A guide to the main routes to Innsbruck from Vienna, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. It gives you an idea of how far and how long you can expect to travel, as well as some insider tips on what to expect or what to see along the route. Also read my general tips for road travel in Austria and Tyrol to learn more about the toll system and some of the most important legal requirements.
From Germany via Munich – Travelling distance of about 160 km (2 hours)
One of the main routes to Innsbruck from the northeast, the first step is to get onto the A8 direction Rosenheim and Austria as soon as you leave Munich. Continue to the interchange 101 Dreieck Inntal (where the highway from Salzburg and the one from Innsbruck get together). Stay on the right, following the signs to Innsbruck/Österreich. Soon you will cross the border into Austria and be on the A12 Inntalautobahn, passing Kufstein, Wörgl, Jenbach and Schwaz on your way to Innsbruck.
Insider Tips: Expect delays near Kufstein when the police do spot checks at the border. Also, avoid travelling on Saturdays during the summer holiday period. This seems to be the only day when people are checking in or out of accommodation.
From Germany via Garmish Partenkirchen – Travelling distance of about 64 km (1 hour)
Get onto the Hauptstraße/B2 and follow the signs for Innsbruck/Mittenwald. The road later becomes the B177 passing Seefeld and ending in the Inn Valley where you keep left at the fork to merge onto the A12 direction Innsbruck.
Insider Tips: Mittenwald (in Germany) and Seefeld (in Austria) are two beautiful alpine towns along the way and worth a visit. However, in bad snow conditions there can be heavy delays on the mountainous road down to Innsbruck and snow chains may even be required.
From Germany via Stuttgart – Travelling distance of about 323 km (3 hours, 45 minutes)
Find the A8 toward Munich. Travel at least 70 km on the A8 before taking the 62-Ulm-West Exit to get onto the B10 direction Ulm/Friedrichshafen. Keep left to continue on the B28 before merging onto the A7. Follow the signs for Füssen/Kempten to stay on the A7 toward Austria. The highway turns into the B179/Fernpassstraße. Once over the Fernpass, continue onto the Mieminger Straße/B189. When you get to a traffic circle, take the first exit onto Krebsbach. Continue onto the Mötzer Landesstraße from where you take the A12 direction Innsbruck.
Insider Tips: The Fernpass is a beautiful mountain pass, but can be a nightmare during peak holiday times and in bad weather. For the most part, it is a single-track road leaving you travelling at a snail’s pace when a vehicle breaks down ahead of you or when there are many vehicles, especially big trucks, on the road.
From Vienna via Salzburg – Travelling distance of about 480 km (4 hours, 45 minutes)
This is probably one of the busiest main routes in Austria. Find your way onto the A1 direction St.Pölten/Linz and then Salzburg. You will reach the outskirts of Salzburg after about 300 kms. After leaving Salzburg, you will soon cross into Germany for a stretch of the road. This is the A8 highway that ends at the 101 Dreieck Inntal interchange, where you keep right heading towards Kufstein/Innsbruck. Not long after, you will be in Austria again on the A12 that goes all the way to Innsbruck along the Inn Valley.
Insider Tips: It’s worth stopping in Salzburg for a day or even two on your way from Vienna to Innsbruck. Mozart’s birthplace, the Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Heilbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains are some of the highlights I would recommend seeing in this city of music and art.
From Italy via Bozen – Travelling distance of about 122 km (1 hour, 30 minutes)
Get onto the A22/E45 direction Brennero/Brenner. Continue straight until you start climbing the Brenner pass, one of the most travelled main routes to Tyrol, and cross the border into Austria. You will soon reach a toll gate where you must pay €9 if you are not in possession of an annual toll card for this stretch of the road. The Vignette (sticker toll pass) is not valid on the Brenner Pass. From the toll gate, it’s downhill to Innsbruck in a matter of minutes, passing by the exit to the Stubai Valley.
Insider Tips: The A22/E45 is incredibly scenic, with many centuries-old castles overlooking the valley. Towns worth stopping at, include Klausen, Brixen and Sterzing. And if you want to shop for Italian brands before you enter Austria, the Brenner Outlet is a great place for finding bargains.
The Brenner Pass is the most travelled pass in the Alps. Traffic jams often occur during popular holiday periods. The Brennerstraße, the regional road winding its way parallel to the Brenner Pass, is a scenic alternative route in such instances.
From Switzerland via Zurich – Travelling distance of about 290 km (3 hours, 30 minutes)
Follow the signs for A1/A4/E41/E60 toward St.Gallen/Winterthur and continue on the A1/E60. After the road becomes the A13 things get a bit tricky at the border where the highway ceases to exist. Just pay extra attention to the road signs for Austria until you finally get onto the A12 that will take you straight to Innsbruck. You must pay an extra toll fee of €9,50 at the Arlberg Tunnel between Vorarlberg and Tyrol.
Insider Tips: The Swiss highways have the same toll system as Austria, where you buy a toll sticker for your windscreen. The only bummer is that you can only buy an annual sticker for CHF40 even if you are just passing through.
Take a short detour to visit the Principality of Liechtenstein, a tiny, landlocked country between Austria and Germany. You only need a couple of hours to explore the capital of Vaduz with the Vaduz Castle towering above it.
Important for Summer 2017: The Arlberg Road Tunnel will be closed for construction in both directions from 24 April to 2 October. The alternative route is over the Arlberg Pass (B197/L197) or via Germany if you travel far. More details here.
- For the most up-to-date, detailed directions please refer to your favourite map site or app. Google Maps are always reliable. I also find Travelmath handy to determine travel times and distances. The travel times stated are without possible delays.