I am no expert on cycling in Austria but it’s full of high, often very steep, beautiful climbs. Similar to Switzerland, there are lots of climbs to high alpine lakes/dams – always extra beautiful.
Here’s a map with most of the highest paved climbs in the country.
- Red icons: Climbs I have done (details of each below map). They are all very high and highly recommended.
- Orange icons: Climbs above 2000 metres that I’ve yet to ride.
- Green icons: Climbs between 1500 and 2000 metres that I’ve yet to ride.
- This list is only for
I used the great website www.cyclingcols.com to compile this list. Search there for any of the listed climbs to get gradient profiles.
Please feel free to suggest any favourite climbs in the comments. Thanks.
Climbs I’ve Ridden
Ordered by altitude
#1 Ötztaler Gletscherstraße – 2,829 metres
The Ötztaler Gletscherstraße (Ötztal Glacier Road) is a ski station road above Sölden, Austria – built in 1972. It is not just high, it is also extremely steep, almost always well above 10%. The road splits near the top. One direction goes to Rettenbachferner perhaps 1.5 kms further ending at 2795 metres. The other direction is mostly a 1.7 kilometre tunnel (!). The paved road briefly exits this tunnel before it reaches 2829 metres at the foot of the Tiefenbach Glacier.
I survived this brutally steep climb in a sportive the morning of a Tour de Suisse stage in 2015. We (and the pros) were “only” allowed to ride to the foot of the Rettenbach Glacier at 2675 metres. Although frankly I have few regrets missing the long, modern, uphill tunnel. For map and full details of this climb see here.
It could use a few more hairpins – there are only eight. Ouch.
#2 Kaunertal – 2,750 metres
In Tyrol Austria, just west of the Ötztaler Gletscherstraße, the Kaunertaler Gletscherpanoramastraße was built in 1980 as a ski station road. Amazingly, it’s kept open 12 months a year. It’s a fantastic climb.
It’s 38 kilometres from Prutz, and all good riding. 26 kilometres from the summit it becomes a toll road for cars (bikes are free). Beyond the toll, there are no more villages – remote and beautiful throughout. The long flat stretch on the profile below is beside a large dam/lake. But this is not a goat track ride. It’s a wide, purpose-built ski station road in excellent condition with 29 signed hairpins. Map and full details here.
#3 Edelweissspitze/Grossglockner 2,571 metres
Unlike many of the high passes on this list, there was no strategic reason for this road. Instead, it was a make-jobs program in the 1930’s. Now, this magnificent road (despite its hefty toll fees) is the biggest tourist attraction in Austria. The climb is dominated by the Grossglockcner, the highest mountain in Austria (3798m). The main road has two high points, Hochtor Pass (2504m) from the south, and Fuscher Törl (2404m) from the north. There are a few high, up/down kilometres between these two passes.
But the highlight? Near Fuscher Törl is a beautiful cobbled road, the Edelweissspitze, that rises to 2571 metres and towering 360 degree views. Cycling paradise. I rode the north side with several thousand other cyclists on bike-only day. A smart idea as this road can be busyish. Map and more details here.
#4 Timmelsjoch/Passo del Rombo – 2,474 metres
In the Ötzal Alps on the Italian / Austrian border. Much of the Austrian side is a big modern ski station road, but above the toll booth becomes more interesting. The Italian side is old-fashioned fun with lots of hairpins and cliff stretches. Details of both sides – see here.
#5 Kühtai Sattel/Speicher Finstertal – 2335 metres
Starting from Oetz, in the same valley but far below Sölden (start of Timmelsjoch and Ötztaler Glacier road), the climb to Kühtai Sattel (2017 metres) is lovely. But the real treat is the tiny extension up to the Speicher Finstertal dam/lake. I visited end May and enjoyed a small snow hike for final success. But I it’s fully paved. Details here.
#6 Silvretta Hochalpenstrasse – Bielerhöhe – 2037 metres
Below: Cycling on the Silvretta-Stausee dam at the exact summit. Details here.
#7 Kitzbüheler Horn – 1990 metres
This is the steepest 10 kilometre stretch of paved road I have ever cycled. Ouch. This crazy climb continues to the very summit on a tiny paved extension that goes far higher than pro race finishes. My ride would descend on a brilliant unpaved road down the back side – but a road bike is fine for the climb – details here.
#8 Hahntennjoch – 1894 metres
I made the mistake of riding this on an Austrian national holiday, “Corpus Christi” day, with perfect weather. So a touch miserable as crowded with motorcycles getting in the way of photos. But if you can find a quiet day, it’s beautiful. Details here.