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Zurich to Salzburg: Recommend travel route (not car) and things to see along the way

My husband and I are doing the Alpine Tour and will arrive at the Zurich Airport on Tuesday, September 10, at 08:45 am. We need to get Salzburg to our hotel that night. The actual tour doesn't start until the next day at 5:30 PM (or 1730) on September 11th. Can anyone recommend the best public transportation travel route to Salzburg and possible sites to see along the way? A short, scenic hike would be ideal.

Posted by
2737 posts

Realistically, your choices are limited and pretty much rule out a mid day hike. The train takes about 6 1/2 hours. But you have to factor in the time required to deplane, clear passport control and perhaps retrieve luggage before taxi to the Hbh. The earliest train you could hope to catch would be 11:40, getting into Salzburg after 17:00.

Or you could fly. But you would want to allow a good interval between these flights in case of a delay arriving into Zurich. And of course there's the problem of wasting that second ticket if your first flight is significantly delayed.

There is also a bus, that would get into Salzburg even later than the train

Since your tour starts in Salzburg, may I ask why you chose to fly into Zurich instead of Munich?

Posted by
24616 posts

No need to taxi to the city station in Zürich - there are frequent trains and an easy change at the HB. But, as said above, it is a long slog after an overnight flight.

Posted by
4738 posts

I agree with previous posts. I endorse sleeping the night before meeting a tour in the tour's departure city. So I don't find it desirable to sleep in Munich or Innsbruck, because there could be a rail problem to delay you the next day. And the overhead of checking in and out of a hotel that's not adjacent to the train station is substantial.

I can see that you bought your air tickets already. When we toured Austria, we got an Austrian Air ticket to Innsbruck and home from Vienna for no more than a Vienna roundtrip. And the little commuter jet from Vienna to Innsbruck was very scenic. You didn't give your home city or the return city from the Alpine Tour, so I don't know if you had a better option. In our case today, it might be United to a Lufthansa hub and a smaller plane to Salzburg, on a single "ticket" because of Star Alliance.

If you are flying from the US west coast, you'll be in even worse shape than we are when arriving in Europe from Newark, NJ! Take the easiest option, and check for advance purchase discounts, but such train tickets can be non-changeable, non-refundable.

Posted by
817 posts

Hi. Since Zurich a direct flight from my local airport, Philly, I have been looking at the Arlberg route for my MSV tour in December. You could go Zurich to Innsbruck on the scenic Arlberg Railway and then continue on to Salzburg. From the Man in Seat 61, who provides links to tickets and much more.

Zurich to Innsbruck & Austria via The Arlberg Railway

Extending beyond Innsbruck should be fairly straightforward. When I took the Alpine tour, I trained from Innsbruck to Salzburg. Even though you would not be hiking, you would be seeing great scenery - and in comfort! Hope this helps.

Posted by
16809 posts

Departure times for the direct, scenic RailJet trains from Zurich Hbf (main station) through Austria to Salzburg (and beyond) are at 10:40, 12:40, 14:40, and 16:40. I don't see an 11:40. Train time from the airport to the main station is 9 minutes.

Looking Up Train Schedules and Routes Online gives you the Deutsche Bahn train schedule link and tips for using it. That's the German site, but it does sell these tickets. You can book tickets now for as low as €30 per person (not refundable or changeable) or on the spot for the full fare of €105 in 2nd class. The trains do make a few intermediate stops, such as at St. Anton am Arlberg, but if you plan such a stop, you would likely buy two separate tickets.

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you for all the helpful replies ! I will also be coming from Philly. I think a scenic train ride will probably be the best bet. I’ll look into the Arlberg Railway. We got a very cheap tickets flying directly to and from Zurich. When I looked up leaving and departing from separate cities, the cost increased greatly. Since I had been told that public transportation in Europe is very good, I thought getting to Salzburg wouldn’t be a big deal. I thought it would be fun to take in some scenery along the way—by train—it turns out. I wasn’t sure if we’d have the time or energy to add anything else, and it sounds like we won’t. That’s okay. We can rest up as we are booked at the Salzburg hotel of the tour the night before. I’ve never been out of the USA, so this will be an adventure. Can’t wait! Thanks again!

Posted by
817 posts

Hi again, Scenic. I did not notice you are from DE. I was rushing out of the office. If you do the train ride, it would be great to hear about it. I might be following in your footsteps in Nov/Dec.

Debbie