The captivating cultural charm of Austria tempts visitors from all over the world and there’s no dearth of historical attractions and spectacular Alpine landscapes to remind you why it’s considered one of the most authentic destinations in Europe. There are two places on almost every visitor’s itinerary: the elegant and refined capital of Vienna and the beautiful Baroque city of Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart.
While the high-profile attractions of both of these cities are well-documented, this is one case in which the journey between them is very much part of the destination itself. Your picturesque transfer from Salzburg to Vienna will take a little over three hours and reveal much more than simply iconic vistas of the Alps – so take note!
While it’s not exactly a hidden gem, the picture-perfect good looks of Mondsee leave no doubt as to the reasons for its popularity. Situated about 20 minutes from Salzburg, it’s considered one of the most charming and picturesque towns of the Salzkammergut region, which, in a region of such extraordinary beauty, is no small feat. The town is set around the beautiful Lake Mondsee, against a backdrop of an Alpine landscape, and the lakeside promenade is a popular place for sightseeing and taking in the views of the famed Drachenwand (dragon wall) cliffs.
Mondsee lends itself to gentle exploration on foot, with the main attractions being the vibrant market square, the Rauchhaus Museum, the ancient monastery and the Baroque St Michael in Mondsee, one of the most significant parish churches in the country. (The interior of which features in the sound of Music!)
Recommended Visit Time: Make a day of it and enjoy the wonderful Alpine ambience with lunch overlooking the lake.
A further 40 minutes into the route brings you to the pretty market town of Vorchdorf, which has been inhabited since Neolithic times. With the splendid mountainous backdrop of the upper Austrian landscape, the town is a popular place for hikers and cyclists. While its castles do attract tourists willing to go the extra mile, it’s managed to retain a completely authentic character. For the locals, aside from the obvious trappings of modernity, life ticks along in a quiet, self-contained way – much as it has done for centuries.
Along with a Baroque church and two impressive castles, Schloss Eggenberg and Schloss Hochhaus, the town’s Neolithic roots can be explored through the excellent museum of local history, housed in Schloss Hochhaus. For those looking for a tastier slice of culture, Schloss Eggenberg is also home to the oldest family-owned brewery in Austria. Prost!
Recommended Visit Time: While a few hours are enough to explore the town, if you’re a hiker or cyclist, set aside a day to explore the surrounding area as well.
Around an hour from Vorchdorf, Amstetten is one of the larger cities in Lower Austria. Although it’s not the prettiest one that you’ll encounter, it does have quite a few cultural attractions that define its importance as a significant nineteenth-century industrial centre. While life here does not have the laidback pace of the Alpine regions, the city offers an interesting view into authentic Austrian life.
The Mostviertler Bauernmuseum displays a fascinating collection of agricultural implements alongside a collection of weaponry from the local arms manufacturer, a former supplier to the Swiss Guard of the Vatican. The Romanesque Church of St. Agatha is one of the oldest in the lower region of the country, while the Classicist façade of the Rathaus and the vaulted Gothic ceiling of St. Stephan will impress architecture aficionados.
Recommended Visit Time: Several hours is enough to take in the main attractions of the city.
4. St. Pölten
St. Pölten went from a sleepy rural town to a centre of government within the space of a century. Despite its trappings of industry and economy, the local people proudly maintain their heritage through its well-preserved architecture and careful curation of historical attractions. The best way to discover the true “old meets new” character of St. Pölten is to take a stroll and discover its attractions along the way.
Stöhr Haus, located on the town’s main shopping street (the Kremsergasse), is a fine example of Viennese Secessionist architecture, while you’ll encounter the beautiful Baroque interiors and frescoed ceilings of the town’s main cathedral a little further down the street. Other architecture to keep an eye out for is the Renaissance Rathaus and the 67-metre high “Klangturm”, located in the very modern Landhausviertel.
Recommended Visit Time: Set aside half a day for lunch and a leisurely stroll around the attractions of St. Pölten.
Just outside of Vienna, the verdant wooded hills of the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) provide a tranquil escape from the city. A favourite local area for walking, hiking and cycling, the region lies alongside the famous River Danube and comprises 1350km2 of UNESCO-protected forested uplands.
The Wienerwald is an absolute haven for wildlife, particularly birds, deer and wild boar, and there are numerous well-marked trails along which one can hike at leisure. Depending on your fitness and energy, one of the most popular trails takes you to the peak of Kahlenberg (around a four-hour hike) for fabulous views over the city. But for those who prefer less taxing activities, the woods are dotted with vineyards and traditional taverns, in which you can sample the excellent local wines.
Recommended Visit Time: Half a day if you just want to stroll around or visit a vineyard, a full day if you’re going to head up Kahlenberg.
From Salzburg to Vienna
The transfer from Salzburg to Vienna is not just the ideal time to take in the stunning Alpine scenery – although there is that, too! Talk to your driver and ask him or her to point out the above points of cultural interest so that you can plan a fantastic itinerary of day trips.
About Shuttle Direct
If you need to get from Salzburg to Vienna and back again, Shuttle Direct has you covered. We’ve got the best range of airport transfers in Europe and North Africa, and our super prices and easy-to-navigate online booking system make organising your ground transport a breeze. Book one of our convenient shared or private transfers and let us do all the hard work.
NB. This route guide has been compiled as an aid to visiting the region. Your airport transfer service from Salzburg to Vienna does not include stops to these destinations.