The Romantic Route in Austria
When you first set foot on the gravel paths of the Alps, the ring of cowbells echoing through the land and the enticing satisfaction of your first Kaiserschmarrn, you know it for sure: you’ve arrived in Austria! While Austria is most famously known for winter sports vacations or a quick drive through to Italy, set your destination to Austria this summer for once, and explore the most beautiful Romantic Road Trip Routes of Austria.
- Name route: The Romantic Route
- Total length: 380 km
- Suggested duration: 15 days
- Best season: summer or fall
- Highlights: From Salzburg to Vienna, via Bad Ischl, Gmunden Almtal, Kremsmünster, Steyr.
- Best by: car
Starting the Romantic Route to Vienna
The Romantic Route in Austria connects over 380 kilometers through 30 different villages as a string of pearls across the country. Along the route, you'll encounter beautiful landscapes such as lakes, mountains, and caves, accompanying the romantic Austrian cities from Salzburg to Vienna. You may be wondering: why is this route so romantic? The simple answer lies in its natural beauty gives way to the many enchanted castles, historical sites, and famous wedding locations.
SALZBURG – MONDSEE (27 KM)
The route takes you from the starting point in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart towards Mondsee Lake. While you can take the fast route on the autobahn (exit Mondsee), we’d recommend you take the more scenic route B1, the Road to Eugendorf and follow your journey along Thalgau to Mondsee. The region located 27 km from the city of Salzburg was a popular summer destination of former royalty and is still one of the most popular summer getaways for locals and tourists. Jump into one of the two lakes to relax during the afternoon.
Visit the beautiful basilica of Mondsee in the morning, before continuing your route. Take the B154 Federal Road towards Wolfgang/Lake Wolfgang, passing the Krottensee Lake and St. Gilgen. Today’s route will be along these 3 beautiful lakes, taking a tour around the southern part of Lake Wolfgang. Find your accommodation in any of the three surrounding villages, yet even beautiful, of St. Gilgen, Strobl and St. Wolfgang – where you’ll have a variety of water sport and outdoor activities waiting for you.
ST. WOLFGANG – BAD ISCHL (17KM)
Continue you route to Bad Ischl via B158 Federal Road, the place where Emperor Franz Joseph became engaged with his Princess Sisi and celebrated his birthdays for many years. Nowadays, this romantic spot is ideal for romantic spa treatments, as Bad Ischl is the oldest salt-water spa in Austria, since 1823. If you want to take a detour to even explore some more pearls, make sure to visit the ‘most beautiful corner of Austria’ in the idyllic village of Hallstatt, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You'll be glad to check this one off the list, even though you have to drive more south to get there.
BAD ISCHL – TRAUNKIRCHEN (23 KM)
Take the road towards Salzkammergut Straße (B145 Federal Road) to Traunkirchen. In 23 km you will enter one of the most picturesque places of the Salzkammergut region: the Traunsee, known for its castle located in the middle of the lake and one of the most popular wedding locations in the country.
TRAUNKIRCHEN – GMUNDEN (9 KM)
With the shortest distance of this route, the trip to Gmunden is taking you along the Traunsee Lake to Altmünster. Taking the B145 Federal Road, you’ll get to enjoy the most beautiful views of the Traunsein Mountains, Traunsee Lake, and Schloss Ebenzweier Castle. Make sure to stop along the route for catching your own Steckerlfish (smoked Traunsee fish skewers) at one of the Fish huts and pass along the Schloss Ort Castle, known from a popular Austrian TV series.
GMUNDEN – SCHARNSTEIN (16 KM)
Following the brown “Romantik Straße” signpost, you are now leaving the Traunsee region. Take the B120 Federal Road along St. Konrad to Scharnstein, leading you through a beautiful hilly and colorful region. You’re now in one of the most popular hiking areas of Upper Austria, with views of the Tote Gebirge Mountains Range and the Scharnstein Castle Ruins, before entering the village of Scharnstein.
GRÜNAU – SCHARNSTEIN – KREMSMÜNSTER (29 KM)
For a perfect morning hike in nature, take a small detour and go south a little, to visit the village of Grünau. Have a stroll around the idyllic Almsee Lake or explore the beautiful Ödsee Lakes in the end of the valley. After your hike, your journey continues on B120 Federal Road from Grünau, back to Scharnstein, towards Pettenbach, and change your road to Kremsmüsterer Provincial Road (L562) towards Voitsdorf. Following the hilly foothills of the Alps, you’ll encounter Kremsmünster, famed by its Benedictine Monastery.
Take the B122 Federal Road towards Steyr and you’ll end up in Kalkapen National Park. The city of Steyr has a thousand years of history and a beautiful central square where Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic styles emerge. Besides the romantic square, make sure to watch a summer theater performance at the Baroque Theater or in the Steyr Castle Moat – for love births only!
STEYR – SEITENSTETTEN – MARIA TAFERL (58 KM)
Prepare yourself for on the longer drives of this route, taking you in 58 KM to Maria Taferl. Along the route, make a stop at the city of Seitenstetten, where you’ll get to enjoy the Benedictine Monastery with a fine Baroque church and art collection. After, take the provincial roads towards Wiselburg/Erlauf, Ybbs/Danube, and crossing the Persenbeug Bridge to Marbach/Danube, until you reach Maria Taferl.
MARIA TAFERL – SCHALLABURG (24 KM)
Drive through the winding mountain passes to one of the most beautiful river valleys of Europe - the Waschau – via the B3 Federal Road, on your way to Schallaburg Renaissance Castle near Melk. The Schallaburg Renaissance Castle is known as one of the most beautiful castles of the Northern Alps and is, therefore, a must-visit!
SCHALLABURG – VIENNA (150 KM)
While enjoying your route along the castles, ruins, and snow-capped mountains of the country, you’ll follow the Danube to reach your final destination Vienna. Along the route, romantic villages like Spitz, Weißenkirchen, Dürnstein, Krems and much more! When in the season, you even get to see farmers offering their fruits for sale along the road, as the route is lined with vineyards and apricot trees all the way. When you’ve arrived in beautiful Vienna, you can continue your day (or perhaps another day) with a Romantic Walking Route through the Royal neighborhood of the Schönbrunn Palace.
Find more information about what to do in Vienna in the travel guide Vienna with Kids, written by local writer Kaley Diaz. Download the travel guide for €4,99 for 4 different walking routes through the city, interactive maps, GPS location, images and local insights.