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Day trips from Vienna and transportation options

My wife and I will be visiting Vienna for 8 days in early July, and we're planning to take 4 to 5 day trips. We'd like to keep our trip focused on Austria, cities and small countryside towns, rather than heading farther afield to Prague and Budapest (which likely deserve their own separate trips).

What are some of the best day trips from Vienna?

And should we buy individual tickets on ÖBB, or is an Eurail pass a better deal?

Ideally, we'd like to have options in terms of choosing travel days and times, and hopping on and off trains or buses during the day (e.g. Wachau valley). Does the Eurail pass allow for this? Or do we still need to reserve seats ahead of time and pay extra fees? It's not very clear to me which transportation options are covered with Eurail in Austria.

Thanks for your advice :)

Posted by
1080 posts

Are you locked in to 8 days in Vienna? You might consider three days in Vienna, then rent a car for the remaining 5 days and tour Wachau valley, Salzburg, Hallstat. Car would give you a lot of flexibility to tour / see the countryside at your own pace. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Bob, yes, we already have the hotel nights in Vienna locked in, and are looking to keep transportation options simple. Is it very advisable to rent a car? Or can we get by well with public transportation? Don't really want to deal with car rental fees, overnight parking, etc, if we can avoid it.

Posted by
1080 posts

You wouldn't want or need a car in Vienna. I was just thinking in case you weren't locked in to all nights in Vienna, that you could see some places like Salzburg that are not practical with only day trips from Vienna.

Posted by
4370 posts

Trains going out of Westbahnhof have cheaper ticket prices. I believe it is an independent company not OBB. Its nice because you can buy the tickets right on the train. It takes about four hours to get to Salzburg from Vienna via train. I think it takes at least two full days to see Salzburg. I know you would prefer to save Prague and Budapest for another trip, but you could consider Bratislava which is about an 1 hour by train.

Posted by
4684 posts

If you visit the Wachau, there is a regional day bus pass that was ten euros last time I went, and gives unlimited bus travel along both sides of the river.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks. Do you know if an Eurail pass includes the regional Wachau valley bus? Or are there trains that can be used to visit the Wachau valley?

Posted by
671 posts

Consider Eisenstadt in Burgenland, about an hour by train from Vienna. Eisenstadt is home to the Esterhazy Palace, where Haydn was the Court Composer. Being near Hungary, it has a different feel from the Salzkammergut or the Wachau.

Posted by
1520 posts

The one-country Eurail Pass 2nd class for 8 days in Austria is €277, and it covers OeBB, WESTbahn, and GySEV trains, not busses. Seat reservations are not included, but not necessary for your purposes.

For me it is a rip-off. It is very unlikely that you can spend this amount buying individual tickets for your few day trips.

You should consider a thorough planning. Not only that trains across the country are different to HOHO busses in a city, but buying tickets ahead can you save a lot of money.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks wmt1.

We're thinking of buying a 4-day single country Eurail pass for 2 people, which is $400 USD. Purchasing individual tickets ahead of time is cheaper, but it seems that's only true if we pick specific trains and times (zero flexibility). The cheapest fares seem to be at very early or late hours. And fully flexible fares are extremely expensive. For example, I see Vienna to Salzburg roundtrip on a flexible ticket for 2 people is €206

Am I thinking about this right? If we want to have flexibility and not be running to catch a specific train, is Eurail a better deal? Or is there another option?

Posted by
3159 posts

Railjet (RJ) has tickets for 24€ bookable in July on the ÖBB website, a Sparschein ticket. There are also special weekend tickets good for 2 people for 34€ for one weekend day of travel. I'd look at options like these for day trips from Vienna.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks. I see some of these Sparschiene tickets, but they still require booking a specific schedule (train and time), correct? For example, on July 4th for 2 people on RailJet it's 48€ to leave Vienna at 8:30, and 38€ to return at 18:12. So that's 86€ for not having any flexibility. Or are there Sparschiene tickets that allow you to take any train at any time?

I would prefer to have flexibility in choosing trains when I'm there, and I'm willing to pay a slight premium for this. What's the best option for this?

Posted by
1520 posts

It is correct that OeBB's "Sparschiene" bargain tickets are bound to a specific train.

The route between Vienna and Salzburg is a special case because a second carrier (WESTbahn) is competing with OeBB's RailJets, trying to gain market shares by aggressive pricing and greater flexibility. The one-way, regular fare from Vienna to Salzburg is €27, and the tickets can be purchased from the conductor in the train. (Booking online gives you even cheaper options, with less flexibility, though.)

Posted by
4684 posts

The towns at each end of the Wachau valley, Krems and Melk, both have rail services from Vienna, but the actual area is mostly served by bus or more expensive river-boats. There is a railway line partway along the valley at the Krems end (https://www.wachaubahn.at/fahrplan-whb), but I don't think it's any more worthwhile than buses.