The Glockner Tour
This tour is a must for every biker staying nearby. Unique landscapes and dreamlike roads are waiting to be conquered.
The Hunguest Hotel Heiligenblut is the starting point for the Grossglockner Alpine Tour. From the second night of stay every guest at the Hunguest Hotel Heiligenblut is given a free Carinthia National Park Card and a voucher for the Grossglockner panoramic road so you just need to redeem the voucher at the Heiligenblut tollgate. Then the fun can really start!
On the 48 kilometres of the Glockner tour the traveller will find lush green alpine pastures, forest areas up to the woods limit and the eternal ice coverlet of the Pasterzen glacier.
There is a roundabout some 3 kilometres after the Heiligenblut tollgate where you can turn towards the Emperor Francis Joseph Summit (Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Höhe). It is worth making this small detour because you would never get any closer to the Grossglockner on this tour. The way there passes by the Margaritzen reservoir fed by the waters of the glacier, and then by some waterfalls and a beautiful mountain lake. Free parking with separate biker-safe facilities is available at the Franz Josef Summit. Time to have a look around and pull out the camera. Motifs, there are plenty!
If you are for a walk or prefer to cool down in hot weather you should visit the Gamsgruben tunnels. Worthwhile to visit are the Swarovski gazebo and the exhibitions.
Now get back to the roundabout and head towards Zell am See to drive along the actual Glockner road.
Along this impressive road you’ll find many exhibits and information panels reporting on the flora and fauna existing along the route, the construction of the road itself and other points of interest.
At the highest point of the road and after riding for 20 kilometres on the border between the provinces of Carinthia and Salzburg you pass the Hochtor at a height of 2,504 meters and in a few minutes you reach the famous Fuscher Törl (2,428 m). From this point you descend some 1,200 meters to reach the Ferleiten tollgate. During the ride you can observe the height at which the trees start to reappear and realize how well the flora feels here. If you don’t mind to spend a little time you can visit the wildlife park located close to the tollgate.
You continue riding on the Glockner road along the valley until you reach the Pinzgauer national road (B311) and there you turn towards Zell am See. About three kilometres later, just before reaching Zell am See you may choose to visit Zell or continue towards Stuhlfelden and Mittersill on road B168 and head towards the road to Felbertauern. Tip: visit Zell am See and have a great ice cream in any of the many lakeside cafes or just visit the historic city centre and have the ice cream there – it is up to you.
When the ice cream is over and the photos are all made, you can continue your journey towards the road to Felbertauern. You get back to the B168 road heading to Mittersill and take the direction to Mittersill. You ride through Fürth, Lengdorf and Stuhlfelden to reach Mittersill, where you turn towards the road to Felbertauern. Here, another 20 km to the tunnel. The well-built and slightly curvy road leads steadily uphill.
The Felbertauern tunnel itself has a length of 5.3 km and is located at a height of some 1,600 m. Unlike other tunnels in Austria there are never traffic jams here, even if a few more cars than normal iron the asphalt. Arriving from Mittersill the tollgate is located at the tunnel exit. You have to pay 8 € per bike and 10 € per car. After paying you make the next 14.5 km downhill towards Matrei and Lienz. You cannot miss the way to Lienz – it is very well signposted and it is (almost) impossible to get lost. However, one should hold back on this very attractive road section with the throttle. Not only bikers but also gentlemen equipped with laser speedometers know how appealing this road is. A few minutes before reaching Lienz you pass by the junction leading to Defereggental and to Kals am Grossglockner. Both destinations are worth separate trips.
When arriving in Lienz the old town offers a stroll. Parking spaces are available in abundance near the centre and are visibly signposted. The ‘Sunny City Lienz’ lives up to its name. Numerous street cafes populate the old town that is pedestrianized in the summer and plenty of shops invite you to stroll and shop.
The last part of the journey, some 40 km long, leads back to Heiligenblut. The route is well marked – no matter you head to either Mölltal or Grossglockner. It goes from Lienz to Winklern through the Iselsberg pass (1,209 m) and from there to Heiligenblut, where this tour began.
The Apriach panoramic road
Not far from Heiligenblut, in the vicinity of the Grossglockner Alpine Road there are a lot of attractions for the interested visitor to the Grossglockner region. One of these jewels is Apriach, the sleepy little mountain village, which hugs the steep slopes of the upper Mölltal. Just as the village, the mountain road to Apriach that we want to cover is nestled on the hillside and winds its way high up from Großkirchheim and Döllach to Apriach and continues through Schachnern up to Heiligenblut.
Starting at the Hunguest Hotel Heiligenblut towards Winklern we pass through Heiligenblut and pass by the right-most eighty-meters-high Jungfernsprung waterfall until we reach after about 10 minutes Grosskirchheim / Döllach. Shortly after the first houses we turn left onto the Dorfstrasse, where the ‘Döllach’ village sign greets us. After another 300 meters we turn left at the ‘Apriach’ junction – careful driving is advisable here.
The road is, as expected, pretty tight and twisty and winds among rustic houses and lush pastures. Some curves are so tight that you would prefer to lift the iron above ;-) Reaching the panoramic road and the intriguing view, however, are a well-deserved reward for the ‘effort’ of the driveway. If you come at intersections the way up and you don’t know what direction to choose, always choose ‘uphill’.
The Apriach road is characterized by the wonderful panorama of the surrounding mountain ridges and the impressive view of the deeply lying Mölltal. The road is rarely travelled since it is not really known for tourists. Still you should drive with caution since both the road and the curves are narrow and difficult to see through at higher speeds. This would not discourage a biker - you should try it by all means.
It is worthwhile to insert breaks during the journey and visit the water mills of Apriach. These mills are historic witnesses of rural life from the times when water was used as a driving force. These mills are still fully operational and used in part in show events.
Similarly, the 400-year-old ‘Mentlhof’ farm is worth a visit. Today it is a beautifully furnished mountain farm museum where you can walk on the path of mountain peasants of early ages and you can learn about the hardships of life above 1,400 m of altitude. You can lend a hand on everything and imagine the works made by the former inhabitants. The Mentlhof tavern offers culinary delights, for the labourer must eat well and hearty!
When you are really close to your destination you can still have a look around in the gold-mining village of Heiligenblut. When you pass Schachnern you can take the road right up the hill to the gold mining village. The road is narrow and the many curves are very tight and sometimes adventurous. After about one km you reach the parking where you can cool down the machine and invite yourself for a drink in the ‘Alter Pocher’ Alpine inn (1,809 m). After the refreshment you can walk around the restored gold-mining village and try panning for gold. Whoever finds a treasure may give me half for the good tip.
After a drink and some gold-panning it is time to go back to the hotel. The switchbacks take you back to the familiar Schachnern road and then to the Glockner panoramic road. Here you turn left and a few minutes later and some meters lower you can see the entrance sign of Heiligenblut.
Lienz - Defereggental -Staller Sattel - Antholz (Italy) - Silian - Lienz
The 250-km round trip should start with a hearty breakfast in the Hunguest Hotel Heiligenblut. You cross Mölltal and drive down to Winklern and then continue through the Iselsberg pass towards Lienz.
Just before you reach Lienz you should cross two roundabouts and drive towards the city centre. After arriving in Lienz you should always follow the ‘Felbertauern Tunnel’ (B108) signs. Leaving behind the city you drive about 15 kilometres on the national road towards Felbertauern along the river Isel until you reach Huben. Here you have the junction to Defereggental. The junction is shown by a traffic sign as well as a beautifully crafted road sign.
A short and curvy road takes the traveller down to the Defereggen valley. Don’t miss the view to the valley of the Isel River on the left. In the middle you can see right into the valley; you have wonderfully verdant hillsides on the left and the right and at the valley floor, the blue-green Isel River and the road to Felbertauern – our destination.
The Defereggental valley invites you to explore it. Just as the landscape, we can return easily and gently to the road to Defereggental after 20 kilometres. We cross the idyllically overgrown tunnel and pass by traditional farms and houses. Just don’t be hectic. If you wish you can take a detour to the Mariahilf-Wallfahrt Church. You can find it at St. Jakob – signed by signs impossible to oversee. The road continues uphill, now a little steeper, and the road becomes narrower. The Staller Sattel (in Italian: Passo Stalle) is getting closer... On arrival in Stallersattel located at a lofty height of 2,052 m the heroic biker is welcomed by the sight of a deep blue mountain lake reflecting like a dream landscape of the surrounding mountains. You should take a rest in one of the large and small parking places along the lake and enjoy the rugged, beautiful landscape.
After Antholz the road into the valley is so narrow that a simultaneous driving up and down is not possible. Thus, the rule is that in the first quarter of every hour (from 0 to the15th minute) vehicles may drive downhill and in the third quarter (from the 30th to the 45th minute) only uphill. Who arrives at a bad moment would have enough time to let the eyes wander down the South-Tyrol Antholzertal valley and also to have a snack at the bar. When the traffic light turns green you can continue your journey to Antholzertal. When driving on the narrow streets featuring uncountable small curves the inclined biker will quickly realize that a two-way traffic is just impossible on this road. The switchbacks are tight and you wish to cut as many bends as you can. It is delightful and makes a hell of fun!
Once you overcome this bottleneck you pass by Lake Antholzer (1,640 m), a popular tourism destination. Now you cross the three parts of Antholz - Antholz Obertal (1,532 m), Antholz Mittertal (1,250 m) and Antholz Niedertal (1,135 m) to reach the Via Pusteria (Pustertaler road - SS49/E66). You turn left towards Dobbacio (Toblach) and continue always along the E66. You pass by the Fiume Rienza Lake and keep on riding along the valley until you reach Toblach. Stay on the E66 (Via Pusteria) and continue riding towards Innichen, and after passing the border you get back into Austria. Follow the main road to Drautal (B100) until you reach Silian and then continue towards Lienz. To not just focus on the main road and let anything else to do for the eyes, it is worth to leave the main road at Abfaltersbach and turn left to continue along the Pustertaler mountain road. To handle better the longer way back it is worth to have a drink and a snack at restaurant Bärenwirt close to the Assling wildlife park. You can incidentally try out the summer bob track.
After this small detour let’s get back on the road. The mountain road connects to the Drautal main road, which we left earlier and which we take back again - in the direction of Lienz. The way back home from Lienz is made simple: ride always towards Grossglockner / Mölltal. The traffic signposts will show the way.
Mölltal valley - Gmünd - Nockalm alpine road - Lake Millstatt - Drau Valley
The starting point of this broader tour is Heiligenblut. After breakfast put on the mandatory biking clothing, visit the garage and bring the bike to life.
The first twenty kilometres from Heiligenblut to Winklern go downhill. Shortly after entering Winklern you turn left towards Spittal / Highway. In the next 30 kilometres to Lendorf we touch Flattach (you find the beautiful Ragga gorge here), Obervellach and Reisseck (remember these names for later). At Lendorf the road splits. You have to turn left on the B100 main road direction Spittal an der Drau but DO NOT take the motorway! After this you touch a few small towns with evocative names such as Sankt Peter in Holz. As soon as you recover from the magic of the names you reach the outskirts of the district capital Spittal an der Drau and the first roundabout. The signage is great and if you stick to ‘half left’ towards Gmünd / Katschberg / Millstatt you can leave behind Spittal. Barely outside, road B99 splits. We keep to the left - believe it or not - to Gmünd / Katschberg. Suddenly everything goes really nice - the road runs pleasantly on the creek shore and has plenty of nice curves and quiet hamlets. Fine! This is what makes fun a ride!
The medieval Gmünd and a roundabout come in sight, and depending on your mood you have three options:
· visit Gmünd (left at the roundabout), a great historic city with nice cafes, museums, a historic castle and for Porsche fans the Porsche Museum;
· detour to Maltatal (also left at the roundabout) and to the Malta mountain road, including a visit to the Kölnbrein reservoir, or
· continue towards the Nockalm road (straight at the roundabout).
For the sake of simplicity, we leave nothing out and visit the beautiful Gmünd first. Here you have the option to take to the left towards the castle, because it cannot be unseen and there is plenty of parking at the feet. It is time to turn off the engine and head towards the historic old town, where nice cafes and idyllic streets await to be explored...
‘Nestled in the Hohe Tauern and Nockberge national parks lies the small town of Gmünd at the confluence of two rivers: the Lieser and the Malta. This is the origin of the Gmünd name (münden = merge). The two, located on the trade route between Venice and Regensburg, was created in the 12th century or early in the 13th century, firstly as a trading post, out of which evolved rapidly the city. In 1346 Gmünd received the city charter, making it one of the oldest cities in Austria. With its perfectly preserved medieval streets and squares, the city offers an ambience that for miles around is unique.’ (Source: www.stadt-gmuend.at )
After this excursion and possibly a little refreshment, the bikes are fired up and we continue the journey towards the Malta Valley. In this road section of some 10 kilometres to the tollgate we touch Carinthia's highest waterfall - the Fallbach. With its 200 meters of height it is a truly impressive sight and worth a short stop. From here, the valley deserves its name: ‘Valley of the falling water.’
We continue the journey and a short time later reach the toll-house of the Hochalm Road (911 m above sea level). Bikers who have the Carinthia National Park Card have literally ‘winning cards’ because presenting the card exempt them from paying toll for this road.
From here we make 14.4 kilometres and cross six narrow and partly unlit tunnels, two of which operate as turning ones. In one place there are traffic lights to control the traffic. The entire route is bordered by spectacular waterfalls that along with the impressive tracking make the road an unforgettable experience. The tour ends at a height of 1,933 m at the Kölnbrein reservoir that can be visited inside with the help of a guide. Incidentally, the dam has a height of 200 m and feeds several power plants with water - including the Reisseck plant (here the name comes again) in Mölltal that we passed by.
If you have enough altitude caught and let the huge amounts of water delight you, it's time to break back into the valley and continue the journey. The way back to Gmünd is familiar and at the roundabout the tour continues on the already known B99 towards Katschberg. Again there are to admire the idyllic villages and the stream that runs on the left or right side of the road as a true companion. Once in Kremsbrücke keep the eyes open to miss not the junction towards to the Innerkrems / Nockalm road. You make some 10 kilometres on this road to reach the junction of the Nockalm road. The same rule applies: it is toll-free with the Carinthia National Park Card and costs 7 € for motorcycles and 14 € for passenger cars without the card.
Here begins one of the most beautiful mountain roads in Austria, studded with 52 turns in 34 kilometres. First, it goes up to the Eisentalhöhe summit. The Eisentalhöhe is at 2,042 meters the highest point of the Nockalm road. Here you find a restaurant offering typical Carinthian food, a dedicated motorcycle parking and a belvedere with explanations of the Nockbergen mountains and the surrounding area. The curvy fun continues - the well-built Nockalm road goes down to Karlbad, located at a height of 1,693 meters. The next remarkable point of the Nockalm road is the ‘Schiestlscharte’ pass. It is located in the Nockbergen mountains at a height of 2,024 meters and also features a special parking for motorcycles. We continue now turn after turn and after some nine kilometres we reach the Reichenau plateau at a height of 1,060 m. Just before the southern tollgate of the Nockalm road many bikers turn back to enjoy the experience of the Nockalm road for a second or even a third time before continuing the journey. By the way, there are typical restaurants and inns along the road offering real Carinthian food.
When you have sufficiently contented yourself with the spectacular scenery offered by the Nockberge National Park, you can leave the Nockalm road at the south exit (Reichenau plateau) and head on the B95 towards Bad Kleinkirchheim. After some five minutes of ride or so you reach Patergassen to turn right and take road B88 to Bad Kleinkirchheim. When you reach Döbriach you are at the southeast end of Lake Millstätter. In the following road section we always travels parallel to the lake towards the north and pass through the towns of Dellach, Pesenthein and Millstatt to finally arrive in Seeboden. Now it's time to say goodbye to the lake and head again towards Spittal. After two or three kilometres you should recognize the road since you used it for a short while the way back. We quickly cross the city of Spittal the way back toward Mölltal / Grossglockner. We are back on the well-known toll-free road to drive again through Sankt Peter in Holz and Lendorf. After Lendorf the B100 splits and we go straight toward Lienz, because the Drautal is waiting for us. The B100 is very well built in this section and invites to spin the rubbers a little faster. At this point I want to discourage you all since the local road police is fairly aware of the structural advantages of the road and laser guns are not only used on board of Starship Enterprise…
The return after the well-developed section passes through tranquil villages like Berg im Drautal or Oberdrauburg, until you arrive at the gates of Lienz. From this point on you may follow the road straight ahead into the centre of the town for a great ice cream or you may turn out at the first roundabout towards Mölltal / Iselsberg / Grossglockner. Here you should easily find the way home to Heiligenblut through Iselsberg and Winklern.
Have a nice trip!
Gmünd Homepage or Wikipedia
Porsche Museum Gmünd
Malta-Hochalmstraße and Kölnbreinspeicher
Spittal an der Drau
Villach Alpine Road touching Weissensee and through Hermagor
After a hearty breakfast and putting on the obligatory protective clothing, in the first section of the journey in Mölltal we descend to Winklern, thence we pass through Iselsberg (1,204 m) toward Lienz to leave Carinthia and we enter East Tyrol. Shortly before Lienz, where you already reach the valley, you will be greeted by a roundabout; there you select the ‘left’ direction to Spittal (B100/B107). After about a kilometre you reach the last crossroad. Here you turn left again towards Spittal. Now are in the beautiful Dölsach, in the Drautal valley, on the Drau Valley road (B100). The road is initially broad and well developed, but after some 20 km it becomes slightly narrower. Continue on this road for some 30 kilometres to Greifenburg. In the centre of the village you turn sharp right in direction Weissensee. At the border of the town a very attractive road section begins. The road climbs steeply and with dozens of sharp curves up to the Weissensee. After the rise you still turn not to the right - to Hermagor - but go straight ahead, always toward the lake. The Weissensee, of a total area of 6.5 sq km is located 930 m above sea level and with this, it is Carinthia's highest lake, inviting for a swim in the summer when water temperatures climb up to 24 °C. Who has forgotten his trunks may have an ice cream.
Now we head toward Hermagor. Like the way up, the route downhill goes through a dense forest area and features marvellous curves. Once you reach the district capital at a height of 600 m you take the main road to Gailtal (B111), then you turn left towards Villach. We keep rolling on this road for the next 40 kilometres and cross the Gailtal valley in a relaxed mood. The tempting offers to use the highway let us cold now. In Arnoldstein, shortly before Villach, we switch to the Carinthian main road (B83). Once you have reached Villach, you can hardly go wrong. The road to the Villach Alpine Panoramic Road is shown very well. Just at the beginning of the panoramic road you pass by the main gates of the Villach Alpine Arena - the facility where many ski jumping World Cups have been held. After reaching Mauthäuschen you can continue toll free using the Carinthia National Park Card, otherwise you pay 13 € for cars and 7 € for motorcycles (summer 2009).
The Villach Alpine Road runs for 16.5 km from Villach-Möltschach (550 m) to the Dobratsch (1,732 m) but not quite up to the summit (2,167 m). For motorists the journey ends at the Rosstratte at 1,732 m. The summit must be hiked on foot. The route with its seven turns and 116 curves offers splendid views. Who wants to look around and not only drive has 11 parking places to grab the opportunity and enjoy the view over Villach, the Karawanken mountains and the Julian Alps. Simple but excellent quality Carinthian dishes are served at the Rosstrattenstüberl Berggasthof (mountain inn) and in the Aichinger hut. If the belly is full, you can start the return journey.
As a designated long-term goal we always head towards Spittal / Drau but without using the highway. We cross the outskirts of Villach on the B86 until it merges with the B100 Drautal main road. This is a very well-maintained road that in the next 30 kilometres brings us h Kellerberg, Feffernitz and Feistritz to reach the beautiful Spittal. Here again there is no danger to miss the right path. Just always head to Mölltal / Grossglockner. Between Lendorf and Möllbrücke we turn to the Mölltal valley and we make 50 kilometres on the B106 national road to reach Winklern.
On warm summer days it is worth a stop at the Ragga gorge in Flattach. With thousands of years of painstaking work the Ragga stream has created one of the most beautiful gorges in the Alps. Vertical rock walls constrict the romantic gorge and the water mist fills the air. A truly rewarding show of nature that will impress even diehard motorists.
Once in Winklern you put the right indicators and cover the last 22 kilometres to Heiligenblut on the B107, the main road Großglockner road. Arriving back at the Hotel Heiligenblut, you sit and relax on the terrace to review the experiences of the day and enjoy the well-deserved beer in the sunset and luxuriate with the magnificent view of the Grossglockner.
Villach Alpine Road