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Austria March 2018 trip - 10th anniversary

Hello everyone,

My wife and I will be taking about a week's trip to Austria in March, 2018 to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I was there about 20 years ago and loved it, but she's never been. We are going on our school's Spring Break (we're both musicians). We will be arriving around noon on Tuesday, 3/13, and leaving about 7am on Monday, 3/19, so we have a total of about 5 1/2 days.

In getting there midday 3/13, we will stay in Vienna that evening and head out to Salzburg the next day (3/14). This is where I am needing the advice.

  1. I am trying to figure out if renting a car and driving would be beneficial. I would like to stop by St. Florian on the way from Vienna to Salzburg, but it's not a deal breaker. Once we get to Salzburg, we will be taking a day to go to Hallstatt, so I'm thinking that renting a car might save some time?

  2. We were originally going to go to Salzburg/Halstatt on 3/14, 3/15 and leave to return to Vienna on 3/16, however, I am thinking that with the trip to Halstatt will take most of a day from start to finish? If that is true, then that would only leave parts of two days in Salzburg, which I don't think would be enought time, so I think that we may extend and come back to Vienna on 3/17 instead.

  3. That would leave about half of 3/17 and all of 3/18 in Vienna. We know that we want to see St. Stephens and Schonnbrun, but what else should we see?

I guess my two main questions revolve around renting a car and driving (have never done this outside of the US) and how to split time between Vienna and Salzburg/Halstatt.

Thanks for any tips and information.

Posted by
1464 posts

For me, the itinerary is too ambitious, given that short time period.

Don't ignore that you will arrive jetlagged. Being tired is not the best for running around visiting sights.

Given that you want to see Salzburg and Vienna, I would skip Hallstatt. Hallstatt is scenic, but unless you do not visit the salt mine or the ice caves, you are done in two hours, but will waste a full day. Also I would skip St. Florian.

My advice would be to take the express train (RailJet) to Salzburg directly from Vienna airport (departure e.g. 1:03pm, 2:49 hours), stay two nights in Salzburg, go to Vienna on 3/15 in the evening, taking back the express train (departures every half an hour, 2:22 to 2:30 hours ride).

Forget about renting a car, you can't beat the speed of the express trains, not to talk about that you are not used to Austrian driving habits, road signage, etc.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the response wmt1! I hadn't thought about taking the train directly from the airport to Salzburg. That's a good idea!

Are there any other train options that would be cheaper thant Railjet? It looks like a round trip ticket for both my wife and I will be close to $400! If I could find something cheaper, my wallet would love it. :)

Or for that matter, what would the practicality be of taking a train directly from Vienna to Hallstatt, spending the night and then heading to Salzburg the next day?

Posted by
2487 posts

Booked in advance, both trips (Schwegat Airport-Salzburg, Salzburg-Vienna) can be done on a so-called Sparschiene-Ticket for EUR 19,00 per person.

Posted by
3595 posts

For the short time you have available consider limiting yourself to Vienna and Salzburg. It takes a lot more time to change your location than most people anticipate. Renting a car will, in my opinion, be too much hassle. The trains will get you there quickly, easily, and inexpensively.

Posted by
2487 posts

Also have a look at the Westbahn. Their tickets for the Vienna-Salzburg-line are some EUR 25 and are not tied to a specific train, which is the case with the discounted tickets of the Austrian Railways (ÖBB).
It is discussed at another thread under »Austria«.

Posted by
1464 posts

Booked in advance, both trips (Vienna Airport-Salzburg, Salzburg-Vienna) can be done on a so-called Sparschiene-Ticket for EUR 19,00 per person.

This bargain ticket is available via the Internet, only. It is bound to the RailJet train selected.

Westbahn is a competitor to Austrian Railways (RailJet trains) servicing the Vienna-Salzburg route, but not the airport. They have aggressive pricing, and their cheap tickets can be bought on the train. So an alternative would be to take any RailJet from Vienna Airport to Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main train station), which is a ride of 15 minutes for €3.90, and change then to a Westbahn train for going to Salzburg.

Posted by
3412 posts

You say you are both musicians , what particular type of music is ( forgive the obvious pun ) your forte ? If it is broadly " classical " , that would , to some degree , inform the length of your stay in Vienna .

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks for the responses everyone!

Stephen, we are indeed classicaly trained, both of actually play in our local symphony. I've already looked and unfortunatley, the Vienna Phil will be in Mexico and with our limited time, we're not sure we want to take an entire night to go see the opera. We are hoping that there will also be some concerts to check out while we are in Salzburg.

Posted by
3412 posts

Don't despair ! The Musikverein in Vienna hosts other orchestras , and the hall is a magnificent instrument itself . . We went this past October , and attended a thrilling performance of Mahler's Sixth with The Cleveland Orchestra ,here is a taste of it - https://youtu.be/z2u03DLT-G0 , the acoustics are beyond imagination ! If you are interested , this program would just fit the bill - Sacre and Beethoven 7 - Munich Philharmonic with Gergiev - https://www.musikverein.at/en/concert/eventid/32763 . A visit to the Zentralfriedhof ( composers section - Central cemetery ) is fascinating . Of course there is so much to see in Vienna that is important , great art museums and architecture , you could stay there for months on end and not see it all . Do a daytrip to Salzburg , but spend the balance of your time in Vienna , you won't be sorry ! Also look at this site for a broad overview of places on which to focus - https://www.wien.info/en

Posted by
4645 posts

Where did you find a $400 fare from Vienna to Salzburg?

Posted by
2487 posts

Must have come from RailEurope or a similar reseller. They quote USD 92 for a single trip. Times 4 for a return trip for 2 persons makes the mentioned USD 400.

Posted by
578 posts

Regarding the opera in Vienna -- you say you're not sure you want to take an entire night for the opera; I say "it's worth it" and I'm not a big opera buff. Generally we wouldn't be doing much during that time except dinner, and you can still enjoy a nice dinner before the opera. We sat in the top tier because I saw no need to pay for other seats, and we still enjoyed it. I encourage you to at least explore the opera.

Posted by
2213 posts

For 5.5 days, I'd stay in Vienna, with the day trip to Salzburg. Vienna has a lot to do. If you enjoy drinking wine, the heurigeren (wine taverns) are a fun choice for an evening. There is a heurigeren district, and many taverns. Depending on the season, you can sit outside, have a glass of wine, eat there. I agree with the advice to skip Halstatt - charming, but a very small town.

As to music, some of the churches have concerts of the organ during the day. There is the flood of the "Mozart-men", who are dressed in period costumes and try to sell you expensive tickets to "Mozart-concerts", in which every Mozart piece you have heard 56 times in your life is played while you eat. But there is a lot of music.

https://www.wien.info/en/music-stage-shows/city-of-music

Posted by
2977 posts

i will join Steven in recommending just about anything in the Great Hall (Großer Saal) of the Musikverein -- it is a wonderful place to see a concert. Keep a close eye on when tickets go on sale for a performance; they tend to go quickly.

Posted by
6 posts

Hello again everyone!

Thanks so much for all of the great suggestions. I thought that I would reply back as it's been a couple of weeks and here is what we have (tentatively) decided.

We are arriving about noon-ish on Tuesday, 3/13 and are going to take a train (rather than drive) to Hallstatt to stay the night at Gasthof Bergfried. The next day 3/13, once we are done seeing Hallstatt, we will head to Salzburg until Friday 3/15 (tentatively looking at staying at Blobergerhof, outside of the city). On Friday, we will leave to head back to Vienna until we leave, early on 3/19. We plan to take advantage of Steven's suggestion and will try to take in a concert at the Musikverein either Friday or (more likely) Saturday night. Our flight then leaves very early on Monday 3/19.

Thanks everyone for all of the great tips and suggestions. We do realize that with limited time, we are being very ambitious. However, I haven't been to Austria in 22 years and have wanted to go back to Hallstatt ever since, so that is a must. With the rest of the time being split between Vienna/Salzburg, we will just have to do the best we can. If nothing else, it gives us a reason to go back sooner rather than later!

Posted by
781 posts

I would rent a car to do the trip to Hallstatt and from there you could go to Dachstein which has Five Fingers and the Ice Caves,well worth seeing.
Mike

Posted by
5697 posts

And don't forget about music in the churches in both Vienna and Salzburg.

Posted by
4645 posts

Augustinerkirche in Vienna has some of the best choral classical music you can find in the city - and it's free. You should do yourself a favor and attend mass on your Sunday in Vienna at this church.

Posted by
1464 posts

We are arriving about noon-ish on Tuesday, 3/13 and are going to take a train (rather than drive) to Hallstatt

You can go to Hallstatt by train right from Vienna airport with one change (either in Linz or Attnang-Puchheim, depending on the train).