Driving to the Austrian Alps

Austria road mapFor a detailed road map please visit our map shop

The majority of Austria’s resorts nestle in alpine valleys and are normally easily accessible by car, involving as they do neither steep mountain roads nor high altitude passes. Neverthless, vehicle access to some resorts can be affected in periods of very heavy snow, particularly those in the high Arlberg region on Switzerland’s border, where avalanches can also cause roads to be closed, occasionally for several days on end. 

Other than checking the weather reports, there are also a few regulations drivers should be aware of before setting off to the Austrian Alps, notably the compulsory purchase of a motorway vignette and the fitting of suitable winter tyres. 

Motorway vignette
A pre-paid motorway toll sticker (vignette) must be purchased and placed on the windscreen of all vehicles using Austria’s motorways and highways. Vignettes cost just under 9 Euros for 10 days, and can be purchased at any petrol station, newsagents (Tabak), post office or border crossing.

The local police conduct regular checks on all vehicles and issue expensive on-the-spot fines for motorists not displaying a vignette. Be warned and make sure that you attach it to the windscreen. The police officers speak fluent English and accept no excuses - further information

Winter driving
It is mandatory to use winter tyres in Austria for the entire winter period (between November 1 and April 15). 

All-season tyres comply if they carry the M S mark and have at least 4mm of tread. In addition, snow chains may be made compulsory by local police during or after heavy snowfall.

Non-compliance results in a hefty fine and suspension of the vehicle. You may also find your insurance is void if the car you are driving is involved in an accident during this period without winter tyres.

Equipment
Cars are required to carry the following:
Reflective jackets (to be used in the case of a breakdown or accident outside built-up areas, on expressways and on motorways). This new regulation is required by law and is subject to heavy fines. Please check with your car rental company before entering Austria to ensure a Reflective Safety Vest is located in the car.
Warning triangle 
First aid kit

Speed limits
The speed limit in built up areas is 50km/h, unless otherwise indicated. A number of towns (eg Graz) have imposed a speed limit of 30km/h (except where a higher speed limit is indicated).

Outside built up areas the speed limits are 130km/h on motorways and 100km/h on other roads. The minimum speed is 60km/h. Vehicles not capable of sustaining 60km/h are not allowed on motorways.

Other regulations
The use of seat belts is compulsory. Children under the age of 12, who are below 150cm in height, must be seated in an appropriate child seat. 
Drink driving is illegal and the punishment is significant. The maximum blood-alcohol limit is 0.5g per litre.
Dashboard mounted video cameras (dashcams) are forbidden and their use can incur a heavy fine.
Click here for more information about driving in Austria

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