Culture

The Little Trains of Austria

30 June to 12 July 2019
Austria

Join us as we explore some of Austria’s amazing alpine narrow-gauge railways and lakes. Beginning in Vienna we first travel to Graz via the spectacular Semmering Pass. With time to explore this historic city we then continue our travels through more wonderful scenery to the lakeside resort of Zell-am-See. Here we have a cruise on the lake and have our first steam train as we head into the hills to see the famous Krimml Waterfall. There is also time here to explore the many walks and ski-lifts. Our journey through Austria takes us to Innsbruck, our base for 3 nights. From here we will have two more steam train trips, one of which takes us up to a higher-level lake where we have a cruise. Our final destination is the beautiful city of Salzburg, from where we have a lake cruise and a memorable trip up the steepest cog railway in Austria. We return to Vienna for our flights home, or to continue our travels on our Vintage Slovakia trip.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

Highlights

  • UNESCO listed Semmering Pass
  • Four steam railways, including Europe’s oldest steam cog railway and Austria’s steepest cog railway
  • Two lake cruises
  • Historic cities
Itinerary

Day 1 Sunday 30th June Fly into Vienna on flights from several UK airports, and transfer to our hotel near the main railway station for the night. ‘No fly’ travel by Eurostar is also available.

Day 2 Monday 1st July (B,D) Today we have a spectacular rail journey to Graz via the UNESCO listed Semmering Pass. The Semmering Railway, constructed between 1848 and 1854 over 41 km of high mountains, is one of the greatest feats of civil engineering during the pioneering phase of railway building. Set against a spectacular mountain landscape, the railway line remains in use today thanks to the quality of its tunnels, viaducts, and other works, and has led to the construction of many recreational buildings along its tracks. After time for lunch we will be joined by a local guide for a walking tour around the UNESCO listed historic centre of Graz. Welcome dinner in the hotel tonight.

Day 3 Tuesday 2nd July (B) A full day in the charming town of Graz. Explore the city’s tram network and tram museum or head up the hill to the Schlossberg by funicular, lift or on foot. Other attractions include the Armoury, the largest collection of historical weapons in the world, and the Burg, with its double spiral staircase (1499), a masterpiece of stone masonry from the end of the Gothic period.

Day 4 Wednesday 3rd July (B,D) Leaving Graz behind, we have another very scenic rail journey to the summer and winter lakeside resort of Zell-am-See. This afternoon we shall have a short lake cruise. Dinners in the hotel are included on all three nights spent here.

Day 5 Thursday 4th July (B,D) The first of four steam hauled trains on this trip, the Pinzgauerbahn takes us into the mountains west of Zell-am-See. With a stop to take on water at Mittersill, the whole journey is just short of 3 hours each way. At the far end of the line at Krimml, we will have a short coach trip to see the famous Krimml Waterfall. At 380 m, it is the 5th highest in the world. Return to Zell-am-See in time for dinner.

Day 6 Friday 5th July (B,D) A free day in Zell-am-See gives us the opportunity to explore the many attractions. As a winter ski resort, Zell-am-See has a number of cable cars (locally described as mountain trains!) that will whisk you high up into the surrounding mountains to experience one of the most beautiful panoramic views in Austria and enjoy a fabulous view of more than thirty 3,000 metre peaks. If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, but still want to experience amazing scenery, explore the panoramic hiking path between the summit and Sonnkogel. Many theme-orientated signs, viewing platforms, a marmot cave, a beehive and the magnificent 360° panoramic view from the path make everyone’s heart beat faster. Or of course just have a lazy day around the village, exploring its charms and resting by the lakeside.

Day 7 Saturday 6th July (B) Our destination today is Innsbruck, where we will spend the next three nights. After our 2-hour train journey we break for lunch and then meet our local guide for a short guided walking tour of the historic centre.

Day 8 Sunday 7th July (B) The first of two days of steam! Today we visit the Zillertalbahn that runs from Jenbach to Maryhofen. With a gauge of just 760 mm, it is an exhilarating way to explore the fascinating landscape of the Zillertal Valley. As they say, there “Go hiking on the steam train”. Our journey is just under 90 minutes each way. There is also a frequent diesel railcar operated public service on the line, and if you want more time to see the charming town of Maryhofen, you may return on a later diesel train. After making the short journey by rail from Innsbruck, we start our journey at Jenbach. This station has a very unusual claim in that it serves railway lines of 3 different gauges – the standard gauge main line, the 760 mm Zillertalbahn and the metre gauge Achenseebahn.

Day 9 Monday 8th July (B,L) We return to Jenbach, but this time head north on the metre gauge Achenseebahn. About 1 mile into our 50-minute journey, we start to climb up towards the Achensee lake. Within its length, it rises some 440 metres (1,444 ft) in height, with the steeper sections using the Riggenbach rack system. It is Europe’s oldest cog railway which is still steam operated. From the mountainside high above Jenbach, we have a wonderful view of the Inn Valley and the surrounding mountains to the Stubai Alps and the Wilder Kaiser. Soon we arrive at Eben station, the highest point of the line at 970 metres above sea level. From here we drop down to the Seespitze on Lake Achensee where we join our 50-minute cruise between the high mountains on either side to Scholastika. A short walk from the pier, we will enjoy a traditional lunch in a local hotel before having some free time to enjoy the views. The mountains above the village are popular with skiers in the winter, and there are a number of chairlifts in the area. We then re-join our cruiser to return to Seespitz and another trip on our steam train back to Jenbach.

Day 10 Tuesday 9th July (B) This morning we take our Inter-City train from Innsbruck to the city of Salzburg, known as the birthplace of Mozart and setting for the film “The Sound of Music”. The city is divided by the Salzach River, with medieval and baroque buildings of the pedestrian Altstadt (Old City) on its left bank, and 19th-century Neustadt (New City) on the right. After time for lunch we will explore the most historic parts of this city in the company of a local guide.

Day 11 Wednesday 10th July (B) This morning we travel by coach from Salzburg to the lakeside village of St Gilgen. From here we have a short cruise on the Wolfgangsee, possibly on the 1873 paddle steamer “Kaiser Franz Josef I”, to St Wolfgang, where we join our final steam train of the trip, the Schafbergbahn, the steepest cog railway in Austria. The trip to the top of the Schafberg starts at the lake-side base station in St. Wolfgang. After a few minutes, the track crosses the provincial border between Salzburg and Oberösterreich, before continuing its steep ascent through lush fields and green forests. At Dorneralm (1015 m/3330 ft above sea level) the first crossing point is reached. This is where the historic steam locomotives pause to take water. The next stop is the quaint station of Schafbergalpe at 1363 m (4472 ft). From there it takes another 10 minutes for the train to reach the summit. This segment is probably the most spectacular and already offers impressive views in multiple directions. A short walk from the summit station you will find restaurants with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 12 Thursday 11th July (B) We catch a late-morning train back to Vienna, where you have a free afternoon to explore this famous city.

Day 13 Friday 12th July (B) Transfer to the airport for flights home, or alternatively spend some additional days relaxing in Austria’s beautiful capital city.

This is a moderately active trip, including some walking tours. To fully enjoy this programme, participants should be able to climb a flight of stairs and be able to take their own luggage between the stations and hotels (maximum distance 500 m). On some of the mountain railway trips there may be a steep hill/steep steps at the upper stations.

Hotels

Novotel Wien Hauptbahnhof, Vienna (First night and last night)
Austria Trend Hotel Europa, Graz (2 nights)
Hotel Zum-Hirschen, Zell-am-See (3 nights)
Grand Hotel Europa, Innsbruck (3 nights)
Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt, Salzburg (2 nights)

Flights

OS464 15.30 Manchester to Vienna
OS463 10.15 Vienna to Manchester

BA702 11.35 Heathrow to Vienna
BA703 15.40 Vienna to Heathrow

FR315 09.20 Stansted to Vienna
FR326 18.00 Vienna to Stansted

IB4051 12.55 Gatwick to Vienna
IB4050 10.50 Vienna to Gatwick

EW5893 10.45 Birmingham to Vienna
EW5892 16.25 Vienna to Birmingham

No Fly Option via Eurostar

12.58 St Pancras Eurostar to Brussels
18.25 Brussels to Cologne
21.21 Cologne to Vienna (Nightjet sleeper)

Place(s) available
Holiday Prices
  • Full tour including flights from London Gatwick or Stansted: £2,150
  • Full tour joining and leaving in Vienna: £1,950
  • No fly tour joining and leaving at St Pancras: £2,350
Options
  • Single use room supplement: £350
  • Supplement may apply for airports other than Gatwick or Stansted
Deposit
  • £500 with flights or £300 if joining in Vienna
Price Includes
  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary: B = breakfast, L – Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager. Holiday is fully escorted
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