Your Ultimate Austria Bucket List: Sound of Music, Swarovski Crystals, A Few Palaces, & More!

Ride the rails in Austria between iconic cities, grandiose mountain ranges, charming small towns, and serene lakes. A train adventure in Austria means cultural delights and outdoor adventures. From Vienna to Salzburg, Graz, and Innsbruck – with day trips to Hallstatt, Werfen, Hall in Tirol, and Wattens – discover all that Österreich has to offer with a Eurail Austria Pass!

 

Start in Vienna 

Start your train journey in the imperial city of Vienna, the country’s capital and former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Vienna remains one of the most affluent and innovative cities in the world. Explore the opulence of Schönbrunn Palace, ride the Riesenrad ferris wheel, and have a dose of culture in the MuseumQuartier. For an only-in-Vienna experience, catch a performance at the Spanish Riding School horse show. 

Graz 

Remarkably different from the earlier stops on your itinerary, the southern city of Graz boasts a unique flavor of Austrian, Italian, and Balkan culture (and not just because it’s one of Europe’s culinary capitals). Austria’s second-largest city isn’t just more laid back and greener, it has a definite quirk found at riverside beach bars, incredible street art, the zany UFO building of the Kunsthaus Graz art museum, and the world-famous La Strada festival that features street theater, acrobats, and puppetry on every block. For a more traditional attraction, stop by the baroque masterpiece Eggenberg Palace. 

Vienna to Graz by train: 2h 35min, direct (Railjet) 

 Salzburg 

One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Salzburg gifted the world the music of Mozart and was the setting for The Sound of Music and continues to dance to its own beat today. From the majestic Hohensalzburg Castle to the breathtaking Mirabell GardensStephansdom Cathedral, and Hundertwasser Village – Salzburg exemplifies old world glamour with fun street life. Don’t forget to stroll the always-bumping Getreidegasse pedestrian avenue filled with shops, baroque charm, and Mozart’s original residence.  

Graz to Salzburg by train3h 59m, direct by regional train 

 Hallstatt (side trip!) 

Hallstatt’s famous colorful wooden houses sit on a placid lake bordered by awe-inspiring mountain peaks. The quaint village centers around the old world Market Square and has been inhabited for nearly four thousand years (!). And it’s not hard to wonder why: Visitors must take a boat out on the lake to fully appreciate Hallstatt’s beauty or hike up the famous salt mine for a truly incredible view of the mountains. For a more curious adventure, the Beinhaus is an ancient catacomb that celebrates centuries of life in Hallstatt. 

Salzburg to Hallstatt by train: 2h 20m, regional train with one change in Attnang Puchheim

 Werfen (side trip!) 

Werfen is almost otherworldly. The small market town is nestled in a narrow valley in the heart of the magnificent Austrian Alps. Above it all is the bold Hohenwerfen Castle overlooking the capricious little village. But it’s the Eisriesenwelt ice caves that draw visitors to Werfen, the world’s largest ice cave that, according to medieval legend, was the entrance to Hell. Don’t expect to be warm inside, though, and be sure to pack some mittens before spelunking deep into the frozen wonder. 

Salzburg to Werfen by train: Werfen is recommended as a spur-of-the-moment excursion from Salzburg. Service is frequent for this short journey; in less than one hour from Salzburg main train station you can be there. (tickets are not sold in advance and must be purchased locally at the train station)

 Innsbruck 

In the heart of the Alps, Innsbruck is a historic and pedestrian-friendly city surrounded by pristine mountains. And we mean surrounded: The Nordkette cable car takes you right from the heart of Innsbruck to Karwendel Nature Park and its 2000-meter-high view. While you’re up there, stop by the Alpenzoo, one of Europe’s highest elevation zoos.  Innsbruck’s old town features Instagram-worthy pastel houses with remarkable baroque details right on the Inn River – in fact, Innsbruck has some of the best late medieval architecture in all of central Europe. Need proof? Stop by the Goldenes DachlTriumphal Arch, and Hofburg Palace. 

Salzburg to Innsbruck by train1h 50m, direct Railjet 

 Wattens (side trip!) 

Everything seems to glimmer in Wattens. The home of the Swarovski crystal company has made the small Austrian village a destination for travelers. At the Kristallwelten Watten – Swarovski Crystal World – the majestic glass comes to life in surprising forms, like huge clouds, horses, waterfalls, and castles. Functioning more like a dramatic art exhibit than a company museum, the Crystal World is one of Austria’s most popular stops. 

Innsbruck to Wattens by train16 minute travel time via S-bahn.  Ticket to be purchased locally.

We hope you enjoyed our tips for Austria! For more info about any of these destinations, visit our friends at Austria Tourism. To book your Eurail Austria pass and reservations, or to research ticket schedules and prices, visit our site.

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