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POLL: Car or Bus/Train for a day trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt?

Having a back and forth argument with myself. For a one day trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt and back again, should a party of two drive or Just take the bus/train?

Pros for renting a car as I see it:
1. Driving is only a little over an hour vs 2 1/2 hours for public transportation (each way)
2. Gives us the freedom to see anything we want on the trip, and stop anywhere we find interesting on the way there or back.
3. Might be a bit cheaper, but honestly I'm not sure how much bus/train tickets will be for two people.. The car rental is about $97 for the day.

Pros for the Bus/Train ride
1. I can stare out the window the whole time and not worry about crashing
2. Don't have to worry about speeding tickets, toll roads, whatever
3. Don't have to pay to park in hallstatt (or worry about finding a parking spot)

Posted by
347 posts

I love the freedom of having a car, but for this one day trip I would take the train/bus. You have to factor in the time to get to the rental place. Also, are they open early if you want to leave early? Then consider what time the rental place closes. Unless it’s at the train station or airport, it might have limited hours. Plus pay for (gas 20€?) and parking (probably around 15€ for the day). Also, I can’t recall if you need an international drivers license I n Austria - that’s $20.

Now if you decide to get a car for a few days, you could drive to Werfen and see the fortress there. Very worthwhile!

Posted by
17642 posts

I basically agree with your analysis, but just to update you cost and time data, ViaMichelin gives the shortest driving time as 1H24, one way, with the cost of fuel and tolls at almost €40 ($44), RT, or for a different route in 1H31 with €20 ($22) for fuel only. So figure at least $120 for the car and 1½ hrs each way.

You can make the trip with two people using an Einfach Raus ticket for €34 (less than $38) RT, but that would take 3 hrs each way. Using RailJets to Attnang-Puchheim, it would take you just over 2 hours and cost €60 for two with an advanced purchase ticket. It's the same cost for the trip back in about 2H15.

There is a bus leaving the Salzburg Hbf at 8:45, connecting to the train to Hallstatt at Bad Ischl. That connection costs €14,60 per person and takes just over 2 hrs. Coming back takes a few minutes longer at the same cost per person. You can also take the bus between Bad Ischl and Lahn, which is 1 km south of town, next to the parking lots where you would have to leave your car if you drove.

So, per #3, it would be a little less cost to use public transportation, but take about an hour more time, RT.

Posted by
180 posts

The car rental place opens at 7:30 and Closes at 6pm, but it let me put in 8pm as a return time. Maybe they allow late returns? it wasn't clear, I guess I should contact them

I could pick up the car the day before and put it in a garage overnight, but of course that's more money, for the longer rental and the Parking garage.

The bus I was looking at was the 150 to bad Ischl and then transfer to the 542 then the 543. Not sure how much that would cost.

The video I found recommends taking the train back for the return trip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5bGZZU2QF4

Posted by
107 posts

Car. I did overnight in Hallstatt so that’s not a direct correlation but driving is easy there, there roads are fun, flexibility is great and parking is easy. And you can stop along the way whenever and wherever you want to and fro.

Posted by
17642 posts

Nice video, although I wish the guy would pronounce Salzburg (Zaltz·bourk) and Hallstatt (Hal·shtat) like the Germans do. (In 2009, as I was leaving my hotel in Freilassing, the host asked me where I was going next. I said Haul·shtawtt, almost like he says it, with the 'a's pronounced as in 'aw', and my host just looked at me with a blank look. Finally he said "Oh, Hal-shtat", with the 'a's as in the name 'Hal' or at.)

In 2009, I took buses from Salzburg Hbf to Bad Ischl, but by way of Mondsee (SOM wedding church), then the bus to Lahn, just like he describes it. My accommodations were in Lahn, so the bus made more sense. After checking in, I walked the 1 km into town along the lake, sans luggage.

The Youtube video doesn't give a reason to go back to Salzburg on the train, unless it's just for variety. In my case, I didn't go back to Salzburg. I left on the bus around the lake to Obertraun and then took a train east to Stainach-Irdning where I caught the train to Innsbruck.

Posted by
4073 posts

I would rent a car. Parking isn’t that hard and then you have total flexibility. The drive is easy and beautiful. I would suggest a stop at Gosausee.

$97 is a ton for one day. We usually pay about $30 per day. Where are you getting those prices?

Posted by
180 posts

I was looking at Europcar, but I just saw that dollar rental has cars for €50 for the day, and doesn't charge extra for picking it up near closing time the night before. I would have to pay to park at the hotel for that night though

Posted by
288 posts

I rented at the AVIS near the train station last year. Opened fairly early. You could drop off late with a key drop. Since Hallstadt really only requires a few hours to see the sites you do have time to venture to other places that would not be readily available via public transport.

You always should weigh the benefit of the experience versus the hard cost in cash.

Posted by
180 posts

Cost isn't the only issue, but with all the other factors counterbalancing each other, it's something to consider.

The Dollar rental I found seems to be only at the airport, which is weird because the website lists a downtown location, but doesn't give an address for it. I think I'm going to stay away from that one

Posted by
17642 posts

You always should weigh the benefit of the experience versus the hard cost in cash.

That is my point exactly vis-a-vis using public transportation. I think so many Americans, being unfamiliar with using a rail website, such as the Bahn's or OeBB's, think that rail travel is much more expensive than it is, so they opt for that with which they are familiar, car rental. But their perspective is usually not accurate. Public transportation in general, and rail travel specifically, in this area, can be a lot less expensive than first appears. You just have to know how to use the websites to get the best fares. For virtually every trip I've made in the past 15 years, I have made detailed plans and figured the price with public transportation vs car rental, both during the planning stage and after the trip. In every case, public transportation has proven to cost half or less vs the cost of renting a car, fuel, and tolls. I've never even figured in the added cost of parking because it was already obvious that public transportation was so much less expensive.

But, as you say, price is not the only consideration. One of the reasons I like to travel is to experience new things, things I can't do here, including eating different foods and using my second language. Public transportation in the US is so difficult to find and generally expensive (see Amtrac), so I find it a new and fun experience to use the trains in Germany and Austria. Using trains is one of the reasons I go there. With the train, I can use my time so much more effectively. Instead of staring at the road, I can watch the scenery, write in my journal, sort my pictures, figure my expenses, review what to do on arrival, etc.

I think the convenience of a car to get to small places is over-rated. I've spend over 150 nights in Germany, and over half of those places have had less the 10,000 population. And I got to all of them with public transportation. As the Youtube video pointed out, it would be just as easy to get to the ice caves and Five Fingers by bus as by car. When I went to Hallstatt a few years ago, I was able to stop on the way in Mondsee.

Posted by
180 posts

One of the things that I'm interested in doing is going to Roßfeld Mountain East of Berchtesgaden and maybe Untersberg Mountain. I'm not sure that's even possible without renting a car.

Posted by
17642 posts

Roßfeld Mountain can't be very far from Salzburg, 'cause Maria could hear the bells of the Abbey from there and ran down to evening vespers. No, actually, I know Roßfeld Mtn is too far from Salzburg and much closer to Berchtesgaden, but I can't find it. I do see a Roßfeld ski lift in Oberau. Maybe that goes up the mountain. Several of the buses from Berchtesgaden stop across the street from the ski lift.

Bus 840, the Watzmann express between Salzburg and Berchtesgaden, stops about 500 ft from the valley station of the Untersbergbahn in Gartenau.

BTW, you might enjoy this Youtube video, which shows a lot of the of the SOM venues then and now.

Posted by
180 posts

But is there a bus from Hallstatt? The only opportunity we would have to see that area is on the way back to Salzburg from Hallstatt. There might be a route, but I didn't see it.

Posted by
6 posts

Hello! My wife and I visited Hallstatt for a day trip over the summer and wow, it is so worth the trip! We ended up taking the bus from Salzburg to Hallstatt and then we took the train back. We went with this option because it enabled us to visit the 5 Fingers Lookout (https://dachstein-salzkammergut.com/en/summer/above-ground/5fingers/) on our way to Hallstatt and it meant that we would be able to take the ferry from Hallstatt to the train station which is an added bonus when taking the train. Additionally, we had Eurail passes, so I don't have a great understanding of what the train tickets cost. Also, Hallstatt is VERY busy, so parking could be a hassle. Finally, there is a grocery store at the bus/train station in Salzburg (get the fresh orange juice) which makes it easy to pick up some food for the day to save some money. You'll have a blast!

Posted by
17642 posts

The normal route back to Salzburg from Hallstatt is via the Salzkammergut (Wolfgangsee) and then you come into Salzburg from the NE. Roßfeld Mountain is in Germany, to the south.

The only opportunity we would have to see that area is on the way back to Salzburg

Unless you get off the bus at Lahn and just say, "Hallstatt, check," and get back on the bus, I don't know that there is time to go to and from Hallstatt and really see it, and then do something else that day.

I found the summit of Roßfeld on Roßfeldsrasse, a little south of Oberau. There is a bus stop for RVO 848 right at the summit. I don't know where the SOM meadow is from there.

Berchtesgaden is a good destination in itself. I have often spent several days just there. You might want to plan a couple of days in Berchtesgaden and see Roßfeld from there.

Posted by
180 posts

Yeah, that's not an option. We have time for one full day from Salzburg to go to Hallstatt, and if we have time for anything else on the way back to Salzburg, then that's a bonus.

Posted by
17642 posts

On the way back from Hallstatt to Salzburg, bus 150 from Bad Ischl makes a stop in St Gilgen. From there you can take a bus to Mondsee, site of the wedding church from SOM. I made a stop there on my way to Hallstatt in 2009. There is a bus from Mondsee to Salzburg Hbf.

By the way, there is no concern with parking in Hallstatt. Well, you can't really park in Hallstatt unless you live there. When I took the bus to Lahn, I saw a lot of people parking in a large lot there and walking the 1 km into Hallstatt along the lake (Seestrasse).

Posted by
180 posts

yeah, that's pretty interesting, but I'd still like to see Berchtesgaden if possible. Maybe st wolfgang, it seems to get a little complicated actually making a stop all the way into town there using a bus

Posted by
604 posts

I live in Germany and have my own car. Other than increasing environmental concerns, I would go with a car. Be prepared for parking fun, high gas prices, and some tolls, but it will double your travel exploration. Look all around the area for sights, especially those not easily accessible with public transportation.

Posted by
180 posts

Thanks for the help. I think we've decided to scale down, slow down, and settle down. We're going to take the bus or train in, and just enjoy Hallstatt without worrying or wondering what else is out there nearby.

Posted by
11 posts

If you haven't already, go to Bigboytravel.com where they have a very good and detailed discussion about taking the train vs. bus and they give you detailed instructions on how to do both. For day trippers, they advocate getting up super early and taking the first bus out from Salzburg. They will show you your next connections and then strategize with you to make the most of your day by not getting off at Hallstatt and continuing on that bus to the Five Fingers Overlook.

Posted by
180 posts

We got a great rate for an early train, so we ahead and made our reservation. We aren't planning on doing either the salt mines or the Ice Cave, so we should have plenty of time to see what we want to see. Hoping to rent a boat and get our on the lake