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Austria this fall

We are planning a trip to Austria this fall, and would love to hear your favorite place/s. We are wide open to ideas.
We will have 2-3 weeks to explore.
Love the mountains & lakes.
Have visited Vienna & Salzburg....maybe Innsbruck this time???

Danke shoen-

Posted by
694 posts

I love Innsbruck and the area around it. And it is central to lots of great Alpine/Tirolian stuff.

You will have a great trip!

Within 2 hours you have:

1) the Ziller valley with its own train going up to the south end at Mayrhofen.

2) the Stubai Valley which has its bus line leaving from in front of the Innsbruck Bahnhof.

3) 90 minutes by train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Zugspitze (tallest mountain in Germany with a cog railway or gondola to the top). You can also use it as a base to roam farther into southernmost Germany.

4) 2 hours across the Brenner Pass into the Dolomite Alps and Bolzano (home of Otzi the 5,000 year old "Ice Man").

5) 90 minutes west to the highest of the Austrian Alps at St Anton am Arlberg.... with chair lifts that go up to 3,000 meters.

Posted by
2966 posts

I really enjoyed Innsbruck. We were just there for 2 nights for the Christmas markets, but hope to go back for some easily accessible hiking, which is what really sets it apart. Being in the city center to the top of a mountain via public transit in less than 30 minutes is astonishing!

Posted by
823 posts

Hall in Tirol, just up the road/train-line from Innsbruck, is a really quaint and picturesque city It might make a good home-base versus the hustle and bustle of Innsbruck.

Right up the road is Swarovski Crystal World (Kristallwelten). It's a bit touristy but we found it interesting and worthwhile.

Further to the east along B171 is the town of Rattenberg. This little old-world town on the Inn River is a hub of glass blowing and crystal cutting (by hand).

Zell am See is a ski town on the banks of sizable lake. The marketplatz is really nice and there are ski lifts originating right in town which take hikers up into the mountains in the summer.

Posted by
834 posts

When in Fall? Mountain lifts and lake boats may not be running and seasonal hotels, Alms etc. closed (quiet time). Late November into December and you are butting into ski season and snow in higher elevations.

Posted by
110 posts

Danke for great suggestions/leads.

Sept 20 (arrive Sept 21) - Oct 11

Sept 21
Train- MUC to Innsbruck for a few days
Sept 24
Pick up rental car-hit the road- climb every mountain/forge every stream & lake

Oct 10
drop rental car in Salzburg (drop-off fee is $30, as opposed to $300. at MUC) then train to Halbergmoos/MUC area/hotel for Oct 11 flight

Or.... pick up rental car MUC to MUC???

Your thoughts???


Posted by
3252 posts

Timeframe: Sept 20 (arrive Sept 21) - Oct 11 Reno-Munich-Reno

Possibly..... Sept 21 Train- MUC to Innsbruck for a few days Sept 24
Pick up rental car-hit the road- climb every mountain/forge every
stream & lake

Oct 10 drop rental car in Salzburg (drop-off fee is $30, as opposed
to $300. at MUC) then train to Halbergmoos/MUC area/hotel for Oct 11

Or.... pick up rental car MUC to MUC???

Your thoughts???


Do you wish to skip Vienna? The heuriger is such a treat.

Posted by
110 posts

Yes, will skip beautiful Vienna & the fun heuringer/wine taverns, as we were there 2012.

Posted by
958 posts

If near Innsbruck, and if this interests you, look for dates for the annual Viehscheid or Almabtrieb when the cattle return from the mountains for the winter. I was able to catch a parade in Mutters outside Innsbruck a few years ago during late September. You can look for dates now, but more, and more local, dates/locales will be posted over the interim time.

Posted by
834 posts

With the car the Kärnten lakes region is nice (Millstätter See, Wörthersee etc). Too late for swimming I think, but great fresh lake fish for dinner (Saiblinge, Hecht)! If you can take the car into Italy, you might consider Südtirol Dolomites in the Pustertal (Drei Zinnen) then towards Sankt Ulrich and the Seiseralm (Schlern) too.

Posted by
613 posts

For a driving trip, the Michelin Green Guide is essential. It has maps laying out the location of what is worth seeing and recommended routes (I always use the maps, but usually ignore their route in favor of my own which I put tegether from their basic waht to see map).

If you drive in from another country, you must buy a window sticker to drive in Austria (technically, only for the expressways, but you will need them).

Plan two itineraries, one for good (natural sights) weather, one for bad weather (cites, museums, quaint towns).

With that much time, you can do something very unique, visit the Klienewastertal, An Austrian mountain valley (tal) that is only accessible by a three day hike over the mountains from Austria or by road from Germany,

Visit lots of pastry shops and eat cake. Austrian cake is very different from US style cake, which we don't eat anymore.

Don't make advanced room reservations. The country is full of small family owned inns, most with restaurants-- real home cooking.. Standards are very high, so we never worry about whether or not the room etc will be OK. It always is. Don't know if they still do it, but all hotels were rated * to ***** by the government, ratings that mainly reflected the level of amenities. * is pretty basic, but cheap. We usually stayed at *** which were about equal to a Best Western in the USA.

The little places offer a chance for an experience. Some examples: 8 rooms, a bar & restaurant. After diner, went in the bar and joined the natives in singing folk songs until 2:00 am when the band went home. How to sing folk songs in Austria or Germany: the tune is easy to pick up. All the lyrics can be done as la La La elc

Off season at a ski resort. We were the only hotel customers. When we went down to the empty restaurant for diner, the proprietor invited us to join the family for their daughter's 16th birthday party & celebratory diner.

Off season at a ski resort. Noisy music at midnight. Called the desk & asked when it would stop. The desk said, "it's a wedding reception. Come on down and join the party and we did, (in our PJ's), being welcomed like long lost family members.

The morning after I met Soviet Premier Gorbachev late at night on a dark and foggy street, the hotel proprietor joined us (me and spouse, not me and Gorby) for breakfast and spent 45 minutes regaling us with anti-Russian Austrian jokes.

A small bar in small hotel in the middle of nowhere near the Iron Curtain. A guy comes up to me and says, "Excuse me, but are you a real American?"
I said, "Yes"
He says, "I'm a retired Soviet Intelligence Officer. My job was to eavesdrop on US Air Force communications and analyze them for military significance, but I never met a real American. May I touch you?"

Forget guide book recommended hotels. They are going to be geared toward America tourists and likely full of the same. Venture out into real Austria, and who knows what might happen?

Posted by
4637 posts

KB - unfortunately times have changed. Finding Zimmer Frei (free rooms) while stopping in a town isn’t really much of a thing anymore. Everyone uses Airbnb or rents rooms on the web now. The vignette isn’t a window sticker anymore, it’s digital.

Going back to the OP’s question, I would highly recommend considering the area around Graz. It is magical in the fall with the apple and grape harvest. Excellent spas, rolling hills, castles, chocolate.

Posted by
502 posts

If your rental car segment takes you into the Salzkammergut you might enjoy visiting the Basilika St. Michael in Mondsee. You probably know that the SOM wedding scene was filmed there, not in Salzburg. The town of Mondsee, at the north end of the lake, is an easy 20 minutes (east) of Salzburg and puts you in position for the beautiful drive to St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang and the Wolfgangsee. The Basilika is an eyeful in its own right.

Posted by
2712 posts
Posted by
110 posts

Danke, many fabulous suggestions/links.....keep 'em coming, bitte.

We will pick up rental car upon arrival at MUC, head towards Innsbruck.....19 days later head to MUC from Salzburg area.

Will make reservations the first night (wiill try to find someplace easy and relaxing after our long trip ) & last night (somewhere near MUC)

Like to stay 3-4 nights per stop.

Will research hotels/gasthofs prior to trip & visit the Information Centers.
2-3*, cozy gasthof/small hotels.....need mountain/lake view mit balcony.

Loose itinerary:
*Innsbruck valleys/mountains southwest/southeast *.
(Are Innsbruck & Hall "must sees"?)

Zell am See

Probably will not get to Carinthia/Kärnten
nor Dolomiti this time. Have enjoyed previous visits.

Will be in search of the beautiful cows.


Posted by
834 posts

Been there done that no Kärnten or Dolomiti. Some of my favorites and wish list.... Take a look at Achensee at the north end of the Zillertal and the town of Pertisau for a base. I take family here. Lots of accommodation choices to choose from. Mountains and lake.

From Berwang (Zugspitz Arena), west into the Lechtal south could be interesting. I've stayed in Berwang and enjoyed it (Hotel Witt Quiet ski area, but no old town to speak of. I've seen some of the Lechtal and will revisit.

The Silbertal in west Austria might be worth your time. Never stayed here, but have bought Enzianbrand/schnaps there Think I'll try to stay there someday. Tried once but was already booked for the summer.

Webcam looks good here at the Zirbenhof and I want to visit and stay. Heiligenblut and yes in Kärnten region again:

I've never stayed here, but I tracked it down from an old Rick Steve's' video south of Salzburg. They have two holiday apartments:

Posted by
836 posts

Hello Patsy:

During your trip, budget some buffer time. Late Sept-early Oct is when the season changes. Fall can be beautiful but Tyrolean weather is very fickle. It may be rainy. Road closures due to construction/repairs can happen before it snows. Traffic jam is common, because their highways are usually single or double-laned. Food in Tirol is great, but I think haxe is better on the German side.

I was going to mention the challenges of driving on slippery roads in the mountains. But you have lots of experience in this because you live in Tahoe Vista. I enjoyed Tirol very much last year. I spent 10 days in late May-early June and experienced all four seasons.

Your neighbor in the Bay Area

Posted by
836 posts

Hello again Patsy:

I read your earlier post about the concern for renting a car in Europe. I am now suggesting that it's perfectly fine to explore the region without a rental car. It's because driving in the mountains (and likely in unpredictable weather), finding parking spots, paying for parking, wasting time getting lost, getting stuck in traffic...etc. really burned me and my spouse out last year.

In addition, there are scams by rental car companies, big and small alike. Last year, we rented a car from Enterprise and had a horrible experience with the grumpy and deceitful staff. We were both Executive Elite members but didn't get any nice treatment. They told us that our US elite status didn't matter because they were just a franchise in Europe. Also, they gave us a car with engine issues and refused to provide roadside assistance that we paid for. Subsequently, we had to drive 100 miles (not 100 km) to get our car fixed, wasting 1/2 day of our precious time. They didn't refund us half a day's worth of the rental cost, though they did reimburse us for the repair cost. Upon returning the car, the staff didn't give us a receipt certifying that we didn't damage the car. He claimed that their printer was not functioning. We immediately smelled a rat, as we have heard of innocent American tourists being accused of causing hundreds, if not thousands, of $ worth of damage AFTER they return to the US. It was through lots of phone calls with National in the US and our credit card companies on the spot, as well as our tenacity, that we fought off their attempt to trick us.

I have used National for a long time in the US and never thought that their European franchisee could be THIS bad. I have read many, many similar stories with major car rental companies in Europe. Some people may have a good experience, but mine was just terrible.

So, if you are apprehensive about renting a car in Europe, then just enjoy their excellent public transit and free yourself from trouble.

Posted by
1463 posts

Knock on wood, I never had a problem with a rental car company in Europe, but I always went to one of the big players, as Hertz, Avis, Sixt, etc., being aware that there are cheaper offerings by smaller companies. There are some Internet portals for comparing rental car prices between different companies, but take the results with a grain of salt.

Posted by
110 posts

Our rental car company is Dollar, reserved through AutoEurope.

We've driven in Austria 5 times, and have always forgotten to purchase a vignette. It is on our "to do" list once we enter Austria from Germany.
Do you feel the International Driver's License is necessary? Have always gotten one in the past.

Love all your ideas!!! Danke for taking the time to share....really appreciate it!

Working on Hall in Tirol as 1st stop for a couple days, then on to Zillertal or Stubaital, before heading east.
Love researching the trip....makes it last so much longer!

Gute Nacht from beautiful Tahoe.

Posted by
4637 posts

Patsy, if you drive on an Austrian highway without a vignette, you would have received a fine. Detection is automatic by cameras. My guess is that your cars came with a vignette affixed already.

As for the IDP, it is required by law in Austria for foreign drivers. If you were in an accident or if you were stopped by the police without an IDP, you’d be found to be driving illegally and would have major issues with the authorities.

Posted by
782 posts

There are some great suggestions here already, so I'm only going to add this: south of Innsbruck is Otztal; from there you can drive up the valley to Hochgurgl, which is a local ski area on the Italian boarder. It's a beautiful drive and not well known in mainstream tourist circles. There are loads of trails and picturesque villages, and I've easily spent 3-4 days at a time in the valley. The next valley over, which goes up to Weisswald, is even less traveled and just as pretty.

Posted by
110 posts

We are off to Austria.... vielen danke for ALL your wonderful suggestions. Can’t wait to see where our travel gods take us!!
Patsy & Larry

Posted by
27425 posts

be sure to write it up and share when you return...

Posted by
2955 posts


Thanks for posting this. I'm thinking about a fall 2020 trip to Austria and hope you will post a trip report when you return. Thanks, too, to all those who responded on this thread. I learned a ton and now have a lot of research to do!

Posted by
110 posts

Guten nacht-

Have enjoyed our stay in quant Hall in Tirol at Gasthof Badl/walking Gnadenwald-St Michael area-gorgeous views!… may be off to Zillertal region tomorrow. Does anyone love the area… suggestions for lodging/hiking/biking?

Danke shoen-

Posted by
834 posts

Consider Achensee just North of the Zillertal. Weather looks good today (rain tomorrow). Take the gondola up the Rofan in Maurach. Walk to the Dalfaz Alm from the gondola on top. Stay in Pertisau. Hotel Post am See is nice. Landhaus Achental is good too if you can get a room. The walk from Pertisau to the Gaisalm along the lake is nice. You can take the boat back. Bike into the National Park from Pertisau.

Posted by
17 posts

Excellent suggestions so far.....

Based on my receipt trip (Aug/Sep 2019):
We stayed in Seefeld (30 min north of Innsbruck). Loved it.
from there, Mittenwald (Germany) is a 15 min drive - please go there!
Achenzee was amazing
Other places:
Postalm - park your car and walk in ANY direction, stop at little huts/houses and have fresh buttermilk/coffee/cake. We planned to go for an hour, landed up roaming for 4 hrs! heavenly.
Lakes district, we stayed at Sankt Gilgen, a gorgeous town on the shores of Wolfgangzee. Town where Mozart's mother was born. Food is great, impromptu concerts in town square.
Do plan for weather - we went from warm sunny 85F to bone chilling cold and rain overnight. Had to make a quick change of plan.
If you can factor it in, definitely drive down the Grossglockner High Alpine road. We drove down from St Gilgen through Grossglocker and spent a couple of nights in Lienz (surprisingly big but still lovely).
Drink all sorts of beer!
Avoid Hallstatt - VERY touristy!

Vignett - the rental car already had it. Didn't have to pay for it.
International Driving License - YES
Auto/Manual - we got a Manual. LOVED IT ! Especially Diesel - was super good on the slopes.

Posted by
110 posts

We’ve enjoyed 3 nights in lovely Pertisau...strolling in the rain, biking along the lake when dry. GORGEOUS!!
Wish we had another dry day to hike.

Raining again.…may head to Mayrhofen tomorrow for a few nights, then off to Zell am See.

Thanks for all the travel tips!! Danke!

Posted by
834 posts

When you get to Zeller See, the view of the Kizstenhorn on a good day from The Beach Club in Thumersbach is really nice. The small Kurpark Thumersbach is nice to stroll through there too. Can't be too much help in Mayrhofen as I have yet to overnight there and our day trips were in bad weather, so no big hiking or gondola up. Maybe you look at visiting The Hintertuxer Gletscher area while in Mayrhofen. Looks like the Hintertux Oktoberfest is 27-28 Sep with the return of the cattle from the Bichlalm pasture Saturday, 28th of Sep.

Posted by
110 posts

Thanks for the info on Zell am See!!

Mayrhofen was too busy for us.
Headed to Finkenberg/enjoying the gorgeous mountains-hiked to Mayrhofen-bused back.
May bike the Tux area tomorrow.
The cows come down Sat.