Vienna to Salzburg: The scenic route

by editor

If you’ve decided to visit Austria, you have most likely planned a trip to the capital, Vienna but what’s next?  Since Austria is a fairly small country, it’s absolutely possible to drive from one end to the other in less than a day.   

And if you’re looking at doing a road trip that’s scenic with some cool things to see along the way, we’ve made the perfect one that takes you from Vienna to Salzburg! 

Exploring between two of Austria’s most popular cities, you will find yourself discovering a picturesque countryside of diverse landscapes ranging from wine country to dramatic alpine mountains.  

This particular route that we’ve created takes you from Vienna to Salzburg in a day (with a possibility of an overnight stay if you want to take it easy) and has a total driving time of 5 hours.

Vienna to Salzburg road trip

Let’s get started! 

Driving from Vienna to Salzburg – the route

The drive from Vienna to Salzburg is stress free and fairly easy to navigate. Vienna lies approximately 300km to the east of Salzburg and takes around 3 hours in total drive time via the A1 motorway, which runs parallel to the Westbahn trainline.  

But let’s forget about the direct drive from A to B and uncover a much more pleasant experience by making pit stops.  

Our scenic route that we want to share takes you from Vienna to Salzburg with three unforgettable locations, making your driving journey between these two magical cities, an experience of a lifetime. 

This full day itinerary has a total travel time of 5 hours.  Here is the route breakdown:  

  1. Vienna to Wachau
  2. Wachau to Hallstatt
  3. Hallstatt to Fuschl See 
  4. Fuschl See to Salzburg 
Vienna to Salzburg trip

Vienna to Wachau 

Assuming that you have spent a few days in Vienna getting to know this beautiful capital city, you should be ready to start your journey to Salzburg. 

So hop into your car and let’s get going with our first stop of our Vienna to Salzburg drive. 

We start the journey with an easy one hour drive from Vienna to Wachau.  From this short distance alone, you will notice the change of landscape as we enter wine country.  

Lush green hills and terraced vineyards sprinkled with the odd medieval castle here and there, this region stretches up to 30km of beautiful wine valley. 

Vienna to Salzburg trip

Wachau is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the perfect combination of history and nature.  

Depending on your interests, you can either enjoy tasting local wine (we recommend vineyard hopping by bike) or take a walking tour along Wachau’s most famous nature trails – the Danube bike path and Welterbesteig.  

If you’re into your wine, this is the place for you.  As Austria’s most famous wine region, why not take a half day bike tour along the Danube and stop by family owned taverns serving local wine and traditional Austrian cuisine made from regionally sourced produce!  

To get the most out of your wine tour, we suggest spending the entire day in Wachau and stay the night so you have the freedom to taste all the different drops without having to worry about the drive afterwards. 

Vienna to Salzburg road trip

Wachau to Hallstatt

After your lovely experience in Wachau, we make our way to the next stop of our road trip from Vienna to Salzburg – the world famous Hallstatt.  

The drive from Wachau to Hallstatt is the longest leg of the journey taking up to 3 hours, give or take and depending on traffic. 

To reduce your driving time,  avoid leaving during peak hours generally starting at 8-9am in the mornings and then again between 5-6pm in the afternoons.  

The road congestion during these times are typical from Monday-Friday as commuters who work in the Austrian capital tend to drive to and from their workplace in the city centre, to their homes in the surrounding regional areas. 

Vienna to Salzburg trip

As you drive out of wine country, you will notice a dramatic change of landscape and even weather from mild green valleys to snow capped mountain peaks and crystal clear lakes.  

As for the weather, make sure to cover your arms as you will start to experience a crispy light breeze due to the altitude climb as you enter the mountainous region of Austria. 

Hallstatt was once a town that was only accessible by boat or mountain trail.  Nestled between the Australian alps and lakes, this picture perfect town has made a name for itself worldwide.  In fact, China loved it so much that they decided to build a replica! 

Vienna to Salzburg road trip

Another UNESCO heritage site, Hallstatt although small in size is a must see and we promise you, it will be one of the biggest highlights of your Austria trip.  

There’s much to see in this compact little town but if there is only one thing that you could do, we would highly recommend a free walking tour where you will have the best opportunities to take photos from every angle of this photogenic destination. 

For the best self-guided free walking tour, try the route by Big Boy Travel, which takes around 3 hours and includes up to 10 locations for you to pick and choose based on you interest. 

Visit bigboytravel.com to get your free guide and start planning! 

Vienna to Salzburg road trip

Hallstatt to Fuschl See 

Next on the route from Vienna to Salzburg, is Fuschl See. The drive from Hallstatt to Fuschl is an easy 45 minutes and is in fact the closest and (we think the most beautiful) lake to Salzburg city.  

Lake Fuschl is home to the famous energy drink’s headquarters; Red Bull as well the place to relax during the warmer months for local Salzburg folk due to its close proximity to the city and  it’s mesmerizing aqua-blue tinged water.  

Vienna to Salzburg trip

Here you can spend literally the entire day bathing along the banks of the lake.  Pack a light lunch and hire an electric motor boat for the day, or walk/jog around the entire lake taking refresher swims along the way.  

For everything you need to know from walking routes to boat hire, visit Fuschl See’s official website: fuschlsee.salzkammergut.at

Vienna to Salzburg road trip

Fuschl to Salzburg 

After a refreshing and relaxing time at the lake, you will begin your final leg of the journey from Vienna to Salzburg.  The drive from Fuschl into Salzburg’s Old Town is another easy one and takes less than 30 minutes of driving time.  

Vienna to Salzburg trip

If you’re spending a couple of days in Salzburg, check out our article where we outline the best things to do in Salzburg.  Here you will find out top 12 recommendations of unforgettable things to see and experience during your stay here. 

And for those of you who haven’t yet decided on accommodation, our Eco-Residence, The Keep is perfectly positioned and only a short 10 minutes walk along the Salzach River into the Old Town. 

Vienna to Salzburg  The Keep

We have a variety of room options available at very affordable prices as well as morning activities exclusively created by the Keep Team, that can be either booked together with your room purchase or separately on-site (please let the hosts know 24-48 hours prior to the day you wish to attend). 

Vienna to Salzburg  The Keep

For more information about our activities, packages and offers please visit our Keep Packages

To check for availability and make a room booking, visit our Room Reservations and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive an extra 10% off your room booking when you purchase directly with us! 

Vienna to Salzburg  The Keep

Conclusion

So there you have it! 

A scenic and unforgettable driving route from Vienna to Salzburg that takes you from Austria’s most famous wine region all the way to Salzburgland’s crystal clear lakes. 

Here is a summary of the route from Vienna to Salzburg:

  1. Vienna to Wachau
  2. Wachau to Hallstatt
  3. Hallstatt to Fuschl See 
  4. Fuschl See to Salzburg 

We recommend using Google Maps to map out and pin your pit-stops.  A tip here is to download the journey onto your phone as there are sections of the drive with weak connections as you make your way into the alpine region. 

Vienna to Salzburg trip

Bonus  

And for those of you feeling energetic and in the mood to make another stop along your road trip journey from Vienna to Salzburg, we recommend visiting Dachstein, another UNESCO heritage listed site. 

Vienna to Salzburg trip

From Halsttatt, is a winding 1.5 hour drive to the south.  Dachstein consists of mountainous peaks that reach up to a mighty 2-3km high.  In the Winter, you can enjoy world class skiing. 

Make your way to the foot of the mountains and enjoy incredible views of snow capped peaks from viewing platforms.  For the most impressive view, visit the viewing platform of Five Fingers – a series of 5-metre long  platforms that mimic a hand span hovering in mid-air over a 120 metre sheer drop! 

Vienna to Salzburg
Credit media source: https://www.wanderluststorytellers.com/dachstein-ice-caves-5-fingers-viewing-platform/



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