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Friday, March 13, 2020

How To Get To the Alps From Vienna, Costs, and How to Do it Cheaply- My Frugal Trip to Vienna, Day 6, Part 2



Ok, I'm back at home and in quarantine for the next 12 days, made it back just before flights were all canceled (they told me I took the last plane out of Austria to my country for the indefinite future), and now schools have been canceled for the foreseeable future. So that's fun. But instead of focusing on that, I'll be sharing more posts with you about my trip to Austria, and as promised, today I'll be writing about going to the Alps from Vienna, specifically to the location called RaxAlpe (because it is the cheaper place open in the winter with public transportation there), how to get there, how much it costs, what you can do there, etc... And of course, how to do it as a family.

Read more about my trip there, what I did, how much I loved it, why I went there, in this post.



So first of all, the reason I'm writing this post is because I couldn't find much of this information on the internet in English. It may exist out there in German, but most tourists won't be speaking that so it's not so helpful, hence this post.



Ok, so to get to the RaxAlpe, you need to go to this station called Payerbach Reichenau by train. Though I was able to buy tickets from the WestBanhoff train station, I had to go to the Vien Meidling train station to catch the train from there (the stop on the U6 underground was called Meidling, and not the Am Schöpfwerk stop that shows up if you put Vein Meidling into Google Maps). It had more stops within Vienna, but I don't know all the stops it has.


For one way, you can pay 18.70 euros, but then you have to specify a specific train time (I'm pretty sure) which may be difficult if you're unfamiliar with the place and get lost on the underground on the way there because you listen to google maps instead of my instructions, or you can pay an extra 20 cents and get a daily train pass that covers all train trips between Vienna and Payerbach Reichenau for 37.60 euros.

That's for adults. If you're taking kids though, kids between the age of 6 and 15 get half fare, so they'd only be 18.80 day pass, and if they're before their sixth birthday they're free. See here for more info on kids fares (there's a button at the top to make it English).

Just know that this train takes about an hour and a half, and it stops for about 10 minutes at one or two stations along the way before moving on. But check, because some hours you also have to switch trains.

But this train only takes you to the Payerbach Reichenau train station, which isn't so close, its 6.5 kilometers away.

The train station is small and picturesque, but you can't even really see the snowy alps from there. And there's no information booths there. However, there are some cool things there, like these old cable cars...


And old trains...



Now how do you get there?

Fortunately the station does have signs and maps.

Well, you can hike (more about that later) or you can take a taxi, which costs 20 euros, or you can take a bus. Let me just say now that this is where google maps also fails you, as it doesn't list this bus.


I found this at the train station with information about travel there, but the website shown for the buses (retter-linien.at) doesn't actually have timetables listed (as far as I can tell), so it's a good thing I photographed the timetable (though only one direction, to be honest). You can also try calling the number listed, +43 2635 62 360 but I have no idea if anyone there speaks English or if they have times because I didn't get phone service in Austria.


However, the bus leaves about once every 2 hours. I don't know the exact hour it leaves the train station; I was lucky that it left about 5 minutes after I got there, about 12:55 or so.

The bus costs 2.3 euros each way, and I don't remember exactly how much kids fares are. But I remember under age 6 is free.


Then once you get to the Raxalpe cable car, which is the last stop, you need to take the cable car up the mountain. And this is unlike any cable car I've ever been on. Most cable cars run all the time and they fit maybe up to eight people in them, and they send you up whenever you're ready. This cable car is like a mini bus, with pretty much only standing room, and they pack it to the brim (if needed) and only goes up and down every half a hour. You need to reserve space beforehand- you can't just go up or down whenever you want, you need to specify the hour, even if you book round trip tickets, but if there is room at another time, you can also go then, but the people that reserved their spot go first.


The cable car is not cheap either. Literally, when I asked the man at the desk how much it cost, his answer was "a lot".



Round trip for adults (that aren't seniors or students) is 29 euros, and for kids between the ages of 6 and 15 it costs 14.5, but if you have more children, you can get a family rate either 13.5 or 12.5 euros per kid (who go along with adults) but I'm not sure the exact details, you may only get that if you have that many adults coming with you as well.


Once you're up on the Alps, you'll be in a restaurant, and in that restaurant, they rent out snow shoes, both adults and kid sizes.


Adult ones are 12, kids ones are 8, and they have these cross blade snow shoes which are like a cross between skis and snow shoes, but those are 25. They all come with ski poles which helps with balance.

However, there were people that just hiked in winter/snow boots, and many people had their kids using sleds, and were sledding down the mountain, climbing and then sledding. There's no place to rent a sled at the mountain, but hotels nearby do rent sleds. However, unless you rent a car, you can't really get it, because the buses don't really stop nearby, and with them only every two hours its not the best idea. So you'd have to bring with you.



The cable car website says that for bulky equipment you need to pay an extra fee, but I don't know if that includes sleds, and for other equipment like strollers and wheelchairs, you have to reserve space in advance.


Now about the way home. The train leaves from the Payerbach Reichenau train station every five minutes before the hour, with the last train being at 9:55 pm. However, the last bus from the Raxalpe cable car station is at 6:30 pm, with them only coming every 2 hours. Here's the bus schedule from the cable car station. I apologize about the quality, try downloading it and enlarging it to see it best.


Oh, and the last cable car down leaves at 5 pm, and the building closes then. So that's fun. Because you have an hour and a half to wait in the cold for the bus back, because between 5 pm and 6:30 pm there's no bus.

Oh, and if you want to order a taxi, it costs 20 euros. If you want to actually catch a bus back to the train station without having to wait outside doing nothing for 1.5 hours, I recommend taking the 4:00 pm cable car down the mountain. Between 4 and 4:30 you can go to the restaurant down at the bottom. They were really sweet, I brought my own cup and tea bag and wanted to pay for water and sugar to make tea, but they charged me nothing for that.

Since I had an hour and a half to wait, I decided to walk back through the town Reichenau. It was actually beautiful and an enjoyable walk and I took tons of pretty pictures. 


There was lots to see...


No completely empty strips of road...


Either there were rivers and creeks to see...


Or people horse back riding...


Or even cute little houses...


Definitely picturesque and postcard worthy...


With a very scenic background.

To be honest, I didn't end up walking all the way back, because about half way through I needed a bathroom, so I stopped in this little village tavern and had a cup of tea and waited for the bus back to the station. 


P.S. The bus ride back from the tavern cost the same amount as it did to to the cable car station.

Ok, so lets add up the cost.

For myself this whole day trip was 83 euros, including the train there, the bus, the cable car, and the snow shoe rental.

If I'd taken my 4 kids with me, and did exactly the same, I'd have paid 75.20 for the train for them, between 50 and 58 for the cable car, 9.20 for the bus, and depending on costs of sleds, or if I'd have them snow shoe, up to 32 euros for them. 

So our total cost for the day would have been 257 euros, or $285 dollars, which, compared to our ski trip to Bansko, Bulgaria, was slightly cheaper, $293. But on our ski trip to Bulgaria, I didn't factor in the cost of transportation or car rental, because I had it for the whole week. And Bulgaria is known for being super, super cheap, and Austria is expensive, so its nice to see that you can also have an affordable snow alps adventure for a family in Austria. If I'd rented a car for the day, since I need automatic, it would have cost me at least 90 euros plus gas, so that's something to consider when price comparing.

Either way, I hope this post was very informative and helpful to you if you're also thinking about making a trip to the Alps, when all of this coronavirus world doomsday stuff blows over. If you have any other questions, I'm happy to answer.

Have you ever been to the Alps? Which one? What season did you go there? Have you ever been on a cable car like this one? How much did it cost?

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