See All of Austria by Train
One of the most romantic ways to see Austria is by train. You sit in a comfortable car and watch the dramatic scenery roll past you, without having to worry about anything else. Getting around this way is also easy, convenient, and cost-effective: Over 6,000 km (3,700 miles) of railways run through Austria and connect both large cities and small villages. You can tour the whole country using the rail system, and this itinerary shows you how.
Day 1: Vienna
Vienna is undoubtedly one of the most charming European capitals. It is also easy to reach with great flight connections from the US and Australia. On the morning of Day 1, take the U4 underground train to Schönbrunn Palace, a Baroque palace and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mozart played for the Empress Maria Theresia here when he was just five. The extraordinary Imperial park houses the world's oldest zoo and you can go up the Gloriette mounument for great views.
Most buildings of interest are in the old town. Here you will find the Gothic St. Stephen's Cathedral where Mozart got married, the Imperial Hofburg, plus countless narrow streets and hidden squares. In the evening, enjoy a casual dinner with popular local music at a traditional tavern in the neighbourhood of Grinzing (take tram 38). White wine such as the Grüner Veltliner is the Viennese speciality and it goes particularly well with a good pork dish.
Day 2 and 3: Graz
On Day 2, take the train leaving from Vienna Central Station to Graz (around 2h30m). Austria’s second largest city carries two UNESCO titles: Not only is its medieval Old Town a Cultural World Heritage Site, Graz also became a UNESCO City of Design in 2011. On your first day, make sure to soak in the city’s historic side. Walk around the Schlossberg (a mountain in the historic centre) for great views over the red brick roofs, visit the Armoury, which has the world’s largest collection of medieval arms, and take Trams 1 or 7 outside the centre to see Eggenberg Palace. End day 2 with local food at restaurant Der Steirer, which serves Styrian tapas, perfect for sampling and sharing.
Use Day 3 to see Graz’ contemporary landmarks. The Kunsthaus contemporary art museum is a sight in itself. Blue and bubble-shaped, the construction looks like a space ship landed in Graz’ stuccoed Old Town. The “Friendly Alien,” as locals call it, is right by the up-and-coming Mariahilferstrasse, lined with cute design shops and coffee shops. Don’t leave without venturing onto the Murinsel, an artificial island suspended inside the Mur river. The shell-like construction is another contemporary accent in the city scape. Graz’ innovative architecture follows you all the way back to the train station. The main terminal’s interior is decorated with abstract graphics and the platform shelter is one undulating metal wave.
Day 4: Salzburg
The direct train to Salzburg takes about 4 hours. Make sure you buy a 48h Salzburg Card at the tourist office beside the station upon arrival for free public transport and entry to attractions.
Baroque Salzburg is surrounded by magical mountains and its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the birthplace of Mozart, and The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg and its surrounding areas. Hohensalzburg Fortress perches majestically on the Mönchsberg. For splendid views of the city, take a walk to the Museum of Modern Art on the mountain.
One of Salzburg's most attractive markets is situated in Universitätsplatz square, where you can try local products such as Kaspressknödel (bread dumplings filled with cheese). Through a narrow passage walk to Getreidegasse, the iconic main street where Mozart was born, along which you will find beautiful courtyards. For those with a sweet tooth, it is a must to try the most famous dessert in town: the Salzburger Nockerl.
Day 5 Salzburg
The next morning, take Bus 25 to Hellbrunn Palace and enjoy the unique trick fountains in the park. Come afternoon, it is time to sample Salzburg's famous beer culture. There are countless breweries offering their own beer with pretty gardens that serve food. We also recommend a visit to the Stiegl-Brauwelt where you will learn about brewing history. Salzburg is renowned for its music, and in the summer months it goes without saying that you should attend an opera or a concert at the famous Salzburger Festspiele.
Day 6 and 7: Excursions from Salzburg
Take an early train from Salzburg to Hallsatt (around 2h30m with a change in Attnang-Puchheim) to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of lakes surrounded by mountains. Hallstatt is a real feast for the eyes and at the top of the village you can visit the oldest salt mines in the world. Eat on the banks of one of the lakes where you can enjoy some fresh catch such as Forelle (trout) or Saibling (char).
After lunch, take a regional train from Hallstatt to Bad Ischl (around 25 min), a small historic town with hot thermal springs. It is a tradition to go to the Café Zauner and try their exquisite pastries. Continue with bus 546 (around 25 min) to St. Wolfgang, a charming village, to later take a boat trip along Wolfgangsee lake (around 45 min) to St. Gilgen, the town where Mozart's sister lived. As the day draws to an end, take bus 150 (around 45 min) back to Salzburg.
From May until late October, you have two options for enjoying the wonders of nature on day 8 of your round trip. The first option takes you to the Krimml Waterfalls, the highest in Austria, in the National Park Hohe Tauern. Take two trains: first a regional train to Zell am See (around 1h35m) and then the local narrow gauge train (around 1h25m); a pleasant trip with great scenery. On Thursdays and in the summer months also on Tuesdays, you can take the nostalgic train with an old steam locomotive. From Krimml station a bus takes you to the village.
The second option is to take the train from Salzburg (around 40 min) to Werfen. Go to the medieval Hohenwerfen Fortress which is situated on a hill with an impressive chain of mountains in the background. Give yourself an hour to visit the castle’s interior and then try to make it to the inner courtyard gardens to watch the spectacular falconry demonstration.
Day 8: Kufstein
Take the Railjet from Salzburg to Kufstein (1h10m). The beautiful town in Tirol’s north has a Medieval fortress at its core. Explore the stronghold and enjoy views over the region. Kufstein’s fortress has a local history museum and the world’s largest free-standing organ. Next, stroll through the town centre and walk down Römerhofgasse, a charming street lined with wine taverns. Kufstein’s parish church is a late Gothic building dating from around 1400.
About a 15 minute walk south from the church is a traditional Tirolean glass maker. Riedel’s glasses are known around the world for their delicate design. At the factory, you can watch the glass blowers do their work and shop Reidel’s collection of stemware and artful decanters.
Depending on the time you're traveling, you might be able to watch a performance at the Tirol Festival Erl. The classical music festival's repertoire spans popular operas and is also known for its Passion Plays.
Day 9: Innsbruck
Take an early train from Kufstein to Innsbruck (40min). We recommend buying the Innsbruck Card for 48 or 72 hours which includes free public transport in the city and to surrounding villages, plus tourist attractions and cable cars.
This beautiful Alpine city with its medieval old town is nestled in the Nordkette mountains. Hungerburgbahn Station is one of the most magnificent examples of modern design in Tirol. A rack railway and a cable car take you to where you can enjoy views of the city. And one last cable car takes you to an Alpine landscape at over 2,000 meters (6,562 ft).
Back down in Innsbruck you can try specialties such as Schlutzkrapfen (dumplings stuffed with cheese or spinach), Käsespätzle (pasta tossed with onions and cheese) and Tiroler Gröstl (a pan with potatoes, meat and vegetables) in one of the traditional restaurants. Dedicate the rest of the day to sightseeing and shopping in town.
Day 10 Innsbruck
Spend the day visiting three emblematic places around Innsbruck's historic centre. Take tram 1 to the Bergisel Ski Jump and then continue to the small mountain village of Igls (only 15 min with the busline J). In the afternoon, take tram 3 to Ambras Castle which houses a unique collection of art.
Day 11: Excursions from Innsbruck
Early in the morning, make a visit to the village of Wattens to admire the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, also included in the Innsbruck Card. From the station take either a shuttle bus (4 times a day, around 30 min) leading you directly to the entrance, or a commuter train to Fritzens-Wattens (around 16 min) and continue 15 minutes by foot.
Return to Innsbruck and take the STB train from Südtiroler Platz station (around 30 min) to the village of Mutters. From the station, walk towards the church, and on the main street you will find a typical Tirolean farm with painted facades. If you continue to the next stop you will arrive at the Mutteralm cable car (included in the Innsbruck Card) where you can enjoy a half-day hike followed by lunch in a mountain hut.
End the day taking a regional train (only 8 min) to Hall in Tirol. This beautiful Medieval town with picturesque streets and squares is well worth a visit with its Hasegg Burg castle (where you find the Mint Museum, also called the birthplace of the Taler coin and the modern day Dollar), the fascinating Magdalena chapel with its frescoes and altar, and the churches of St. Nikolaus and the Jesuits. The town is even more charming amidst the colourful Christmas lights.
Day 12: Arlberg Region
A morning direct train from Innsbruck to St. Anton am Arlberg only takes an hour and puts you in the middle of an Alpine paradise. The Arlberg is one of Austria's westernmost mountain resorts and famous for stunning hikes, upscale entertainment, and an elegant atmosphere. Explore St. Anton first, with its Valluga cable car (it takes you to the summit of the region's tallest mountain), and the mystical Verwalltal valley. Take a hike in St. Anton's hinterland, or just relax by Verwallsee lake, which is accessible by bus.
Take Bus 91 from St. Anton to Lech, another one of the Arlberg's five idyllic villages. In Lech, grab a gourmet lunch at Hotel Post Lech, before embarking on a walk down the lively main street. Do some shopping at shops like Sagmeister and Strolz, which combine a rich Alpine tradition with international designer names.
If you're feeling sporty, embark on the first leg of the Green Ring, a circular hiking trail above Lech that features artsy installations along the way. Take your time marvelling at the picture-perfect Alpine scenery before descending back into the village.
Picknick auf der Alm
Hallstatt, Upper AustriaUpper Austria
Vienna Boys' ChoirVienna
Ambras CastleTyrol, Austria
Bergisel ski jump with view to Karwendel mountainsBergisel, Innsbruck