Zurich to Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna by train

Every couple of hours a modern railjet train links Zurich with Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna via the Arlberg Railway through the beautiful Arlberg Pass.  One railjet per day runs beyond Vienna to/from Budapest and another to/from Bratislava.  There's also a daily conventional EuroCity train called the Transalpin between Zurich, Innsbruck & Graz, which includes an excellent 1st class panorama car.  The nightjet sleeper train between Zurich and Vienna/Budapest also uses this route.

small bullet point  About the Arlberg Railway & route map

small bullet point  The journey in pictures

small bullet point  Watch the video

small bullet point  What are the railjet trains like?

small bullet point  Travel tips

small bullet point  Fares & how to buy tickets

About the Arlberg Railway

The Arlberg Railway is the main line between Switzerland and Austria.  Opened in 1884, it's one of the highest-altitude standard gauge railways in Europe, reaching 1,310 metres (4,298 feet) above sea level at its highest point, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlberg_railway.  Soon after leaving Zurich HB, the train runs along the shores of two large Swiss lakes, the Zürichsee & Walensee, both on the left hand side when heading east.  The train reverses (changes direction) at Buchs, then cuts through Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through Schaan-Vaduz station, 3.5 km from the capital Vaduz and one of only 4 railway stations in Lichtenstein.  The train enters Austria and reaches Feldkirch, then snakes through the lovely Arlberg Pass.  The best views are generally on the right when going east, passing through the 10 km (6 mile) long Arlberg Tunnel, the highest part on the line.  The tunnel transit only takes 5 minutes, after which the train descends towards Innsbruck.  Beyond Innsbruck, Zurich-Vienna trains transit Germany between Kufstein & Salzburg, also without stopping.  Look out for views of the Fortress Hohensalzburg on the right as you cross the Salzach river approaching Salzburg station.

Route map

Zurich to Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna train route map

Click for larger map   Highlighted = Zurich-Vienna route.  Green = scenic sections of lineRed = new high-speed line.

Reproduced from the excellent European Rail Map with kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people.  I recommend buying the European Rail Map for your travels and a copy of the European Rail Timetable, www.europeanrailtimetable.eu with shipping worldwide.

Zurich to Innsbruck is 282 km (175 miles) by train.   Zurich to Salzburg is 475 km (295 miles).  Zurich to Vienna is 787 km (489 miles).

Zurich to Innsbruck & Salzburg in pictures

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

Swiss lakes:  Soon after leaving Zurich, the railjet runs alongside the shore of the Zürichsee and then the Walensee.

Train into Austria: Mountain scenery   Schaan-Vaduz station

Sargans castle:  Watch out for hilltop castles, this is the one at Sargans.


Liechtenstein:  The train cuts across Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through Schaan-Vaduz station.

Scenery in the Arlberg Pass

Arlberg Pass:  Above, we're now in Austria, with brooding skies over the Arlberg pass.  The pass itself is long, narrow and curvaceous with the train snaking along the valley sides, often high above the valley floor.

Arlberg Tunnel:  Between Bludenz and St Anton am Arlberg the train passes through the Arlberg Tunnel, 10.2 km (6.3 miles) long and opened in 1884.  See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlberg_Railway_Tunnel.

Scenery in the Arlberg Pass

The mountains keep on coming as the train crosses the Tirol.

Scenery in the Arlberg Pass

River Inn:  Running alongside the river Inn in the Tirol, somewhere between Landeck & Ötzal.

Scenery in the Arlberg Pass

Mountains near Innsbruck.  The train calls at Innsbruck Hbf for several minutes.

Kufstein station and castle   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

Kufstein:  The train stops at Kufstein, where the castle towers above the station.

Above right, lunch is served.  In first & business class on a railjet, the steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

Scenery as the train cuts across Germany

Cutting through Germany:  East of Kufstein, the train takes a short cut through Germany without stopping, see the route map above.  All fast Vienna-Salzburg-Innsbruck trains do this, but are still considered Austrian domestic trains even though they spend an hour on German territory!  Such a train is called a Korridorzug.  The train crosses back into Austria near Freilassing, just before Salzburg.

View of Salzburg as the train crosses the River Salzach

Salzburg:  View of the Fortress Hohensalzburg on the right hand side as the railjet crosses the River Salzach into Salzburg Hbf heading east.

Video guide: Through the Arlberg

This video shows all three classes on railjet and the wonderful scenery through the Arlberg Pass between Zurich and Innsbruck, en route to Salzburg & Vienna.  Since the video was made, Premium class has been renamed Business class and the bistro area has been replaced with proper restaurant tables.

What are railjet trains like?

Railjets are Austrian Railways (ÖBB's) high-speed train, capable of 230 km/h (143 mph) where the route allows.  Railjets have 3 classes, economy class, first class & business class (in that order!), with power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Business class is a premium first class, called Premium until 2012.  The train is all non-smoking.  Wheelchair-accessible toilets and several wheelchair spaces are available in each train.

RailJet about to leave Zurich for Vienna

Railjet in Zurich.  A railjet about to leave Zurich HB for Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna.  railjets are fixed-formation 'push-pull' trains, with a locomotive at one end & a driving cab (shown here) at the other.

Railjet train boarding at Vienna Hbf

Railjet in Vienna.  A railjet calls at the modern Vienna Hbf.

Economy (2nd class)

Open-plan seating arranged 2+2 across the car width, most unidirectional but with some tables for 4.  All seats have power sockets and a fixed or drop-down table.  Large luggage racks are located at various points within the seating area, see the photo of the luggage rack in 1st class below, it's the same in all classes.  See seat mapClick the photos for larger images.

Economy class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class

1st class has reclining leather seats arranged 2+1 across the car width, with tables for 2, tables for 4 people and some unidirectional seats.  There are power sockets & tables at all seats.  Food & drink orders are taken from the restaurant menu & served at your seat, although meals aren't included in the fare.  See panorama photoSee seat mapClick the photos for larger images.

First class seats on a railjet train   First class seats on a railjet train

1st class on a railjet.


1st class - note the large luggage rack.

Business class (premium 1st)

An extra €15 on top of any 1st class fare gets you a business class seat, which automatically includes a reservation.  The railjets used on this route have 14 business class seats in half of one car:  A carpeted corridor runs down one side of the car, off which open several spacious 3 or 4 seat semi-compartments, semi because the compartments have no door and partitions are not ceiling-high.  Each semi-compartment has very comfortable reclining leather armchairs with adjustable footrests & fold-out armrest table.  There are power sockets & reading lights at all seats.  A complimentary welcome drink of wine or fruit juice is included.  Food & drink orders  are taken from the restaurant menu and served at your seat, although meals aren't included in the fare.  If you don't mind the extra cost, business class is highly recommended.  Note that only certain booking sites can book business class (for example www.thetrainline.com & www.oebb.at where you select a 1st class fare then choose a business class reservation), but if you have a first class ticket you can find any empty seat and ask to pay the €15 supplement on board.  See panorama photoSee seat map Click the photos for larger images.

Business class on a railjet train, showing aisle   3-seat semi-compartment, business class on a railjet train

Business class:  Side corridor with 14 seats in two 3-seat & two 4-seat semi-compartments, plus two solo seats at the end.  See seat map.

Restaurant car

Anyone in any class can buy food & drink at the counter to take back to their seat or you can sit down and use the small waiter-service restaurant area.  However, in 1st & Business classes there's no need to go to the restaurant car, staff will take your order and serve you from the restaurant menu at your seat.  Food is served on proper china with metal cutlery - no airline plastic here!

Railjet restaurant car   Meal & drinks are served at seat in first & business class

14-seat restaurant & bar counter.  Larger photo.


Food orders are taken at seat in 1st & business.

Travel tips

TV screen showing speed   TV screen showing the train's location   Intranet on the Vienna to Venice train

TV screens in every railjet car show the train number, car number, the train's destination & current speed, with the scheduled & expected arrival times at station stops.  This alternates with a map showing the train's current location.


Intranet on your phone (railnet.oebb.at) shows the train's location & allows you to order food & drink.

Fares & how to buy tickets

1st class panorama car on the Transalpin

Swiss panorama car on the Transalpin from Zurich to Innsbruck   1st class seats in panorama car, Munich to Zurich train

1st class panorama car.


1st class seats in the panorama car.

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