Vienna has several main railway lines that link up to most major European destinations.
Vienna has three main railway stations.
From Westbahnhof, trains head mainly to Western Europe (Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary); there are also good links to tram and underground lines (U3, U6).
Trains from the Südbahnhof head mostly eastwards (Croatia, East Germany and Italy) while the Franz-Josef-Bahnhof has train connections to Berlin, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Transit between train stations is easy by public transport.
The S-Bahn (Fast Train) is an important rail service within the city, especially along the north-southwest trunk line the S7 to the airport. The normal public transport tickets used for bus, tram, and underground travel are valid on S-Bahn trains. All three major S-Bahn stations are accessible by public transport.
Vienna has several train stations which are located all around the town. The West Station (Westbahnhof) is one of the major stations where you can catch trains to Germany and Switzerland.
The South Station (Suedbahnhof) is the station for trains to Italy, Slowenia, Hungary, Croatia, Poland and Slowakia. The most centrally located train station is probably Vienna Central (Wien Mitte, Landstasse) which is a hub of the suburban trains (S-Bahn) and other local trains.
It is extremely easy to get to Vienna by train. Trains arrive and depart nonstop to Ljubljana, Budapest, Zagreb, Munich, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Venice, Zurich, Bregenz, and many other surrounding cities. You'll find the Austrian trains very efficient and comfortable and many have onboard restaurants that are reasonably priced. Below, you will find a website that lists schedule, fares, and other pertinent information.
If you are interested in buying a railpass for Austria, try www.raileurope.com. They can come in handy if you expect to cover long distances and plan on staying a week or longer.
The OBB, Austria's train system, is very good, efficient, and clean. Eurail passes and Eastpasses are valid in Austria. Vienna has 2 main internation train station, and three additional stations that service mainly domestic, but a few international trains as well.
The two main international stations are Wien Westbahnhof and Sudbahnhof.
Wien Westbahnhof services mainly: Amsterdam, Berlin, Bregenz, Hamburg, Innsbruck, Munich, Paris, Salzburg, and Zurich.
Wien Sudbahnhof services mainly: Budapest, Graz, Krakow, Prague, Rome, and Venice.
The three other stations include: Wien Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof, Wien Nord, and Wien Mitte. Franz-Josefs and Nord each have one train to Prague per day.
Listed below are Austria's OBB website and, what I found to be the best of all, Germany's Die Bahn site. Both give excellent time tables and some prices, if the trains are in either of the countries. I just find Germany's easier to navigate.
If you are coming from the South of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia or Italy or from certain routes in Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary, then the chances are that you'll travel to the Südbahnhof. The Sudbahn, which terminates here heads out towards Graz, with routes off towards Italy branching off at Brück an der Mur. The Südbahnhof is many people's first point of arrival in the city.
Fortunately it is well served by public transport - in particular with the D tram (heads in to the centre), the 13A bus route (goes through the 4th-9th districts including stopping on Mariahilferstrasse). There are a number of shops, plenty of places to grab food and drink at the station as well as the airport lines buses too. If you inadvertently arrive here rather than the Westbahnhof, then the 18 tram will take you there in about 20 minutes.
City Night Line is a very comfortable night train. You can book a reclining seat, a couchette or a complete bedroom. We had booked the reclining seat, it was a lot more comfortable that for example a seat in a plane. Pillows and blankets are provided. Since the train only stops in some stations to let people on or off, you get a few hours uninterrupted sleep at night. The conductors make notes where people want to get off and come to wake them in the morning.
You save a night in a hotel and you can save a lot a money, if you book one of their specials. We paid 29 Euro each, now - February 2006 - they have an offer for 19 Euro.
The City Airport train leaves at 07 and 37 minutes past the hour - a return ticket is EUR 15 and takes you to Wien Mitte (Landstrasse). The service is comfortable, but pricey. A cheaper way is to get the Schnellbahn (EUR 1.50 to the edge of Vienna and then a daily/weekly/monthly pass will cover the rest of the journey for free).
If you're planning on spending a week or so in Austria and going from one end of the country to the other then the railpass is a good buy. From Bregenz to Salzburg it's about $50 and then from Salzburg to Vienna another $50 so you almost get your money's worth in two trips. You also receive some bonuses such as: Danube river trips with DDSG Blue Danube: scheduled trips Melk - Krems, Vienna - Dürnstein- Vienna (on Sundays only), sightseeing trips by boat in Vienna: 20% reduction
Danube river trips with Wurm & Köck (Linz to Passau): Reduced rates.
'Swarovski Crystal Worlds' in Wattens, Tirol: Special prices.
ÖBB-lounges in Wien Sued station, Wien West station and Salzburg Hbf for 1st class pass holders
3 days in 15 days (1st class) $164.00 (second class) $112.00
Additional Rail Days $22.00 $16.00
We traveled from Prague to Vienna via train on an EC train, it was €33 plus €7 for the obligatory reservation on that type of train. We purchased the tickets the day before we traveled at the train station in Prague but probably could have bought them the day of travel as the train was not full. On the way back, we purchased our tickets in Vienna for another Supercity train, €49 plus €7 for the obligatory reservation. I believe it would have been cheaper to purchase the round trip ticket while in Prague, live and learn.
The EC trains are faster than other trains except for the Supercity trains and from what I've read more comfortable, the journey was about 4 1/2 hours. The train did stop several times but we were not required to change trains.
Few interesting facts:
- Venice->Budapest is a mere 55 Euro (buy at the station), with "Fortuna" or "Smart" tariff (7 days advance) it's 29 Euro by train. The sleeper supplement is no more than 25 Euro.
- Budapest->Vienna is from 13 Euro to 29 Euro (29: round-trip, that includes local transport in Vienna for 4 days!)
- Budapest->Bratislava is 16 Euro regular price by train round-trip
- Bratislava->Vienna is 9.2 Euro Euro regular price by train round-trip, that includes 4 days local transportation in Vienna.
That means... for 29+16+9.2 = 54 Euro (1 week advance or buy from Tranitalia web site) you can have a Budapest and Bratislava and 4 days local transport in Vienna. Without advance purchase it will be 55+16+9.2 = 80.2 Euro. 25 Euro more and you saved on hotel having the sleeper to Budapest.
All this is much more if you go Venice-Vienna directly. Besides, you won't have Budapest and Bratislava included for free!
If you are arriving to Vienna by train, you will either arrive at one of the following main train stations:
1) South Train Station (Sudbahnhof)
2) West Train Station (Westbahnhof)
From these main Train stations, you can get to the city centre by the underground train (U-Bahn), trams, buses, or taxis.
Getting to Wien by train is the easiest solution to avoid stress. There are direct day- and night-trains from many European countries. In Italia you can take Eurocity or Euronight trains from Venezia, Milano or Roma. In some period of the year there are also express trains, like the one my parents and I took to go there. You see it here.
We took the train from Budapest into Vienna. Fortunately, we got a cabin for the three of us, unfortunately it was one of the newer trains where the seats don't pull flat. So, because it was a new train we split up further to see if we could find a full three seats for each of us to lay down...after a while we did, but sleeping was difficult.
The Vienna train station is sucha contrast to the Budapest station, it is clean and modern.
Austria and Vienna is in the middle of Europe. There is excellent train connection here from west or east. I did not use the train this time as I came by flight but even in this case it was useful as I took the local S train from / to the airport.