Best cable cars and mountain trains in Austria
To get the best views of Austria’s valleys, peaks and lakes, take a ride on a train or cable car. Lots of resorts have them, and some even offer summer cards that give you discounts on the tickets. Take a look at some of our favourites…
Schlossalmbahn cable car, Bad Hofgastein
The Schlossalmbahn cable car was built in Bad Hofgastein back in summer 2018. Anyone eager to stretch their legs can be whisked up to 1,302m in minutes, to find a range of circular walking trails. For families, gentle routes will give kids a chance to burn some energy, and capture their imaginations as they try and spot the eagles, mammoths and cows carved into rocks along the way.
Zwölferhorn cable car, St Gilgen
If it’s the scenery you’re after, the Zwölferhorn cable car is a classic. Its original primary-coloured cabins rise from St Gilgen to 1,493m, giving you spectacular views of the lakes and mountains in Salzburgerland. Known as the Austrian Lake District, this area is a canvas of turquoise lakes, chocolate-box towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites, surrounded by the Dachstein mountains. At the top of the lift, you can soak up the sun and the views from the terrace, or stroll through woodland and pastures on the looping Illinger Alm trail.
Schafberg railway, St Wolfgang
The Schafberg is the steepest rack-and-pinion railway in the country, with cherry-red carriages clack-clacking up to 1,783m in 45 minutes. At the top, you’re greeted with uninterrupted views of Lake Wolfgang, as well as a network of scenic walking paths to explore. Perched on the summit is Austria’s oldest mountain inn, the Hotel Schafbergspitze, where you can dine on classic Austrian food like roast pork and kaiserschmarrn. During the return trip, the train’s engine car acts as a braking system, leading the passenger cars back down to St Wolfgang.
Achenseebahn cog railway, Achensee
The Achenseebahn’s little locomotives have been chugging their way up to Achensee lake since 1889, making it Europe’s oldest steam-powered cog railway. Nowadays, four engines called Hannah, Georg, Hermann and Theodor take turns making the short but steep trip from the nearby town of Jenbach. Hop aboard one of the brightly painted carriages and watch the mountain scenery slide by as you clack up the track to the Seezpitz pier. From here, you can set sail on one of Austria’s best boat trips, a day cruise across the Tyrol’s biggest lake.
Pinzgauer local railway, Zell am See
When it comes to scenic railway journeys, the 50km-long Pinzgauer local line is hard to beat. The track winds across the lower green slopes of the Salzach valley and has connected the small villages dotted throughout the area for over 120 years. And there are plenty of stops along the route, so it’s easy to get out and explore the gentle walking trails. Once a week during the summer, a steam train service puffs between Zell am See and the village of Krimml, where a connecting bus can take you to the Krimml waterfalls – the highest in Austria.
Zillertal railway, Mayrhofen
The Zillertal railway has linked the towns of Mayrhofen and Jenbach since 1902. And you can still enjoy the 90-minute journey aboard a classic steam train, with regular services running from July to October. To see what it takes to work the traditional train, join the crew on the footplate for one of the weekly driver experiences. Or if you like to travel in style, book a spot in the Crystal Car – a luxurious carriage decorated with 62,000 sparkling Swarovski crystals.
Rüfikopfbahn cable car, Lech
One of the oldest lifts in the Arlberg region, the Rüfikopfbahn opened in 1957 and is still going strong today. Up at 2,350m, you can have a bite to eat at the panoramic restaurant and enjoy 360° views over Lech and the Tannberg mountains beyond. If you fancy stretching your legs, this is also the ideal starting point for one of the best mountain walks in Austria – the 28km-long Green Ring. Or for a more leisurely alternative, take a gentle stroll around Monzabonsee lake or learn about the geology of the area on the Geogweg trail.
Sit back and enjoy the sights on your next Lakes & Mountains holiday to Austria.
Psst. Head to the Discover homepage for our latest articles.