Eastern Alps

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Eastern Alps - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Alten Pocher

    A replica 16th-century gold mining village, Alten Pocher is more than 5,906 feet above sea level. Miners prospected in the Hohe Tauern for gold from the 14th to the end of the 19th century, and it was considered one of the most important gold-mining regions of its day. Today, visitors can rent rubber boots and a panning bowl to try their luck in the Fleissbach. Many caves were created through grueling labor by thousands of miners over this period, under the most arduous conditions (of course, the owners of the mines themselves lived comfortable and rich lives).

    Heiligenblut, Carinthia, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Gold panning €9, open-air mining museum free; €4 with guide, Closed mid-Sept.--mid-July, 10-5, Sept 11-5, weather permitting
  • 2. Burg Hohenwerfen

    From miles away you can see Burg Hohenwerfen, one of Europe's most formidable fortresses (it was never taken in battle), which dates from 1077. Though fires and renovations have altered its appearance, it maintains historic grandeur. Hewn from the rock on which it stands, the castle was called a "plume of heraldry radiant against the sky" by Maximilian I. It has black-timber-beamed state rooms, an enormous frescoed Knights' Hall, and a torture chamber. Eagles and falcons swoop above, adding to the medieval feel. The fortress has been used as a prison and police training center, but now it harbors Austria's first museum of falconry where the birds are rigorously trained. Shows with music, falconry, and performers in period costume are held at least twice a month; call ahead or check website for dates and times and save money by buying tickets online.

    Burgstrasse, Werfen, Salzburg, A-5450, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €16.50 including tour and birds-of-prey performance and funicular or €13 (online price); €12.50 without funicular., Closed Mon., Early April to mid-November, 9.30 to 4.30, May to September 9 to 5, mid July to mid August 20, 9 to 6
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  • 3. Church of St. Vincent

    According to local legend, St. Briccius, after obtaining a vial of the blood of Jesus, was buried by an avalanche, but when his body was recovered the tiny vial was miraculously found hidden within one of the saint's open wounds. The town gets its name, Heiligenblut (Holy Blood), from this story. Today the relic is housed in the Sakramenthäuschen, the chapel of this small but beautiful Gothic church. Completed in 1490 after more than a century of construction under the toughest conditions, the church is marked by its soaring belfry tower. Sublimely, the sharply pointed spire finds an impressive echo in the conical peak of the Grossglockner. St. Vincent's contains a beautifully carved late-Gothic double altar nearly 36 feet high, and the Coronation of Mary is depicted in the altar wings, richly carved by Wolfgang Hasslinger in 1520. The region's most important altarpiece, it imparts a feeling of quiet power in this spare, high church. The church also has a noble crypt and graveyard, the latter sheltering graves of those lost in climbing the surrounding mountains.

    Heiligenblut, Carinthia, A-9844, Austria
  • 4. Eisriesenwelt

    The "World of the Ice Giants" houses the largest known complex of ice caves, domes, galleries, and halls in Europe. It extends for some 42 km (26 miles) and contains a fantastic collection of frozen waterfalls and natural formations. Drive to the rest house, about halfway up the hill, and be prepared for some seriously scenic vistas. Then walk 15 minutes to the cable car, which takes you to a point about 15 minutes on foot from the cave, where you can take a 1¼-hour guided tour. The entire adventure takes about half a day. And remember, no matter how warm it is outside, it's below freezing inside, so bundle up, and wear appropriate shoes. You must be in reasonable shape, as there are 700 steps, but there's a restaurant with a terrace and a view where you can recover after the tour. You can also take a bus to the cable car from the Werfen train station. Buses run at 8:18 am, 10:18 am, 12:18 pm, and 2:18 pm.There are also transfers about every 25 minutes from the bus departure point at Gries, which is about a five-minute walk from the rail station.

    Eishohenstrasse 30, Werfen, Salzburg, A5450, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €28, including cable car, May 1–late Oct; May, June, Sept, Oct, 8 to 3, last ride up to cave 3.20. July and Aug, 8 to 4, last ride up to cave 4.20
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  • 5. Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse

    This is the excursion over the longest and most spectacular highway through the Alps. The road was completed in 1935, after five years of labor by 3,200 workers. From Heiligenblut the climb begins up the Carinthian side of the Grossglockner Mountain. The peak itself—at 12,461 feet the highest point in Austria—is to the west. The Grossglocknerstrasse twists and turns as it struggles to the 8,370-foot Hochtor, the highest point on the through road and the border between Carinthia and Salzburg Province.A side trip on the Edelweiss-Strasse leads to the scenic vantage point at the Edelweissspitze. It's an unbelievable view out over East Tyrol, Carinthia, and Salzburg, including 19 glaciers and 37 peaks rising above the 9,600-foot mark. The rare white edelweiss—the von Trapps sang its praises in The Sound of Music—grows here. Though the species is protected, don't worry about the plants you get as souvenirs; they are cultivated for this purpose. It is strictly forbidden to pick a wild edelweiss (or several other plant species), should you happen to come across one.You can get somewhat closer to Grossglockner peak than the main road takes you by following the highly scenic but steep Gletscherstrasse westward up to the Gletscherbahn on the Franz-Josef-Plateau, where you'll be rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views of the Grossglockner peak and surrounding Alps, of the vast glacier in the valley below, and, on a clear day, even into Italy.

    0662-873673-road information

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €37 regular or hybrid vehicle or €27 100% electric cars for a one-day pass, €59 per vehicle (all types) for 3-week pass, Early May–early November, to end of May 6am–8pm, June-August, 5am-9.30pm, Sept-Oct 6am07.30pm, Nov 8am-5pm, Closed in Winter, roughly Nov.--April
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  • 6. Hohe Tauern National Park

    This is one of the most varied and unspoiled landscapes on the planet—high Alpine meadows, deep evergreen woods, endless spiraling rock cliffs, and glacial ice fields—and at 1,786 square km (690 square miles) it's the largest national park of central Europe. It touches on three provinces (Salzburg, Carinthia, and Tyrol) and includes the Grossglockner mountain group. The Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse passes through the park. The hardier traveler may want to spend a few days hiking and lodging at any one of several refuges, where you may occasionally be treated to very rustic, homemade victuals (cheeses and hams).

  • 7. Pinzgauer Railroad

    This romantic narrow-gauge train winds its way under steam power on a two-hour trip through the Pinzgau, following the Salzach River valley westward 54 km (34 miles) to Krimml. Nearby are the famous Krimml waterfalls, with a 1,300-foot drop, which you can see from an observation platform or explore close at hand if you don't mind a steep hike. Be sure to take a raincoat and sneakers. A one-day ticket is included with a SalzburgerLand Card.


    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Zell am See to Krimml €11, round-trip €18.60
  • 8. Salzburger Dolomitenstrasse

    From Filzmoos, rejoin Route 99/E14 again at Eben im Pongau. Here you can take the A10 autobahn north to Salzburg if you're in a hurry. But if you have time for more majestic scenery and an interesting detour, continue about 4 km (2½ miles) on Route 99/E14, and turn north on Route 166, the Salzburger Dolomitenstrasse, for a 43-km (27-mile) swing around the Tennen mountains. Be careful, though, to catch the left turn onto Route 162 at Lindenthal; it will be marked to Golling. Head for Abtenau.

  • 9. Schloss Rosenberg

    In the town center, visit the very handsome 16th-century Schloss Rosenberg, which now houses the Rathaus (town hall).

    Brucker Bundestrasse 2, Zell am See, Salzburg, A-5700, Austria
  • 10. Schmittenhöhe

    A cable car will take you virtually from the center of Zell am See up to the Schmittenhöhe, at 6,453 feet, for a far-reaching panorama that takes in the peaks of the Glockner and Tauern granite ranges to the south and west and the very different limestone ranges to the north. You can have lunch at the Berghotel at the top. Four other cable-car trips are available up this mountain, part of the ski-lift system in the winter, but open in the summer for walkers and mountain bikers.

  • 11. St. Hippolyt Pfarrkirche

    Unusually fine statues of St. George and St. Florian can be found on the west wall of the splendid Romanesque St. Hippolyt Pfarrkirche, built in 1217. The tower was added about two centuries later, and the church itself was beautifully renovated in 1975.

    Stadtplatz, Zell am See, Salzburg, A-5700, Austria
  • 12. Thumersbach

    Several locations offer up stunning vistas of the town and its environs. On ground level, take a boat ride to the village of Thumersbach, on the opposite shore, for a wonderful reflected view of Zell am See.

  • 13. Vogtturm

    This more than 1000-year old tower, built in the 11th century and the oldest building in the town, houses a local history museum with details about local folklore, old costumes, and artifacts, as well as rotating exhibits featuring works and objects by local design companies or artists. It's open Wed.--Sun. from 2 to 6 pm---but opens earlier (around 11 am) if it's a rainy day!

    Stadtplatz, Zell am See, Salzburg, A-5700, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.--Tues., May–Oct., Mon., Wed., and Fri. 1:30–5:30
  • 14. Votter's Vehicle Museum

    Beautiful (and not so beautiful) cars and motorcycles from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s are on display here, including the remarkable one-person Messerschmitt Bubble Car and other, dare we say more appealing, automobiles. With around 200 exhibits, this is a great place to visit for a few hours on a rainy/bad-weather day.

    Schlossstrasse 32, Kaprun, Salzburg, A-5710, Austria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9.90, Daily 10–6

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