When we started our driving tour around Europe, we only knew basics about what we needed to know about driving in different countries. This gives you a few tips on travelling by car around Austria
If you plan on driving through Austria, keep in mind that all motorways and highways have a charge. It works different than other European countries, you will need to purchases a vignette sticker that you put on your windscreen and this will prevent any nasty fines. Depending on your journey, you can either get 10 days, 3 months or 12 months.
Don’t think you will get away with it, Austria has a lot of cameras and is monitored quite a lot so be warned. Although this covers the majority of the motorways, there are some tunnels and roads that do incur an additional charge, these include:
- A9 Bosruck tunnel
- A9 Gleinalm tunnel
- A11 Karawanken tunnel
- A10 Tauern autobahn
- A13 Innbruck-Brenner pass
- A16 grossglockner alpine road
These vignette stickers can be bought before you hit Austria at service and petrol stations on the border, as well as in Austria itself.
There are, like many countries, several chains of service stations.
The main ones are;
- The old timer
All are great chains and follow the same theme of what foods they do. They tend to have traditional Austrian food and a European breakfast, these do not normally come cheap but are incredibly nice especially for a service station.
The one big difference is whether they charge for toilets…yes not all toilets are free and it’s easy to be caught out if you are not aware like us.
The only ones we found that were free were the old timer and landziet. All other charges 50cent. When you do use the paid toilets, you are issued with a ticket and with this ticket you can get 50 cents off for every €1 you spend within the service or petrol stations (as long as they accept them ofc). You can only use a max of five tickets at a time but if your going to spend the money, you might aswell get the money off.
Along with your service stations and standard lay-bys, Austria also have bigger rest stations. These are basically equiped with toilets (free of charge), a shower you can pay for (€1 for 15 minutes) and some coffee/tea/confectionary machines (we spent many a time getting a hot chocolate on a rainy day at these stops). They also have free wifi that you can use when you are parked up.
We found these particulary useful on the road as they are safe (they have surveillance) and free, I can only suggest that every country should have these along there motorways as a means of stopping.
Like any other city, you always need to be cautious when on the roads. Everyone is in a rush to get from a to b, so driving may sometimes feel intimidating. Saying that Austria isn’t as busy in the cities as other countries can be (coming from the U.K, we all know what London is like) but it is a good idea to be wary and just be a good driver! Don’t let people intimidate you into going quicker or moving to one side just so they can get somewhere, it isn’t worth it especially if you get caught and end up with some heavy fines.
Driving in the country can be a calm and pleasant experience. They are generally quiet and you can enjoy the views around you.
However, be aware that they can be small and windy, so beware of oncoming traffic and your surroundings. It is also important to take note that if you want to take a relaxing drive, that is fine, but the locals may want to just get from one place to another, so again don’t let people intimidate you but just move to one side to stop the traffic building up behind you. Of course only do this on safe parts of country roads, don’t be stopping in the middle of a motorway to let people past – this would not be good.
The Best Buy we could have got before leaving the U.K was to get the AA European handbook. We bought the whole AA European driving pack so we had everything all in one place, again I would recommend getting this too. It comes with the legal accessories you need to be able to drive in Europe. So far on our trip it has steered us in the right direction and gave us the advice we needed when knowing the law of the road. Of course I would still always recommend reading up on each country before entering as you don’t know whether the laws have changed, or new ones added.
And lastly be a safe and confident driver – if you are nervous then take a break and think about where to drive next