Vienna to Ljubljana by Train
When travelers think of scenic European train rides, it’s usually Switzerland, Germany, and France. And they wouldn’t be wrong. But what many people don’t realize is that just slightly further east is one of the most spectacular and underrated train journeys in Europe. It connects Vienna to Ljubljana, two of Europe’s most exciting capital cities.
The best way to get from Vienna to Ljubljana
When you at the Eurail Rail Planner App or online train timetable, you’ll see that there are several ways to get from Vienna to Ljubljana. What you may not realize is that one way is significantly better than the others.
If you want to take advantage of the best scenery, in the most convenient way possible, you’ll need to go to Vienna’s Meidling station nice and early. There’s a direct train from Wien Meidling to Ljubljana. It leaves at 8:05 a.m. and takes only 6 hours.
It’s the most direct and scenic route possible, and there are no mandatory reservation fees for Eurail Pass holders. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy one of the most dramatic rail routes in Europe! It’s the perfect introduction to Slovenia.
Insider tip: Don’t despair if you miss this daily direct train. There are several connections between the two cities each day, some of which follow the same route. Some trains connect at the Austrian town of Villach. But if you want to stay true to the original route, look for those that change at Spielfeld Strass. You may have to switch trains a few times, but it’s worth the effort.
What to expect on the journey
The scenery will differ depending on the time of year you take the route. And in typical European fashion, the changing of the seasons allows for nice contrasts. When I took the route in late spring, the snow on the low-lying ground had melted to reveal deep green fields – perfect grazing for docile cows and sheep. The mountains were still capped with snow, and the outside temperature offered the perfect chill to take the edge off an otherwise moderate day.
The route between the two cities offers stunning views of rural Vienna and Slovenia. Think raging rivers and tranquil teal-colored lakes, grand peaks, immaculate fields and the occasional forest. And then, suddenly, you’ll whip through a quaint village, often consisting of a single church and a few isolated houses, before they disappear on the horizon and you’re back on the slopes of a hill or in pristine wilderness.
In many ways, the route serves as the perfect transition between these two beautiful cities. Before you know it the six hour journey will be behind you, and you’ll be standing at the exit of Ljubljana station full of anticipation and ready to explore another central European gem.
The train stations
Wien Meidling station is one of Vienna’s busiest train stations, though many long distance trains actually route through the larger Westbahnhof. Fortunately, it’s easy to reach Meidling by U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus, and tram. The station has a selection of food and drink stores where you can stock up for the journey. If you forget anything, the dining cart on the EuroCity train should have you covered.
Ljubljana Station is relatively small and somewhat less equipped than other European capital city stations. It’s also just on the outskirts out of the main tourist center. If you’re prepared to walk, the main center is just 15 minutes away on foot. There are also taxis ready to transport you to your accommodation as you exit the building.
Vienna is one of Europe’s most famous capital cities, and it’s brimming with class, culture and a long, fascinating history. It’s also the biggest city in Austria, and sits comfortably as the country’s economic and political heart. Because of this, there’s still an imperial quality to the buildings. The numerous parks, museums, and palaces overflow with a grandiose charm. Whether you’re a fan of music, history, or simply stunning architecture, a few days in the Austrian capital is a rewarding experience.
Ljubljana, on the other hand, has fewer famous buildings and attractions. In fact, until recently, many travelers either confused the country with Slovakia, or didn’t even know where to find it. It’s not uncommon to hear travelers practicing the pronunciation of the city’s name out loud while on board the train. But anyone who’s been to the Slovenian capital will tell you that it’s a quaint city that oozes charm, beauty and is full of friendly and inviting locals. There’s a healthy student population to keep the atmosphere young and vibrant. Yet the stately buildings in the city center and along the Ljubljanica river provide a touch of grandeur to the surroundings.
In many ways Vienna and Ljubljana feel like sister cities. They share many similarities and characteristics, but are also unique. While the Austrian capital has all the trimmings of a famous European city, Ljubljana isn’t floundering behind. In fact, they serve as the perfect complement to each other on a European rail journey. There’s simply no better way to transition between two of Europe’s most beautiful countries than on the scenic Vienna to Ljubljana rail route.
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