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Austrian train travel--Salzburg/Vienna

Hello I am traveling in Europe in January with two college aged daughters. We are spending most of our time in Barcelona and Switzerland but I would like to spend a short time in Austria and possibly Munich. I have spent some time in Vienna. We are relying completely on public transportation.

The plan is to fly to either to Munich or Vienna from Barcelona. If we fly to Munich, it would be to just spend a day before proceeding to Austria. We would like to spend a couple days in both Salzburg and Vienna. I am also considering Hallstatt so I would appreciate some input on whether a visit in January when much is closed would be worthwhile. After our short visit in Austria we plan to travel to Appenzell, Switzerland.

While I would appreciate any general information such as "don't miss", etc., I am mostly looking for help with the train travel piece. I am deciding whether I should buy a Swiss rail pass, a Eurorail pass or just buy individual tickets. I know that within Baveria, travel is cheap so the tickets between Munich and Salzburg are inexpensive. In my limited past experience, I felt the Austrian train tickets were expensive. Are tickets cheaper in advance or do the prices remain pretty much the same?

I would also appreciate some comments on itinerary or order of cities relative to time on train and cost and perhaps how scenic particular routes would be. If I do go to Munich, does it make more sense to do Munich/Salzburg/Vienna/Appenzell or Vienna/Salzburg/Munich/Appenzell

Thank you

Posted by
16883 posts

I would fly to Vienna so you don't have a long leg of backtracking to Switzerland. If you don't want to spend much time in Munich, you might day-trip from Salzburg, 2 hours each way on the regional trains, which accept the Bayern group ticket.

www.oebb.at does now have advance-discount tickets, if you're ready to lock in dates and times.

You probably have more Swiss travel that you haven't mentioned, which could make one of the Swiss pass products a good deal. But also compare the Eurail Select Pass covering Austria and Switzerland, currently starting from $212 per person (on sale) for 4 travel days in 2nd class. The Swiss link above describes coverage differences. You don't need Germany on the pass and a third country would push you up to 1st-class prices.

Posted by
16423 posts

Between Vienna and Salzburg you can use the Westbahn. 25.50 per person and tickets can be bought on the train (for cash). Trains every hour.

Posted by
4211 posts

Thank you. I spend a lot of time researching and reading guidebooks but honestly, after a certain point, nothing beats this forum!

Yes, the Swiss travel currently in my plans is Appenzell/Luzern/Bern/Interlaken area (not necessarily staying IN Interlaken) ending in Geneva only for CERN visit. It is hard to decide on the Swiss train pass because there are lots of "extras" thrown in like the local transportation either free or at a discount and the museums yet I feel like the pass is expensive in comparison to purchasing a Eurail or individual tickets.

If I do Vienna/salzburg/munich/salzburg/appenzell, does the salzburg/appenzell train end up taking me back to Munich and thru Germany, anyway? And I'm assuming that given my Swiss Plans, in terms of efficiency, the best first stop from Austria is Appenzell?

Posted by
16883 posts

No, you need not go through Germany to get to Switzerland. Austrian Railjet trains run directly from Salzburg (7:56, 9:56, etc) to Zurich, through a scenic portion of Austria. For Appenzell, you would transfer at Buchs, and a Swiss Travel Pass would kick in there. How to Look Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it.

Swiss Travel Passes do cover a lot of extras, and mountain lift prices will add up in the value of coverage or discounts. Since both consecutive-day and flexi-day versions are offered, the length of your stay makes a difference. For instance, would 8 consecutive days at $382 work for you?

Posted by
4211 posts

I probably won't be on the train more than 4 times tho I will bein Switzerland 7-8 days. If I get the flex days, I'm assuming I do not get the "extras" on non train days? Is there also a Jr. Rate? I have two college daughters.

We won't be skiing but we will sled and sight see so I'm anticipating some postal buses and gondolas.

Eurail passes are on sale thru the end of the year. Do Swiss passes go on sale?

Posted by
16423 posts

Your cheapest way from Salzburg to Appenzell is to buy a Sparschiene ticket from www.oebb.at for 24 EUR per person to Buchs SG. When you arrive at Buchs, just buy local tickets (called Ostwind) to Appenzell. Quickest connections go at 45 past the hour. 14.90 CHF.

There are "Youth" discounts for those under 26 for Swiss Travel Passes, about 20%. I have not seen any "sales" for Swiss Travel Passes. I don't think the word "sale" is in the Swiss dialect. And yes, they are expensive.

Posted by
16883 posts

The Youth rate for 8 consecutive days is currently $325 instead of $382; there's no discount for traveling together. Yes, Swiss Travel Passes do have occasional promotions, and our supplier, Rail Europe also offers occasional coupons from their own budget. Keep an eye on it over the next month. The base rates and other pass features could always change in January, but I don't have much official news, yet. I answered the "extras" question on your Swiss thread.

Posted by
4211 posts

Thanks.
I do like to make sure I completely research and understand everything, so I apologize as I process all this.
So if I buy the budget tickets OBB Salzburg to Buchs SG and end up buying a Swiss Pass, I could just jump on any train from Buchs to Appenzell, correct?

Posted by
31435 posts

"Between Vienna and Salzburg you can use the Westbahn. 25.50 per person and tickets can be bought on the train (for cash)."

I'd also recommend the Westbahn trains. They're a bit slower than the Railjet but very new and comfortable. One minor point to mention is that if you buy tickets on board the train, you can use a credit card but it must be a Chip & PIN card (I know that for a fact, as I've done it). Your profile doesn't indicate your home location, so I don't know what type of cards you have available.

Posted by
4211 posts

Is there a particular station for the Westbahn train from Vienna to Salzburg? Is Westbahn commonly known so my hotel could assist me with any directions?
Thanks

Posted by
16423 posts

As its name implies, it goes to/from the Westbahnhof. Any Viennese will know it well. as it has been there probably since the first Austrian railroad was built. The other station was the Suedbahnhof, which has now been torn down and replaced by the Hauptbahnhof.

Posted by
12759 posts

Yes, there is a particular train station from which Westbahn departs. Westbahn departs from Westbahnhof direct to Salzburg and Linz. You board first, then pay when the conductor arrives. The price of the ticket is less than that charged by OeBB. After 1900 Westbahn ticket is one Euro more, say eg, in the morning you boarded Westbahn and paid 19 Euro for a day trip, on the return trip after 1900, the price is 20 Euro. I like riding Westbahn, saves me the trouble of going to Wien Hbf.

Posted by
1463 posts

It is equally easy to get to either of the two major train stations in Vienna (Hauptbahnhof and Westbahnhof), both can be reached with the metro, trams or busses.

ÖBB (Austrian Railways) and Westbahn compete with low prices. The ÖBB "Sparschiene" ticket is € 19 (one-way to Salzburg), but only availabe via Internet and much in advance.