The Top 10 roads for motorbikes south of the Alps

Just on its own, the bikers’ paradise of Carinthia offers a wealth of wonderful roads through mountain passes and panoramic roads to choose from. Here we are going one step further and presenting you with a selection of the 10 most popular roads for motorbike riders in Carinthia and the adjoining Alps-Adriatic region. As well as the classics, there are sure to be a few insiders’ tips here too to make any biker’s heart beat faster!

1. Grossglockner High Alpine Road (AUT)

The Grossglockner High Alpine Road is a high alpine mountain road that connects the two Austrian provinces of Salzburg and Carinthia. The Grossglockner – Austria’s highest mountain at 3,798 m – is your almost constant companion. 

From Bruck to Heiligenblut the road is 47.8 km long, and takes you over the main ridge of the Alps. The road was opened in 1935 after five years of construction, and today it is one of the most important tourist attractions in Austria.

Carinthia tour portal



2. Nockalm Road (AUT)

The Nockalm Road was opened in 1981 and is almost 35 km long. With its 52 gentle bends, the so-called “Reidn”, it provides access to the Nockberge Biosphere Reserve, which is famous for its large stocks of larch and Swiss stone pine.

The round “Nocken” are geological rarities, as they are quite a bit older than the neighbouring mountains and are rich in mineral resources (especially magnesite and iron ore). Numerous furnaces that are no longer in use testify to the mining in this region.

3. Villach Alpine Road (AUT)

The Villach Alpine Road measures 16.5 kilometres from Villach-Möltschach (550 m) up onto the Dobratsch (Rosstratte 1,732 m), although it does not quite take you all the way to the summit (2,167 m). This has to be conquered on foot.

Along the road there are frequent splendid views of Villach, the famous Carinthian swimming lakes Wörthersee, Ossiacher See and Faaker See, the Karawanken, the Julian Alps and the largest landslide region in the eastern Alps on the southern flank of the Dobratsch. One tip is the “Rote Wand” viewing platform, with a wonderful view downwards over the 400 m abyss of the rock face.

Carinthia tour portal

4. Gerlitzen Alpine Road (AUT)

There are three roads for biking across the Gerlitzen, the 1,909 metre-high skiing and viewing mountain in the central Carinthian region near Villach. One of them is the Gerlitzen Alpine Road, which leads from Bodensdorf to just below the summit at around 1,800 m above sea level. 

The name Gerlitzen comes from the old Slavonic “Gorelice” (goreti = to burn) and refers to a region that was plagued by fires. Hence also the unofficial name for the Gerlitzen, “Feuerberg” or “fire mountain”.

5. Malta High Alpine Road (AUT)

The Malta High Alpine Road leads for 14.4 km up to the highest dam wall in Austria, the Kölnbrein Dam. The route is characterised by tunnels through the rocks, sharp bends and numerous waterfalls. 

Attached directly to the dam wall is the “Airwalk”, a glass surface with an open 200 m view into the abyss. And all around you can enjoy the breath-taking views of the high alpine landscape of the Hohe Tauern National Park.

Malta High Alpine Road

6. Nassfeld Pass (AUT/ITA)

The Nassfeld Pass (in Italian Passo di Pramollo) in the Carnic Alps is a border pass between Austria and Italy, and connects the Gail Valley in Carinthia with the Canale Valley in Friuli. On the Austrian side of the pass is the largest ski region in Carinthia. 

In the First World War, the Nassfeld was a battleground, and the Nassfeld Road was extended in 1915 as a military road. Today there is a soldiers’ cemetery in Tröpolach in memory of the many people killed in action.

7. Mangart Road (SLO)

This 12 km long, dead-end road built in 1940 leads to the 2,100 m high Mangart Pass, and is thus the highest road in Slovenia. It is characterised by its five narrow, unlit tunnels. 

The Mangart (2,677 m) is the fourth-largest summit of the Julian Alps, and one of the most typical, and offers wonderful views, among other things of the nearby Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia (2,864 m).

8. Vršič Pass Road (SLO)

The Vršič Pass provides the link between Kranjska Gora and the village of Trenta in the Soča Valley. The 50 hairpin bends in the northern part of the pass road are partly made of cobblestones. The pass forms the watershed for the Soča (the southern course) and the Save (the northern course). The pass road was built by Russian prisoners of war in 1914 – 1916 as a military road into the Isonzo Valley. 

Over 400 of these prisoners perished in just one avalanche in March 1916. The “Russian chapel” (Ruska kapelica) on the north side commemorates the victims. A large part of the reinforcements for the major offensive by Austria-Hungary and Germany in the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo arrived along this road. The present-day route only partly follows the original roadway; the southern side has been largely rebuilt.

9. Zoncolan Pass Road (ITA)

This road in the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia is named after the 1,750 m high Monte Zoncolan, a mountain in the Carnic Alps. On its eastern side is one of the most important ski resorts in this region. The road connects the two towns of Ovaro and Sutrio with one another. 

The western approach to Ovaro in particular is regarded as one of the most difficult ascents in cycling. There is a difference in altitude of 1,210 metres that has to be conquered in a distance of 10.5 km, making this approach legendary amongst cycling fans. The sharp bends up to the pass are edged with plaques commemorating the winners of this stage of the various Giro d’Italia tours.

Carinthia tour portal

10. Sella di Razzo (ITA)

The road over the Sella di Razzo leads from the west to the village of Sauris on the Lago di Sauris. Sauris is the highest municipality in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and a linguistic enclave, as the inhabitants largely still speak “Zahrisch” in their day-to-day life. 

This is because the first inhabitants here arrived in the middle of the 12th century from several border valleys between Tyrol and Carinthia, and the language that still exists today developed from then. The prosciutto from Sauris, a raw ham seasoned with mountain herbs and lightly smoked, is renowned as a delicacy.

Weather today, 28. February 2020

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