This is the story of our Austria trip in summer 2019, which started on 14th August 2019 from Brussels, Belgium and we came back to Brussels on 20th August. I have split this trip in four parts based on our stops in Austria so that people can refer to them individually while searching for a specific destination.
We (me and my wife) used public transport for our trip and I will try to provide details in this report so that it helps people who are trying to explore popular destinations in Austria by public transport. Austria is a country with both rich history and amazing natural beauty. I, as a tourist, am more inclined to natural beauty than towards history or arts. So, if you are really interested about the historical and artistic stuff in Austria, I must warn you that you might feel a little disappointed at the end. But, if you are interested about the popular destinations in Austria with ample natural beauty then you are probably at the right place.
We started with an early morning flight from Brussels and reached Vienna at around 8:30 am. My flight was to and from Vienna in Austria as I got the best deal there but I planned to start from Innsbruck which was at far west part of Austria and then form there come eastwards via Zell Am See, Salzburg and then back to Vienna. This was to minimize the travel between my place of stay to the places of interest. You will understand it better when you follow the whole report.
I already bought two tickets for the direct train to Innsbruck from Vienna Airport at 10 am and also reserved the seats. I used the the main site OEBB for Austrian rail - https://www.oebb.at/en/. This is the best site to look for most trains and bus connections in Austria and they have also an efficient mobile app which is really helpful. However, for specific routes such as Salzburg to Vienna and vice versa, the other rail networks such as Westbahn (https://westbahn.at/en) might be more economical. I will elaborate later.
The tickets for Vienna Airport to Innsbruck direct train costed EUR 149 for two people with reservation. The main ticket price was EUR 143 and reservation fee was EUR 6 only. So, if you are purchasing the tickets beforehand, it's better to reserve as it's only a minimal fee and it guarantees you seats and that too of your own choice. Please note, these direct trains during peak summer months can get really crowded and we experienced that. Luckily, we observed it from the comfort of our reserved seats.
There is a concept of Einfach-Raus-Ticket for OEBB network of trains with which you can travel on any regional train in Austria throughout the day and it costed EUR 34 for two persons during 2019 summer. So, it's far cheaper than the specific tickets. But, the catch is, you can only travel on regional trains which does not cover major city to city connections. For example, our direct train from Vienna to Innsbruck was not covered. But you could actually take about 4-5 regional trains and reach Innsbruck from Vienna in around 9-10 hours. For our direct train the journey was 4.5 hours for close to 500 km travel. If you are tight on budget but have a lot of time on your hand you could use the Einfach-Raus-Ticket for the whole Austria trip. We used this Einfach-Raus-Ticket for our shorter trips later and that is why there was no point in buying the Eurail pass which covers the whole OEBB network for a few days in Austria, as it would have probably costed us 30-40% extra for the convenience of not buying a ticket everyday.
Okay, so you are probably bored with all the practical boring stuff of train tickets. Apologies, but remember, I am trying to help people who are travelling on public transport. I will cut the crap now and will come to the actual meat.
The first part of the journey from Vienna to Innsbruck up to Salzburg was uneventful. We just watched the crowd including students from school and college and the usual summer tourists who were standing on the train. However, the scenes outside the window got interesting after Salzburg. We could see the glimpse of outer Alps and for the last part of the journey the gorgeous Inn river accompanied us.
We booked an AirBNB for our one night stay at the historic and beautiful city of Innsbruck. On our way from the station to the accommodation we were just mesmerized by the beauty of the Alpine peaks surrounding the town settled on the valley of Inn river.