Hallstatt, Austria

7-day Austria itinerary: Explore Austria on a one-week road trip

March 27, 2024

Austria is a Central European country known for its natural beauty, rich historical, and cultural heritage. From the breathtaking panoramas of high mountain peaks to deeper insights into European art and culture, Austria offers a wide range of experiences.

In this article, we present a 7-day itinerary for Austria. It’s a week-long trip where you can explore the natural beauty and cultural richness of the country.

Austria is an ideal destination for almost any tourist. It offers stunning landscapes where you can explore the rocky peaks of the Austrian Alps, crystal-clear lakes, and waterfalls. Additionally, Austria boasts impressive history and culture. Its cities and villages are filled with traditional buildings, museums, and monuments. Just mentioning Vienna, Salzburg, or Hallstatt, each of which hosts interesting UNESCO World Heritage sites.

So one thing is guaranteed: you won’t get bored in Austria for a week, as the country offers plenty to see, whether you’re hiking in nature or planning a city tour.

Indeed, making this 7-day itinerary for Austria was not an easy task, as exploring Austria in detail would require much more time. However, our aim is to assist those with limited time to visit Austria, especially those traveling from afar.

We ourselves have visited the listed places several times, and even lived in Austria for a while, so we are familiar with every part of Austria. Thus, we can provide detailed descriptions and tips to make the trip as enjoyable as possible. So if you have any questions about the itinerary, feel free to ask.

Overview of the one-week Austria itinerary

Here is a brief overview of how and what we think is worth exploring in Austria in 7 days:

Day 1: Vienna
Day 2: Austrian Lake District
Day 3: Hallstatt
Day 4: Salzburg
Day 5: Innsbruck, Schlegeisspeicher
Day 6: Kaprun, Grossglockner
Day 7: Return to Vienna

Map for the 7 days in Austria itinerary

For easier understanding, we’ll also show the destinations and route of the 7-day itinerary in Austria on a map.

Now let’s look at the most important questions that arise when planning a 7-day road trip in Austria.

FAQ: What to know about a 7-day Austria road trip

What is one week in Austria enough for?

One week is enough time to visit Vienna’s major attractions, discover the famous town of Hallstatt, hike in the world of mountain lakes, see Austria’s highest peaks and enjoy the best of Austrian cuisine.

Indeed, while this itinerary may not cover everything, it certainly provides a meaningful and enjoyable week-long trip around the highlights of Austria.

Getting to Austria

Add the outbound and return journeys (mostly by car or plane) to the itinerary. We couldn’t do this because everyone may travel from different places.

You can, of course, start your trip anywhere you like, depending on where you can start based on your arrival. We planned to start in Vienna, because several flights land in Vienna.

Getting around in Austria

By car

We planned it for a car road trip, unfortunately it is quite difficult to do this with anything else. But don’t worry, Austria’s good infrastructure provides a pleasant journey by car.

The travel times between destinations are also shown based on car routes.

Car rental in Austria

If you want to rent a car in Austria, we recommend Rentalcars.com or Discovercars.com, where you can compare offers from most of the car rental companies.

Please note that if you plan to drive on mountain roads, you should rent a suitable car in terms of performance and comfort.

Road toll

In Austria, highways are generally used by buying a vignette. For more information on prices and vignettes, visit the ASFINAG website.

In Austria, there are so-called “Mautstelle”, which means extra costs for driving on the highway. These are tollgates where you have to pay an extra €5-20 to pass through. You will usually find them on highways leading through the mountains.

Sometimes you also have to pay for smaller mountain roads, most of which lead up to lakes or ski resorts. These usually cost around €10-30.

So driving in Austria is not cheap. But in return, the roads are generally of good quality, the drivers follow the rules, and the views are fantastic.

By public transport

If you decide to use public transportation, you may need to make some adjustments to your itinerary. For instance, consider placing more emphasis on exploring cities, as Austrian cities are well-connected by a train network. In rural areas, you can rely on local buses or taxis for getting around.

Best time to travel to Austria for 7 days

For a road trip in Austria, we strongly recommend the summer months from around June to October. The mountain routes are almost all passable at this time.

Why not recommend a winter trip?

Austria is an amazing destination in the winter months too, with plenty of things to do in winter. Winter sports and Christmas markets are very popular in Austria. However, our itinerary is not specifically for winter activities, but for those who want to get around Austria. This is much easier to do in summer.

Where to stay during the 7-day road trip in Austria

In 7 days in Austria, you can explore many different places, which requires great flexibility. We suggest nearby accommodation options for each destination. It’s worth considering if you’re flexible enough to spend each night in a different place, as this is the most time-efficient option. Another option is to stay in larger cities like Vienna, Salzburg, or Innsbruck, and take day trips from there to rural attractions. Whatever solution you choose, we provide recommended hotels that are worth considering during your Austria trip.

7-day Austria itinerary: How to spend a week on a road trip around Austria

After the main questions, here is our 7-day Austria travel itinerary. These are the best places to visit and the best things to do in Austria in one week:

Day 1: Vienna

Our 7-day Austria itinerary starts in the capital city, Vienna. The reason for this is that most international flights land at Vienna Airport. Additionally, Vienna is easily accessible by car from neighboring countries in the east.

Vienna, Austria’s capital and largest city, is an excellent first day destination. In this fascinating city, you will experience a combination of history and modernity, Austrian traditions and diversity, elegance and dynamism. On your trip to Vienna, you can enjoy stunning buildings, a wealth of museums and delicious Austrian gastronomy. In one day, you can discover the city’s top attractions and enjoy the city’s activities, to make your first day an unforgettable experience.

Getting around Vienna

If you rent a car for your Austrian road trip or drive your own car, you can also use it to get around Vienna. You can park in one of the many underground car parks or sometimes on the street (especially for short stays).

What you should be prepared for is that on weekdays during working hours, traffic in Vienna is a bit chaotic. At those times, you should consider using public transport.

Vienna City Card

The Vienna City Card is a great way to get around the city. For a reasonable price, you get unlimited use of public transport, Hop-on Hop-off buses, tickets and restaurant discounts. For more information, click here.

How much can you fit into a day in Vienna?

We recommend that you choose a few attractions from the list below, based on your interests, up to a maximum of 3–5 sights. This is roughly the number of things you can do in a day in Vienna.

Of these, Schönbrunn Palace is the most time-consuming, but if you just want to see it from the outside, it can be visited in 1–2 hours.

Several of the other attractions are close together, and you can see them quickly, within walking distance of each other.

Locally, the Prater is a little further away from the other attractions, so it’s worth considering visiting.

So the main attractions in Vienna:

Schönbrunn Palace

The most famous attraction in Vienna is the Schönbrunn Palace. This palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg imperial family.

The gardens are spectacular, and behind the palace you can walk a long way to the Gloriette Schönbrunn, from where you get a wonderful view of the palace and the city. The garden is free to visit.

However, the palace is only accessible with a ticket. The inside of the palace shows you how the imperial family used to live, their rooms, halls and tools.

Although visiting may take some time, don’t miss out on it, as it’s one of the best things to do in Vienna.

Hofburg

The Hofburg Palace is located in the centre of Vienna and was the traditional residence of the Austrian emperors. It is an imposing, historic palace with museums, a library and an exhibition of the Habsburg family’s coronation jewels.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Within walking distance of the Hofburg is perhaps Austria’s most famous church, St Stephen’s Cathedral. It may also be worth a visit.

Rathausplatz

The Rathausplatz (square) is located in the centre of Vienna, also a short walk from the previous attractions, and is the seat of the city council. Cultural events, markets and festivals are held here regularly, including a famous Christmas market. The square is home to the beautiful Vienna City Hall, which attracts visitors with its impressive architectural details and rich decoration.

Austrian Parliament

On the way you may come across a slightly different building in style, the Austrian Parliament. It is worth stopping in front of it for a few photos.

If you still have time left in Vienna, we recommend the following attractions:

Belvedere Palace

The Belvedere Palace is one of Vienna’s most famous and impressive monuments, built in the 18th century. Besides the beauty of the palace, the Belvedere Palace is known for its art collection, which is rich in works of art. Next to the palace is the beautiful garden, which offers visitors the opportunity for pleasant walks and relaxation.

Tickets can be bought by clicking on the link.

Prater

The Prater Vienna is a famous amusement and theme park. The iconic Ferris wheel, the Riesenrad, is located here and offers great views of the city. The Prater has a variety of entertainment options including roller coasters, restaurants and slot machines. The Prater is a great choice for families, couples and people looking for fun.

These are the best things to see and do in Vienna in one day.

Additionally, along the way, you can see interesting buildings such as the Vienna State Opera House, Volksgarten, and the famous museums of Museumsquartier Vienna. Of course, if these interest you, visit them during your stay in Vienna.

On your way, stop by a traditional restaurant or café, of which there are plenty in the city center. Don’t miss out on the famous Wiener Schnitzel, as well as Austrian sweets like Sachertorte and Kaiserschmarrn.

It’s best to spend the night in Vienna, from where we’ll continue our journey into the countryside the next day.

Where to stay in Vienna

Vienna is full of great hotels, here are a few of them:

Day 2: Traunsee, Gosauseen, Hallstatt

On the second day, continue to the Austrian countryside towards Hallstatt.

Vienna – Hallstatt: 290 km (180 miles), approx. 3 hours

Take the A1 highway towards Linz. Along the way you can see sights such as the Abbey of Melk and pass by the magnificent Lake Traunsee.

If you have time, stop in Gmunden for a stroll along the lakeside near the Schloss Ort.

In the late afternoon you can either spend it in Hallstatt or in the surrounding area, for example in Gosau at the breathtaking Gosauseen lakes.

The detour to Gosau from Hallstatt is about 25 minutes one way, which should be calculated in time.

The Gosauseen is a group of three lakes, which you can tour on a hike. However, due to the fast pace of the trip, we recommend visiting only the first lake.

The tour around the first Gosau lake takes about 1-2 hours, which is a pleasant late afternoon activity.

For this, comfortable shoes will be enough, although in Austria it never hurts to have hiking shoes with you.

Where to stay near Hallstatt

Day 3: Hallstatt

The third day is perfect for exploring Hallstatt. The town of Hallstatt is a real symbol of Austria. Almost everyone has seen the fairytale-like little town on the shores of a lake, with its colorful houses and iconic church.

Top things to do in Hallstatt

Taking photos at the viewpoints

Hallstatt is full of wonderful viewpoints, so it is worth taking a long walk around the town, admiring the views from both the steps and the lakeside.

Our favorite viewpoints are along the Kirchenweg, the Viewpoint Müllerstiege and the famous Viewpoint Hallstatt.

Salzbergbahn Hallstatt

In Hallstatt, a popular activity is to take the funicular (Salzbergbahn) up to the top of the mountain next to the town, from where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the whole area. Thanks to the viewing platform at the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Lake Hallstatt and the surrounding mountains.

At the top you can visit the old salt mines and an exhibition about them. For more information on ticket prices, opening times and guided tours, click here.

Also at the top, you can taste local dishes in the Rudolfsturm restaurant.

Visit the Marktplatz Hallstatt

Hallstatt’s iconic main square is the Marktplatz, where the colorful houses and the nearby church provide the typical Hallstatt atmosphere.

Boating on the Lake Hallstatt

On the lakeshore, you can also rent an electric boat or a pedal boat so you can explore Lake Hallstatt independently.

Get up to the 5 Fingers observation deck

Also popular is the 5 Fingers lookout point, which can be reached from Obertraun by the so-called Dachsteinbahn (cable car). You can find more information about it by clicking here.

Parking in Hallstatt

If your accommodation is not in Hallstatt, parking can be often difficult in Hallstatt, which makes it worth arriving early. The nearest car park is P2, but if there is no space you can walk from P1.

You can spend the night in Hallstatt or travel on to your next destination, Salzburg.

Where to stay in Salzburg

In Salzburg, we recommend the following hotels:

Day 4: Salzburg

The fourth day’s focus is mainly on Salzburg.

However, if you only continue from Hallstatt to Salzburg on the fourth day, you still have the opportunity to stop at other famous Salzkammergut lakes on the way. Previously, you could visit Lake Traunsee and then Lake Hallstatt. On the way to Salzburg you can also visit the beautiful Lake Wolfgang or the Lake Mondsee.

After a short visit and a few photos, it is worth continuing on to Salzburg, which also has plenty to offer.

Hallstatt – Salzburg: 74 km (46 miles), 1 hour 15 minutes

Salzburg, Austria’s fourth-largest city, lies at the foot of the Alps. Salzburg is famous for its charming historic city center, its impressive architectural wonders and its musical heritage. The city has been made famous by names such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose birthplace was Salzburg.

Take at least half a day, or even a whole day, to explore Salzburg.

The absolute best places to visit are:

Fortress Hohensalzburg

The Fortress Hohensalzburg is one of Salzburg’s most prominent landmarks, rising high above the city on a hilltop. This medieval fortress is the symbol of the city and one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe.

It offers impressive views of the city and the surrounding Alps, so you can take beautiful photos from the viewpoints. The Reisszug cable railway provides easy access to the fortress.

Kapuzinerberg

On the other, northern bank of the river Salzach is the Kapuzinerberg hill. It is worth taking a walk here and admiring the view from the hillside.

The most famous are the lookouts on the Kapuzinerberg, from where you get a breathtaking view of the city. From there you can see the Salzach River and the fabulous Hohensalzburg Fortress.

Mirabell Palace

The Mirabell Palace in Salzburg is a magnificent Baroque building dating from the 17th century.

The beautiful gardens around the Mirabell Palace are carefully maintained, decorated with sculptures, fountains and flowers. These gardens are the ideal setting for a pleasant stroll when visiting Salzburg.

Admission to both the palace and the gardens is free, but please note the opening times.

If you only have a short time left in Salzburg, the gardens are worth spending your time in and skipping the inside of the palace, as we think the gardens are the highlight.

In the evening, continue on to the next destination, Innsbruck.

Salzburg – Innsbruck: 190 km (118 miles), 2 hours 15 minutes

On the way, keep in mind that you will have to cross the Austrian-German border, as the route takes you through Germany to Tyrol. Unfortunately, in recent years Germany has introduced border controls at some of its borders, so be prepared for a possible check.

It is worth spending the night in Innsbruck.

Where to stay in Innsbruck

  • The PENZ Hotel: A four-star modern hotel with private garage, located in the city center
  • Leipziger Hof Innsbruck: Nice four-star hotel in alpine style, a little further from the city center, at affordable prices, with parking

Day 5: Innsbruck, Schlegeisspeicher

Innsbruck

Start your day by visiting Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol and the largest city in the area.

In our opinion, the most spectacular spot in Innsbruck is the riverside promenade next to the market square beside the Innbrücke (bridge), where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Inn River, the colorful Tyrolean houses on the riverbank and the often snow-capped Tyrolean mountains in the background.

Other must-see places include the Old Town of Innsbruck with attractions such as the Golden Roof, the Stadtturm or City Tower and the Triumphpforte or Triumphal Arch. These are all within a short walk, and you can also admire the beauty of Austrian architecture on the way.

Schlegeisspeicher

In the afternoon, travel on to the Tyrolean countryside, where you can visit one of Austria’s most popular reservoirs in the Tyrolean mountains.

In Austria, reservoirs are often found in the mountains. These are large mountain reservoirs with huge dams, which mostly function as power plants.

One of the most beautiful and easily accessible is the Schlegeisspeicher or Schlegeis Stausee. The Schlegeisspeicher is one of the largest such reservoirs in Austria.

Innsbruck – Schlegeisspeicher: 92 km (57 miles), 1 hour 40 minutes

The route starts on the A12 highway and then turns off into the Zillertal (Ziller Valley). You have to drive through the Zillertal, which is the most famous valley of Tyrol, full of interesting houses, hotels, hiking areas and in winter ski resorts.

The road becomes a toll road after the last village, which costs about €15 per car. This has to be paid to the staff on the spot. Also pay attention to the opening hours of the road, the lake is only accessible in summer. On the way, you pass through some old tunnels, and when you reach the lake, there are many parking options available.

Olpererhütte

The Olpererhütte is a mountain refuge offering accommodation and dining options, located high in the mountains near the Schlegeisspeicher.

Adjacent to the Olpererhütte, you’ll find the iconic suspension bridge overlooking the lake, which has become extremely popular on social media in recent years.

However, in our experience, the hike up to the Olpererhütte and the bridge may not be easy. There is a moderately difficult hiking trail leading up from the road by the lake, taking you steeply up the mountainside. Therefore, basic hiking gear is recommended, and it’s worth allocating sufficient time to complete the hike.

Nevertheless, the destination is well worth the effort, offering exceptional views.

Spend the night in Innsbruck again, or even a better idea, in the Zillertal.

Where to stay in the Zillertal

Day 6: Kaprun, Grossglockner

The sixth day is planned for the area around Austria’s highest mountain peak, the Grossglockner. Here you can explore popular places such as the town of Zell am See, the popular reservoirs of Kaprun and the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

Kaprun

The first attractions are the Alpine Reservoirs of Kaprun.

Zillertal – Kaprun: 93 km (58 miles), 1 hour 50 minutes

Next to Zell am See is the magical village of Kaprun, a wonderful hiking destination in summer and a ski paradise in winter.

If you travel in the summer, the two reservoir lakes of Kaprun are definitely worth a visit.

By car, you can get to the upper car park, where buses and a funicular take you up to the lakes.

The lower lake is the Stausee Wasserfallboden, which is less popular and can be viewed from the bus, and the upper one is the truly breathtaking Stausee Mooserboden.

Note that the last stop for the bus is at the upper lake, so there is more time to look around and relax. There you can admire the picturesque alpine landscape, with mountain peaks such as Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner, in the background.

If you visit the upper lake, don’t miss the Höhenburg Stauseen Kaprun lookout, from where you get a perfect panoramic view of the lake and the mountains.

And in the Bergrestaurant Mooserboden next to the Stausee Mooserboden, you can also have a delicious lunch and try Tyrolean specialities.

Grossglockner High Alpine Road

In the afternoon, if you still have time, take a detour to the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, a long and very winding pass near the Grossglockner and the surrounding mountains.

The Edelweißspitze lookout, a short drive from the road, offers a particularly fantastic view. Note that the Grossglockner High Alpine Road is only open in summer and is also quite expensive (last time it was over €30). However, it is worth the detour, as there are few places with such a wonderful mountain panorama with glaciers, sometimes popping marmots and small lakes.

And if you continue on the road to Lienz, stop for a while at the picturesque village of Heiligenblut.

If you decide to skip the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, then the viewpoints and lakeside of Zell am See offer a great way to relax.

Spend the night in Zell am See or Lienz, depending on whether you have crossed the Grossglockner High Alpine Road.

Where to stay in Zell am See

Where to stay in Lienz

  • Dolomitengolf Suites: a five-star hotel at an affordable price, close to Lienz, in a quiet location
  • Hotel Moarhof: a renovated, traditional Austrian-style hotel at a good price in Lienz

Day 7: Return to Vienna

On the seventh day, we have planned two itineraries for you to choose from. Both depart from the mountains and return to Vienna as on the last day we return to the starting point.

If you arrived in Austria by plane, you will probably return home by plane from Vienna.

If you arrived by car, you will need a customized route.

In any case, we plan a return to Vienna in our itinerary.

Route A

If you had crossed the Grossglockner High Alpine Road the previous day and spent the night in Lienz, you can return to Vienna through the south of Austria, giving you the opportunity to explore new places along the way.

In this case, the route:

Lienz – Spittal an der Drau – Villach – Klagenfurt – Graz – Vienna: 464 km (288 miles), nearly 5 hours

On the way, you have the opportunity to visit the following for a short stop:

  • Lake Wörth
  • Klagenfurt
  • Graz
  • Austria’s largest shopping mall, the SCS in Vösendorf

Route B

If you preferred to stay in Zell am See the day before, the shortest way back to Vienna is via Salzburg and Linz (not Lienz, the two are different!).

In this case, the route:

Zell am See – Salzburg – Linz – Vienna: 395 km (245 miles), 4 hours 15 minutes

By choosing this option, you may have the opportunity to visit interesting places in the Bavarian Alps, such as:

  • Königssee
  • Hintersee

Or you can also make up for something you missed in Salzburg or on the way. You can visit, for example:

  • Lake Mondsee
  • Lake Attersee
  • Lake Traunsee (if missed earlier)

Both routes therefore offer interesting and valuable attractions, decide according to your preferences.

As you return to Vienna on the evening of the seventh day, the 7-day Austrian tour comes to an end.

So, this was our 7-day road trip itinerary in Austria, showcasing the best places in the country. We hope our itinerary has inspired you enough to plan a perfect road trip in Austria for 7 days or even longer. We are sure you will have a fantastic journey with great places, friendly people, delicious food, and really everything good that Austria has to offer.

Other day trip destinations in Austria to add to your itinerary

Of course, there are plenty of other fantastic destinations in Austria. But they are usually more time-consuming. Our favorites are the mountain hikes in Tyrol (e.g. hike to the Seebensee and Drachensee), but unfortunately they are difficult to fit into such a busy tour. If you think there are other places in Austria that you are interested in, simply add them to the itinerary. As the itinerary above covers almost all parts of Austria, you can easily add extra days for new destinations.

Lake Neusiedl in Burgenland

At the very end, there is Austria’s largest natural lake, the Lake Neusiedl. This shallow lake is located in the eastern part of Austria, near the Hungarian border. It is a popular summer destination with many beaches, restaurants and campsites.

Our favorite is the lighthouse in the village of Podersdorf, which is a great photo spot, especially at sunset. You can walk along the lake, swim in summer and try the local gastronomy.

Green Lake in Styria

Grüner See (Green Lake) is a small lake in northern Styria, about an hour’s drive northwest of Graz. The Grüner See is an exceptional mountain lake in a picturesque location in Austria. The water level in the lake is constantly changing. It is named after the emerald green color of its water.

Lake Seebensee in Tyrol

Seebensee is a lake in the Tyrol, near the small town of Ehrwald, high in the Austrian mountains. The lake is surrounded by huge rocky mountains and the water has a beautiful clear green color. It is one of the most beautiful lakes we have ever visited in Austria.

If you still have energy, beyond Seebensee is another, perhaps even more beautiful lake, called Drachensee.

There is also a complete hiking guide to Lake Seebensee and Lake Drachensee, which you can read by clicking on the link.

Lake Lünersee in Vorarlberg

Lake Lünersee is located in the western part of Austria, in Vorarlberg. The Lünersee is one of the largest natural mountain lakes in the Alps. The dam built was only needed to deepen the lake and for the power plants. The bright blue lake is surrounded by beautiful rocky mountains that offer excellent hiking opportunities.

We think the best views are from the south and east sides of the lake, climbing a little up the hillside. There is also a restaurant near the lake, where you can enjoy the view of the lake on the terrace while you enjoy local Austrian food.

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