Vienna to Venice – The scenic way
Vienna condenses culture into one cool, collected city. Classical music, modern design and, of course, great chocolate cake. Venice, meanwhile, gathers together high art, black squid ink and, in case you’ve been sleepwalking through life, some rather beautiful waterways and canals.
As highlights of Europe go, these “V” cities dazzle time and time again. And while the quickest route by train involves a switch at another V (Villach), that’s simply a waste of good rail time when you can go the scenic way instead.
Do you fancy a flavour of Romeo and Juliet in Verona? The Sound of Music in Salzburg? Skiing and hiking in Innsbruck? Or simply sitting back on the train and watching some of the best landscapes in the world glide by as you travel across the Alps?
Forget being a one stop wonder. Plan your own route between these two iconic cities by using the pic ‘n’ mix below, made possible by the freedom of a Eurail pass.
How to get from Vienna to Venice by train
There are many, many ways to complete this journey. Here are some scenic suggestions.
By night train
The daily EuroNight train takes almost 12 hours to complete the journey from Wien Westbahnhof station. You’ll need to reserve a place, and the train offers second class only. There are many stops along the way – something to bear in mind if you’re a light sleeper.
There’s a faster overnight train that leaves from Wien Meidling station, covering the distance in about seven hours. You will arrive at two-something in the morning, which isn’t for everyone.
By high-speed and regional train via Innsbruck
Railjet services leave Wien Westbahnhof frequently throughout the day and take between four and five hours to reach the snowy city of Innsbruck. They call at Salzburg on the way, and they don’t require a reservation.
The Eurocity train runs straight from Innsbruck to Venezia Santa Lucia, although you can alight at Verona and finish your journey the following day. Reservations aren’t compulsory, and the trip takes a bit less than five hours.
If hopping on and off doesn’t bother you, you can ride the regional trains from Innsbruck to Venice, making only three to four changes, in a little less than seven hours. No reservations required.
Getting to the right Vienna train station
Vienna has many train stations. Make sure you head to the right one.
This modern train hub temporarily replaces the city’s Sudbahnhof, so make sure your train travel information is up to date. You can reach it on the U-Bahn line 6 by alighting at Philadelphiabrucke station, or you can ride tram line 62. Other bus lines and train lines also arrive at this station.
Westbahnhof is often described as Austria’s most beautiful station, with a vast shopping mall, a food court and clean, modern architecture. It connects Vienna with the rest of western Europe as well as linking up with airport buses in the EuropaPlatz just outside.
Arriving at Venice train station
The station right at the heart of Venice is Venezia Santa Lucia, near the city’s historical center. It has all the usual amenities plus a left luggage service that’s open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Another main station is Venezia Mestre, a larger hub and a frequent find on railway timetables. There are short and frequent connections between Santa Lucia and Mestre, so don’t be put off if your preferred route heads to Mestre.
Top 3 stop offs on the way to Venice
As the ski slope launchpad in winter, Innsbruck is still pretty enough all year round to warrant a pit stop and quick visit. A riverside vista of raw, snow-topped mountains against a foreground of lemon, blue and ochre houses forms a refreshing travel tonic even in summer.
The compact city of Salzburg is a picture-perfect delight in winter and a tourist magnet throughout the year. Home to both The Sound of Music (family and film) and to legendary composer Mozart, its narrow cobbled streets and Christmas-market charm make it one of the highlights of Austria. Its small size and the reasonable walk from the station make it an ideal place to zip around on foot for a few hours.
It’s not all about the words of Shakespeare in this beautiful Italian town. There’s also a Roman amphitheatre that stages modern concerts and a medieval fresco-laden square at Piazza delle Erbe, the former Roman forum. Of course, you can still stand on Juliet’s balcony – fictional, of course – and declare your undying love if you wish. And with a good pair of shoes you can do it all on foot within the space of a single day.