Zürich / Zurich to Wien / Vienna by train

How to take the rail journey from Zurich to Vienna/Wien

It's possible to take a direct train when travelling during the day from Zurich to the Austrian capital.
There's no hiding the fact that it's a long ride, but the spectacular scenery on the first half of the journey will make the time fly by.

Though due to the distance you can also opt to travel through the night; and what's unusual is that there is a choice of overnight options on this route.

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Routes

Option 1: travel during the day

Travel Information

These trains will depart from the platforms/tracks by the street level concourse in Zurich HB station (gleis 3 - 18).

Final Destination: Wien or Budapest or Bratislava

All trains also call at: Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz, St Polten and Wien-Meidling*

*Check the location of your final destination in Wien/Vienna.

If you're heading to the south west corner of the city, or the area on the ring road around the Opera House - then it's likely that you'll have a faster and more convenient journey if you leave the train at Wien-Meidling station.
Wien Meidling is connected to line U6 of the Vienna Metro, which serves the western side of the city centre.

5 x trains per day

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 180 days* ahead of the travel date

*There's no need to book 6 months ahead to obtain the cheapest tickets.
If you look for tickets around 3 - 4 months ahead then the cheapest 'Sparschiene' tickets can be available on more trains.

The prices of the tickets are usually cheaper on OBB, particularly as its cheapest 'Sparschiene' tickets can now be booked up until the day of travel (if they haven't sold out) - previously Sparscheine tickets had to be booked at least 3 days ahead.

However, it's worth comparing prices with SBB, but remember that the price on SBB will be in Swiss Francs and not euros.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
OBB from €39

OBB Guide

OBB is the national rail operator and its booking service offers journeys by express trains within Austria, as well as international journeys which don't involve making a connection outside of Austria.

It pays off to book online, as the discounted 'Sparscheine' tickets are only ever made available on the website, and when making international journeys to and from Austria, these Sparscheine tickets tend to be cheaper.
OBB can offer particularly good value for money when travelling with children on international rail journeys, but something to watch out for when travelling between Austria and Germany on daytime trains, is that reservations are an optional extra; but if you book 1st class tickets with the Germany railways website DB, the reservations are complimentary.

OBB often takes a unique approach to its booking path, but a key thing to keep in mind is that the first price you will see for any journey is that of a Second Class seat.
The costs of upgrading to first class, a reservation, or a sleeping cabin etc, is then added to this price.

SBB *

SBB Guide

SBB is the main national rail operator in Switzerland, but tickets for journeys by the other significant operators including BLS and SOB can be be booked on the SBB website.

SBB also sells tickets for journeys to many destinations which involve a combination of SBB trains and services provided by the many independent operators who serve the Alpine resort towns.
However, if you will be making a long-distance return day trip, look out for he possibility of SaverDay passes being cheaper than tickets.

Though if you download the SBB app, booking tickets on SBB's mobile services can be simper than using the website.
Also watch out for the fact that booking international tickets can be comparatively quirky.

Trainline from €39

Trainline Guide

Omio from €39

Omio Guide

Omio is an online ticket agency which offers tickets for rail journeys in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.

The three key advantages of using Omio are

  • it offers prices in multiple currencies
  • it usually offers price comparison with other modes of travel including flights and buses
  • when visiting Europe, you can book journeys in multiple countries in one transaction.

The disadvantage of booking with Omio is that it often adds a booking fee to the final price; therefore when it does so without offering a price advantage, SMTJ doesn't tend to offer Omio as a booking option.

Happyrail from €39

Happyrail Guide

Happy Rail is a Netherlands rail ticket agency which sells tickets for both national and international journeys within a range of countries including Belgium France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

HappyRail doesn't charge booking fees in the conventional sense, but if you're not Dutch you can expect to pay additional transaction fees, which will be added to the total cost.
That's because the most common form of online payment used in The Netherlands is 'iDEAL' and HappyRail doesn't charge a transaction fee for 'iDEAL' payments, but only Dutch residents can sign up to 'iDEAL'.
Other forms of payment include Visa debit cards will incur a fee.

On this journey

Journey Features

Scenic - YesLake viewsMountain views

Journey description:

Step on board one of Europe's most epic rail journeys, with amazing views of two Swiss lakes AND a passage through the stunning Arlberg Pass.

Sit on the left (when facing the direction) of travel) on departure from Zurich for the best views.

Within 10 minutes of departing from Zurich there are a series of stunning views of not one, but two lakes, the Zurichsee...

...and then the Wallensee.

...can both be seen from the left of the train.

The best of the views as the train travels through the Arlberg pass will be over on the right, but the train will reverse direction on departure from Buchs.

Between Buchs and Feldkirch the train will travel through Liechtenstein, then after departure from Bludenz, the train threads through the stunning Arlberg Pass - though in summer the trees can get in the way.

In the pass, the best and most spectacular views of the entire journey are over on the right; even on a grey day.

But after St.Anton the best of the views are over on the left...

... with a particular highlight of the journey being the descent to Landeck station.

These trains used to take a more scenic route after departure from Innsbruck, but now between there and Worgl, they take a faster route which is mainly in tunnels.
Though by Kufstein they travel right by the River Inn.

The final third of the journey on from Salzburg is pleasant, but not particularly scenic, though east of Linz is the fastest part of the route.

10 mins into the journey and the Zurichsee will be on the left 10 mins into the journey and the Zurichsee will be on the left
The train will pass by Lake Zurich for more than 20 mins The train will pass by Lake Zurich for more than 20 mins
Leaving the Zurichsee behind and heading for the Walensee Leaving the Zurichsee behind and heading for the Walensee
Travelling by the spectacular Walensee Travelling by the spectacular Walensee
Between Sargans and Buchs Between Sargans and Buchs
Heading into the Arlberg Pass Heading into the Arlberg Pass
The best views of the pass are on the right The best views of the pass are on the right
The train will travel through the Arlberg Pass for around 30 mins The train will travel through the Arlberg Pass for around 30 mins
Look out for the spectacular views through the trees Look out for the spectacular views through the trees
Looking over Landeck as the train descends to the town's station Looking over Landeck as the train descends to the town's station

Option 2: travelling through the night

Travel Information

Final Destination:
Wien Hbf - the OBB Nightjet
Budapest - the EuroNight train

These trains also call at: St.Pölten, Wien-Meidling

In Zurich, the two trains are joined together, so they both depart at 21:40.

They're separated during the journey across Austria and the EuroNight train arrives in Vienna/Wien first at 06:35.

The OBB Nightjet train is the slower of the two services and it is scheduled to arrive in Wien Hbf at 07:55.

Both the OBB Nightjet train and the Nightjet train convey;

- Compartment Seats (Sitzwagen)
- Couchettes (Liegewagen); 4 berths AND 6 berths
- Standard sleeping cars (Schlafwagen) with 3 bed, 2 bed and 1 cabins

But the OBB Nightjet train also conveys Deluxe sleeping cars with showers in the cabin.

2 x train services per night

Tickets

Book early and save: Yes

Online bookings open: 6 months ahead of the travel date

The first price you will see on the OBB ticketing site will be for the compartment seats.

Click the train details for more info including the rail pass reservation fees:

Rail pass users must reserve before boarding this train.

However, these rail pass reservations can be purchased for the Nightjet without paying booking fees on the OBB website (OBB operates this train).
Though the process for doing so isn't particularly obvious, hence the step-by-step guide.
If possible avoid making rail pass reservations at a Swiss station, because a booking fee of 11CHF per person will also be payable.

Where to book
Ticket Provider Approximate Cost
OBB *

OBB Guide

OBB is the national rail operator and its booking service offers journeys by express trains within Austria, as well as international journeys which don't involve making a connection outside of Austria.

It pays off to book online, as the discounted 'Sparscheine' tickets are only ever made available on the website, and when making international journeys to and from Austria, these Sparscheine tickets tend to be cheaper.
OBB can offer particularly good value for money when travelling with children on international rail journeys, but something to watch out for when travelling between Austria and Germany on daytime trains, is that reservations are an optional extra; but if you book 1st class tickets with the Germany railways website DB, the reservations are complimentary.

OBB often takes a unique approach to its booking path, but a key thing to keep in mind is that the first price you will see for any journey is that of a Second Class seat.
The costs of upgrading to first class, a reservation, or a sleeping cabin etc, is then added to this price.

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