Best Way to Travel by Train from Salzburg to Vienna

Best Way to Travel by Train from Salzburg to Vienna

When you think of Austria, you probably think of sophisticated architecture, snow-capped mountains, ornate cathedrals, picturesque gardens and you can almost hear the sound of the country’s music!

And you’d be right!

What better way to explore this Alpine gem than by visiting its two major cities: Vienna and Salzburg?

Each city has its unique charm and cultural significance.

Salzburg, situated in the heart of the Austrian Alps, immediately captivates you with its fairy-tale beauty and rich history.

Dominating the city’s skyline, the iconic Hohensalzburg Fortress offers panoramic views of the medieval streets and the winding Salzach River below.

Adding to this, the UNESCO-listed Old Town, with its cobblestone streets and Baroque architecture invites you to take a stroll and discover your favourite corner of the city, whether it’s a quaint cafe, a hidden courtyard or an inviting square brimming with energy.

Salzburg is perhaps best known as Mozart’s birthplace and the perfect place to gain some valuable insight into the composer’s life and genius, whether you are a classical music buff or not.

Beyond music, Salzburg also offers an array of cultural experiences, such as the stunning Mirabell Palace courtyard or the DomQuartier – a complex of museums in historic buildings.

And then, we have Vienna, Austria’s elegant capital, which embodies a sense of beauty and sophistication, boasting palaces, museums and grand boulevards at every turn.

The historic centre, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, features architectural marvels like St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Vienna State Opera House, as well as renowned museums, among them the Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Albertina.

And when you need to refuel, know that Vienna’s coffeehouse culture is legendary, providing a cosy retreat with rich pastries and stimulating conversation, granted you speak the language!

Even if you don’t they are well worth a visit… trust me!

So, whether you prefer strolling along the elegant Ringstrasse, taking a tour of the rooms and gardens of the Schönbrunn Palace or rather exploring the hip and young Neubau, be sure Vienna will charm you with its unique flair.

If you want to visit these 2 iconic Austrian cities in one trip then catching the train from Salzburg to Vienna is the way to go. 

Here’s all the info you need to know about the journey…

Austria, Vienna, Me Outside Palace


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How to Best Travel from Salzburg to Vienna by Train

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Both Salzburg and Vienna offer an unforgettable journey through Austria’s rich cultural heritage.

But the best part? You can easily travel between these two splendid cities!

Indeed, the best way to get directly from one city centre to the other is by train, which takes less than 3 hours.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to make your train journey seamless and unforgettable…


Austria is one of the leading countries in the EU when it comes to rail travel compared to other means of transportation.

This is great news for international travellers in search of a quick, comfortable and stress-free way to move around the country.

Taking a train from Salzburg to Vienna is the best way to get between the 2 cities, whilst also taking in some breathtaking views.

The journey covers a distance of about 250km and travel time is around 2.5 hours, making it the fastest way between the two cities.

There are many direct connections you can catch too, regardless of when you plan to travel.

The first train leaves Salzburg as early as 3am in the morning, while the last ones in the day are around 10pm in the evening, arriving in Vienna just after midnight, so you have plenty of choice!


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Choosing the Right Train Operator

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It’s important to know that there are two train operators connecting the Salzburg with Vienna. 

ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen or Austrian Federal Railways) is the country’s national railway company and will most likely offer the most direct connections.

The second option is Westbahn (the West Train), a private railway company operating the Austria’s western railways.

Which one you choose really depends on your personal preference (and price!), but it’s worth knowing that both are reliable and offer comfortable means of travel.

If you plan to stay longer in Austria, it would be best to plan your trip with ÖBB.

On the other hand, if you are more of a last-minute traveller, Westbahn is probably the better choice thanks to lower prices closer to the time of travel.


How Much Does it Cost?

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The cheapest tickets you can find for a one way journey between Salzburg and Vienna can be found for as little as 14€ with Westbahn and 20€ with ÖBB.

To securing these fab price, you’d have to buy tickets advance.

Without prior planning, ticket prices for a regular 2nd class ride on a Railjet Xpress are around 60€ one way.

As with most train operators, you can also upgrade your trip to 1st class and enjoy an even more pleasant ride.

A good thing to know is that, with ÖBB trains at least (apart from first class and business class), there are also different carriage types distributed along the train, like the Quiet Area (Ruhezone) – where people normally work, read or rest – and the Family Area (Familienzone) – with spaces dedicated to families with children.

Speaking of children, under 6’s travel for free, while kids aged between 6 and 15 only pay half the price of the standard ticket!

Good to know!

If you reserve a seat, which is optional but a good idea (especially if don’t want to risk standing during high peak times of travel) you can choose to sit in one of these areas.

Seat reservations are included in the Westbahn rides, while for the ÖBB, they cost 3€ per person in 2nd class.


How to Buy Your Salzburg to Vienna Train Tickets?

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The most convenient way to buy your tickets for this train journey is online, as this gives greater flexibility and less stress before departure.

For digital purchases, you can use the ÖBB website as well as its mobile app, or the Westbahn wesbite.

A good tip is to download the ÖBB mobile app and buy your ticket there, since it will show you in real time which platform your train leaves from, if it there’s any delay and how much time you have between any potential connections.

Otherwise, you can also find ticket counters in any Austrian train station, as well as self-service ticket machines.

Tickets are usually valid for the whole day of travel (for the same price category or lower), so in case you miss your desired connection, you can still hop on the next train with the same ticket, without having to pay for another trip – winning!

On the Westbahn trains, you don’t need to buy the ticket in advance, you can simply make the purchase once you are in the train using cash or card.

And just in case you change your mind, you can cancel your tickets for a full refund within 24 hours of purchase – handy!

You can also buy train tickets through comparison websites like Trainline, which I actually find easier to use.

Trainline allows me to keep all my train tickets for a trip in one place using their handy app (useful in you’re making a few journeys in one holiday) and also allows me to compare journey times and prices before booking.


@bigworldsmallpockets Discover the best ticket to get for the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, because there’s a lot of choices and it’s very confusing! #schonbrunn #schonbrunnpalace #viennatravel #viennatrip #budgettravel #traveltips ♬ original sound – Big World Small Pockets


Which is the Correct Train Station in Vienna?

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While the main train station of Salzburg (Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, or Salzburg Hbf for short) is an easy walk away from the city centre, in Vienna finding the right train station can be a a bit trickier.

This is because Vienna has 3 railway stations which connect the city with Salzburg, so make sure you know which one you’re arriving into!

The main train station in the Austrian capital is Wien Hauptbahnhof (or Vienna Hbf for short), which is the main rail hub in the city, and is located in the south connected by the U1 underground line.

However, if you are coming from Salzburg with ÖBB, prior to Vienna Hbf is the Wien Meidling station, which is located in the southwest of the city and directly connected to the U6 underground line.

Depending on where you’re staying in Vienna, it may be better to disembark here.

Lastly, if you come by Westbahn, the final stop in Vienna will be at Wien Westbahnhof station, in the western part of the city, which has direct access to both the U6 and U3 lines.


Where to Find Food, Snacks and Drinks for Your Journey

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Despite famously restrictive opening hours in the country, which prevent you from satisfying your sweet tooth after 8pm or on Sundays, you’ll be happy to learn that the rule doesn’t apply to train stations!

You will be able to find open shops or kiosks for grabbing a few snacks (sweet or savoury) before hopping on the train.

However, if you are the type of traveller who tends to run a bit late and never finds the time to shop, don’t worry!

ÖBB trains have a restaurant car and provide a snack trolley with food and drinks, while Westbahn trains provide coffee, cold drinks and snack vending machines.


What Luggage Can You Take on the Train?

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The beauty of traveling by train from Salzburg to Vienna is the lack of limitations when it comes to luggage.

You can take as many bags with you as you can carry with you, including heavy or bulky luggage.

You don’t have to make any compromises when it comes to your travel load, since luggage lockers are to be found in both cities’ train stations too.

With ÖBB, you can also carry a bike or an e-scooter free of charge, but make sure to secure it correctly in the dedicated areas.

And if you want your furry four-legged loving friend to join you on your travels, knowing that you are allowed to take pets on the journey is a great help!

Small animals in carriers can be taken free of charge, but if they can’t fit in a transport container, you need to get them an extra ticket and secure them with a muzzle and a leash.


Things to Know Ahead of your Journey…

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Railjet and Railjet Xpress trains provide free WiFi, 230V power sockets, air conditioning, spacious luggage racks, multifunctional tables and even small rubbish bins, so you can make your own comfy corner while travelling.

If you want to go the extra mile and travel in 1st class, then you can expect modern coaches with leather seats, free newspapers and food delivered to your seat – yes please!

Another nice quirk about Austrian trains is that display screens show you where the train is going, what the next stop is and the current speed of travel.

Sometimes the maximum speed can be scary!


For People with Limited Mobility

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Generally, the trains in Austria make efforts in order to allow all passengers to comfortably travel by rail.

Some trains offer a step free access and extra-wide doors and, in main city stations, you can find information desks and dedicated personnel who can assist people with limited mobility.


Tips for the Most Memorable Train Ride in Austria…

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Now that you found out everything there is to know about how to best travel from Salzburg to Vienna, you are ready to hop on the train!

For an even memorable journey and comfortable ride, here are some last minute insider tips:

  1. It’s always good to speak some German, even if the train staff and some of the fellow travellers speak fluent English. A ‘Danke’, ‘Bitte’ or just a simple ‘Hallo’ might come in handy!
  2. Just so you are not completely dependent on the train’s power outlets, connectivity and entertainment offerings, it’s best if you charge your devices before departing and maybe download your favourite podcast, e-reader book or series on your own digital device.
  3. Be respectful of other people and generally know that Austrians are rather quiet during travel. So if you are in a group, make sure you don’t talk too loudly or disturb fellow travellers.


Mini Travel Guide to Austria

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Best Time to Go?

I think it’s best to visit Austria during the shoulder months of May / June or September to avoid the crowds and still enjoy some good weather!


How to Get to Austria?

You can fly to either Vienna International Airport or Salzburg airport. 

As always, I use Skyscanner to find the best flight deals.

You can also train to many destinations in Austria from across Europe.

I recommend finding routes and booking journeys through Trainline.


Where to Stay?

In Vienna, check out the 7th Heaven Vienna Apartments or the Hotel Sacher Wien.

In Salzburg, I recommend the Hotel Sacher Salzburg or B&B Villa Verde.


Travel Insurance

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.


Travel Money

Austria uses the Euro for its currency.

I always travel in Europe with my Wise card, which makes spending abroad cheaper with real exchange rates and no sneaky transaction or ATM fees.

Wise cards works just like a debit card and it link easily with Google and Apple pay.

Grab yours here.


Best eSIM

I recommend Holafly.

Get a 5% discount using the code: BIGWORLDSMALLPOCKETS


Top Austria Tours

Check out these top Austria tours if you’re looking to see the best of this country with a guide.




So that’s my full lowdown on catching the train from Salzburg to Vienna.

I hope it helps you enjoy your journey and that you have an amazing time exploring these 2 cities!

Any more questions about the journey?

Just drop them into the comments box and I’ll get back to you….


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