If you want to experience train travel at its best, then Austria is the place for you. Nowhere else on our Train Odyssey has even come close to the breathtaking scenery and overall comfort of our trip from Salzburg to Innsbruck by rail. We were told that for the best views of the Alps, skip the direct train between the cities and instead break the trip into two parts going through the town of Zell Am See. This is some of the best advice we’ve ever taken 🙂 From stunning peaks, towering churches, and snowy castles to ski resorts, hot air balloons, and hang gliders, the view had us whipping our heads around from window to window during the 90 minute journey to Zell Am See.
Then much to our amazement, things only got better on the train from Zell Am See to Innsbruck. One of the perks of the Eurail pass is that it includes first class seating, and the train to Zurich we happened to catch had a first-class car that was pure luxury. We have never had seating anywhere as nice (huge picture windows, complementary snacks, plenty of leg room), and we kept expecting the conductor to realize we didn’t belong and politely suggest we would be more comfortable in 2nd class. Needless to say, we were quite tempted to skip Innsbruck all together and continue to the end of the line in Zurich.
We didn’t have much of a plan when we checked our bags to explore Innsbruck, but serendipity took care of everything. We discovered a lovely park a few blocks from the train station with some impressive playgrounds, had an impromptu snowball fight with some local boys (for the record, they threw the first snowball), and were gifted with Austrain stuffed animals by a friendly store clerk as we shopped for groceries. As we left the town, we even spotted the famous ski jump from the 1976 Olympics.
We can’t come up with enough superlatives to describes Austria’s Alps region and the beauty of seeing it by train 🙂 All we know is that it doesn’t get much better than this.