The Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria is a world class scenic drive where the route takes you from Lienz through Austria's largest alpine national park and the highest mountain in Austria.
The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a dramatic scenic drive and with over one million visitors annually, it is Austria's most visited tourist attraction after Schönbrunn Castle. By motor cycle, car, or bus you can also cover the Hohe Tauern National Park at the foot of The Grossglockner, Austria's highest mountain with a height of 3,798 m or 12,500 feet.
The scenic drive comes with continuous panoramic views and numerous information boards about the mountain locations and the history of the road and the flora and fauna of the region.
Roads are closed during the winter season until May
The route is 48 kilometers or 30 miles with 36 hairpin bends, ascending to 2,504 meters or 8,300 feet, with a scenic drive that takes a route through dramatic mountain landscapes filled with rugged mountains, ice flowering grasslands, dense forests, and a view of the Pasterzen Glacier.
The route begins in Lienz and goes north through the Hohe Tauern National Park and passes right under the highest mountains in Austria.
The curious traveler will want to stop off at the many pull offs to enjoy the view as the road crosses over the 2500 meter (8,300 feet) summit. Note that this is well above the snow line and in June, when the road has just been cleared, the snow is piled almost 15 feet deep alongside the road.
The most scenic part of the road is at Franz Joseph's Hohe, beneath the Grossglockner Mountain with views of the Pasterzen Glacier below.
As a diversion you can take the funicular railway down to where the glacier was in 1968, though the ice has receded since then and you can now take a steep hike down into the valley.
The beautiful mountains are snow capped throughout the year.
At times the drive can be difficult and you must exercise caution as you navigate the 36 hairpin turns and steep drops.
This is a toll road where you can expect tolls of €25 for a day pass.
Some of the highlights of the scenic drive includes the spur road to Edleweiss-Spitze, that overlooks the winding road up the alpine valley.
Take the spur to the visitor’s center at Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Hohe. The center is located below the Grossglockner mountain and offers an awesome vista of Pasterze Glacier. The center also provides information about the area including exhibits, video theatre, a cafe and a open view of the panoramic outdoor scenery.
Continue on the road into the valley below to the picturesque village of Heiligenblut. This charming village is the setting of a needle-spired church that houses a vial of Christ’s blood, along with a well maintained cemetery and a view of the surrounding mountains.
This is a great place to spend some extra time taking in the awesome beauty of the Grossglockner. If you choose to, there are campgrounds nearby to spend the night.