Produced in Partnership with SalzburgerLand
Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, named after Austria’s highest mountain, is an adventure for the whole family. What starts out as a leisurely road trip from viewpoint to viewpoint might soon turn into a full-blown adventure, filled with superlatives. Close by are also the Krimml Waterfalls, the largest in Europe.
Both are located in Austria’s largest national park. You can visit vast glacial snowfields in the middle of summer, feel the spray of the Krimml Waterfalls in your face, see wildlife dotted around the mountains and enjoy some fine hospitality. Whichever way you choose to explore Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, you’ll never forget it.
While the Großglockner, the ‘Big Bell’, attracts mountaineers from across the world, the region with the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße as main attraction is a destination for adventurous families who are seeking a thrilling holiday in the mountains. There are easy walks, themed trails, adventure playgrounds, and many exhibitions – plus fascinating visitor centres including the Alpine Nature Show Museum. Snow also lies in secluded places throughout the summer – and playing in the snow in the midsummer heat is irresistible for kids, big or small. Another attraction of the National Park Hohe Tauern are the unmissable Krimml Worlds of Water , an aquapark overlooking the largest waterfalls in Europe, the Krimml Falls.
Take The High Road
Most visitors to the region visit the Großglockner High Alpine Road, that links the two regions of Salzburg and Carinthia. If you can stomach the 36 hairpin bends, the road rises to a high point of 2,369m. From here the views open up onto the mountain panorama of the Hohe Tauern National Park.
Along this road, you’ll find exhibitions and museums, restaurants and shops. The Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe is the highlight. From there you’ll find incredible views of the Großglockner and right above the Pasterze glacier. You’ll also find a visitor centre with a wide range of exhibitions over four floors such as Glacier.Life, the Glockner Cinema as well as changing special exhibitions. The Kaiserstein Panorama Trail leads to the Wilhelm Swarovski Observatory, where the glacier, as well as the mountain climbers and wild animals, can be viewed through modern telescopes. The alpine Glacier Trail from Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe leads directly to the Pasterze Glacier and on to the Glockner House.
The fascinating Alpine Nature Museum is a modern museum with the world’s only exhibition focused on the theme of alpine ecology – highlights include the Marmot Show in the multimedia cinema, focusing on the cute creatures that call this region home.
Cars can get even higher at the Edelweiss-Spitze. At 2,571m, it’s the highest point in Austria reachable by car, and has fantastic views of the Großglockner road – as well as the 30 three-thousanders of the Hohe Tauern range around you.
Krimml Worlds of Water
About 40km drive from the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße is the Krimmler Waterfalls, Europe’s largest waterfalls. At the base of the falls is Krimml Worlds of Water, one of the region’s best family attractions. This modern centre combines a Waterfall centre, with the underwater adventure world Aquaszenarium, a view terrace with waterfall view, gastronomy at the WasserWunderBar and a shop with souvenirs and delicacies from Pinzgau.
The House of Water is an exhibition that teaches about the element of water, how it is essential to human life and how it can benefit your health. It is also home to the WasserKino interactive cinema and the Swarovski telescope, perfect for viewing the Krimml Waterfalls. Families can explore the Aquapark outdoor area with interactive character Aquamax, play aqua foosball and water festoon, as well as learning about water at the experiment stations.
Finally, the reason it all exists is the Krimml Waterfalls. From the Worlds of Water, visitors will find a barrier-free accessible viewpoint (suitable for prams, walking frames, wheelchairs), waterfall path and viewing platforms. You can even participate in waterfall therapy!
Five Best Hiking Routes
Along with the Alpine road, visitors come to Großglockner Hochalpenstraße to walk the countless trails under this magnificent mountain. And while alpinists love to climb the mountain, there are many more trails for all levels of ability. The paths head along mountain passes and through Alpine pastures, past waterfalls and around lakes, along long-distance hikes and to some beautiful huts (often with superb food and wine) to link them up. You’ll see marmots skitting around the rocks, and golden eagles circling high above you.
If you’re climbing high into the mountains, including summiting Großglockner, there are many experienced guides who can show you the way.
Here are our favourite five walks.
1/ Gamsgrube trail: This two-hour trail departs from Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe (2,369m) and passes above the glacier scenery of the Pasterze. You’ll see breaking ice, moraine, and the glacier itself.
2/ Pasterze Glacier Trail: Departing from the Glocknerhaus Alpine Centre (2,136m), this steep 2.5-hour walk leads directly onto the Pasterze Glacier (the trip with the glacier railway must be paid extra).
3/ Edelweiss peak to the Baumgartlkopf: Starting from the Edelweiss peak car park (2,571m), this crest hike leads up to Baumgartlkopf at 2,623m.
4/ Hochtortunnel to the Brennkogel: This 5.5-hour hike leaves from Hochtor tunnel’s south portal (2,504 m) and scales the Brennkogel also know as “Golden Mountain” (Goldberg).
5. Kaiserstein Panorama Trail: Just a 10-minute trot, this trail at the visitor centre leads above the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe to the Wilhelm-Swarovski-Beobachtungswarte.
Throughout the year, there are dozens of events around Großglockner Hochalpenstraße, from tough road cycling races such as the Großglockner Bike Challenge to vintage car trials at the Saalbach-Classic. There’s even a Vespa scooter rally. Runners test their stamina against these tough mountain trails in events including the “Großglockner Berglauf”. Walkers can join the Großglockner Pilgrimage from Salzburg to Carinthia (Heiligenblut) in June. In September, you’ll even come across Europe’s largest ‘old-timer’ tractor meeting!
Photography: Großglockner Hochalpenstraße // Andreas Kolarik // Krimml // Christian Woeckinger
GROßGLOCKNER HOCHALPENSTRAßE FACTS
Closest airports: Salzburg: 130km (2h) // Munich: 180km (3h)
Bus options: Glocknerbus from Salzburg, Hinterglemm and Zell am See to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe and back again, from the end of May until the end of September. grossglockner.at/glocknerbus.
Kilometres of panoramic road: 48
Themed Trails: 7
Free exhibitions: 15
Three-thousand-meter mountains: 30
Free guided tours.