A holiday in Austria bestows many moments of bliss that will remain with you long after you leave. Austria is not just about sophisticated Vienna, although this is certainly a hotspot among visitors. During your explorations of the city, you might want to go to 'Zum scharzen Kameel', a wine bar, restaurant and delicatessen all in one. It is historic, authentic and has been a favourite of the Viennese for nearly 400 years.
In Innsbruck, the Ambras Castle is well worth a visit. The area also boasts astounding views for all hikers from atop Innsbruck's majestic Nordkette mountain range. Step on board the Nordkette cable car designed by star-architect Zaha Hadid and rise to new heights all within just twenty minutes' drive from Innsbruck's old town.
For more information, why not read our Austria travel guide.
Tips for driving in Austria
A UK paper driving licence is only valid when accompanied by photographic proof of identity, e.g. passport.
What side of the road do they drive on?
Drive on the right, overtake on the left. At junctions with roundabouts, vehicles already on the roundabout have right of way. Vehicles on rails have priority even when they approach from the left.
If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle. The fine for non-compliance is €35.
Driving with children
Children under 14 and shorter than 1.50m cannot travel as a front or rear seat passenger unless using a suitable restraint system for their height and weight. Vehicles without such protection e.g. two-seater sports cars, vans or lorries may not be used at all to transport children under 14 years of age.
Children under 14 years but over 1.50 metres in height must use the adult seat belt. Children aged 14 or over, and over 1.35 metres in height are allowed to use a 'Dreipunktgurt' (three point seat belt) without a special child seat, if the belt does not cover the throat or neck of the child.
Blood alcohol limits
Austria is very strict on drink driving. The maximum permitted level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 49mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is between 50mg and 79mg a fine will be imposed, 80mg or more a severe fine and / or driving ban for Austria will be imposed. A lower limit of 10mg is applicable to new drivers who have held their licence under 2 years.
Can I use a mobile phone?
It’s illegal to use a mobile unless you have a hands-free kit. Fines can be as high as €730.
Reflective vests, triangles & other essential equipment
A reflective vest must be kept in the vehicle at all times. It is compulsory to carry a warning triangle (must conform to EC Regulation 27), first aid kit, and winter weather equipment.
NB: It is the driver's legal responsibility to carry the required winter equipment; therefore, it is essential to check that it is included in any hire car.
Do I need winter tyres?
Between November 1st and April 15th, vehicles must be fitted with winter tyres (which must be marked M&S (Mud & Snow) on the side walls and have a minimum tread depth of 4mm) or all-season tyres which must be marked M&S and if roads have a covering of snow, slush or ice outside these dates.
Theoretically, snow chains on summer tyres can be used as an alternative to winter tyres where the road is heavily covered with snow and no damage to the road surface is caused by the snow chains. In practice, because road conditions and the weather cannot be predicted, use of winter tyres is effectively compulsory.
Spiked tyres may be used from the 1st October until the 31st May- special local regulations may extend this period.
In the event of congestion or an accident
It is compulsory to form an emergency corridor whenever traffic congestion occurs on motorways, dual carriageways, or highways regardless of whether emergency vehicles are already in the vicinity or not.
Always park in the direction of traffic- it is illegal to park facing oncoming traffic.
Vienna has a large pedestrian zone and parking is very limited with a maximum stay of three hours in 'blue zones'. These zones are indicated by a blue circle bordered in red with a red diagonal line through and the word Kurzparkzone.
Sometimes a voucher is required for parking. These can be obtained from most tobacconists, banks, and some petrol stations.
On the spot fines
Try and keep some cash on you in case of an on the spot fine. These must be paid immediately or your car may be impounded.
Austrian police can impose and collect fines of up to €90 on the spot from drivers who violate traffic regulations. The officer is required to issue an official receipt which you must keep. In the event of a higher fine, the police officer may ask for a deposit and the remainder to be paid within two weeks.
Horns and headlights
The use of the horn is generally prohibited in Vienna and in the vicinity of hospitals.
Passing lights (dipped headlights) must be used when visibility is poor due to bad weather conditions. You must use dipped headlights in tunnels.
Do I need a Vignette to drive on the motorway?
All vehicles using Austrian motorways and expressways must display a motorway tax sticker (vignette). The stickers, which are valid for one calendar year, two months or 10 days, may be purchased at some petrol stations located close to the border in neighbouring countries. In Austria: at the frontier, at petrol stations, post offices or in ÖAMTC offices. A special vignette the 'Korridor Vignette' is required for vehicles travelling from Hohenehms to Horbranz on the German Border if a standard vignette has not been purchased.
This vignette is available from petrol stations in the vicinity and at the borders. Fines for driving without a vignette can be severe, minimum €120.
When a school bus has stopped to let children on and off, indicated by a yellow flashing light, drivers travelling in the same direction are not permitted to overtake.
Radars and dash cams
It is prohibited to use radar detectors. Dashboard cameras are prohibited in Austria.
What should I do if I breakdown?
If you breakdown, you must put on a reflective jacket and place the reflective triangle 30m behind the vehicle to warn other drivers. Call the supplier immediately who will be able to advise you further.
What should I do if I have an accident?
If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. You must also contact the supplier to ensure that you follow the correct procedure.
Toll roads in Austria
Tolls are payable when passing through certain motorway tunnels in Austria.
- Pyhrn Motorway: Bosruck Tunnel
- Pyhrn Motorway: Gleinalm Tunnel
- Tauern Motorway: Tauern and Katschberg Tunnels
- Karawanken Motorway: Karawanken Tunnel
- Brenner Motorway: Entire route
- Brenner Motorway: Exit Stubai
- Arlberg Motorway: Arlberg Road Tunnel
Graz to Vienna – 200km (2hrs)
Innsbruck to Salzburg – 186km (2hrs)
Innsbruck to Graz – 458km (4hrs 35mins)
Salzburg to Vienna – 295km (2hrs 55mins)
Salzburg to Graz – 277km (2hrs 50mins)
Vienna to Innsbruck – 476km (4hrs 40mins)