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Car & Motorcycle

  • Autobahn are marked ‘A’; some are pan-European ‘E’ roads. You can only drive on them with a Vignitte (motorway tax). Bundesstrassen or ‘B’ roads are major roads, while Landstrassen (L) are places to enjoy the ride rather than get quickly from one place to another.
  • Some minor passes are blocked by snow from November to May. Carrying snow chains in winter is highly recommended and is compulsory in some areas.
  • Winter or all-weather tyres are compulsory from 1 November to 15 April.
  • GPS navigation systems work well in Austria, but as elsewhere, use your eyes and don’t rely on them 100%.
  • Motorcyclists and passengers must wear a helmet. Dipped lights (low-beams) must be used in daytime. You must carry a first-aid kit.
  • The National Austrian Tourist Office (www.austria.info) has an Austrian Classic Tour brochure, which covers 3000km of the best roads for motorcyclists in the country.
  • A number of train services allow you to transport a car with you.

Insurance

Third-party insurance is a minimum requirement in Europe and you’ll need to carry proof of this in the form of a Green Card. If you’re a member of an automobile association, ask about free reciprocal benefits offered by affiliated organisations in Europe. The car must also display a sticker on the rear indicating the country of origin.

Automobile Associations

Two automobile associations serve Austria. Both provide free 24-hour breakdown service to members and have reciprocal agreements with motoring clubs in other countries; check with your local club before leaving. Both have offices throughout Austria, and it is possible to become a member, but you must join for six months or a year; expect to pay around €38 or €75 respectively. For a small fee, the associations also translate non-German-language driving licences.

If you’re not entitled to free assistance, you’ll incur a fee for call-outs, which varies depending on the time of day.

ARBÖ

ÖAMTC

Bringing Your Own Vehicle

You'll need to have proof of ownership papers and third-party insurance. The car must also display a sticker on the rear indicating the country of origin.

Driving Licences

A driving licence and proof of ownership of a private vehicle should always be carried while driving. EU licences are accepted in Austria; all other nationalities require a German translation or an International Driving Permit (IDP). Translations can be obtained on the spot for a small fee from automobile associations.

Hire

It is much easier to hire cars in Austria in large cities. Small towns either have no hire companies or a very limited number of vehicles and can be expensive and booked out. If you’ve got time, shop around for small companies as they can be cheaper (but more restrictive conditions often apply).

Although companies accept any licence that is written in Roman letters, a translation or International Driving Permit (IDP) is required by the traffic police for any non-EU licence not in German.

Minimum Age Requirements

The minimum age for hiring small cars is 19 years; for prestige models, 25 years. A valid licence issued at least one year prior is necessary. If you plan to take the car across the border, especially into Eastern Europe, let the rental company know beforehand and double-check for any add-on fees and possible age requirements.

Insurance

Third-party insurance is a minimum requirement in Austria. All companies offer personal accident insurance (PAI) for occupants and collision damage waiver (CDW) for an additional charge. (PAI may not be necessary if you or your passengers hold personal travel insurance.)

Companies

Auto Europe Books with other car-hire companies; prices can be at a lower rate than by going directly through a company.

Avis

Europcar (www.europcar.co.at)

Hertz (www.hertz.at)

Holiday Autos Often offers very low rates and has offices or representatives in over 100 countries and regions. By booking early, you can find prices that are about 60% of those charged by the international companies.

Megadrive Good network in major cities, with often cheaper rates.

Sixt Has offices all over Austria.

Autobahn Tax & Tunnel Tolls

A Vignitte (motorway tax) is imposed on all autobahn; charges for cars below 3.5 tonnes are €8.80 for 10 days, €25.70 for two months and €85.70 for one year. For motorbikes expect to pay €5.10 for 10 days, €12.90 for two months and €34.10 for one year. Vignitte can be purchased from motoring organisations, border crossings, petrol stations, post offices and Tabak (tobacconist) shops.

A toll (which is not covered by the motorway tax) is levied on some mountain roads and tunnels. For a full list of toll roads, consult one of the automobile associations.

Road Conditions, Hazards & Rules

Drive on the right-hand side of the road. The minimum driving age is 18.

Alcohol The penalty for driving while drunk – if you have over 0.05% BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) – is a hefty on-the-spot fine and confiscation of your driving licence.

Children Those under the age of 14 who are shorter than 1.5m must have a special seat or restraint.

Fines Can be paid on the spot, but ask for a receipt.

Giving way Give way to the right at all times except when a priority road sign indicates otherwise, or when one street has a raised border running across it (the vehicle entering from such a street must give way). Note: the 'give way to the right' rule also applies at T-junctions.

Helmets Compulsory for motorcyclists and their passengers (as well as for children under 13 years on bicycles).

Parking Most town centres have a designated Kurzparkzone (short-term parking zone), where on-street parking is limited to a maximum of 1½ or three hours (depending upon the place) between certain specified times. Parkschein (parking vouchers) for such zones can be purchased from Tabak shops or pavement dispensers and then displayed on the windscreen. Outside the specified time, parking in the Kurzparkzone is free.

Safety Carrying a warning triangle and first-aid kit in your vehicle is compulsory in Austria.

Seat belts Compulsory.

Speed limits During the day, it's 50km/h in built-up areas, 130km/h on autobahn and 100km/h on other roads. In some places, the speed on country roads is restricted to 70km/h. From 10pm to 5am – except for the A1 between Vienna and Salzburg and the A2 between Vienna and Villach – the speed limit on autobahn is 110km/h.

Trams These always have priority. Vehicles should wait behind while trams slow down and stop for passengers to get on and off the tram.

Motorail Trains

RoutePrice (€)Time (hr)
Vienna–Feldkirch78–989
Graz–Feldkirch72–889
Villach–Feldkirch66–788