A vacation is considered to have been successful if we have embraced all the possibilities offered by the new experiences with our full being. This is the kind of travel that enriches you with unforgettable moments and, through the memories you made there, it lures you back to visit the same places again.
Just as there are movies that you only see once, so are places that you only visit once, but Rauris is not one of them. After just one visit, this valley nestles in our souls, we become enchanted by its beauty and impulses. Whoever puts their foot here for the first time should know that it would certainly not be the last. On top of that, the weather in Rauris is just perfect for all kinds of activities one would like to try in the Alps.
On the one hand, it is almost impossible to explore all the attractions and everything the valley and the region has to offer during the first visit, and on the other hand, it is worth revisiting, as the opportunities they offer have the charm of novelty even after many visits.
For me, one of the most meaningful experiences during my Austrian summer holiday was the Grossglockner Alpine Panoramic Road, or as the locals call it, the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse. This is one of the most famous panoramic roads in the world for motorcycle enthusiasts but we can often find it on the bucket list of motorists and cyclists.
This road attracted most of my interest before my departure and I set it as my goal to visit it during my stay in Rauris. In time this became my number one interest that draws me back to Rauris like a magnet.
I knew the place only from pictures and the descriptions of Hotel Sonnhof, as they also recommend it as a top destination on their website. I wanted to visit this wonderful place first by car. It was also my goal to enjoy a cup of tea facing Austria’s highest peak.
The scenery that unveiled in front of me after the winding steep road is hard to describe. In the blink of an eye you find yourself surrounded by the southern Carinthian Alps and starting from there, all you have to do is to make sure you don’t lose sight of the road and you don’t stretch your neck from too much staring in awe. Everything you have ever seen in nature documentaries, mountaineering movies or magazines suddenly all becomes your reality: the snowy mountain tops, the large valleys surrounded by rocky walls, hundreds of waterfalls, the granite lakes and even the many playful marmots who really feel at home in this wonderful place. I could carry on detailing everything with superlatives, but that is not the point now.
My opinion is that you should first visit the Grossglockner Lookout by car so that you can comfortably experience the beauty of this breathtaking landscape. There are plenty of parking and lookout areas along the road, where you can capture these unforgettable moments.
In addition, a parking garage and a tea house welcome you to the top. Visitors can walk to the glacier’s valley where they can see the marks left by the process of the former glacier’s retreat, which offers in fact the spectacle of this pleasure tour.
After soaking in the unique atmosphere of the Austrian Alps, you can start planning your bicycle trip on your way back. I too was fascinated by it and I have been planning and waiting on my return to do all this by bike.
However, it should be noted that beginners are not recommended this route at all.
Cyclists with experience can pedal on trekking bikes or road bikes, whereas more experienced cyclists can also try it on mountain bikes. The road is of very good quality, no need to worry about your narrow wheels.
The panoramic road starts from the center of Heiligenblut, continuing on the winding Glocknerstrasse and after the roundabout, you start going up on to the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe. From here you will not have any junctions, just a steady ascent. The length of the road is 33.06 km, which is not daunting if we don’t consider the 1297m elevation gain to the top, which can be quite challenging even for experienced cyclists. Most of the people say it can be done in 3 hours, but it’s probably a good idea to start in time and take some warm clothes with you, as the weather is very unpredictable around the peak. As for the descent, it is highly important that you check your breaks before you even get started.
This is a great challenge for anyone who loves both mountains and cycling. It’s not every day that we have the chance to ride along the 3000m high peaks of the Alps.
So this is next on my bucket list: riding my bike up to the highest peak of the Austrian Alps and enjoying the extraordinary views with a hot drink. This is the first one, but there are so many more places on the map of Rauris that I want to tell you about.
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