Innsbruck vs. Zell am see/Grossglockner

My husband and I are renting a car in Milan and doing a whirlwind, 7 day trip through parts of Austria/Germany/Switzerland in late May. We are planning to stay just one night in Austria, on our way to Munich, and I am struggling to decide: should we just drive to Innsbruck, check the city out, and go onward to Munich? Or should we drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road and spend the night in Zell am see? I wish we had time for both, but I just don't think we do. Anyone done both -- and what are the pros and cons of either? Thanks!

Posted by Marcus
Kansas City, United States
228 posts

Without question drive the Grossglockner, its absolutely gorgeous. Innsbruck has a nice small old town, but its really not that spectacular. Its basically a large city surrounded by mountains. By driving the Grossglockner you not only cross some of the most beautiful high alpine scenery in Austria, but some of the small towns you go through before and after the pass are great stop offs for a quick 30 minute wander. I haven't been to Zell am Zee, but I imagine it's equal to Innsbruck if not nicer. If you are heading from Italy I imagine that you'll be driving the Brenner. While you skirt the Dolomites you don't really see the most beautiful portion of them. Also the Brenner is notorious for its traffic jams. If you do do the Grossglockner and you're tight on time you can skip the Kaiser Franz Josefs Höhe detour. Honestly you'll see better glaciers in Switzerland and its a pretty long detour that's often crowded with cars.

Posted by Betty
Missouri City
232 posts

Agree with the two posters above -- Zell am See / Grossglockner are awesome while Innsbruck is just OK by comparison.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2725 posts

The Grossglockner High Alpine Highway goes through the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen, especially the are norht of Lienz, Austria (south side of the mountain). Depending where you start your day, it's an all day drive from Venice to Zell-am-Zee. Check online before you leave to make sure the road's open for the Summer.
I too absolutely love Tirol around Innsbruck. The mountain scenery around there's also great. Come to think about it, all of Austria's incredibly beautiful.

Posted by Jeff
Clinton, Iowa, USA
2 posts

I spent 2 weeks in Zell am See many moons ago. Great little town and if you want to see some nice waterfalls, stay there and go to Krimml Falls. Great to walk up and just beautiful.