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Travel in Austria

We will be traveling through Austria in late September and October by car. We will be staying in the Innsbruck area and want to drive to Graz, after which we will drive through to the Hallstatt- Salzkammergut area. We have 2-3 weeks to do this. We are not big city people. But my wife did like Graz from the pictures. We really want to see beautiful country and experience the small town markets and culture. We are 65 and are not into extensive hiking or mountain climbing. With this in mind, We can drive to Mayrhofen and take road 165 and either road 168 to Zell or 108 to Lienz through to Spittal, Villach, Klagenfurt, Graz. I will save our Salzkammergut for a later message. I would appreciate any advise. Earl

Posted by
703 posts

we have driven on some of the roads mentioned and about 2 weeks ago we drove from Berchtesgaden ( germany) via Innsbruck to Oetz, just west of Innsbruck ( great waterfall - Stuibenfall nearby in Umhausen, by the way)
there are so many nice towns and great scenery in Austria. we drove through and stopped briefly at Lienz. ( not really a 'cute' small town as such, from what we saw)
we did spend time ( not enough) in ramsau am Dachstein and drove through some very pretty small towns nearby. Filzmoos and Grobming, to name a few. the scenery( with the mountains) while driving in that area is fantastic.
consider going to der dachstein cable car ( if you are in the area)
I wish I knew more about the general area myself as we would like to return, it seems to have so much to offer. however it is difficult to find 'great' small towns worth visiting when only looking at maps etc.
we have stayed in hallstatt before and while it is beautiful be prepared for tourists, lots of tourists.

Posted by
1240 posts

If based in Innsbruck, I would delve a little into the bottom end of Bavaria if you've never visited that part of the world before. Within easy reach are Linderhof and Ettal Abbey, the villages of Mittenwald and Oberammergau, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the lovely, small town of Murnau and it's pleasant neighbour Seehausen a bit further up the road. Easy walking around Murnau (moors) and the Seehausen waterfront, around lake Kochel, and Leutaschklamm Gorge south of Mittenwald (much easier on the knees than the two gorges around Garmisch). Vipiteno, a tad south in Italy, is a very pretty town.
Years since I was in Innsbruck but I remember enjoying it. A nice core and riverside, a pleasant city park. There is a well reviewed Alpine zoo, I don't know if it existed when I was there, Schloss Ambras is very much worth a visit, as is the charmingly decorated Schloss Tratzberg to the east. Villages east of Innsbruck I can recommend are Hall in Tirol (a great little place), Alpbach (not much going on here but a fairly easy walk on the main street surrounded by mountain scenery), Kitzbuhel, Zell am See (easy walking around the lake), and the little visited town of Kufstein (historic core and imposing fortress).
Never made it to Graz but I heard every second child looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Posted by
1518 posts

It is very difficult to tell where to go and what to see, because this is a matter of individual preferences.

But what I can say definitely is that you should consult a map of Austria, mark your points of interest, and select then a route in forward direction to minimze driving time.

E.g. the Salzkammergut (Hallstatt etc.) is somewhat halfway between Innsbruck and Graz. So driving from Innsbruck to Graz and later back to the Salzkammergut - as you suggested - is not a reasonable itinerary.

Posted by
33 posts

We have visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald, and Oberammergau before. Garmisch is an amazing town. On one day we went up the Zutspitze and down to the Eibsee. Those people do not know how lucky they are. Mittenwald is also amazing. We plan to be in Europe for 6 weeks. We have never visited the southern portion of Austria. It seems like every town is beautiful. Most Americans are fixated on Switzerland. We plan to start our trip there in early September because my wife has always wanted to go there. For me, Austria is a hidden treasure. The views are spectacular, the people are unbelievably friendly, the land is so clean. But as I said in my earlier message, we are 65 and we do not know how much longer we can do this. The last time we went to Austria, we happened upon a festival in Kitzbuhel. Everyone in their local dress. I don't know if there were any other Americans. But we felt like we were on top of the world. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. If there is a heaven, it is Austria. We went to Hallstatt. We were staying in Grodig, south of Salzburg. But we got caught in huge rainstorm on the way back and did not get to see the countryside. We want to go back. Like all tourists, we bought some salt. But when we got home, everyone liked it so much, they bummed it from us. So we want to buy some more. The real secret in Austria is a sparkling water named, Romerquelle.
It is not sold in the States. It is like a drug. So thanks for the advise. Earl

Posted by
33 posts

The reason we are traveling to Graz and back to the Salzkammergut is that we are planning to fly back to the States from Munich. We also want to spend some time in Regensburg, before flying home. I heard that it is a beautiful city, untouched by the war. Earl

Posted by
781 posts

I have traveled in Austria quite a bit and love it,you might consider the Grossglockner road fron Zell am See to Lienz or in reversre,it is a very scenic drive best done on a clear day.Small towns in the Salzkammergut area worth visiting or staying in are St Wolfgang,St Gilgen and Bad Ischl to name my favorites.St Wolfgang has a cog rail to the top of a mountain with beautiful views.I would also recommend Dachstein with its cable car to the five fingers and the ice caves.
Mike

Posted by
703 posts

if you have 6 weeks, have you considered going to berchtesgaden ( just south of salzburg)? yes its germany and not austria, but the area has LOTS to offer.( including pretty towns, great scenery, ice caves, salt mines, therme/spa etc) And not far from were you will be.

Posted by
4696 posts

Graz and the region of Styria (Steiermark in German) is an overlooked but lovely area of Austria. I am American, but my grandfather is from a village in Styria. As we now live in Vienna, we visit this area more than your usual Rick Steves person.

I would recommend a stay in the southern Styrian countryside. Perhaps somewhere on the wine route? - https://www.steiermark.com/en/styria/destinations-for-day-trips/southern-styria-wine-road_p482125

I highly recommend a visit to the Zotter Chocolate Factory - it is like no other place. They also have a lovely garden. You should visit nearby Riegersburg Castle - http://www.riegersburg.com/ - which is a stunning fortress built on an extinct volcano.

Also in Styria consider staying in the Loipersdorf area - a thermal region very famous for their spas and treatments.

Styria is known for its apples and pumpkinseed oil. You will be in the area at exactly the right time for this harvest, so be on the lookout for roadside stands.

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you for all of the great information. Earl

Posted by
1240 posts

Sorry if I am going off track, Earl, but Emily, if you are still there?
I've read about lots of places being compared to more illustrious places (Colmar as Little Venice, for example) - how is the scenery in southern Styria compared to Tuscany, if you have been to the latter? My wife and I almost visited Styria a couple of years ago but decided on Alsace instead, not that we regretted it.

Posted by
12964 posts

If you have the time to see both places, I would recommend Graz and Bad Ischl, have been to both, Bad Ischl twice (interesting if you're in Habsburg history), and returning to Graz is in the works since I didn't see enough of the city.

Posted by
4696 posts

Still here - I've been to Tuscany and Southern Styria. Architecture is different, so no hilltop towns like you have in Tuscany. But Southern Styria is known for its rolling hills, warmer microclimate and wines, similar to Tuscany in that regard. Similar but different.

Posted by
1240 posts

Thanks for the information Emily. No Tuscan hill towns in Styria, I may have to reconsider..............