Did you know that Austria has one of the most comprehensive and efficient train systems in the world? It’s so easy and affordable to travel between Austria’s best destinations by train. Here we want to share with you some of our picks and expert advice for traveling through five of the most exciting cities in this stunning little country. And so, without further ado: our picks for the top 5 cities in Austria by train!
Art is important to Vienna, and the year 2018 is important to Viennese art: it marks 100 years since the deaths of four of Vienna’s most important artists (Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner and Koloman Moser). To visit the works of these masters, stop by Belvedere Palace (right next to the Botanical Gardens), the world famous Leopold Museum, the Albertina, and the Mumok (Museum of Modern Art). And the fun thing about Vienna is that there is just as much art to be found outside of the buildings as there is to be found inside; much of the architecture of the city is a striking example of the Art Nouveau style that flourished during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Probably most famous for being the place where The Sound of Music was filmed, Salzburg is basically everything you imagine when you think of a charming European town. It’s also the birthplace of Mozart, home to a few stunning palaces, and surrounded by mountains on almost every side. And 2018 is a special year for this city because it’s actually the 200th anniversary of the first performance of “Silent Night, Holy Night,” so many Christmas festivities are sure to take place!
Vienna to Salzburg by train: 2.5 – 3 hours (depending which type of train you take). Use a Eurail Austria Pass or point to point tickets.
Innsbruck to Salzburg by train: About 2 hours. You can use a Eurail Austria Pass or book point to point tickets.
Next up in our top 5 cities in Austria countdown: Graz! Did you know that Graz is the second largest city in Austria after Vienna? Home to six universities, it’s buzzing with youthful energy and a modern flair. Don’t miss the futuristic Kunsthaus contemporary art gallery, which locals have nicknamed “the friendly alien” thanks to its modernistic design. Another popular stop is the Schlossberg (“Castle Mountain”) from which you’ll have a stunning view over the rest of the city. Enjoy a drink on the terrace while you peer down at the old town of Graz, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Salzburg to Graz by train: About 4 hours. You can use a Eurail Ausria Pass or point to point tickets.
Vienna to Graz by train: About 2.5 hours. You can use a Eurail Austria pass or point to point tickets.
Innsbruck is also known as Austria’s “Capital of the Alps,” and it’s the perfect place to catch up on your Tyrolean culture. Treat yourself to some traditional Tyrolean music (and yodeling!) at a theater show, and then take a stroll through the “Old Town” area, where you can see 800 year old traditional architecture and quaint candy-colored buildings. Innsbruck is also a great starting out point for some day trips — try Crystal World, the underground Swarovski crystal museum and shop; or head to Achensee, a stunning lake that is sometimes called the “fjord of the Alps.”
Vienna to Innsbruck by train: Less than 4.5 hours. You can use a Eurail Austria Pass or point to point tickets.
Graz to Innsbruck by train: About 6 hours by train. You can use a Eurail Austria Pass or point to point tickets.
And last but not least in our top 5 cities in Austria countdown: Hallstatt! Hallstatt is OLD. Like 8th to 5th centuries BC levels of old. You can still explore the salt mine (now the world’s oldest), or stop by the archaeological museum to look at the ruins and graves that have been uncovered. If the weather is nice, you’ll want to take a boat ride on the lake! And here’s an unusual story for you: apparently in the 1980s, four pieces of art were stolen from the Catholic Church in Hallstatt. In 2017, all of the stolen works were recovered, and starting in spring 2018, you’ll be able to see them on view in the Church once again!
And now for some quick facts about Austria’s railway system to get you started planning your trip!
Can you book in advance?
Yes, up to 60 days in advance
Rail pass or point to point tickets?
That depends on your specific itinerary, how much flexibility you want, and what time of year you’re traveling. If you want to do several cities on your trip, a rail pass could be a good option for you. Our trip is to price out your itinerary online with a rail pass first, then with point to point tickets, to see which one fits your travel style best!
What’s first class like?
Roomy seats, complimentary newspapers and magazines, food & drinks for purchase, power outlets, WiFi available. Basically, it’s pretty nice.
And there you have it, our picks for the top 5 cities in Austria by train. While you’re deciding which ones to add to your bucket list, why not enter our giveaway to win a rail pass + hotel stay? The winner will receive a Eurail Austria Pass in 1st class + a $300 giftcard to Hotelgift. Open to US residents over 18 years of age only. Full terms and conditions here.
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