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The Tyrol, Vorarlberg and South Tyrol - Austria and Italy

Clickable map of tyrol - please use text links

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Accommodation for this areaHOTELS/B&B

What do the symbols mean? don't miss scenic route Avoid if at all possible Sweepers Twisties Hairpins Town or Point of Interest Web Cam Available

Unfortunately, some of the best roads in Austria, especially in the west, are private roads and therefore charge. Though this does keep the traffic down, and often ensures a well maintained surface.
Most through traffic takes the motorway to Italy, and so most of the traffic is local, as long as you avoid the main towns like Dornbirn, Bludenz and so on.

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B198 Stuben - Flexenpass - Warth
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These three routes are about the only ones in the Vorarlberg which aren't near a town. They can be busy, but are mostly empty during the week as caravans have trouble here, keeping a lot of Dutch and German tourists on the motorway. Great surfaces and brill rides - loads of wide hairpins to lean over.....

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B200 Warth - Hochtannberg - Egg
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2006-07-24


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N47?16.015 E10?07.292

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Hochtannberg (1675m): mostly wide road, with a near perfect surface and some great wide hairpins that only the Austrians know how to make. Goes through several villages. A number of galleries and short tunnels near Au. Not that busy, but has some bus and medium sized trucks. Newly surface in the north valley 2006.

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B193 Au - Bludenz
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Not much to say about this, other than that it's very similar to the Hochtannbergpass (above).

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L51 Rankweil - Furkajoch - Dam?ls-Au
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2006-07-24


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link to more photos
more photos
This is mostly a narrow road with an excellent surface. It is far better to do West to East, as you can see around the corners better. The stretch along the valley has speed limits due to the narrow blind corners. The following climb is steep with narrow haipins, but great because of the good surface. After the joch the descent to Dam?ls is ok as long as the 70 kph speedlimit is interpreted liberally. Near Dam?ls there are a number of driveways, and even mirrors on some blind narrow bends. The stretch down to Au consists of a good twisty section.

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B188 Rankweil - Bielerhöhe - Galt?r
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Gold medal symbol
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don't miss scenic route Hairpin Webcam N46?55.051 E10?05.574

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more photos
The Bielerhöhe(2036m) is a toll road (€10.50 - including return trip on same day - per bike for 2006), the charge is reasonable and the best way across from the Tyrol into the Vorarlberg. The west side is steeper and basically a sweeping series of hairpins (about 30 ?) with relatively tight radius and quite steep. Cows and buses in the middle of the road are the biggest dangers here. Fortunately the road has good visibility and you can see around most corners.
Stop at the reservoir for a great view over into Switzerland and the Piz Buin peak. From here on is a section that I always seem to forget, and I don't know why, because it's brilliant. It's a sort of uneven plateau and down the eastern side, with a superb surface (in 2001) and each open corner opens up the next 2 or three...
Mind the cows lower down and horses higher up.

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B197 St. Anton - Stuben
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The Arlbergpass (1793m) used to be fantastic. When they built the tunnel under the mountains here, it took most of the traffic. Since then they have upgraded the Arlbergpass road, widened, straightened and protected it from avalanches, so that it's still better than the tunnel, but very often very busy. However the scenery is magnificent.

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L246 Elmen - Hahntennjoch - Hahntennjoch
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Bronze medal symbol
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2006-07-25


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don't miss Hairpin Twisty N47?17.013 E10?37.009

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link to more photos
more photos
The Hahntennjoch (1884m)was suggested to me by the Austrian border guard when I tried to cross the border without a passport (ah, the good old days). A long sweeping ride along the bottom of an open river valley leads to a great fast climb to the top and down the other side to Imst.
Martin rode it last in 2006 and the surface is still excellent.
It is a neglected little pass that has everything on it. Trees, canyon, scree slopes, straights, rock walls - in fact a mini-alps tour in its own right.
Watch out for cows in the trees near Imst.

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Berwang - Stanzach
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don't miss N47?24.539 E10?44.810

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The road next to the Hahntennjoch (as it were) was pretty damn good too. It's the one that goes from the north end of the Fernpass via Berwang to Stanzach in the Lech valley. It is not a pass so maybe for that reason not so popular, but it does go up and down a bit. There are loads of wonderful medium radius and good visibility bends, and the scenery and road surface are good. Plus there is no traffic of any kind.

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B197 Lermoos - Fernpass - Nassreith
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N47?21.728 E10?49.833

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If you really have to get into or out of Austria near here in a hurry or bad weather then the Fernpass (1207m) is your best bet. A main route from Southern Germany into Austria, and therefore iIt carries tons of heavy traffic and is normally to be avoided like the plague at weekends

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B19 Oberstdorf - Kleinwalsertal - Baad
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avoid if possible N47?19.840 E10?09.616

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If you like to explore dead-end valleys, then the Kleinwalsertal is one to avoid. This small area of Austria is reachable only from Oberstdorf in Germany on a continuation of the B19. Once you cross the border there is a 50kmh speed limit all the way, the road is full of cages window shopping in the unbroken line of buildings, and the end of it all is merely a car park. For what it's worth, the road surface is great.

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Fischen - Riedbergpass - Balderschwang - Hittisau
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N47?26.030 E10?11.307

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If you like to explore dead-end valleys, then the Kleinwalsertal is one to avoid. This small area of Austria is reachable only from Oberstdorf in Germany on a continuation of the B19. Once you cross the border there is a 50kmh speed limit all the way, the road is full of cages window shopping in the unbroken line of buildings, and the end of it all is merely a car park. For what it's worth, the road surface is great.

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B302 Sonthofen - Oberjoch
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N47?30.601 E10?23.218

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The second route out takes you from Sonthofen on the B308 via Hindelang to the Tannheimer Tal. There's a straight bit to get out of the town but it's worth it. The road conditions are predictable and it winds up - if only for 6 km - through a series of varied narrow bends to Oberjoch. There are good views of the valley too if you feel like stopping. You move through light beech woods so on a sunny autumn day the colours are amazing. Just one thing: it is difficult (and according to those round, red-rimmed signs also illegal) to overtake. So get past that van in town.

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B199 Oberjoch - Tannheim - Wei?enbach
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Webcam N47?30.054 E10?31.056

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Once at the top the Tannheimer Tal is an open, fast road. At Grän there is a side road leading north and down through dairy pastures to Pfronten, should you need to get back to Germany. Otherwise the main road continues and ends in a few easy hairpins down to Weissenbach in the Lech valley.

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St. Leonhard -South Tyrol
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N46?48.814 E11?14.617

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link to more photos
more photos
The area east of the Stilfserjoch and south of the Ötztal is a German speaking part of Italy called South Tyrol. The culture is noticeably more Austrian than Italian (and so is the Beer).
St. Leonhard is a small but ideally postioned little touris town. Quaint enough and within spitting distance of both the Timmelsjoch and the Jaufenpass

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B186 Ötztal
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Sweeper N47?07.837 E10?55.378

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The only way to get to the Timmelsjoch from this side - and not a bad ride either. It's fairly uninteresting really until Neudorf with just too many villages to be fun. Then it starts to gradually get twistier. One unmarked hairpin may give you a shock, following that it's mostly medium sweepers with some twisties to keep it interesting until Sölden. A few small villages to slow down for and very busy at weekends. The road from Sölden to the Timmelsjoch is pretty good - you can take a detour up to the all-year ski area on the the Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers. Still a good ride and a typical Austrian valley road.

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L237/L13 Oetz/Haiming - Kühtai - Kematen/Innsbruck
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2004-06-10


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don't miss scenic route N47?13.233 E11?02.643

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link to more photos
more photos
This generally forgotten road runs between Innsbruck and the ?tztal and is a great alternative to the boring-as-hell Inn valley road just to the north. The road reaches 2017m altitude, but seems even lower as it's quite wooded and the mountains around are so much higher. Starting either in Haiming or ?tz there is a steep climb up to the plateau, and then snakes along until the drop down to Innsbruck.
Very picturesque and relatively easy, it's a nice gentle ride and a good warm-up to either the Timmelsjoch or the Hanhntennjoch nearby.
Watch out for free-range cows and their grip-free-tarmac effects.

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ss44bis / B186 Passertal - Timmelsjoch - S?lden
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2006-06-11


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don't miss scenic route Hairpin Sweeper N46?54.805 E11?05.138

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link to more photos
more photos
Timmelsjoch homepage North of Meran (Merano) is the Passertal. A small road runs along the valley, through meadows and small towns. At the head of the valley is the town of St. Leonhard im Passertal. Just north of the town the road splits. Turn left and you are heading for the Timmelsjoch. The start of this route snakes up through some dense forest punctuated by some small villages. The surface here is of varying quality, with some cracks and ridges probably due to tree roots but with a recently resurfaced and widened lower section from St. Leonardo to Moso. Once you emerge from the forest near Bel Prato, the high alpine section begins. The road surface also improves. This is a great road especially near the top, with some wide hairpins, allowing an opportunity to get it right over. At the top is a short tunnel to the other side and the Austrian border. Where you have to pay a toll for the Austrian side (€11/€13 return). Please note: cash only - no cards!
Mark says:You don't pay the toll at the border but down at Hochgurgl, so if you come from the Italian side and go back that way then there is no need to pay.

The Austrian side is steep and sometimes narrow, with plenty of hairpins and short straights making overtaking rather difficult. At least the top bit is, there is a long section of straight running along a glacial valley, where there is often snow all year on the ground. Don't leave the return journey too late, 'cause they shut the tunnel in the evening. Having said that there are plenty of places to stay on the Austrian side though not that many in Italy. Avoid Obergurgl, it's expensive and being so high is cold in the evening. Try Sölden instead.
Hint: look out for speed traps in the valley. They're looking for mad Italian Ferrari Wanadrives, but the Austrian cops were more than happy to relieve a couple of us bikers of a £30 on the spot fine. Have your Euros ready or keep to 50 kph in town.
Check out the loony Norwegian's video at www.roadmc.com

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ss44 St. Leonardo -Jaufenpaß / di Monte Giovo-Sterzing /Vipitenzo
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Silver medal symbol
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2004-09-10


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don't miss N46?52.151 E11?22.044

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link to more photos
more photos
Turning right after St Leonhard and you're heading up the Jaufenpaß towards the town of Walten. The first part of this road snakes up the forest at the head of the valley. The road used to be narrow, full of cracks and ridges and needed to be negotiated with care. It is now mostly resurfaced, with only a couple of short dodgey bits. There are three sections to this pass, which is like a mini-Timmelsjoch: 1) Wide, great surface with twisties near St. Leonardo, 2) a narrow, tree lined section in the middle and 3) open, bleak and bare landscape with hairpins. At the top the road levels off near the town of Walten. After the town the road improves and it gets rather good, with some long straights on which to get some speed up. What's more the road was devoid of traffic, which always helps. I've done this road both in the dry and the wet, and enjoyed it both times.
The surface on the east ramp is in places abysmal, however short stretches are being resurfaced (Mark, September 2004).

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ss12 Sterzing - Brenner pass - Innsbruck
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avoid if possible N47?00.394 E11?30.366

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This is a main north-south route through the Alps, and the valley houses a main road, a motorway and a major railway. There's not much room between the mountains, and it's all a bit concreted over for my taste. Most heavy traffic takes the motorway, which has a serious traffic problem at peak times, so there's still a lot of traffic on the main road. The road itself is fast, not boring, but nothing special either. The best bit is only short but it's the section from Innsbruck to the Stubaital.
It's a main road alternative to the motorway and all that goes with it.

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B180/ss40 Reschen pass
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N46?50.880 E10?30.317

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very busy at weekends (see Fernpass), but off peak makes a brilliant ride. Up to the pass top is a perfect surface. Fast sweepers mostly - but eagle-eye for police. This is the best alternative to going through Liechtenstein and Chur if you are aiming for the Engadin.

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