The Großglockner belongs to the Austrian Central Alps and is mostly known for its glacier and its impressive alpine panorama road. With an altitude of 3798 m, it makes the Großglockner the second highest mountain within the European Alps, topped only by the Mont Blanc. When thinking of this magnificent mountain range, most people think of everlasting snow, blue sky and skiing. But that is by far not all this mountain has to offer. Located at the border of Tyrol and Carinthia the Großglockner is one of the most visited attractions in the Alpine Republic. It is estimated that every year more than one million visitors from all over the world come to this region. If you arrive by car, the Großglockner High Alpine Road is the number 1 must-see alpine road in Austria. This panorama street was built in 1935 and is regularly upgraded and extended to accommodate the never-ending stream of visitors.
At the time of writing the Pasterze is the longest glacier of the Eastern Alps. It is 9 km long with 18.5 km² surface. The ice measures 275 m at its thickest point.
If summer or winter, the Großglockner is a great holiday destination for sightseeing. Every year around 5000 people conquer the summit. The first mountaineer reaching the summit was Mathias Hautzendorfer on July 28th, 1800. Not everyone who tried succeeded and many fell to their death. Countless legends ranked around the mountain who claimed so many lives. One of those folklores tells about a white and rare little flower, the Edelweiss. It was said that many young suitors would climb the Großglockner to pick the Edelweiss as a sign of their everlasting love for their girls. — Not everyone came back to confess his love as well.
However, as experience and mountain gear improved more and more people safely climbed the mountain. For many, the Großglockner has become a bucket list item.
The Großglockner High Alpine Road
The Großglockner High Alpine Road is the highest surfaced mountain pass road in Austria. It connects Salzburg (Bruck) with Carinthia (Heiligenblut) via the Fuscher Törl and Hochtor Pass at 2,504 m. This alpine road is almost 48 km long with 36 turns. Each one of them is a treat and shows the visitor another breathtaking few into the Alps of Austria. The panorama road leads along the glacier; the snow-covered Johannisberg caps with the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, a popular destination for those visiting the Großglockner. Here you will find an Exhibitions Centre, named after the Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph. Not only do you have a grand view of the mountain range you also have a unique opportunity to watch rare alpine animals. Check out our recommended top ten scenic drives including the Großglockner High Alpine Road.
Even motorcyclists will enjoy the Großglockner High Alpine Road. The surface is excellent at all times and is only topped by the grand view which lurks behind every turn.
Tip: The Großglockner High Alpine Road is a toll road. If you buy your ticket online, before you start your journey, you will enjoy a 15 % discount in all stores and exhibition centres along the road.
Along the Großglockner High Alpine Road, you have several opportunities to get out of the car and venture off in one of the many alpine walks. Most of them are easily accessible and are suitable for families with children. Along those tracks, you find countless information points where you can learn about the history and construction of the road. To put it in a nutshell, the Großglockner High Alpine Road has something to offer for everyone holidaying in Austria.
You don’t have a car? — Not a problem at all. Starting in Heiligenblut, there are several tourist centres which offer the popular Glocknerbus Tour. This tour is a one-day bus trip, which covers all the highlights of the Austrian Alpine Road.
The Großglockner on foot
Alter Kalser Weg (Old Kalser Route)
This track starts at the car park of the Kalser Glocknerstrasse, followed by a scenic road to the Lucknerhütte. From here you can continue to either the Studlhütte or the Erzherzog Johann Hütte via the Mürztaler Weg. Even this track is generally easy, just before the Studlhütte it gets a little steep.
Tip: If you want to continue with a guided tour to the Erzherzog Johann Hütte, you can organise that at the Studlhütte.
The route to the Erzherzog Johann Hütte remains easy right until you come to the Kodnitzkees glacier. Here, the trail more or less stops and becomes a very narrow path. It is recommended to rope up at this point. You will cross the rocky ridge of the Kodnitzkees glacier, which once again is easy tracking. After the glacier, you return to the rocky ground until you reach the Adlersruhe with the Erzherzog Johann Hütte, at an altitude of 3450m. Since this is not round trip, you have to return the same way you came in.