Things to know before renting a car in Austria

Ok, so you’ve already done our Vienna kayak tour and our Vienna Woods Wine Tour, and you want to head out onto the open road…, then what finer example of holiday planning to follow than the Griswolds from the classic 1980’s film, European Vacation! Indeed, renting a car in Austria is the only way to go wherever your heart takes you. We’ll dive into everything you need to know about car rental in Austria, from the best rental car company to choose, what general requirements you need to meet, what you need to do to ensure a stress-free experience, and which type of car matches your specific needs. So buckle up, cos we’re going for a ride…

Car rental in Austria: which is the best rental car company to choose?

First things first, you’ll need to decide on a car hire company in Austria. There are many options to choose from, including all the usual international suspects like Hertz, Europcar, and Avis, as well as local Austrian companies like Buchbinder and Megadrive. If you’ve got the time, do your research and compare prices and reviews to find the best hire car company local to you. But if you value your time as much as your wallet, and having tested this myself, I can say that the company with consistently the best prices, the biggest range of vehicles and the best coverage is In my experience they are the overall best car rental company in Austria. Their booking system is clean and pretty easy to navigate, and they aggregate prices from all the big hitters as well as smaller local providers. It’s like a meta search engine for hire car companies, so check ’em out via the link above or the search box below.

Austria car rental requirements - Frequently Asked Questions

Can foreigners rent a car in Austria?

The simple is yes! When it comes to renting a car in Austria, there are a few simple requirements you’ll need to meet. You must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license from your home country. If you’re from outside the EU, you may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) – so check the specific requirements for your country before you travel. You will also need to provide a valid credit card in your name for the rental deposit and any additional charges that may arise during your rental period.

Can I rent a car in Austria without a credit card?

This will depend on the specific policies of the car hire company you decide to go with, but in most cases paying with a credit is the preferred form of payment for most rental car companies in Austria. Not only are you far more likely to get a much better deal when paying for your car hire with a credit card, but in most cases you’ll also need to provide a valid credit card in your name for the rental deposit and any additional charges that may arise during your rental period.

What type of rental car in Austria suits my needs?

This alpine land has a variety of road types, from narrow village streets to mountain passes, so choose a rental car that’s well matched to the roads you’ll be driving on. If you’re planning on driving in the Alps, for example, you’ll want a car with good handling and a strong engine, super grippy winter tires etc. On the other hand, if you’re planning on exploring the city of Vienna, a smaller car may be more practical, especially for the often tiny on-street parking spaces available to you.

Here are a few different types of rental cars to consider for driving in Austria:

  1. Compact or economy car: a practical option for Vienna/Linz/Salzburg/Graz city driving and shorter trips.

  2. Midsize or full-size car: usually more comfortable for longer road trips and driving on highways (Vienna to Salzburg and further afield)

  3. SUV: If you plan to drive mostly in the mountains, during the winter or on unpaved roads, an SUV may be a good choice. They provide better handling, typically with 4WD and more ground clearance.

What are the rules when driving in Austria?

  • Driving rules: in Austria, the locals drive on the right-hand side of the road, and speed limits are posted in kilometers per hour. The speed limit on motorways/highways is typically 130 km/h (80 mph), while in towns and cities it’s usually 50 km/h (30 mph). Obey these speed limits and follow all traffic laws to avoid fines and accidents – the police don’t muck about in Austria.

  • Tolls: many of Austria’s highways, including the major Autobahns, require a toll to be paid. You can pay the toll at designated toll stations or purchase a vignette, which is a sticker that allows you to use the toll roads for a specified period of time. Check with your rental car company though, as many of them will offer rental with all domestic tolls included.

Car rental in Austria - general info...

Other things to know before renting a car in Austria...

  • Insurance: make sure you understand the insurance options available and what they cover. Basic insurance is usually included in the rental price, but you can opt for additional coverage for extra protection. Consider purchasing a collision damage waiver to protect yourself from any damages to the rental car.

  • Fuel policy: check the fuel policy of the rental company. Some companies require you to return the car with a full tank of gas, while others may charge you for the fuel used during the rental period. It’s almost always cheaper to fill the tank yourself and bring the car back with the same amount of petrol/gas that it had at the beginning of the rental period.

  • Car condition: when you pick up your rental car, make sure to inspect it thoroughly for any damage and report it to the rental company before you leave. It’s also a good idea to take photos of the car from all angles as proof of any existing damage. This will help you avoid any disputes over damages when you return the car.

So, which Austrian road trip should I consider?

Hmmm, so many options for beautiful road trips, but if you’re looking for a high alpine pass then it probably should be the Grossglockner High Alpine Road, which first opened back in 1935. It’s a scenic 48km drive, that winds its way through the Alps between Salzbergerland and Carinthia, offering breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers, including Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner. The road is only open in the warmer months from May to October, and its highest point reaches an altitude of 2,504m! The hiking trails nearby are spectacular, and besides the many waterfalls, may even afford you a sighting of the rare Alpine Ibex.

renting a car in austria road trip

So hire a car and go explore!

Car rental in Austria is actually pretty straight forward, so if you’ve got itchy feet and wanna hit the road, then do check out Discover Cars below. They actually operate all over the world, so even if Austria doesn’t end up being your final destination they’ve got you covered. Whichever rental car company you end up going with, drive safely and remember that they drive on the right in Austria! With a little planning, you’ll be able to really get off-the-beaten-track to experience some of Austria’s lesser known and harder to reach spots.

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