Though I grew up in America where the car is king, now that I live in Europe I have learned that the train is often a lot easier and even more economical. Also, visiting breweries and getting behind the wheel is not only dangerous but in Germany, downright stupid. With great train connections and the Bavaria Ticket special, you can't go wrong. There are hourly trains leaving Munich to Salzburg and the journey is about two hours.
While Salzburg may not be the major transportation hub that Vienna is, it is well-connected in all respects and especially so with regard to trains. We came from Munich where trains run to the Sound of Music wonder hourly. The added bonus is that despite Salzburg not being in Bavaria, you can use the Bavaria ticket to travel there since it literally right over the border. While the Bavaria ticket may not be the super group value it once was, it remains an amazingly great deal. In previous times, you could buy the ticket for either one person or for groups up to five. They have retooled to the ticket to make it more fair for smaller groups, especially the common one of couples. The base price is now €22 with each additional person adding €4.
This ticket is good for the entire day of purchase until 3 am the following day so you can use it as a round trip ticket if you are returning the same day. You can use it on buses once in the towns you are traveling to IF they are in Bavaria. In Salzburg's case, it is not valid on the buses in the city. So, with four people, we paid €34 to not only get to Salzburg but to return home to Munich. Since the trip is only two hours each way, it is easily done as a day trip.
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UPDATE: As of September 2015, train travel between Salzburg and Munich, Germany has been severely disrupted due to border control issues. The train station itself may also be crowded or disrupted by migrants attempting to cross the border into Germany. Be sure to check the latest news updates and transportation news from Austrian Rail for the latest information.
Salzburg's Hauptbahnhof, or main train station, is located about a 15-minute walk from the Old Town. It is on the main line from Munich to Vienna, and is reachable via "RailJet," ICE, and EuroCity Trains from many different destinations, including Zürich, Budapest, Frankfurt, and Cologne. An interesting feature is that German Rail's "Bayern-Ticket," a special ticket covering travel on local trains and public transportation in the German state of Bavaria (cost ranges from EUR 22 for a single traveler to EUR 38 for 5 people traveling together, not valid weekdays before 9AM), covers travel to and from Salzburg (NOTE: the Bayern-Ticket does not cover travel in Austria beyond Salzburg, nor does it cover Salzburg's public transportation system). For example, if you're traveling from Munich Airport to Salzburg, you can use the Bayern-Ticket to take the S-8 to Munich's Ostbahnhof, then change to a local Meridian (Not IC, EC, or RailJet) train to Salzburg.
If you want to make a day-trip to Bavaria from Salzburg (or travel to Munich Airport), never fear: There is a DB (German Rail) ticket counter and two ticket machines in Salzburg. Purchase your Bayern-Ticket from the DB ticket machines to avoid a EUR 2 surcharge. Be aware the Bayern-Ticket has restrictions, so be sure to review them before purchase.
The trains in Austria (run by ÖBB) are the best trains I have been on in the world (well... from the ones I have been on in Australia, the UK, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Italy, France and the Czech Republic). They were extremely clean, there was heaps of leg room and room for your luggage. The isles were wide (so you didn’t have to worry about banging your luggage into someone sitting nearby). Plus while waiting at a station in Innsbruck (to change trains) I got a look at their 1st class section on another train - wow! On that one the windows extended up into the roof so you could get a full view of the scenery around, and the seats looked extremely comfortable and plush.
I think the best thing about train traveling in Austria was that the staff on ÖBB were very nice and helpful. I was going from Innsbruck to Salzburg and thought I had gotten on the right train. I hadn’t, the one I was on did go to Salzburg, but was going the long way and would take an extra 2 hours. I should have waited another 10 minutes and gotten onto the one that would have arrived at the next platform. Not to worry, I was instructed to get off at the next stop and cross over to another track and I would get to Salzburg all the sooner. Although it seems I was not the only one that made this mistake, as a couple of other backpackers got off and switched trains as well.
So just note whether your train is taking an extended route to the destination or not! :)
From Innsbruck to Salzburg it took about 2 hours and cost me about 32€ (2nd class).
I arrived at Salzburg's Hauptbahnhof via Munich and the ride took less than two hours on the very efficient and comfortable train. My ticket cost 25 euros for the one way fare. The Hauptbahnhof is situated about a 20 minute walk from the Old Town (Alstadt) and is well-connected to the rest of Salzburg by buses which arrive right out front.
The train station is a 30 minute walk from downtown or a 5 minute cab ride. From the train station, you can see some more great European cities that are very close:
Eugendorf -- cute little Salzburg suburb, one stop away on the commuter train
Vienna -- 3.5 hours away
Prague -- 6 hours away
Venice -- circa 6 hours away
Munich -- 1 hour away
Zurich -- circa 4 hours away
I'd highly recommend Prague.
We went from Munich to Salzburg by train. The roundtrip ticket for 2 people for IC/EC train did cost 50 €.
A cheaper option is the so called "Bayernticket" for 22 € and up to 5 people. Its valid Mo-Fri from 9am to 3am of the next day in regional trains. It's cheaper but the ride will most likely take longer because this regional trains stop more often. In general I'd recommend not just to get on the train last minute but be there a little earlier if you can, because these trains can get really crowded and you might end up standing for a long time and feeling like a sandwich with lots of people around you.
When arriving in Salzburg by train - have a look on the right side ( when coming from Germany )
The train will pass slowly the bridge over the river Salzach and you will have a great first view of the City and the castle "Hohensalzburg" from the train.
The trainstation is just a few steps from Mirabellgarten & Schloß Mirabell ( 5 minutes to walk )
If you want travelling around Salzburg by Train, the ÖBB have his own homepage www.oebb.at, you can book tickets online and see special offerts.
If you would travel from Salzburg to Vienna and you are not a student, buy the "half-price-pass" / "halbpreis-ticket" (or "vorteilscard") directly on the train-desk (you pay a certain amount for this card and get all trains for the half price - it is also cheaper if you travell only once!)
Slovene railways offer really good price for travelling from Ljubljana to Salzburg and back.
When you travel between the days including Sunday, the price for return ticket is only 47 Euro. I even pay nothing for my 11-year-old daughter.
If your travel doesn't include Sunday, the price is 82 Euro.
The fastest trains in Austria are called “Railjet”, but that doesn’t mean they are powered by jet propulsion. They are in fact quite ordinary electric trains, but they do go rather fast and don’t stop very often, for instance they don’t stop at all between Salzburg and Munich.
What really impressed me about the Austrian railway is that they had an extra Railjet train in Salzburg, so when it transpired that our Railjet would be about half an hour late coming from Vienna Airport, they simply rolled out the extra train which left right on time for the run from Salzburg to Munich.
Second photo: First class in a Railjet train to Munich.
Third photo: Changing to a German ICE train (InterCityExpress) in Munich.
Fourth photo: First class in an ICE. I traveled first class this time because there was a good offer on the German railways website. The main difference between the classes is that first class has only three seats in each row, and second class has four. Also first class is often less crowded, but there is no guarantee of that. And in first class they usually have some daily newspapers, and you can order drinks and snacks to be brought to your seat from the bistro car. I used to travel first class quite often on business, but not so often now that I have to pay for it myself.
Next: Trolleybuses in Salzburg
This is one of the most beautiful facades of a railway station building I have seen anywhere.
Salzburg is very well connected to cities within and outside Austria.OBB is a fantastic railway organisation and one of the best in the world.
Served by two staions The Hauptbahnhof on Sudtiroler Platz is the first stop for trains from Vienna and then Rangier Bahnhof is the first stop when coming from Innsbruck. The Rangier is quite a distance from the centre of town so do not get off there, rather go thru to Hauptbahnhof station. Train connections from here goes to Innsbruck, Graz, Vienna, Budapest, Munich,Zurich, Praque, Vennice.