Austrian Romantic Route
Austrian Romantic Route – from Salzburg to SchallaburgThe Austrian Romantic Route is the most popular and best known scenic route in the country and takes you from Salzburg to Vienna. Here we’ll show you the 300-kilometre leg from Salzburg to St. Wolfgang and then continuing on a southerly route through Styria to the renaissance palace of Schallaburg in Lower Austria.
Pristine lakes, irresistible Alpine panoramas and world-class cultural attractions will become your cherished memories on this amazing road trip.
It goes without saying, but any wine stops detailed on this page are for the benefit of hire car passengers ... designated drivers must confine themselves to drinking in the scenery. Book a rental car and explore Germany
Baroque splendour: Salzburg
This baroque jewel is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, home of the Salzburg festival and a host of other cultural highlights.
The old town is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Experience history as you stroll down charming narrow lanes, past grand churches, courtyards overflowing with flowers and across wide, elegant squares.
The must-see sights are Schloss Hellbrunn with its famous fountains, mighty Festung Hohensalzburg, the DomQuartier and of course, Mozart’s birthplace and museum.
World Heritage Site: Mondsee stilt housesTake the B156 to the idyllic town and lake of Mondsee. The dominant building in Mondsee is the St. Michael’s basilica, the wedding church from the film The Sound of Music.
The region has been inhabited for more than 6,000 years and in 2011 Mondsee was designated a UNESCO Heritage Site for its prehistoric stilt houses, which are today submerged in the lake.
Visit the local stilt museum which traces the fascinating history of this stone-age settlement.
Famous lakeside town: St. WolfgangThe superb location framed by picturesque mountains and the deep azure waters of the Wolfgangsee lake gives St. Wolfgang a magnetic attraction among water sports fans and outdoor enthusiasts.
It’s a perfect place to stay and soak up the romantic charm of the Im Weissen Rössl hotel. Recharge in the spa then enjoy the local culinary delights: The “Romantik Restaurant Kaiserterrasse” attached to the hotel offers Austrian cuisine with a contemporary flair. The Seerestaurant (with its own fish farm) features more traditional, down-to-earth dishes made from local produce.
Unforgettable views of the Dachstein: Gosau by the DachsteinEnjoy an amazing drive to Gosau, first on the L116 and then the B166. The village near the Dachstein (2,995 metres) is nestled in mountainous terrain with UNESCO Nature Heritage status.
Gosau’s historical heritage buildings are all virtually perfectly preserved. The traditional paired farms and so-called 'up and down farmhouses' (living and animal quarters are up and down in the same building) still define village life.
If you are passing through Gosau on a Friday, don’t miss the farmer’s market in the Kollmann Hütte, with local delicacies like smoked venison ham, spicy mountain cheese and delicious Schaumrollen (puff pastry with meringue filling).
UNESCO World Heritage: HallstattIn 1997 UNESCO designated Hallstadt and the surrounding area as historical cultural landscapes with world heritage status.
The village houses cling to the slopes of the Salzberg like bird nests with the mountain behind and Hallstätter lake in front. Hallstadt is home to the oldest salt mine in the world, the Salzwelten Hallstatt, a fascinating world deep underground.
Another must-see attraction is the Dachstein Ice Cave in Obertraun; five kilometres from Hallstadt take the fascinating 50-minute tour and marvel at the magical icy underground world.
Where nature and culture are one: Admont and the Gesäuse National ParkYou have now officially arrived in Styria. First you cross the Ausseerland area, rich in pristine lakes, then the main town of Bad Aussee and then it’s the charming country roads (L740 and L713) to Admont.
Admont Abbey is home to the largest monastic library in the world. The library holds a total of more than 200,000 volumes, including priceless manuscripts and it is also an award-winning museum. Admont is also the gateway for excursions to the Gesäuse National Park which is fed by the wild rushing waters of the Enns and features the bizarre, forbidding landscapes of the Gesäuse Mountains with their craggy bluffs and jagged ridges.
Heaven on earth: MariazellAfter such intense natural beauty, take a moment to reflect as the B25 and B24 take you to a truly sublime place: Mariazell. In 1157 a monk named Magnus arrived in the Zellertal valley with a statue of the Virgin Maria made of lime wood. He then proceeded to build a chapel around the statue and the village of Mariazell slowly grew up around the chapel.
The basilika has been a pilgrimage site for more than 850 years. To describe the building as magnificent would be an understatement. Both vaults (in the north and south wings) contain priceless treasures for viewing. Mariazell is also well-known for its gingerbread cakes and digestive liqueurs, and both can be found in the Apotheke zur Gnadenmutter pharmacy.
Renaissanceschloss SchallaburgLeaving the Alps behind, you descend into Lower Austria. Where the Mostviertel and Wachau regions meet, the Schallaburg surveys the countryside from its hilltop perch.
Originally built as a residential castle, the structure was later expanded into a magnificent princely palace. Today, the Schallaburg opens to visitors between March and November and is a venue for world-class exhibitions. This is where history and culture meet: the banquet hall with its magnificent frescoes, the impregnable armoury, the arcade courtyard steeped in romance, the rambling, historic gardens, an inspiring venue for countless cultural events - it doesn't get better than this.
Recommendations for hungry and weary travellersRomantik Hotel Gmachl, Salzburg
Romantik Hotel Gersbergalm, Salzburg
Hagenauer Stuben, Salzburg (restaurant)
Seewirt, Mattsee (lakeside restaurant)
Heritage Hotel, Hallstatt
Gasthaus zur Ennsbrücke, Admont
Hotel Spirodom, Admont
Image credits in chronological order: (1) mariazellerland-blog.at; (2) TSG Tourismus Salzburg GmbH; (3) WTG; (4) OÖ Tourismus, Hallstatt-Kraft; (5) Ernst Kren; (6) mariazellerland-blog.at; (7) Schallaburg, Rita Newman