January 30, 2013 by Jools Stone
Ski and see Austria by train
Austria is now competing with the likes of Alpine France and Switzerland as a top ski destination. Every year, hoards of visitors are not only descending the slopes but grabbing the chance to see some of the stunning heritage and countryside of this winter paradise. With one of the most efficient rail services in Europe, it makes sense to take advantage of this greener method of transport and see some of the sights while you’re here.
Most Austrian ski resorts are easily reached by train, including the popular town of St Anton, in the Arlberg region. Situated on the East-West cross-country line, St Anton benefits from good connections to Innsbruck. Many skiers pass through from the airport but with a characterful old town and stunning mountains on all sides, Innsbruck is worth a couple days exploration before heading out to the smaller charms of St Anton or nearby Kitzbühel.
Similarly well-connected resorts lie in the Ski Amade region to the south of Salzburg. The north-south rail network passes through regional towns like Altenmarkt, where families often come for the gentle terrain and laid-back atmosphere. Head north to the dazzling charms of Salzburg on the train and you can have your fill of palaces, broad plazas and Sound of Music tours before heading back to the mountains.
Even the distant spires of Vienna are accessible from western ski resorts like Mayrhofen and Bad Gastein, with some direct routes. The five-hour journey time might make it a long weekend rather than a day trip, but the chance to experience the world-renowned cafés and art museums or cruise the River Danube in the nation’s capital is not to be missed.
There are plenty more inspiring stops to make while you’re on your way to a skiing trip in Austria. With the unpredictable weather here, the railways are often the most reliable method of travel, not to mention the fact that many resorts have car-free centres and are designed with public transport in mind.
Last but not least, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the most breath-taking form of transportation in Austria certainly isn’t on four wheels, either: to enjoy those stunning Alpine wonders, nothing beats funiculars. A tourist favourite is the Hungerburgbahn in Innsbruck, which starts off from the picturesque town, goes over the River Inn and up to the spectacular Seegrube peak and its 1905 metres. The Festungsbahn in Salzburg is also worth a mention. With a terrific view of the city, this is a historical railway that was built in 1892 and carries 1.7 million passengers a year. From Kaprun to Gratz and Seefeld, many other funiculars are also there for you to enjoy some of the best panoramas you’ve ever seen.
A question arises, inevitably: who needs cars in Austria? If you fancy making some truly scenic travel part of your winter holiday, trains and funiculars might just be the best solution.
This post was supported and provided by Inghams.
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