Across Austria by Motorail and back by car

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In 2016, with our first son only five months old we decided to take advantage of ÖBB’s Autoreisezug from Vienna to Feldkirch (in Vorarlberg, close to the Swiss, German and Liechtenstein borders). We decided to take the overnight Motorail service, that leaves Wien Hauptbhf and chugs its way across Austria overnight. With more than one young child, Motorail might be a bit of a challenge, as you have to get from the car to the sleeping carriage with a baby and baggage. Similarly with a high family car, there are also restrictions.

We chose Feldkirch partially due to the fact that we were to use it as a base for the Vierländereck for daytrips away to the surrounding areas, so had four nights in a hotel there. From Feldkirch, within an hour’s drive we were able to get to Lindau (on the German side of Lake Constance), up to Bregenz, and a trip up the Pfänderbahn, a day trip to St Gallen in Switzerland, and a day trip around Liechtenstein (up to Malbun and a leisurely couple of hours in Vaduz).

For driving back across to Vienna, we decided to try to time driving with our son’s naps (it didn’t always work), and otherwise to trip to have a lunch or dinner in a restaurant, and making stops en route for breaks, walks and to admire the views. This meant that usually driving time was done in smallish chunks or 60-120 minutes depending on what we had planned.

From Feldkirch, we chose the Arlberg pass for the views, with a lunch stop in St Anton am Arlberg, before pressing on to Innsbruck, our next overnight stop. Innsbruck is one of our favourite places in Austria so we duly made sure to spend a couple of nights there, in order to take in the city. We try to have dinner at Thai-li-ba, a restaurant that I have been going to since 2006. The Hungerbergbahn is a regular treat for us, unless the weather is not good, but this time we went up further to the Hafelekar (and my wife up to the Hafelekarspitze).

From Innsbruck we took the back routes through to St Johann in Pongau, with a stop for lunch in Kitzbühel and then on through via Mittersill, bypassing Zell am See on this occasion to our destination, where we stayed in the Brückenwirt, with an excellent restaurant. From St Johann in Pongau we had a shorter leg the following day, going to Tamsweg for lunch and then onwards down through the Murtal, stopping in Murau for a look around at where I had been an English language assistant in the late 1990s, and then moving on to Judenburg, when I had lived on my year abroad, and where my host school was.

After a morning in Judenburg, we passed by the Red Bull Ring (venue of the Austrian Grand Prix) and then drove on up past Bruck an der Mur, and stopped in Semmering for a late lunch. From Semmering, it was then a simple final leg into Vienna and back home.