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Austria has a very impressive road system and getting a round by driving a car is a very convenient way of traveling.
But beware; someone has to pay for these roads. To drive in Austria, by car or by a motorcycle, you need a highway sticker. The cost of the sticker runs from about 8 Euros for 10 days to 80 Euros for 12 months. For motorcycles it is less.
How do you know you need this sticker? Well there are no toll booths at the entrance of the highway. If you rent a car outside of Austria the rental car will most likely will not mention it. They say there are signs at all border crossings that inform you about this, that is if you slow down enough at the border crossing to read the signs.
The only time an Austrian official will approach you regarding the sticker, is when you are caught without it. Then you will have to pay a fine of about 120 Euro. And it will do little good to say that you are a tourist that never heard about this sticker. This is how they make their money.
The bottom line is: you need to actively search for and purchase the highway sticker.
Where can you purchase the ticket? If you ask for it, most rental car companies can sell it. When in Austria, it can be purchased in any gas station or post office.
Try to avoid the highway rest areas. This is where the highway control is waiting and looking for reasons to give you a ticket. In addition, the prices of snacks at the rest areas are much higher than in any supermarket.
Suggested 21 day itinerary for driving in Austria/Europe in Summer if you want to try the driving experience.
The roads around SEMMERING are extremely scenic with ability to stop and take pictures including the fabulous railway bridges. Take the train from Gloggnitz for the experience but you may be somewhat disappointed as it is a regular modern train unlike other great rail journeys you may have taken. This train is listed in the book - 500 Journeys Before You Di, but there is a lovely drive through the Wachau Valley along the Danube which is very picturesque. A good idea is to drive north to Prague by quiet back roads plus the highways - which in Czech R are a little worse than Austria but still fine - areas of work are not too slow. Purchase a vignette at the border - Eur 20 for 10 days. Leave the car parked and explore Prague on foot.
After that you can take the E55 to Cesky Krumlov - an historic town built around Roman aqueduct and fortifications - and then via back roads towards Wilhering and St Florian Monasterieswhich are best accessed by car.
One of Austria's most scenic areas is Gmunden and the Salzkammergut Lakes area where Bad Ischl is a great central location - a gorgeous spotless town beside the River Traun. You will want to visit Hallstatt and the ideal way is to drive to the opposite side of the lake and rent a small boat - avoid driving in Hallstatt itself!
Another day trip could be drive amongst the Dachstein Ranges to L Gosausee - a gorgeous high lake set amongst towering snow-capped peaks and glaciers. Then up Hunerkogel parking at 1700m - the peak 1000m above.
Definitely drive to St Wolfgang (15C church with alter by Michael-Pacher and original White Horse Inn) and the Attersee lakes. These are gorgeous drives along lake shores surrounded by high steep mountains - everything clean and green.
From there its a short hop to Salzburg - walk into the old medieval centre - quaint shopping streets, churches - Mozart and Sound of Music everywhere.
Then via the gorgeous green Gastein Valley to Bad Gastein where the Unterer Wasserfall runs through the picturesque town. Even the main road 311 west of Lend is a delightful scenic drive through hillsides dotted with tiny houses and every shade of green. Then up the Grossglockner Alpine Tourist Rd - an absolute highlight and one of the world's great scenic drives - try to leave at least two days to view the area in different lights. At 2500m (above the glacier) view the Franz-Josephs-Hohe - ideal overnight stay in Heiligenblut.
Then south via incredibly beautiful green valleys and picture postcard hillsides and on to Krimmler Wasserfall - highest in Europe - and the magnificent picturesque Gerlos road. Gerlos itself very commercial and full of pretty hotels. Past Innsbruck on Autobahn and in no timeyou can be in Germany - no extra vignette needed.
Neuschwanstein Castle is just over the border. Returning to Austria it is highly recommended to detour via the L255 and Plansee where you will discover the most gorgeous lakeside drive - stop for fresh trout for lunch. Then on into Italy through awesome roads of Dolomite pass into Baveno and your Italian adventure begins!