CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
Seeking: Thrill-seekers who love heights. Added bonus if you love castles and history.
In 2014 Austria opened Highline179. It’s a suspension footbridge over Highway 179, reaching from the Ehrenburg castle to the other side of the steep valley. Specifically it’s 374 feet above the valley floor and 1,318 long. To answer your questions – yes, it does sway as people walk across it and yes, you can see through the bridge to the little ant-sized people down – way down- below. The officials at the Guinness World Records took note and awarded it the record holder for the longest Tibet-style footbridge in the world.
We visited in June 2015, but the bridge is open daily, year-round for your height-driven adrenaline rush!
We drove to the bridge and as you come in on Highway 179 you can see the bridge way above you! There are two turn-offs for the parking lot, one from each direction, so if you miss the turn and need to turn around be on the look out for a different entrance. There was plenty of parking in the gravel lot (be sure to pay and place your ticket in your windshield). The tickets for the bridge are available at the museum office and shop. That’s also your last chance to empty your bladder – ahem!
In this area down below the bridge there is a hotel, restaurant, play area and museum. We didn’t see the inside of the museum, but a combination ticket is available to see the museum and cross the bridge. The play area and exploring the outside area are free, but the main attraction awaits above!
Before you cross the bridge, you have to get to it! There is a steep hike from the valley floor to the bridge. It takes about 15 minutes of pure cardio and leg work to get there. Once you have hiked to the top there are two options – cross the bridge or explore the castle. We choose to cross the bridge first and then explore the castle afterwards.
We scanned our tickets at the turnstile, but if you hiked all the way up and didn’t buy a ticket you can purchase one from the kiosk here. From the turnstile you can cross the bridge. The bridge floor is a metal grate that is easy to see through so you can look down, first to the trees under your feet, then to the valley floor and the highway running under you! The bridge does sway a bit as people pass you, which is a little disconcerting or fun – depending on your point of view.
Once you have finally made your way across the bridge, you can exit the turnstile (your ticket will let you back in when you are ready to re-cross). From this side you have an excellent view of the bridge, valley, and castle across from you. This side was once used as Fort Claudia. I wonder if the medieval knights ever wished for a bridge to easily get back and forth to the castle.
After you have caught your breath, taken your pictures and enjoyed the view, you can re-enter the turnstile and cross back over. On the way back we explored Burg Ehrenburg, the castle ruins dating back to 1293. Duke Meinhard II marked the northern border of Tyrol with this castle.
After we explored the castle, we hiked back down and admired the bridge – and our bravery from below.
Tips for Your Trip:
6600 Gemeinde Reutte, Austria
Although a vignette is needed to drive in some places in Austria, you will not need one to drive on Highway 179 coming from the German border.
€3.00 per car covers you for the entire day
Adults (15 years and older): €8.00
Children (4-14): €5.00
Family (2 adults & children): €24.00
Combination adult ticket to the bridge and the museum below: €10.50.
Each ticket is good for two trips across the bridge. After you cross the bridge once, you will leave the turnstile so that you can take in the view and take pictures. Then you present the same ticket to re-enter the turnstile and cross back over.
Open daily from 0800 – 2200.
Rules on the Bridge:
Here are a few of the rules for the bridge, which is monitored via video surveillance:
- No swinging or playing
- No jumping or running
- Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult
- No climbing
- Do not throw anything off the bridge
- Dogs can cross on a leash (no more than 1 meter)
- During storms or heavy snow you must leave the bridge (no refunds due to weather)