Hallstatt village with church, lake, and Alps in Austria.

Austria Driving Guide

Austria is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit

2023-12-30 · 9min read

Eager to uncover the beauty of Austria at your own pace? Going on a road trip through Austria unveils the authentic charm of this diverse nation, steering clear of typical tourist routes to provide a more profound experience of Austrian heritage.

Envision driving through historic landmarks, lively cities, and breathtaking natural vistas, all the while relishing the freedom to discover Austria's concealed gems.

If the thought of driving in an unfamiliar country overwhelms you, fear not. This guide equips you with everything necessary to confidently navigate the roads of Austria.

How can this guide help you?

Starting a journey to an unfamiliar country can be quite challenging. However, this guide is designed to provide you with crucial insights into Austria.

This guide covers key facts about Austria, outlines crucial road safety rules and scenarios, and discusses various aspects of the country. Moreover, it offers a glimpse into renowned tourist attractions that you wouldn't want to miss during your visit.

Let's take a closer look at Austria

Geographic Location

Austria is a country that has approximately 8.7 million residents in Central Europe. This country is bordering Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. It is a country known for its renowned architecture, such as its castles, palaces, cathedrals, and other ancient architecture.

Languages Spoken

The majority of the Austrian population speaks German, which is also Austria's official language. The German language is spoken by 98% of Austria’s population. Croatian, Hungarian, and Slovene are also spoken in the country.

Aside from that, the English language is widely taught and spoken in Austria. Thus, you won’t have any trouble with the language barrier as Austrians do speak and understand English.

Land Area

Austria is a small, predominantly mountainous country located in south-central Europe. Austria's territory covers 83,878 square kilometers (32,385 sq mi), which is twice as high as Switzerland. Austria is highly mountainous due to the country's Alps.


The roots of Austria's history extend to 15 BC, marked by Roman dominance over a Celtic region. Under the Habsburgs' reign, Austria rose to European prominence, forming the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1867.

Post-World War I witnessed the empire's dissolution, the establishment of the First Austrian Republic, and the later annexation by Nazi Germany. After World War II, Austria regained sovereignty in 1955 and entered the European Union, marking major social and economic milestones.


Austria is a federal republic. With this, Austria comprises nine independent federal states (also referred to as provinces): Salzburg, Styria, Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg, and Vienna. Every state has its police force, health, and education system.


Austria is a global magnet for vacationers, offering a wealth of cultural attractions and outdoor activities. In 2019 alone, it welcomed 46 million visitors, resulting in 153 million overnight stays.

The capital city is a major draw, and while Austria is renowned as a winter destination, its summer offerings are equally appealing. With its picturesque mountains, rivers, and cultural landscape, Austria is a natural haven for travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.

International Driver’s Permit FAQs

An International Driver’s Permit (IDP) commonly known as an International Driver’s License, is required for tourists driving in Austria. You can read more information about IDP in Austria below.

What countries accept IDP?

An IDP issued by us at the International Driver’s Association is valid for over 150 countries, including Austria. Thus, when you drive outside of Austria, it is still valid and acknowledged by authorities as long as it has not surpassed its period of validity.

Explore the pleasures of driving in other countries and maximize the value of your investment by obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP).

Do I need an IDP to drive in Austria?

An International Driving License in Austria is required for citizens from non-EU countries when driving in the country. Most rental car agencies will require your local driver's license and IDP when you are to rent a car from them.

It is also necessary to bring your IDP when driving in Austria because Austrian law enforcement authorities may ask for it during road checkpoints. As an IDP is valid in over 150 countries, you can use it in Austria and other countries you plan to visit as long as it is not expired.

Is a local driver’s license valid in Austria?

When you are a tourist driving in Austria, your local driver’s license will not be enough to drive legally there. In compliance with the local road rules in Austria, one of the driving requirements in the country is a translation of your local driver’s license, which is the IDP.

Driving in Austria is hassle-free if you possess a foreign license issued by any European Union (EU) member state listed below. Driver's licenses from EU countries are readily accepted, ensuring a smooth experience on the Austrian roads.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

Does an IDP replace a native driver’s license?

No, an International Driving Permit (IDP) does not replace your native driver’s license in Austria, despite the country's road rule requirements. Instead, it functions as a translation of your local driver’s license into one of the 12 United Nations (UN)-recognized languages.

For tourists driving in Austria, the IDP serves as a supplementary document alongside your local driver’s license. It's important to highlight that a valid driving license is a prerequisite for the IDP to be considered valid.

Who can apply for an IDP?

Anyone can apply for an International Driver's Permit (IDP) to drive in Austria as long as they hold a valid local driving license and are 18 years or older. The IDP carries your key driver information and acts as a supplementary document to your license.

Always carrying your IDP in Austria is crucial, as authorities may conduct surprise checks and request legal driving documents, including your IDP.

What is the unit to measure speed in Austria?

In Austria, speed is measured in kilometers per hour (KPH), unlike few countries, including the USA, that use miles per hour (MPH). Adherence to speed limits indicated on road signs is crucial to prevent accidents and ensure safe driving in Austria. Violating these could lead to encounters with Austrian authorities.

Is it safe to drive in Austria at night?

Night-time driving in Austria is generally safe, thanks to responsible driver behavior. However, as with any location, it's crucial to exercise caution and secure your valuables. Always adhere to road regulations, especially at night when visibility might be reduced.

Austria's well-maintained roads with clear markings contribute to a smooth driving experience. Having a personal vehicle is especially convenient for exploring the countryside, without the need to monitor train or bus schedules.

Renting a Car in Austria

Exploring Austria at your own pace through self-driving unveils the true beauty of the country. Opting to rent a car in Austria is highly recommended for a comfortable and convenient trip.

If you don't have a car, there's no need to worry. Numerous car rental companies are available to provide you with the vehicle you need. For more details on renting a car in Austria, key information is provided below.

Car Rental Companies

Renting a car for your Austrian trip can be done in two ways. Firstly, you have the option to book online before your journey. This method not only offers convenience but also allows you to find competitive price offers that align with your budget for the trip.

Below are some rental companies you can find to book online.

  • Europcar
  • Hertz
  • Sixt
  • Auto Europe
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • National

An alternative method is to locate rental companies upon your arrival. Many major car rental providers are present at airports and other prominent travel destinations. However, it is not recommended to opt for this approach, as the price offers are typically more expensive.

Documents Required

Your local driver’s license, your IDP (for non-EU citizens), and a government-issued document such as your passport are important documents for you to rent a car in Austria.

For EU citizens, although it is not necessary to obtain an IDP, it is still highly advisable to get one as it can come in handy as a supplement to your local driver’s license when an Austrian road authority asks for it.

Vehicle Types

Car rental companies in Austria offer a broad array of vehicle types, from compact city cars to larger country cruisers, ensuring options for every travel need and preference. The choice ranges from manual to automatic transmissions, including high-end luxury rentals.

Whether you opt for a compact vehicle or an SUV for your Austrian journey, ensure that your choice aligns with your comfort, convenience, and the locations you plan to visit.

Car Rental Cost

Rental fees can differ significantly among various car rental companies. What may be the most expensive rental fee in one country could turn out to be the most affordable in another.

Several factors come into play when determining the rental fee for a car. Below are some key factors that influence the cost of renting a car.

  • Type of car
  • Time of year
  • Additional insurance and protection products included in the reservation
  • Add-ons (Wi-Fi access, GPS, child seats, and ski racks)
  • Whether the car you rented is picked up and dropped off at the same location
  • Number of additional drivers

Emergency roadside assistance can also be added to the car rental fee. Apart from the car rental fee, you should consider other necessities like car fuel, parking fee, and toll in budgeting for your trip to Austria.

Age Requirements

In addition to an International Driving Permit (IDP), local driver’s license, and passport, rental companies typically enforce age requirements for car rentals.

In Austria, you must be 21 years or older to rent a car, and you should have a minimum of two years of driving experience. Violating these restrictions can lead to complications during your trip and may result in fines from the authorities.

Car Insurance Cost

Insurance is crucial when renting a vehicle. When renting a vehicle in Austria, your rental rate automatically includes all necessary insurance. Road accidents are inevitable, which is why the car you are renting must have insurance.

On average, the cost may range from 60 to 150 euros per month.

Car Insurance Policy

Beyond understanding the driving laws, it's essential to be acquainted with the scope of car insurance coverage in Austria. Below, you'll find a breakdown of the possible car insurance options available and their corresponding policies.

  • Theft Protection Insurance - A car is less likely to be stolen, but replacing a whole car would definitely cost you a lot. If the car is stolen or it is damaged when it is attempted to be stolen, you will have to pay for the excess. This excess can range between €400 and €3,500, and the rental company will cover the rest of the cost.
  • Third-Party Liability Insurance - The Third-Party Liability Insurance would cover the cost of repairs if you damaged someone else’s property. This is usually included in the rental fee.
  • Collision Damage Waiver - A Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) car insurance covers the repairs of the car you rented if you get involved in a road accident and the car is damaged.

Other Tips

Securing an affordable and budget-friendly rental car deal is advantageous. If you're considering renting a car for your drive in Austria, below are some helpful tips to guide you through the process.

  • Set your spending limit.
  • Compare offers from various car rental agencies.
  • Consider all extra costs related to driving in Austria.
  • Avoid renting cars at airports due to extra charges, opt for online rental services instead.

Finally, why do you need an IDP? Remember, an International Driver's Permit (IDP) is a mandatory requirement when driving a rented or personal vehicle in Austria.

The Road Rules in Austria

Exploring Austria by car is an excellent way to uncover parts of the country inaccessible by public transport. While driving in Austria is generally trouble-free, adhering to the country's driving standards is key to ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey on its roads.


Austria enforces strict drunk-driving laws. The blood alcohol limit is 0.05%, but for drivers with less than two years' experience, it's lower at 0.01%. Exceeding this can lead to fines and license suspensions:

  • 0.05% – 0.08%: Minimum €300 fine and disqualification
  • 0.08% – 0.12%: Minimum €800 fine and one month suspension
  • 0.12% – 0.16%: Minimum €1,200 fine and four months suspension
  • Over 0.16%: Minimum €1,600 fine and six months suspension

Turning Signals at an Intersection

Ensure a safe driving experience by activating your signal lights 100 feet before reaching an intersection if you intend to turn. This simple action notifies other drivers, allowing them to adjust accordingly.

Keep in mind the importance of being in the nearest lane to your turning direction. Additionally, always confirm there is no oncoming traffic before proceeding to make a turn at an intersection.


Parking fees are mostly implemented in towns and cities in Austria. They have a payment system, “m-parking,” which allows drivers to pay the parking fee through their mobile phone.

You are prohibited from parking your car in a place where it can cause an obstruction. Aside from that, sidelights should be switched on when a vehicle is parked. Only park your car at the designated parking areas to prevent it from being clamped by the authorities.

Speed Limits

Austria enforces specific speed limits:

Highways: 130 km/h

  • Country roads: 100 km/h
  • Towns and cities: 50 km/h

Speeding infractions carry fines:

  • Up to 20 km/h over limit: from €30
  • Up to 30 km/h over limit: from €50
  • Up to 40 km/h over limit: from €70
  • More than 40 km/h over the limit: from €150 and potential license denial
  • Trucks over 7.5 tonnes have lower speed limits of 60 to 70 km/h, and observing these is crucial when truck driving in Austria.

Seatbelt Laws

Austria enforces strict seatbelt laws. Seatbelts are mandatory for all passengers, with fines starting at €35 for non-compliance.

Children under 14 or shorter than 1.50 meters must use a suitable restraint system in the front seat, tailored to their weight and height. The child's parent or guardian, or vehicle renter, is responsible for fitting the child's seat.

Driving Directions

Roundabouts are common in Austria, so understanding the rules associated with them is crucial. Before entering a roundabout, ensure there is no traffic approaching from your left.

It's essential to remember that you must yield to the ongoing traffic within the roundabout.

Traffic Road Signs

If you're familiar with driving in your home country, identifying Austrian traffic signs should be straightforward, as they closely resemble those you're used to.

Here are some common road signs you'll encounter in Austria:

  • Warning signs: Uneven road, junction, traffic signals, two-way traffic, pedestrian crossing, slippery road.
  • Prohibitory signs: No entry, stop-toll, zone limitation, speed limit, parking, no overtaking or u-turns.
  • Mandatory signs: Use of pedestrian underpass, prescribed U-turn, mandatory left or right turn, turn-only, right-turn-only.
  • Priority signs: Give way, stop, priority road, end of priority road.
  • Informational signs: Hospital, first aid, end of two-way traffic, telephone, gas station, church services, cyclist crossing.

Right of Way

The ongoing traffic on a roundabout has the right of way. When you are about to enter a roundabout, remember that you must always yield to the ongoing traffic. At intersections, the vehicle that arrives first has the right of way. In cases where two vehicles arrive simultaneously, the vehicle on the right has the right of way.

To drive a vehicle in Austria, you must be at least 18 years old. You are required to bring your local driving license in Austria and your IDP. If you are caught without it, you risk being fined. See our International Driving License Packages to expedite your processing and avoid fines.

Laws on Overtaking

In Austria, overtaking is allowed under specific conditions. Always remember to overtake on the left side to avoid accidents, as overtaking on the right side may lead to unforeseen incidents.

While you can overtake stationary trams, ensure you don't hinder passengers, and that there's a gap of at least 1.5 meters. Additionally, overtaking is prohibited near a stationary school bus with flashing hazard lights or a railway crossing.

Driving Side

You must drive on the designated side of the road in every country. In Austria, you must stay on the right side of the road. Adhering to this rule not only prevents road accidents but also ensures a smoother journey. It's essential to note that violating this rule can result in fines imposed by Austrian authorities, starting from €40.

Additional Important Tips

Here are additional tips that can prove beneficial while driving in Austria. Familiarizing yourself with these suggestions is essential, as they may come in handy in specific situations during your journey.

  • Ensure your car is equipped with:
    • A reflective jacket
    • First aid kit
    • Warning triangle
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Snow tires (Nov 1st to Apr 15th)
    • Studded tires (Oct 1st to May 31st)
  • Always carry these documents when driving:
    • Foreign license
    • International Driver's Permit (IDP)
    • Passport
    • Car's legal papers
  • Phone use is prohibited while driving unless equipped with a hands-free device or for navigation. Non-compliance can result in fines starting from €50.

Driving Etiquette in Austria

Car issues can arise during your journey, ranging from minor inconveniences to more significant problems. The possibility of facing such situations cannot be ignored.

It's crucial to be both physically and mentally prepared for any circumstances that may arise during your trip. Here are some helpful reminders and tips on traffic regulations and etiquette in Austria.

Car Breakdown

Car problems are inevitable. Here are some tips on how to handle your car breaking down while you are driving in Austria:

  • Turn on your Hazard/Emergency lights.
  • Steer your vehicle as far out of the travel lane as possible.
  • Before leaving your car, turn your wheels away from the road and enable the emergency brake.
  • Stay in your vehicle if you're on a highway or a busy road. Otherwise, get out of your vehicle and be visible.
  • Set up flares or triangles.
  • Lastly, call for help and rescue.

Police Stops

If police lights flash behind you, slowly move to the right and stay in your car. Wait for the officer's approach without exiting your vehicle.

Keep your hands visible, usually on the steering wheel. Provide your driving documents if asked. If required to follow them, politely ask why. Always cooperate to avoid further complications.

Asking Directions

Austrians are generally conservative people. They are prudent and moderate in their behavior. They are also calm, well-mannered, well-educated, and polite. One Austrian trait that attracts foreigners is that they are extremely friendly and warm when receiving you as a guest.

Knowing these Austrian traits, you also have to be polite in talking with them. Do not raise your voice or lose your cool in your conversation. They will treat you the way you treat them. With this, you have to treat them nicely for them to reciprocate the way you treated them.


When encountering a checkpoint while driving in Austria, lower your speed while approaching the scene. Lower your car window and talk with the police officer.

Calmly and kindly have a conversation with the officer. Present the requested documents, and when the inspection is done, thank the officer and proceed with your journey.

Additional Tips

Beyond the situations mentioned earlier, there's a chance you might encounter other scenarios. Understanding how to handle various situations is crucial.

For example, it's imperative not to leave the scene of a road accident. Instead, you must contact the police to report the incident. Additionally, reaching out to your insurance company and car rental provider is essential.

Below are the important numbers to call in case of an accident.

  • Dial 133 for Police
  • Dial 122 for the Fire Department
  • Dial 144 for an Ambulance
  • Dial 140 for European Emergency

Driving Road Conditions in Austria

Austrian citizens are known to be well-mannered and well-disciplined when it comes to driving. They put great respect and value on the road rules and regulations in their country.

As the locals do that, you also have to do your part by being respectful of the road rules to avoid any possible accidents and improve road conditions.

Accident Statistics

Traffic fatalities in Austria have been declining, with 409 recorded in 2018, a 1.2% decrease from 2017. This downward trend, due in part to improved road safety measures, follows a 4.2% decline from 2016 to 2017. Drunk driving remains a primary cause of accidents.

Meanwhile, non-fatal injuries rose to an estimated 46,525 in 2018, following a decrease in 2011. The highest recorded number of injuries was in 2007, at over 53,200.

Common Vehicles

Austria, part of Europe's vibrant car market, maintains high standards in vehicle selection. Despite a slight dip in car registrations in 2019, the numbers significantly exceed the twenty-year average.

Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), offering drivers an elevated view, are popular due to their larger size, making them ideal for work or larger families. In 2019, the Skoda Octavia unseated the Volkswagen Golf as Austria's top-selling car.

Toll Roads

Driving on Austrian motorways requires a vignette, a toll sticker indicating pre-paid road tax. Since Austrian toll roads lack toll gates, vignettes are crucial.

Vignettes can be availed at gas stations near the motorway or border and are available for 10 days (€9.20), two months (€26.80), or a year (€89.20). Driving without a vignette can lead to a fine of €120, making the vignette a necessity for Austrian road travel.

Road Situations

Vienna's urban motorways stand as the busiest roads in Austria, witnessing a daily influx of over 200,000 vehicles in the greater Vienna area. Given the constant flow, even minor incidents, like a broken-down car, can significantly impact this bustling traffic hub.

Apart from the streets of Vienna, nearly all roads in Austria are generally uncongested and offer a peaceful travel experience.

Driving Culture

Navigating the roads in Austria is typically straightforward. Austrians, known for their discipline, adhere closely to road restrictions, providing a satisfying experience for foreign drivers.

The local drivers are well-versed in traffic rules and make a concerted effort to comply. It's worth noting, however, that local Austrian drivers may not appreciate excessively slow driving.

Top Road trip Destinations in Austria

With its wealth of stunning architectural wonders, Austria invites you to explore these top sights while savoring your time in the city. Additionally, the country boasts charming parks where you can engage in leisurely activities or simply unwind.

Read on below for a curated list of sights and activities to enhance your experience in Austria.


Innsbruck, Austria's 5th largest city, is globally known for its Alps and ski resorts, picturesque architecture, and fascinating museums. This city of over 100,000 residents offers an incredible experience.


Renowned in Austria and Europe, Salzburg houses well-preserved architecture and is famed as Mozart's birthplace.


No Austrian road trip is complete without a visit to Vienna, the capital and largest city. Vienna's imperial palaces, historic landmarks, and vibrant cultural scene make it a must-visit destination.

Delight in the grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace, explore the historic Belvedere Palace and revel in the musical heritage at the Vienna State Opera.


Nestled by the pristine Hallstätter See, the village of Hallstatt offers a postcard-perfect setting. Admire charming lakeside houses, explore the Hallstatt Salt Mine, and soak in the breathtaking alpine scenery. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a true gem.


Known for its medieval old town and diverse cultural scene, Graz is a city that seamlessly blends tradition and modernity. Wander through the charming streets of the Altstadt, visit the iconic Clock Tower, and experience the vibrant arts and culinary offerings that define this cultural hub.

Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave

Venture into the Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave, the largest ice cave in the world, located in the Tennengebirge section of the Alps. Explore the magical ice formations and marvel at the natural wonders that have captivated visitors for centuries.

Experience the Best of Austria with an IDP

Are you eager to embark on an unforgettable Austrian driving journey? Ensure you're fully equipped for the adventure with an International Driver's Permit from the International Driver's Association. It's essential for a seamless and confident driving experience abroad.

Make the most of your Austrian trip today! Get your International Driving Permit here.

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