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DISCOVER AUSTRIA

The six most spectacular train trips in Austria

With its mountain peaks and crystal-clear lakes, Austria has more than its fair share of stunning scenery to fall in love with. And travelling by train can give you the chance to take the views in properly without any distractions. Here are Austria's most scenic train routes.

train passing mountains in austria
Sit back and enjoy the ride. Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr.

Semmering rail line in winter

You’ll get epic views whether you travel in summer or winter, but the snow adds to the romanticism. Photo by Miroslav Volek on flickr.

Semmering Railway
Built between 1848 and 1854, the 41-kilometre-long Semmerling line was made a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1998 and it’s easy to see why: it runs through some jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery between the mountain towns of Semmering and Gloggnitz. It was a huge technical achievement for its time, not least because of the hefty gradient of the line. It was also the first European mountain railway to have a standard gauge track.

You’ll see glorious mountains, obviously, plus huge viaducts – 16 of them, if you’re counting – and 15 tunnels, including one whopping 1,430-metre-long one, and over 100 bridges, as well as plenty of lush forests and deep valleys.

semmeringbahn.at

Mariazeller Bahn

Clear skies are made for scenic train rides. Photo by flightlog on Flickr

Mariazell Railway
Remember we mentioned gauges above? Well, the Mariazell Railway is a narrow-gauge route – built like that because it was a difficult terrain for trains to cross. Running from St Pölten in Lower Austria to Mariazell in Styria, at 84km-long, it’s Austria’s longest narrow-gauge line.

The mountain section (Bergstrecke) of the line is the most picturesque. Get on at Laubenbachmühle where this starts and enjoy the train’s climb to its peak of 892m above sea level in Gösing where you’ll have gorgeous panoramic views and a glimpse of the 1,893-metre-high Ötscher mountain. Stay on board to see viaducts, reservoirs and deep gorges, in particular glimpses of the wild Erlauf gorge.

Want to really make the most of those views? Book a panorama carriage, which gives you super-comfy seats and unobstructed views of the scenery unfolding as the train trundles along. 

mariazellerbahn.at

Perfect peaks and lush valleys await. Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr

Arlberg Railway

The Arlberg raiway is one of Europe’s highest – it climbs to 1,310 metres above sea level at its highest point. It goes up at a fair tilt, too and is one of the steepest passenger lines out there.

Connecting Innsbruck and Bludenz (on the Swiss border), it’s the only east-west mountain line in Austria. Visual delights include the Tyrolean Trisanna Bridge near the hilltop castle Wiesberg, snow-peaked mountains, the 6.6-mile-long Arlberg tunnel, and verdant valleys and forests at the Arlsberg pass  – go at sunset/sunrise and look to your right for the best views.

arlbergbahn.at

Schafberg Railway

There are – unsurprisingly – a lot of steep railways in Austria and this one is no exception. This is the steepest steam cog-railway in the country and has been running between St Wolfgang in Salzkammergut up to the 1,783-metre Schafberg mountain since 1893.  

It’s a gorgeous journey up the mountain with the views getting better and better the higher you go. At the top, you’ll have (weather-permitting) clear views over Salzkammergut’s glittering lakes, as well as the soaring peaks of neighbouring mountain ranges, such as the Höllengebirge.

schafbergbahn.at/

Tauern Railway
If you’re heading to Venice by train, then this is the most scenic route to take and it’s worth the trip in its own right, too. You’ll pass stunning valleys and gorges as the line winds its way up the High Tauern mountain range of the Central Eastern Alps.

The best views are on the right-hand side of the train when you’re heading in this direction, so try to get a window seat if you can.

oebb.at

Are you even in Austria if your train doesn’t pass a field of cows? Photo by Schnitzel_bank on Flickr.

Zillertal Railway
There’s always something rather romantic about travelling by steam train and the traditional Zillertal locomotive with its wooden carriages is no exception. It putters gently by the side of the Ziller river along the 32-kilometre stretch between the towns of Jenbach and Mayrhofen, giving you ample opportunity to take in the views as you pass picture-perfect villages and gorgeous valleys surrounded by mountains. 

If you’ve got your heart set on the romanticism of steam trains, make sure you check which train you’re getting as the steam-powered engine doesn’t run as frequently as the faster diesel one. If you haven’t pre-booked, get there early to make sure you get a seat as it can get very busy.
zillerbahn.at

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VIENNA

What’s on: Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

Vienna is full of events, places to visit and great new restaurants to try out. So if you are overwhelmed with the possibilities or just wondering where you can find a musical about a famous British novel, here are some ideas.

What's on: Five things to do in Vienna this weekend

REBECCA

There are few better ways of learning German than just getting immersed in a book, play or movie in the language – but one that you are very familiar with the story and characters.

Vienna now has the perfect opportunity for those who want to practise their German by following the stories of the ‘new” Mrs. de Winter, her wealthy husband, the sinister Mrs Danvers and the infamous Manderley.

Rebecca, based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, premieres at the Raimund Theater on Thursday, September 22nd, and people can experience the musical thriller live from Tuesday to Sunday.

You can find more information here.

Vienna central cemetery

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Vienna’s central cemetery

The Wiener Zentralfriedhof is one of the largest in the world and certainly the most well-known in the Austrian capital. It is the resting place of famous people such as Beethoven and Falco, but its landscape is also home to impressive flora and fauna (you can even see deer grazing by).

The Zentralfriedhof is particularly interesting during the moody autumn months when leaves turn yellow and the light is even more beautiful. You can visit every day from 7 am to 6 pm, but tours and certain parts of the cemetery have different hours.

You can find more information here.

(Copyright MA 49 / Fürthner)

Weinwandertag

During an early autumn weekend, thousands of Viennese and people from other parts of Austria participate in the city’s Wine Hiking tradition, which is precisely what it sounds like: walking around vineyards and trying out different wines and food.

It’s a great way to celebrate the arrival of autumn (and the new wine season) in a very Austrian way: outdoors, with friends and family, and with traditional drinks and food. You can take four different hikes (each with varying choices of routes). The trails are senior and child friendly.

You can find more information here.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Al Zaytouna Restaurant (@alzaytouna_restaurant)

Al Zaytouna

Al Zaytouna, which means “the olive tree” in Arabic, is one of the best restaurants for those seeking Lebanese cuisine in Vienna. There are many choices of dishes, including vegan and vegetarian, prepared with tasty Mediterranean herbs and olive oil.

Classic Arabic desserts finish off the night perfectly. The lovely-decorated restaurant (complete with a Schanigarten) is located in the 3rd district.

You can find more information here.

Austria’s Oktoberfest, the Viennese Kaiser Wiesn, is back. (Pressefotos © Stefan Joham)

Vienna Oktoberfest

Vienna’s largest Oktoberfest, the Kaiser Wiesn in Wiener Prater, is back with festivities, beer tapping and live acts.

From the opening until October 9th, the Kaiser Wiesn is open daily from 11:30 am – the Kaisernacht starts at 6:30 pm in the three large festival tents and offers a varied programme with national and international music and pop acts.

You can find more information here.

Do you know any other cool events happening in Vienna during the weekends? You can email us at [email protected] to share your tips and suggestions.

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