Take the Train to a Winter Wonderland in Austria
Travel by train to the ultimate Christmas vacation in Austria, where the holiday is celebrated with music, cozy Christmas markets, delicious treats, plenty of lights, and lots of snow. Christmas in Austria is a bucket-list holiday and it’s easier to experience than ever with the Eurail Austria Rail Pass.
The Eurail Austria Rail Pass whisks travelers from Salzburg to Innsbruck and Vienna to Hallstatt faster than Santa’s sleigh, traipsing through snow-covered mountains and pristine lakes along the way.
Christmas in Austria is basically a snow globe come to life! Here are our top tips for enjoying Christmas in Austria by train.
Hear “Silent Night” where it was first performed 200 years ago
In the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg in 1818, the world’s most popular Christmas carol was born. “Silent Night! Holy Night!” was performed at Christmas that winter and has since become a favorite Christmas carol across the world.
Oberndorf continues to celebrate Christmas with a special zeal, culminating in a stirring rendition of “Silent Night” outside the town chapel every Christmas Eve. It’s an incredible tradition that you can experience yourself when you travel by rail to Salzburg and grab a quick local train to the small town.
For the song’s 200th anniversary, Oberndorf and other towns associated with “Silent Night” are putting out all the stops, including special performances and exhibitions, guided tours, and special Christmas vacation packages. Wherever you land in Austria, be sure to take the train to Salzburg to catch this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
World-famous Christmas markets
Christmas markets are a true tradition all across Austria. The picturesque markets feature seasonal dishes, delights, and gifts, all adorned in beautiful Christmas lights and packed with cheer.
Whether you travel by train to Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Linz, or Graz, you’ll find a special Christmas market.
In Vienna, it’s all about the punch, delicious bites, and handcrafted goods amid the culture and history of the country’s capital. The market at the foot of City Hall has been going strong since 1298. Hop on a direct train from Vienna to Salzburg to experience another festive market. Travel time is just under two and a half hours!
Salzburg’s snow-covered baroque roofs make for the perfect backdrop to the city’s Christmas market. Held in front of Salzburg’s gorgeous cathedral, visitors can sample treats or even buy trees from the vendors in the medieval kiosks.
The winter sports haven of Innsbruck is particularly known for its Christmas market and is less than two hours by train from Salzburg. After a long day on the slopes, warm yourself up with Kiachln, (warm donuts filled with jam or sauerkraut) the town’s favorite dish, at one of the many food stands.
Depart Innsbruck by train and set out for Linz. Direct train service is available and travel time is roughly three hours. The Christmas market at Linz is full of the town’s famous pie and gingerbread. You can probably smell it from your train car!
The advent season is especially celebrated at the Christmas market in Graz, where a manger scene made entirely from ice and festive light installations create a magical experience. Take the train from Linz to Graz (with a quick change in trains in Vienna) to be a part of this amazing Christmas market. Travel time is approximately five hours.
Eat in heavenly peace
Did we mention the food? With steep slopes and frozen lakes, Austrian cuisine is made for winter. Here are some tips on what to grab to warm your soul on a beautiful winter night in Austria:
These sweet and sticky pastries are served hot and filled with fresh jam made in town. You can enjoy these for breakfast, lunch, or a midnight snack. Local to Salzburg, Buchteln is sometimes served in a warm vanilla sauce and so, so good.
Christmas sausage soup
Looking for hearty? Look no further than Tirol’s famous Christmas sausage soup, which you can grab a cup of at a Christmas market or sit down with a full plate in a cozy Austrian restaurant.
Linzertorte is a favorite year-round, and for good reason: it’s the oldest cake recipe in the world! The lattice pie can be made in any flavor, but red gooseberry jam is the local favorite.
Austrians know how to balance savory and sweet. With Kiachln, you get both in droves. Try the sweet, piping-hot donuts served at Tirolean Christmas markets with sauerkraut if you want to make your taste buds schuhplatteln!
Reindling is ubiquitous in Austria, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less delicious. The thick cake is a favorite for a reason and is especially delicious with hot cider.
Get on track to an Austrian Christmas
Austria’s close towns, unbelievable scenery, and exciting Christmas celebrations make it the perfect winter holiday destination. Paired with a Eurail Austria pass, your Christmas vacation can be a convenient and fun-fueled adventure through a true winter wonderland.
From momentous occasions like the 200th anniversary of “Silent Night” to resplendent Christmas market traditions, a winter holiday in Austria for Christmas is an unforgettable vacation when you have the freedom of the Eurail Austria pass.
If you’re setting off to Austria for the very first time, be sure to check out our Ultimate Austria Bucket List post for some insider tips on what to see and how to get around!