Driving in Austria – a guide for tourists

Rolling emerald hills and charming pastel houses, snowcapped mountains and the tinkling of cowbells – if these are some of your favorite things, then a road trip in Austria’s gorgeous countryside will surely make your heart sing.

Driving in Austria is one of the best ways to explore the country. You’ll get from one majestic city to another, through stunning natural parks and quaint little villages, all just a smooth and relaxing drive away. Here’s everything you need to know for your Austrian road trip.

Driving in Austria

  1. Requirements for driving in Austria
  2. Renting a car
  3. Road rules and driving safety
  4. Navigating in Austria
  5. Costs of driving a rental car in Austria
  6. Plan your trip – top tips for travel to Austria

Rolling emerald hills and charming pastel houses, snowcapped mountains and the tinkling of cowbells – if these are some of your favorite things, then a road trip across Austria’s gorgeous countryside will surely make your heart sing. Here’s your essential guide to driving in Austria.

What do I need to drive in Austria?

Age requirements – You must be at least 18 years old to rent a car from most rental car companies in Austria. Drivers under 25 may have to pay a “young driver” surcharge and may not be able to rent certain car models.

License requirements – To drive in Austria, it is recommended to get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Note that the IDP is only valid when used with your local license, so make sure to bring both. Driving licenses issued within the European Union are valid in Austria.

Other documents – Most rental car companies in Austria would require you to present your passport (or your national identification card if you’re an EU citizen) and a credit card under your name when picking up the rental car. Generally, cash, debit cards, or prepaid cards are not accepted.

How do I rent a car in Austria?

Reserve a car online – Thanks to smooth roads and amazing sights, Austria is a popular road trip destination. Reserve your rental car online in advance to get the best models at the best rates.

Take note that Europe mainly drives manual transmission cars, so if you require an automatic transmission car, make sure to reserve at least a month in advance.

Get a comprehensive car hire insurance – Collision damage waiver and theft protection are usually included in car rentals in Austria, but it’s best to avail of a personal car hire insurance that will cover for the excess. This means you will get reimbursed for any excess fees the rental company may charge for damages.

Add-ons – You can add a GPS unit, child seats, and winter tires to your reservation as needed.

One-way rentals – Many rental car companies in Austria allow domestic one-way rentals for an extra fee. This means you can pick-up your car from one city and drop it off in another. International one-way rentals may incur a fee, though, and are only allowed to select countries.

Here is a list of locations where you can pick and return your rental car in Austria. Plug in your travel destinations and dates below for a quick quote. RentalCars is our trusted online car rental booking platform and it works with Austria’s leading and most reputable car rental companies. Their simple online booking platform also allows you to compare prices, car models, and inclusions easily, plus they give you instant confirmation, free cancellation, and big deals and discounts.

What do I need to know when driving in Austria?

Austria drives on the right side of the road.

Speed limits – Here are the normal speed limits you need to remember when driving in Austria:

  • Highways –130 km/hr (80 miles/hr)
  • Country roads – 100 km/hr (62 miles/hr)
  • In towns and cities / urban areas – 50 km/hr (30 miles/hr), unless otherwise indicated

Watch out for speed limit signs and cameras in motorways as well as in villages.

Priority / right of way – Priority roads marked with a yellow diamond have right of way. Vehicles on a roundabout have right of way. Any emergency vehicle with flashing lights has priority, even if there is no siren. Pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, and vehicles ascending a mountain road have priority to move.

Children – Children under 12 years and 1.5 meters of height may only ride in special child seats with the appropriate restraints.

Seatbelts – Must be worn at all times.

In case of car breakdown or accidents – 112 is the general emergency number. 133 connects you to the police while 144 is the number to call for an ambulance.

Tolls – To use the Austrian motorways / autobahn, you need to have a valid highway toll sticker or vignette displayed on the inside of the windshield of your vehicle. Most rental car companies within Austria will provide this automatically with your rental car, but verify this to be sure. If not, you can get it from post offices, newsagents, and petrol stations, as well as online. A vignette valid for 10 days costs EUR 9. There are also options to get a 2-month (EUR 26.20) or one-year (EUR 87.30) toll sticker. Once you have the vignette, there are no additional payments to use the motorways.

Parking – Blue zones are free parking spaces where vehicles can be left up to 90 minutes, or as indicated on a blue sign within the vicinity. If parking on a blue zone, you need to have a parking disc that shows your time of arrival. This is usually included in your rental car, or you can buy it from a petrol station.

Don’ts when driving – Don’t drink and drive (maximum legal concentration is 0.05% Blood Alcohol Level), don’t drive during winter without snow chains, don’t park on a white line at a bus stop and in front of yellow/red lines or within 3 meters of a fire hydrant, don’t turn right on red.

How do I get around Austria while driving?

Navigational apps like Waze, Google Maps (internet connection required), and maps.me (offline map should be downloaded in advance) are useful when driving in Austria. Some rental cars will also have a built-in GPS navigator or you can purchase it as an add-on.

When navigating with Waze, add “Vignette AT” to your Toll and HOV Passes (Settings – Navigation) so the app can give you the best routes.

How much does it cost to drive in Austria?

Here’s how much it costs to go on a 3-day road trip in Austria based on 2019 prices and estimates.

Rental car – A 5-seat sedan ranges from EUR 130-180 for 3 days. This already includes unlimited mileage, theft protection, and collision damage waiver. Check here for real-time quotes for your travel dates.

Gas – Estimating 600 KM over 3 days, gas could cost you up to EUR 60.

Tolls – You’ll need a highway toll sticker or vignette to use the motorways. Most rental car companies will include this with the car, but if not, it costs EUR 9 for a vignette with a 10-day validity.

Parking – Within cities, you can look for blue zones where parking is free for a certain period of time (indicated as number of minutes on a sign within the vicinity), or paid parking spaces. “Park and Ride” garages are cheap options when spending a day in the city – you can park here for the whole day for EUR 4-5.

Tell us: What are you most excited about your trip to Austria?

Ready to go on a lovely Austrian road trip? Plan your trip!

Getting there – You can get into Austria via multiple airports (search for the best flight routes here) or by train from neighboring European countries. While rental car pick-up locations in airports and railways may impose a surcharge, its convenience may be worth the extra euros, especially if you’re traveling with a group or heading straight out on a road trip. Take advantage of one-way rentals and check if dropping off your car to a location different than your pick-up can make your itinerary smoother and more convenient.

Where to stay – Austria enjoys a central location in Europe, making it the perfect hub for visiting its many neighboring countries. Its majestic cities and quaint villages can get pretty crowded, so make sure to book your hotels at least a month or two in advance. Check here for real-time hotel deals in Austria.

Here are helpful neighborhood and accommodation guides to some of Austria’s most beautiful destinations:

Travel essentials and tickets to pre-bookGet a mobile internet so you easily find your way around Austria. If you’re planning to visit some of the popular sights in the cities, you’d want to get tickets in advance to skip the lines.

Best road trips in Austria – Ready to plan your road trip? Check these out for ideas and inspiration:

Getting from one majestic city to another is a picnic in Austria – a picnic of rolling hills, majestic mountain ranges, sparkling lakes, and storybook towns, that is! If you’re a first-time visitor to Austria and you want to try your hand at driving, this is the perfect road trip itinerary for you.

Planning a road trip in Austria? Here’s everything you need to know about driving in Austria. Make sure you have all the necessary documents, understand the most important road and safety rules, choose the best car rentals in Austria, and get a ballpark figure on how much your road trip will cost. Here’s your essential guide to driving in Austria.

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