In December 2015, Vienna’s Main Station, or Hauptbahnhof, resumed its function as the central hub for regional, national and international train connections in Austria. All ÖBB Intercity, ÖBB Railjet, Eurocity and Euronight trains going to Vienna now pass through the Hauptbahnhof and the Wien-Meidling station, a massive improvement from when trains had to depart from different locations across the city. The new routes bring shorter travel times, better connections and more comfort for travelers – the twice hourly connections from the Hauptbahnhof to the Vienna International Airport are just one example. The station is also easy t reach via public transportation from the inner city now. The U1 takes you from the Stephansplatz to the Hauptbahnhof in five minutes.
Tickets are easy to acquire on location, either via electronic ticketing machines (English menu available) or the ÖBB travel center. In addition the station features numerous restaurants, supermarkets, souvenir shops and clothing stores – waiting for your train is downright pleasant. What’s more, long-distance trains are equipped with a snack cart, a restaurant wagon, or both.
That trip from the Vienna Hauptbahnhof to Graz, Innsbruck and back perfectly captures the seamlessness and ease of the new ÖBB network. The ÖBB Railjet takes you along the engineering marvel that is the Semmering Railway (a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Site) then on to Graz, Austria’s second-largest city. Take a few days there to enjoy the great mix of new and old, from the well-preserved Italian Renaissance city center to the city’s great modern architecture and design.
From Graz’s state-of-the-art train station, take a Eurocity along the Transalpin route to Schladming, Zell am See, Kitzbühel or Innsbruck. Lean back in a first-class panoramic car and enjoy the beautiful Alpine scenery unfolding before you. Once you’ve explored Austria’s western regions – their impressive peaks, their local traditions and culture – convenient connections will take you back from Innsbruck via Salzburg in under five hours. Unless you have time to stop in Salzburg as well, which of course is another not-to-miss experience.