Nestled in an idyllic pocket of central Austria, Nockalmstrasse isn’t one of the well-known touring tracks of Austria, even though it’s in striking distance of Salzburg, Hallstatt and Lienz. This means it’s often less trafficked than you would expect from a road this good. The hefty toll may also have something to do with this – 18 Euro, at the time of writing. On the upside, like most Austrian toll roads, the fee for driving Nockalmstrasse means the road surface is very well maintained.
Setting out from Innerkrems, the initial climb starts with a series of traditional switchbacks before things liven up with some straighter sections separated by some great mid-gear kinks. As you approach the first of two magnificent peaks, the tarmac stretches along a mountainside, revealing expansive views across the Nockberge and surrounding peaks of the Eastern Alps. It’s worth stopping at the top to take it all in. You could even get a quick snapshot with the giant wooden Marmot guarding the rest cabin to commemorate the trip.
The drive down to the valley starts above the tree-line before straightening up a little as the forest thickens, providing a few quick overtaking opportunities. You’ll also find a few restaurants and bars on either side of the valley, each one ideal for a quick snack or even a more relaxing classic Austrian lunch.
Once you’ve conquered the second of Nockalm’s peaks, the road down to the Reichenau toll booth is something to behold. After a twisty section off the top, the gradient eases off and the road really opens up, allowing you to carry more momentum through wider corners and sweepers. It’s an extremely rewarding ribbon of blacktop that’ll make you feel a little deflated as you see the toll gate approaching. Don’t despair though; you can do a U-turn before crossing the exit point and do it all over again, in the other direction.