In the Summer of 2016 we spent a week in Austria, during a 6 week European road trip. We had such a fun time, before this week we had only been to Austria in the snow, which is magical on its own. Below I give an itinerary for one week in Austria. Austria is a perfect country for road trips.
Where to start a week in Austria
We started our week in Austria in Breitenwang. It’s close to the German border and to Füssen, Germany. Füssen is home to the famous Neuschwanstein castle and the Hohenschwangau castle. Both are beautiful and both are among the fairytale castles in Europe, fairytale castles in Germany and fairytale castles in the World. After visiting both these castles, cross the border into Austria and make the short drive to Breitenwang.
Breitenwang is in the Austrian state of Tyrol, in the district of Reutte. We stayed at campsite Seespitze for one night. The weather was sadly not that great when we camped at Breitenwang, a lot of rain. But with better weather the campsite is ideal, it’s right on the Plansee, which has boat tours, fishing, diving and hiking around the lake. Further more with all the forest surrounding the lake there’s ample hiking and exploring opportunities here.
From the campsite there are several cool trips to be made. Next to the 2 castles mentioned earlier, in Germany, the Stuiben waterfalls are close by. Other fun things are the Walderlebniszentrum, castle museum Ehrenberg, grünes haus, burgenwelten Ehrenberg, castle Linderhof and Ettal Monastry. We opted to go to Highline179. Highline179 is a suspension bridge, it’s 406 meters in length and 114.60 meters long. They claim it’s the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge is open since November 2014.
Highline179 connects the castle ruins of Ehrenberg with Fort Claudia. The suspension bridge is surrounded by imposing mountain chains with a 360° panorama view, giving wonderful scenery from the bridge. The bridge has a narrow and open design. We had to stop Yuri from running on it, other people found this not so pleasant. He loved walking (running) on it. Paul and I loved the beautiful views. Since December 2014 the rope suspension bridge has a place in the Guinness Book of Records as “longest Tibet-style footbridge”. Their tagline is #view with a thrill. We loved visiting highline179 and it was a highlight of our week in Austria. A perfect break during a road trip with a kid, as is one of our tips for a road trip with a child.
Going deeper into Austria
After Highline179 we went deeper into Austria, but still staying in the state of Tyrol. Which is a beautiful state with lots of things to do and gorgeous nature to explore.
Our second stay was at Schloss campsite Aschach in Volders, close to Innsbruck. We stayed here for 3 nights. On the campsite was a swimming pool, an animation team and lots of friends to play with for Yuri. Luckily the weather had improved a lot since our start in Austria. From this campsite, you’re 15 minutes away from Innsbruck, which has a lot of activities. Further more in the near vicinity are lots of hiking routes ready for you to explore nature.
What are the popular excursion destinations in Tyrol’s Crystal Region? Well there’s the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Hall’s old town, the Mint museum, a Planetarium, Wolfsklamm (gorge), castle of Tratzberg, the upside-downhouse and Ambras castle. We visited the Alpenzoo in Innsbruck, which was 25 minutes by car.
The Alpine Zoo in Innsbruck is one of the largest zoo’s in Europe. They have over 2000 animals, from 150 species. All these animals are or were typical for the Alps. They’re one of a kind, since the Alpenzoo is the only zoo in the world devoted to Alpine wildlife.
From the zoo you have a spectacular view on Innsbruck, another good reason for visiting. The zoo is located on the slopes of a mountain, in line with the Alpine theme and giving perfect views of the surroundings. Seeing all different kinds of animals and in the mean time learning about Alpine nature is a fun way to spend about 2 hours of your day.
Zell am See
From Tyrol we moved to the state of Salzburg, to be precise to the lovely village of Zell am See. We stayed one night at Panoramacamp Zell am See. The campsite is on the south banks of the Zellersee. From here you can go on hikes or bikerides in the mountains surrounding the campsite. A fun place for fans of water sports as well as alpinists and mountain bike fans.
The campsite is in the middle of the Zell am See-Kaprun region which is surrounded by the peaks of the Hohe Tauern range. The Hohe Tauern is a National Park which has a lot to offer, we explored the park for 2 days and loved it. The views are stunning!
A toll road which is 12 kilometers in length and has beautiful panoramic views. We had such fantastic views driving this panoramic road, and as a bonus from one point you have a good view on the Krimmler waterfalls. The highest point on the road is at 1628 meters, with the Filzsteinalpe. The road has 8 hairpin turns going up the mountain. Views are either on the Salzachtal or the Zillertaler Alps.
Reachable on the Gerlos Alpenstrasse, close to the village of Krimml and inside the Hohe Tauern N.P. are the Krimmler waterfalls. With 380 meters it’s the highest fased waterfall in Central Europe. There are 3 waterfalls, two of 140 meters and one of 100 meters. A path follows the river and you have platforms to view each waterfall on this. The route is in total 4 kilometers. The lower waterfall is about 15 minutes walking, to reach the upper waterfall you have to walk approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. We walked until the second waterfall and then Yuri had enough. The middle waterfall is considered the most beautiful of the 3. I love waterfalls so this was a must do in Austria for me.
A panoramic toll road with such stunning views. The road offers the highest view of Austria. It’s 48 kilometers long with 36 hairpin bends. Everyone wants to visit the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, with 2504 meters the highest point. From here you can see the Grossglockner, with 3798 meters the highest mountain of Austria. Further more the Pasterze, a 9 kilometer long glacier is visible from here. The largest glacier of the Eastern Alps. We enjoyed driving this road with the amazing views and having lunch on a picnic table at the side of the road. We had beautiful weather, although windy.
National Park Hohe Tauern
The National Park is one of the largest nature areas in Europe, it encompasses the states of Salzburg, Tyrol and Carinthia. There are 266 peaks of 3000 meter or higher, 342 glaciers and more than 10.000 animal species. The park has many highlights: the Grossglockner, the Pasterzen glacier and the Krimmler waterfalls.
In the middle of the park on the Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Höhe is the visitor center.
The End of a Week in Austria
We ended our time in Austria in the state of Carinthia. Another one of the beautiful , mountainous states of Austria.
From Zell am See we went to Obervellach where we camped one night at Aktiv-Sport-Erlebnis-Camp Pristavec. A campsite made for active people. Most people on the campsite had either kayaks or mountain bikes with them. The campsite is a starting point for rafting, canyoneering, kayaking, alpineering and hiking. There was an adventure path at the beginning of the campsite which we did with Yuri and he loved it.
After a week we left Austria via the Wurzenpass. We could have easily spent more time in Austria, but we wanted to see other parts of Europe. We left Austria and drove into Slovenia. But before entering Slovenia we visited the Bunkermuseum Wurzenpass/Kärnten.
Paul loves everything to do with the history of weapons. So this was right up his alley. We had an interesting few hours at this museum. This was a top-secret facility during the Cold War. Austria had a secret network of bunkers, field fortifications and barrages. This small, neutral nation had borders with the Eastern, communist part of Europe.
In 1968 and 1991 the Austrian Armed Forces were on alert and occupied their positions with soldiers. In the museum exhibit more information is shown about the use of the Bunker and the Prague Spring (1968) and Civil War in Yugoslavia (1991) and what it meant for Austria. Further more you can explore the trench system, protected shelters and see the bunkered Centurion tank turrets.
Austria is a country with lots of things to do and see, a week isn’t enough to explore the whole country. The mountains are beautiful here and make you go out and explore nature. Another beautiful road trip with mountains and views is a California road trip.
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