Austria is a beautiful little landlocked country, with mountains, lakes, rolling hills, castles and fabulous cities such as the capital, Vienna, it really does have something for everyone. We didn’t spend as long here as we did France or Germany, but in the time we did spend, we really did see some wonderful things. We wanted to share the details of our Austria road trip with you!
Van Life Austria Quick Facts
Our Route – Lake Worthersee – Vienna – Wachau Valley (Melk) – Admont Abbey – Styrian Enns Valley – Salzburg
Duration – 10 days
Distance – Roughly 600km (Roughly 372 miles)
Currency – Euros
Language – Austrian German
Schengen Zone – Austria is in the Schengen zone, so for people from the UK, it does count towards your 90 day allowance in the EU
Fuel / LPG Cost – Roughly 1.80euros per litre
Toll Roads – In Austria it is a requirement for all vehicles with a maximum weight of up to 3.5t to have what is called a vignette to travel on Austrian motorways and toll roads.
A vignette is basically a sticker that you display in your windscreen and you can purchase them from petrol stations, and it allows you to travel on all motorways and toll roads without the requirement to get on and off tolls and pay as you go, so it is a million times easier! Vignettes are sold in periods of 10 days, 2 months and a year and the costs as of 2022 for vehicles up to 3.5t is 9.60euros for 10 days, 28.20euros for 2 months and 93.80euros for an annual vignette.
Places to park / stay overnight – It is not legal to wild camp in Austria, so it is not so easy to find free places to park unfortunately. There are reasonably priced motorhome stopover areas and campsites found on Park4night. Some we only paid 4/5euros per night.
Water / Electricity / Emptying – There are not many freely available places to do these things, mainly you need to do them at the campsite or parking area that you stay at.
Laundry – We didn’t really find many self service launderettes around so we relied on using a finding a campsite with washing facilities.
Supermarkets – Spar is the largest supermarket chain in Austria. They also have a chain called Billa which you will find all over Austria, and also Lidl and Hofer (Aldi). It is not difficult to find supermarkets in Austria, they are widely accessible.
Our Austria Road Trip
Lake Wörthersee is a lake in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia.
We recommend a trip to the Pyramidenkogel Tower. The tower is on the summit of Pyramidenkogel, and is 851 metres above sea level, and is 100 metres tall. It is the highest wooden viewing tower in the world, and it overlooks Lake Wörthersee, and gives the most stunning panoramic views! Not one for people who don’t like heights though! The fun part about this tower is that you can take a slide all the way back down to the bottom!
For more information on the Pyramidenkogel Tower, you can check out their website – Information – Aussichtsturm Pyramidenkogel – ein Top-Ausflugsziel Kärntens
Top 3 things to do at Lake Wörthersee:
- Pyramidenkogel Tower
- Go for a hike
- Take a boat ride
Vienna is the capital city of Austria. As soon as we stepped off our train and walked out of the station into Vienna, we were blown away. The architecture in this city is some of the most beautiful we have ever seen. It feels like at the end of every small street that you walk down there is a view of an amazing building. This city is SO photogenic, we were stopping every 10 seconds to take photos!
There is a reason that for 10 years, between 2009 and 2019, Mercer’s Quality of Living survey named Vienna as the best place to live in the entire world.
From the Museums Quartier, The Hofburg Palace and the Schönbrunn Palace, there are so many wonderful attractions to see in Vienna.
Also – make sure you try Sacher-Torte cake! This is a very famous (and delicious!) cake in Vienna. Made up of chocolate sponge, apricot jam and topped with a chocolate icing. Sacher-Torte is so famous in Vienna, it even has it’s own celebration day!
Top 3 things to do in Vienna:
- Go to one of the many great museums
- Try Sachertorte cake!
Wachau Valley (Melk)
Melk is a town in the Wachau Valley region, on the river Danube. With a stunning hill top abbey overlooking the quaint town with pretty pastel coloured buildings, this place is definitely worth a visit if you are in the Wachau Valley area.
Melk Abbey (Stift Melk) is a functioning Benedictine abbey which opened in 1089. The abbey is absolutely stunning with baroque architecture and can be seen all around the town of Melk. It still has monks living in the abbey who run a boy’s school in parts of the building.
Melk Abbey is also home to the remains of some of the members of Austria’s first ruling dynasty. We didn’t go into the abbey as dogs are not allowed inside, although they are allowed to walk in the outside areas, and you still see the beauty of the abbey in the outside areas that you are able to walk in. This abbey is the highlight of a trip to Melk.
Also in Melk, there is an old concentration camp, KZ-Gedenkstatte Melk (Melk Memorial), which existed between April 1944 and April 1945. More than 14,000 prisoners were bought to the camp from Poland, Hungary, France and the Soviet Union. The conditions were horrific and almost 5000 prisoners died in the camp. A very sombre place but we think it is important to visit places like this and to pay respect to all the lives lost in such an unthinkable way. The camp is free to visit, you have to get a key from the army barracks which are just next to it.
We stayed in a carpark for campers and motorhomes, which was just below the abbey. It was 5euros for 24 hours, so a very good price.
Top 3 things to do in Melk:
- Melk Abbey
- Melk old town
- KZ-Gedenkstatte Melk (Melk Memorial)
Admont Abbey is a Benedictine monastery which was founded in 1074. It is also home to the largest monastic library in the world, and wow, what a library it is. It is honestly one of the most beautiful places we have ever been to. With the stunning baroque architecture and the beautiful pastel colours with the white and gold columns, it just looks like heaven on earth. We could have spent all day in there just staring at the beauty, we wish we could have got our hands on all of those wonderful books.
The abbey also has several museums including a museum of fine art, gothic museum, museum of contemporary art and a natural history museum.
We highly recommend spending a few hours here as it really is a beautiful and interesting place.
It is also worth paying the abbey church a visit, it is a stunning church.
For more information on the Admont Abbey, you can check out their website – Home – EN (stiftadmont.at)
Styrian Enns Valley
This area is one of the largest inner-alpine valleys in Austria. The valley is home to the mighty mountain, Mount Grimming. Mount Grimming is 2,351 m and we stayed at a campsite which had the most wonderful views of the mountain. We did a hike up to Grimminghütte which is a mountain cabin at 966m.
Unfortunately, at the time of year that we visited, in April, it was slightly too early to carry on any higher as it was full of snow and ice further up the mountain, and we didn’t have the right equipment to be tackling the snow and ice! But still, it was a great hike with amazing views from Grimminghütte.
Salzburg was a highlight of our trip to Austria, it felt as though we had saved the best until last, as this was our last stop of our Austria road trip. It really is a beautiful little city. It is a smaller and more compact city than Vienna, but this we preferred. It is much easier to get around on foot and see all of the wonderful sights Salzburg has to offer.
The city is divided by the Salzach River with a “love lock” bridge leading to either side of the city, with beautiful views over the river.
Salzburg has many many interesting things going for it. It is the birthplace of Mozart and you can see the house that he was born in in 1756 and also his residence.
If you are a fan of the sound of music, then you may be interested to know that this was filmed here too, and you are able to walk around the city and spot some of the filming locations such as Mirabell Palace and Karajan Square and the “Horse Pond”.
Salzburg has many quaint, cobbled streets lined with wonderful shops, cafes and restaurants.
There is so much to see and do in this city, we cannot recommend it enough!
Top 3 things to do in Salzburg
- Visit Mozart’s birthplace and residence
- Visit some of the Sound of Music attractions
- Visit the love lock bridge over the river
We really hope that this post has helped to inspire your own Austrian road trip, thanks for reading! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave a message in the comments and we would be happy to help!
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!