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Driving a Van in Austria

Hello. We will be in Austria in late July and will be driving part of the time. We are a group of 8 adults.

  1. Have any of you ever driven a 9 person van on the Grossglockner High Alpine road? I'm wondering if we should rent two cars instead. (we won't be driving in cities, so I think the van will be ok everywhere else).

  2. I read this in another topic: "Switzerland and Austria also have tolls on Autoroutes/Autobahns, but you pay by time (per week, month or year) by buying a "Vignette" which is a sticker you attached to your windscreen." Does that mean that it doesn't matter how much you drive on toll roads? It will cost the same no matter where you drive? Will the rental company just charge a vignette charge based on how long we have the car?

Thank you.

Posted by
7164 posts

You pay a one time charge for the vignette and then you can drive as much as you want. You don’t have to pay for additional tolls.

Will you be traveling with 8 adults and luggage??? That’s too much for a single vehicle.

Posted by
43 posts

Please see the link below for the vignette. Go to "General Information" and open the pdf to view a map of all roads covered by the vignette. There are also specific tolls to cover specific sections for tunnels/bridges.

asfinag

If renting a vehicle in Austria, the vignette should be provided by the rental company. If renting outside of Austria, a vignette must be purchased and attached to the windshield before entering Austria. They can be purchased at any gas station while approaching Austria or at the border.

If a US citizen, you will also need an International Drivers' Permit for each person that will drive in Austria. The IDP can be purchased at AAA.

I have driven the Grossglockner 3 times but always with a car. I can't imagine a van not being able to make the trip. I would consult with rental company. If you will be visiting the Pasterze Glacier, the parking garage might be a problem with the van. You might have to park in the open air areas and walk to the glacier viewing area. It is not that far but something to have researched before arriving.

Austria is a beautiful country.

Posted by
604 posts

The Grossglockner Strasse cost euro 37 for a car in 2019 (one day). Driving a van should be no problem as tour busess drive the road. There are additional toll charges beyond the Autobahn Vignette in some places too, like the Brenner Pass and many small mountain roads. As stated the van may be an few cm. too high to go into many park garages, but that would be mostly in cities.

Posted by
463 posts

A van may hold 9 people, but if everybody has full baggage you would need a small truck as well :-)

Posted by
1280 posts

For driving mountain roads you are better off with a stick shift.

Posted by
8889 posts

If a US citizen, you will also need an International Drivers' Permit for each person that will drive in Austria.

Pedantically, not quite correct. Your citizenship is irrelevant, if your licence is issued by a non-European country, you need an IDP for Austria. A US citizen living in Austria, or any other European country with a licence issued by that country does not need an IDP.

Does that mean that it doesn't matter how much you drive on toll roads? It will cost the same no matter where you drive?

Yes, with proviso stated above, some Austrian Autobahn have extra tolls. And a car rented in Austria will probably already have an annual Austrian Vignette.

Posted by
43 posts

For driving mountain roads you are better off with a stick shift.

Yeah, I wanted to mention that. The Grossglockner has a lot of switchbacks and slow speed turns which is why I mentioned discussing with the rental company. Also, there are many cyclists on the road and if you are not used to this environment then a van might be a bit cumbersome.

Posted by
7579 posts

Why is a stick shift preferable in the mountains?

Posted by
23365 posts

Why is a stick shift preferable in the mountains?

Engine braking slows the car going down steep or long downhills instead of and in combination with the brakes so there is less chance of the brakes overheating and losing their ability to brake. You get a much better engine braking with a manual transmission than an automatic. Go down the mountain in the same gear you would have gone up for that slope.

The very best braking which doesn't overheat brakes is electrical regeneration where instead of the motor turning the wheels the wheels turn the engine acting as a generator and refilling the batteries. Not many cars have that yet though. It is why Formula 1 cars can stop so well now, and how they recharge the electric part of the powertrain.

Posted by
23365 posts

The toll for the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is above and beyond the Vignette. So is the Brenner autobahn and the autobahn through the Alps on the western end of the route to Switzerland (the Arlberg Tunnel at St Anton). You have to pay extra for all of those.

Posted by
9 posts

Thanks again for all of the responses. I'm fine with driving a van, and I can drive a stick. I was concerned about the van being able to make the sharp turns. Now I'm more concerned with the luggage. That's the only day that we'll be driving with luggage, so I thought that we could squeeze it in, but I'm also concerned about having a big pile of luggage in the van while it's parked. I was thinking we could cover it with a sheet, but now I'm thinking that two cars with trunks might be better.

Posted by
1152 posts

Austria is relatively crime free so leaving the luggage unattended would not be my main concern. Having enough room for the luggage would be a concern.