Travelers seeking to explore as much as they can of Austria can easily do so on the quick and easy modern rail system. Using Vienna and Salzburg as their starting and ending points, visitors can discover the best of these two cities and the wondrous worlds that lie around them. Austria’s extensive rail system, ÖBB for Österreichische Bundesbahn, reaches throughout the country, taking passengers from city to city, and into more remote parts while passing scenic spots along the way. More than a means of getting from one place to the next, riding the rails in Austria envelops passengers in comfort as they seek out a truly authentic Austria.
Starting Point: Vienna
Austria’s capital city is the ideal starting point to begin a rail journey. Its new Main Station or Hauptbahnhof, which re-opened in December 2015, is the central hub for regional, national, and international train connections in Austria. Boasting impressive architecture, Vienna’s Main Station is home to restaurants, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and clothing stores making it a destination all its own.
Travelling times between major Austrian cities:
- Vienna - Salzburg = less than 2,5 hours with ÖBB railjet
- Salzburg - Innsbruck = less than 2 hours with ÖBB railjet
- Innsbruck - Bregenz = starting from approx. 2,5 hours
- Vienna - Graz = 2 hours 38 min.
- Graz - Linz = starting from approx. 3 hours
- Graz - Innsbruck = starting from approx. 6 hours
After exploring Vienna’s sites for a few days, it’s lovely to venture into other regions of Austria by rail. With the ÖBB railjet, for example, Salzburg is only 2 hours and 49 minutes away, or Innsbruck only 4 hours and 18 minutes. Once onboard the high-speed railjet, passengers are treated to modern rail cars built with comfort in mind and faster connections. It travels at interval speeds of 143 miles/hour. The opportunity to look out the window at the scenic Austrian landscape is just the start of the relaxing rail journey.
Techies will be happy to know that there is free Wi-Fi onboard for all, plus plugs for charging electronic devices are available in select train categories. Snacks and beverages can be purchased, and those who travel First Class are served drinks and food directly at their seat. Air conditioning and large luggage racks add to the amenities in select train categories. Passengers need only sit back and relax.
Rails to Remote Austria
Regional train service is also fast and efficient allowing travelers to take in more remote regions of Austria, including Salzkammergut (Salzburg Lake District). The UNESCO World Cultural Heritage region is home to alpine scenery of lakes, hills, mountains, and picturesque villages. Travelers can start the rail journey from Vienna to Gmunden (one transfer at the station of Attnang-Puchheim), a small village on Lake Traunsee in Upper Austria. Sailing, hiking, and local pottery are highlights of this area. Daily regional trains from here take travelers 45 minutes to Bad Ischl, a spa town with an Imperial Villa and many more attractions. Another 20 to 30 minute train ride lands travelers in world-famous Hallstatt, where a small boat ferries visitors across Lake Hallstatt to the village that is filled with colorful houses with a backdrop of the lake and steep cliff. The trip can end in Salzburg with an easy connection.
After exploring Salzburg, visitors can head off on the rails to explore Austria’s western regions, an especially good region for those looking to ski this winter. A train from Salzburg to the startling beauty of the Austrian Alps is under a two hour ride to Innsbruck and only a three hour ride to St. Anton and Arlberg.
Tickets can be purchased at the train station or in advance online at ÖBB Railjet’s website: www.oebb.at/en.
The Austrian Tourist Office supports the agent community in a variety of ways. Whether by providing unforgettable and unique itinerary suggestions, connecting with partners in Austria , sending brochures and maps to clients, brushing up knowledge on Austria with the Austria Expert Program, or by simply answering questions via phone.