Driving Tour: Grossglockner Road

  • Start Bruck
  • End Bruck
  • Length 96km; four to six hours

Buckle up for one of Europe’s greatest alpine drives. The Grossglockner Road consists of 48 head-spinning, glacier-gawping, wow-what-a-mountain kilometres.

Leaving Bruck, enter the wild, mountainous Fuschertal (Fuscher Valley), passing Fusch and Wildpark Ferleiten, a 15-hectare reserve home to 200 alpine animals such as chamois, marmots, ibex, fallow deer, wild boar and brown bears. Once through the tollgate, the road climbs steeply to Hochmais (1850m), where glaciated peaks including Grosses Wiesbachhorn (3564m) crowd the horizon. The road zigzags up to Haus Alpine Naturschau (2260m), which spotlights local flora and fauna. A little further along, a 2km side road (no coaches allowed) corkscrews up to Edelweiss Spitze (2571m), the road’s highest viewpoint. Climb the tower for staggering 360-degree views of more than 30 peaks of 3000m. Refuel with coffee and strudel on the terrace at the hut.

Get your camera handy for Fuscher Törl (2428m), with super views on both sides of the ridge, and gemstone of a lake Fuscher Lacke (2262m) nearby. Here a small exhibition documents the construction of the road, built by 3000 men over five years during the Great Depression, from 1930 to 1935.

The road wriggles on through high meadows to Hochtor (2504m), the top of the pass, after which there's a steady descent to Schöneck. Branch off west onto the 9km Gletscherstrasse, passing waterfalls and Achtung Murmeltiere (Beware of Marmots) signs – you may well spot one of the burrowing rodents.

The Grossglockner massif slides into view on the approach to flag-dotted Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe (2369m), with memorable views of the bell-shaped Grossglockner (3798m) and the rapidly retreating Pasterze Glacier. The 8km swirl of fissured ice is best appreciated on the short and easy Gamsgrubenweg and Gletscherweg trails. Allow time to see the glacier-themed exhibition at the visitor centre and the crystalline Wilhelm-Swarovski observatory before driving back to Bruck.