Christmas spirit. You'll walk from barn to barn accompanied by the sound of alpine horns, ride horse-drawn sleighs, listen to Christmas stories inside cabins warmed by the fire, and admire the most traditional Christmas craftsmanship.

In short, it's a unique experience for everyone, young and old alike. So, what are you waiting for? Book your spot now!

In the evening, you can stay at one of the many lodges in the area, completing the mountain experience, cocooned under warm blankets and surrounded by the scent of wood.

8) Villach and Wörthersee

"Dear diary, this week has been full of emotions; I wish this journey never ends..."

This is what you'll find yourself writing, illuminated by the soft light of a candle, in your travel diary. But don't despair, there are still three days of pure excitement left!

You may have noticed since yesterday that this area is dotted with many bodies of water. Carinthia is indeed famous for its numerous lakes: there are over 1200 of them. Some of these lakes, like the one we're heading to, are so clean that their water is drinkable, and where the water can reach temperatures of up to 28 degrees Celsius.

Our first stop of the day takes us to the charming town of Villach, less than 1 hour away, where we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the peaceful rhythm of this enchanting locale. As a spa town and a crossroads of every journey in Carinthia, from here, it's easy to explore several lakes.

What we suggest is taking a small detour to the right and driving along the Villach Alpine Road, a scenic route of about 16 km that leads to the top of Mount Dobratsch. It's considered one of the most beautiful roads in Austria, and once you reach the top, you can visit a botanical garden, go for hikes, or simply stop to admire the breathtaking landscape.

It's time to move on, everyone on board! We descend back to Villach and cover the few kilometers that separate us from our next stop, the beautiful Lake Wörthersee. This crystal-clear body of water is a gem nestled among the mountains of Carinthia and offers plenty of water and non-water sports activities.

The lakeside is dotted with exclusive venues, dream accommodations, and quality restaurants. We can look forward to an afternoon of relaxation, finally!

As for the night, our recommendation is to reach the city of Graz, from where it will be easier to reach the next stops of our journey. The capital of Styria welcomes you with its unique mix of history, culture, and modernity. A charming old town, characterized by narrow medieval streets and beautiful squares, hosts some magnificent historic buildings.

9) Admont Abbey and Gesäuse National Park

Good morning from Styria! Our ninth day of travel in Austria starts from Graz, the country's second-largest city. After a hearty breakfast, we set off towards Admont Abbey, located about an hour and a half's drive from the city.

Admont Abbey is a true Baroque gem dating back to 1776. The monastery library attached to the abbey is the largest in the world, with a collection of over 70,000 volumes, along with magnificent frescoes, sculptures, and exquisite furnishings.

After visiting the abbey, we head towards Gesäuse National Park, a protected area of ​​great natural beauty just a few minutes from the abbey. Here, we can immerse ourselves in pristine nature, among lush forests, imposing mountains, and rushing waterfalls. A hike along one of the park's trails is a must.

In the afternoon, we return to Graz. Before dinner, we take a stroll through the city's historic center and admire its Baroque and Gothic buildings. We conclude the day beautifully with a typical dinner in one of the city's many restaurants.

10) Graz – Lurgrotte Peggau

It's finally our last day in Austria! We wake up in Graz with a hint of nostalgia but also with the desire to fully experience this last day. Our first stop is the Universalmuseum Joanneum, a museum complex that includes 19 museums dedicated to various disciplines, including art, natural history, technology and humanities, as well as a zoo. There's plenty to choose from!

In the afternoon, we head towards the Lurgrotte Peggau, a system of limestone caves located a few kilometers from Graz. Exploring among stalactites and stalagmites, we can explore one of the largest cave systems in Austria. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket!

In the evening, we return to Vienna, where our return flight awaits. Before saying goodbye, we want to thank you for following us on this road trip to discover Austria. We hope that our stories have inspired you and convinced you to follow our advice.

See you on the next trip!