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Driving to Obergurgl for Christmas

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Afternoon all. Looking for some advice ahead of a trip to Obergurgl for Christmas week (Sat 21st to Sat 28th). Due to the astronomical cost of flights (we were unusually slow in making our plans for this winter and are a family of 4), we have decided to drive. We're going to set out early on Friday 20th (should leave Calais about 9am French time) and have found somewhere cheap to stay in Sautens at the foot of the Oztal valley so we can be up to Obergurgl nice and early on the Saturday. The question is what route to take? Google Maps suggests several options (Reims - Metz - Stuttgart - Memmingen; Lille - Luxembourg - Metz - Stuttgart - Memmingen; Brussles - Liege - Mannheim- Stuttgart - Memmingen), but they all go through the Fernpass, which I understand might get clogged up at such a busy time? What are the viable alternatives? We're looking for a route that is reasonably quick, has the easiest driving (two 4-year olds in the car) and is the least likely to be severely disrupted by traffic/road conditions. Happy to pay French tolls if that's the quickest and easiest way?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
This sort of question often descends into bickering as everyone thinks their own route is best!

I would suggest you go via Luxembourg (Lille, Namur) as this avoids any French road tolls (the roads into Lille have no tolls) and there is cheap petrol in Luxembourg. Then head towards Ulm (various ways to do this) but when you get to Memmingen rather than taking the A7 towards Füssen and the Fernpass take the A96 towards Bregenz. This is slightly longer but you then go via Feldkirch and the Arlberg road tunnel. This is likely to be a lot easier drive and is very unlikely to be weather affected. Sometimes there can be queues at Bludenz where the autobahn changes over to a single carriageway on the approach to the Arlberg tunnel but probably not on the day you are driving (normally on Saturday mornings on peak weekends). It is also a much easier to drive in the dark when you (and you passengers) are tired after a long drive, the Fernpass does have a number of narrow steep bends. The route via the Arlberg is all main roads (dual carriage way except for some of the tunnel sections but these are all lit and well engineered). From experience I would suggest that you will be looking at around a 12 hour trip from Calais assuming good weather. Dont forget to buy your Austrian vignette before you go on to the autobahn, can be very expensive if you dont have one.
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+1 for the Bregenz route. I'd expect it to be nice and quiet on a Friday before Christmas. There's a good service station on the autobahn just before the Austrian border where you can buy the vignette and get a quick coffee before the last leg. Remember that it costs half a Euro to use the toilets in the services but you get the money back if you then buy something.
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+1 also for Bregenz. We got stuck at Fernpass three times in a row (winter-summer-winter), 2 of the times for over 2 hours due to accidents, and vowed never to drive that way again.

We’ve also gone via Basel and Zürich (going down the French side of the German/French border from Thionville past Colmar - also no French rolls on that route I believe) to avoid the holiday traffic through Germany - but we did already have a Swiss vignette from the summer
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Also heading out to that region (Solden) for New Year and understand will get stuck in traffic as travelling in and out of resort Saturday/Saturday, will also be travelling the Bregenz route and have had good suggestions from @munich_irish before, so I would go with that...
On the Saturday for me, have got a stopover near Karlsruhe on the Friday evening, have no rush to get there Saturday, so would you all advise to take a leisurely breakfast and set off later, or will it not make a difference throughout the day.??
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Another for Bregenz.

I've done both the Metz route and Liile Namur. Check where any roadworks are. Last year coming back through Belgium was a pita with miles of roadworks to the French border.

You can buy the vignette and Arlberg tunnel pass on line https://www.asfinag.at/toll/vignette/digital-vignette.
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
My advice is to be a bit more realistic in your planning.

Forget all about skiing Saturday and take a hotel in the southern of Germany in stead. With two four year old children it will be a nightmare. You will not arrive until midnight or even past midnight anyway.

Saturday morning you can decide whether you take Fernpass or Arlbergtunnel derpending on the traffic situation and then enjoy the morning driving at the scenery roads at the Fernpass. I have tried both routes several times and prefer Fernpass when the traffic is fine.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Impressed that this thread has not descending into a round of bickering, yet …… (this should get it going wink )

Obertauern is located at around 1650m altitude - I take it your car will have some form of winter / all season tyres on it.
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DB wrote:
..... I take it your car will have some form of winter / all season tyres on it.



DB wrote:
Impressed that this thread has not descending into a round of bickering.


Laughing
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@DB, for me.. Yes for the winter tyres + snowchains and all the other bits.. Smile
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DB wrote:

Obertauern is located at around 1650m altitude


I thought they were going to Obergurgl?
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Don't take any notice of me but, I'd go around via Nuremberg.... Munchen .... Kufstien.
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DrLawn wrote:
DB wrote:

Obertauern is located at around 1650m altitude


I thought they were going to Obergurgl?


I'm glad someone is paying attention and picked up on my deliberate mistake wink

Obergurgl is even higher (over 1900m) and it's a drive up a 30 mile long valley road to Obergurgl. From Sölden to Obergurgl is approx 9 miles. Plus if you drive through Germany their winter tyre rules should be respected.
I wouldn't risk it with summer tyres and chains. Unless there is a continous covering of snow on the road surface chains should not be used - even if you ignore this the likelyhood of the chains breaking is much higher when the distances are longer.
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You know it makes sense.
I saw the title and thought it was a new song from Chris Rea... Toofy Grin
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
LushRFC wrote:
Afternoon all. Looking for some advice ahead of a trip to Obergurgl for Christmas week (Sat 21st to Sat 28th). Due to the astronomical cost of flights (we were unusually slow in making our plans for this winter and are a family of 4), we have decided to drive. We're going to set out early on Friday 20th (should leave Calais about 9am French time) and have found somewhere cheap to stay in Sautens at the foot of the Oztal valley so we can be up to Obergurgl nice and early on the Saturday. The question is what route to take? Google Maps suggests several options (Reims - Metz - Stuttgart - Memmingen; Lille - Luxembourg - Metz - Stuttgart - Memmingen; Brussles - Liege - Mannheim- Stuttgart - Memmingen), but they all go through the Fernpass, which I understand might get clogged up at such a busy time? What are the viable alternatives? We're looking for a route that is reasonably quick, has the easiest driving (two 4-year olds in the car) and is the least likely to be severely disrupted by traffic/road conditions. Happy to pay French tolls if that's the quickest and easiest way?


Is the stay in Sautens for one night or for the whole holiday? If only one night why not drive on to Obergurgl - it's not much further.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Simon94 wrote:
@DB, for me.. Yes for the winter tyres + snowchains and all the other bits.. Smile


Winter tyres are compulsory in Austria.

I've driven to Obergurgl and Ischgl half a dozen times (from Innsbruck) - even with new snow winter tyres are amazingly good. Never needed chains.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I'd normally take the Bregenz route if going that way. It may be longer, but it's also flat, and mostly straight roads.
At Ulm, also tell the SatNag to shut up for a few km too. When it tries to route you thru Ulm, ignore it, and just use the A8-A7 interchange.

Get the autobahn vignette at the last services between Memmingen and Lindau. Don't forget there's also a toll (about €10 ?) for the Arlberg tunnel.
Bludenz-Arlberg can get a bit chokka on Saturday am, since the "autobahn" is actually a single lane road for a bit.

I'd only do the Nuremberg-Munich route if heading somewhere further East than Innsbruck (eg if one meant Obertauern rather than Obergurgl)
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@buchanan101, I think you will find that @LushRFC, is probably booked into their accomadation on the Saturday to Saturday basis, hence the reason not getting to resort early as they have nowhere to stay. The stay in Sautens is a overnight stop as they will be travelling from Calais on the Friday and have booked here.
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Buy your vignette here before you leave. https://my.tolltickets.com. Used them for many years for travelling through to Stubai. Brilliant, quick service and saves a stop if you don't need it.
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@GixerGirl, as of November this year (2019), you can do it online and do not need to have the sticker any longer, its all digital and references to your number plate...
https://www.asfinag.at/toll/vignette/digital-vignette/

A lot easier in my opinion.. Smile
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Simon94 wrote:
@GixerGirl, as of November this year (2019), you can do it online and do not need to have the sticker any longer, its all digital and references to your number plate...
https://www.asfinag.at/toll/vignette/digital-vignette/

A lot easier in my opinion.. Smile


Cool, I'll remember that for next year, thanks for the tip. Very Happy
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I'd never use one of those 3rd party online resellers for the toll sticker. Why pay more? I tend to stop and buy one at the services, cos by then I've been on the road 3 hours from home/work, and it takes about 1 minute.

If you do the digital vignette, don't forget to do that at least 10 days or 2 weeks before, since the the validity start date needs to be that far in the future.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
We started using Tolltickets due to the first year traveling through to the Dolomites many moons ago and being the height of the summer, the tail back at the services as you enter Austria on the Fernpass at Autohof Huter I think it is, was tailed right back on to the main road, took us about 30 minutes to clear the traffic and up onto the forecourt area before we could buy the vignette. We still had a fair way to go to get to Cortina and found it less hassle to buy online from that point on. The tent was erected in the darkness that year Laughing. Thanks for the lead-in warning if purchasing through the online system. Very Happy
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@andy, @GixerGirl, it's 18 days. From ASFINAG:
As a consumer, you cannot use the Digital Vignette or the Digital Section Toll Annual Card immediately after purchase - these are valid at the earliest 18 days after purchase. More Info

Digital Vignettes or Digital Section Toll Annual Cards purchased today are valid at the
earliest on 12.11.2019
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Go for the easiest route - the one with the least twists and turns so that your passengers are relaxed (asleep?) and less likely to puke on you; one that, if you are tired, requires the least amount of decision making and potential for sat-nav misinformation; one that has provision for rest/wee/poo stops in the event of road closure or big delays.
Hands up from me - we drive a 7m motorhome so normally use the Muenchen, Rosenheim, Woergl, Innsbruck route - I appreciate it isn't the shortest but it's the one that's the least hassle.

Other than that I'd say check the roads when you get to Memmingen and decide from there - the Fern Pass may be flowing smoothly? There is a webcam feed of several places on it.

Also, get the Oetztal app/fb feed - they were pretty good with road closure info along the valley - albeit it was Jan not Xmas, there were road closures that would have prevented your access to Obergurgl (Zweiselstein to Hochgurgl seems the most frequent) and it may be that skiing at Oetz or Kuhtai on the Sat morning is your best option. There is a Oetztal Super Ski pass that may be suitable.

Usual snow driving advice - small shovel, torch, gloves, blankets, flask of something warm, snacks, don't let your fuel run down, don't underestimate how horrible it is fiddling around (frozen wiper fluid, change tyre, whatever...) at minus 10 deg C and below in a snow storm.
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Simon94 wrote:

On the Saturday for me, have got a stopover near Karlsruhe on the Friday evening, have no rush to get there Saturday, so would you all advise to take a leisurely breakfast and set off later, or will it not make a difference throughout the day.??


My vague recollection of inward Soelden traffic is it starts to become heavier at about 9am and continues so until about 2pm.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Thanks for all the advice - we hadn't realised we need winter tires and were just going to bring snow chains! Yes, we've got Saturday to Saturday accommodation in Obergurgl, so chose Sauterns as a cheap and close stopover, leaving open all the route options and giving us the chance of skiing all day on the Saturday. Which brings us to the follow up question: We're planning on skiing most of the day on Saturday 28th December, before starting on the journey home. We thought we'd drive for a few hours (c4?), have a stopover and then finish the journey back to Calais and home on the Sunday. No real time pressure for this journey, so any recommendations on route and stopover?
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
+1 for cheap fuel in Luxembourg
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 You know it makes sense.
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There’s an Ibis in Ulm. Clean. relatively cheap, 24 hour reception etc. Barely a diversion front the main route back from the Tyrol. You’d need 2 rooms for a family of 4 (I recall all rooms are double bed plus a single bunk).

Winter tyres are mandatory in Germany. You’ll want them...one year we drove virtually all the way back to the Netherlands in heavy snow, with snow lying on the motorway. Would have taken 2 days to drive that with snow chains on...Was easy with winter tyres (even in a rear wheel drive BMW)
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@LushRFC, I am afraid winter tyres are a necessity. In German they are required if the road conditions need them, in reality that means they are needed at any time as the weather is unpredictable. In most of Austria they are mandatory in the winter months (not sure of the exact dates but lets say November to March). This seems to be an endless topic of discussion on here but where I live (not in the mountains) everyone simply has two sets of tyres which are changed over in October and April with hardly a second thought. I have not driven up to Obergurgl itself so no idea if the chains might be needed, in general the main roads are kept clear so chains are rarely required or useful but it will also depend on where you are staying sometimes there are driveways or side roads which do get snow bound.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hello
I've driven from UK to Alps a few times with kids. Winter tyres a must and make a huge difference. You're unlikely to use chains but will need them just in case. Tyres are cheap if you think long term and buy with steel wheels. I'd break your journey, you really don't want to be driving up a pass at night, in the snow and trying to fit chains. We aim to arrive midday, kids go off, we ski a bit and then check in hotel / apartment.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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munich_irish wrote:
In most of Austria they are mandatory in the winter months (not sure of the exact dates but lets say November to March).


1st Nov till 15th April.
https://www.help.gv.at/Portal.Node/hlpd/public/content/6/Seite.0631001.html

https://www.oeamtc.at/presse/oeamtc-witterungsabhaengige-winterausruestungspflicht-ab-1-november-27980618

LushRFC

All-season tyres are getting better and better .......

http://youtube.com/v/lplaTRkPjTg&feature=push-sd&attr_tag=4D2FlK6YwSehvzw6%3A6

The tyre rubber hardens after around 4 to 5 years.
Based on a tyre lasting 20000 miles, if you do over 10000 miles a year then a second set of winter tyres won't cost much more (just changeover costs). 4 x 10000 miles x 0.5 year = 20000 miles.
If you do less then 10000/year then you would need to change the tyres before they are fully worn out.
The miniumum tread depth for winter tyres is more than in summer (4mm Winter vs 1.6mm in Summer in Austria). You may need to change all-season tyres earlier if they are nearing or under 4mm prior to an Alps trip in winter.
If I lived back in the UK and was doing trips to the Alps I'd probably go for-all seaons and a good set of chains (practise putting them on the car at home.).
In heavy winter conditions I'd avoid traveling between 19:00 and 7:00 as the roads are less likely to be cleared during these times.
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munich_irish wrote:
@LushRFC, I am afraid winter tyres are a necessity. In German they are required if the road conditions need them, in reality that means they are needed at any time as the weather is unpredictable. In most of Austria they are mandatory in the winter months (not sure of the exact dates but lets say November to March). This seems to be an endless topic of discussion on here but where I live (not in the mountains) everyone simply has two sets of tyres which are changed over in October and April with hardly a second thought. I have not driven up to Obergurgl itself so no idea if the chains might be needed, in general the main roads are kept clear so chains are rarely required or useful but it will also depend on where you are staying sometimes there are driveways or side roads which do get snow bound.


I've driven to Obergurgl 3 times and it is mostly pretty easy - just a few hairpins after Solden. Used a hire car just with with winter tyres and these have been fine on new snow.

Not sure I've actually seen anyone use chains.

Obergurgl is mainly just one road so access to most hotels should be fine.
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…. as long as there isn't too much snow / ice around. Wet ice / slush is often much worse than fresh snow.


http://youtube.com/v/wUsr4RHbJK0


http://youtube.com/v/Ulp9lSyw0hI


http://youtube.com/v/lmZHnHx8Yd4


http://youtube.com/v/SQbSwNu3Dws
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@buchanan101, snow chains seem to be an obsession around here, not sure I know anyone in Munich who owns any. I can see if you need to drive on mountain tracks to a remote hut or even an access road to a hotel or pension up a hill they might be useful otherwise most folk seem to just use winter tyres or if regular visitors to the mountains a 4x4 with winter tyres.
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munich_irish wrote:
@buchanan101, snow chains seem to be an obsession around here, not sure I know anyone in Munich who owns any. I can see if you need to drive on mountain tracks to a remote hut or even an access road to a hotel or pension up a hill they might be useful otherwise most folk seem to just use winter tyres or if regular visitors to the mountains a 4x4 with winter tyres.


I've driven down from Ischgl on a few inches new snow with winter tyres and I was amazed how good they are.
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I think some of these people (and animals) could have used some of that spray wink


http://youtube.com/v/mjY3N8-3_ss


http://youtube.com/v/m4Ze9MIIo1E
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
buchanan101 wrote:
Obergurgl is mainly just one road so access to most hotels should be fine.


Actually the road down to the fuel station and leading to some of the underground parking has a "snow chains when it's snowy" sign, I believe (prepared to be wrong on this....)

https://www.google.com/maps/@46.8706678,11.0266159,3a,75y,326.26h,63.56t/data=!3m8!1e1!3m6!1sAF1QipMnzAQn7MwZX54tvR-9fkTv8HZkNZsNrChiFCTG!2e10!3e11!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipMnzAQn7MwZX54tvR-9fkTv8HZkNZsNrChiFCTG%3Dw203-h100-k-no-pi-0-ya111.34094-ro-0-fo100!7i9472!8i4736

https://www.google.com/maps/@46.870328,11.027182,3a,28.7y,267.94h,93.25t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sAF1QipMQjlHL2ZYfBcD5uXFAMEb2Dxsqsq34bIUxK4LD!2e10!7i10000!8i5000 - you can see the signs here.


Also, the access to the hotels on the left (Enzian,Alpenland etc) is quite steep and often snow covered.

https://www.google.com/maps/@46.871735,11.0285573,3a,75y,195.65h,71.11t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sAF1QipPMJp6nXk1pdvgJ9fcqVBr42z9w7OVJEEwRWy1f!2e10!7i10000!8i5000

Edit: I meant to post streetview images but it looks as though you'll need to copy/paste the whole sequence to see those. Or drop the yellow man on the highlighted link and look around.
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From an Obergurgl hotel website

Quote:
Brauche ich Winterreifen oder Schneeketten, um ins Ötztal zu kommen?
Winterreifen sind unbedingt notwendig, wenn Sie im Winter nach Obergurgl fahren wollen. Bitte beachten Sie, dass es in Österreich eine Winterreifenpflicht in der Zeit vom 1. November bis 15. April bei winterlichen Fahrbedingungen gibt. Bei starken Schneefällen kann auch kurzfristig eine Schneekettenpflicht für PKW ausgesprochen werden. Es empfiehlt sich deshalb, immer Schneeketten für den Fall der Fälle mitzunehmen.



My rough translation -
Q. Do I need winter tyres or snowchains?
A. Winter tires are essential if you want to drive to Obergurgl in winter. Please note that in Austria winter tyres are compulsory from 1 November to 15 April in winter driving conditions. In case of heavy snow, snow chains can be imposed on cars for a short period. It is therefore advisable to always take snow chains with just in case they are needed.

https://www.hotel-obergurgl-gurglhof.com/obergurgl/haeufige-fragen.html


.... the police also have the power to stop you from continuing your journey if your car is not correctly equipped for the winter conditions.
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buchanan101 wrote:


Not sure I've actually seen anyone use chains.



Oh bloody hell - looks like I'm targeting you but it's not intentional - having spent 10 plus weeks on the campsite at Soelden within hearing distance of the main road I can assure you that snowchains are often used!

Edit; it's possible they aren't going to Obergurgl - Vent? That bit above Soelden that's still Soelden?
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