Have you ever taken a salamander train to the top of a mountain?
Either a) you’re on some great drugs, or b) you’ve been to the summit of the Schneeberg, Austria.
Puchberg Am Schneeberg
The Schneeberg, the most prominent mountain in lower Austria, is located around 80 kilometers from Vienna. The dramatic landscape of the surrounding mountain range, as well as the charming little town of Puchberg Am Schneeberg at the foot of the climb, makes it a must see for anyone visiting Vienna, especially those looking to escape the city.
It’s the perfect day trip!
I was lucky enough to visit Puchberg Am Schneeberg in autumn 2019 with a close-friend. Despite not being in Austria for very long, we were seeking some natural beauty to liven things up after recently spending a lot of time in some of Europe’s best cities. A day in Vienna was enough for us and we were feeling ‘citied out’. After a certain amount of time, there is only a limited number of old buildings you can really appreciate. We started looking for nature areas close to Austria’s capital after discovering that our original plan—to travel east to the popular Salzburg—didn’t exactly fit into our busy schedules.
Long story short, we decided on a day trip to visit the Schneeberg, and with a warm coffee in our hands, set off at 6am the next morning.
It takes slightly under two hours to travel one way by train from Vienna to the town of Puchburg Am Schneeburg, so I would advise to leave as early as possible to make the most of your day. The journey from there to the mountaintop takes an additional 40 minutes, and that is where the salamander comes into it.
Upon our arrival at the train station, we were amused to discover that the remainder of the journey would be via a strange looking black train with yellow spots.
The Salamander Train, as it is now infamously known, gradually travels to a height of roughly 6000 feet and stops along the way for customers who wish to purchase local pastries. Breathtaking scenery can be seen as you slowly ascent the mountain, which offers 360-degree views of the Austrian countryside. Since the Schneeberg railway system was built between 1895 and 1897, tourism has been a key component of the town’s economy.
At the summit, the views are nothing short of breathtaking, as you can see in the pictures below. As an avid hiker, I took full advantage of the several hiking routes available at the top to explore the jiggered ridges, leaving my buddy on the hillside with her paintbrushes and a panoramic landscape.
There is also a conveniently located restaurant serving traditional dishes near the train station at the summit.
If you’re thinking about making a trip to Puchberg am Schneeberg, I would suggest three things: an early start, appropriate footwear and visiting during midweek if possible to avoid the hustle and bustle.
For a more in-depth look at Austria, I recommend checking this out:https://amzn.to/3IHS979