Imagine riding a train on a track nestled on high mountains and covering a distance of more than 40 kilometers. This is not just a figment of the imagination as the Semmering Railway is very much real! Even though the railway was built in the late 19th century it is still considered one of the greatest achievements in the field of civil engineering.
About 20,000 men were commissioned to carve limestone rocks to pave way for the track. It is remarkable that the excellent quality of the tunnels, viaducts and overall infrastructure of Semmering, guaranteed that the railway would be in great condition for years to come. It is no wonder that Semmering Railway is hailed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
But aside from amazing engineering, the reason travelers should experience Semmering is because of the spectacular views of the mountainous landscape in between the Austrian towns of Gloggnitz and Murzzuschlag. The train ride on this railway highlights everything that is majestic about the eastern Austrian Alps and the Hungarian plains. The trains originally used for the track were powered by steam engines; but were replaced with electricity in 1959. Nevertheless, the overall design of the old train line, including the old tunnels and viaducts have been preserved.
The Semmering Railway ride lasts for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, going over Semmering Pass and crossing the Australian Alps. During the trip, the train will pass over 16 viaducts supported by many arches, and through 14 tunnels. Another highlight is the main tunnel, which is famous for stretching 1,430 meters. The railway is actually part of the greater S-bahn railway that goes in between Vienna and Graz. It uses an Alpine crossing that had been frequently used during the medieval times. This crossing connects to Venice and later Trieste, to Vienna.
The vintage train and scenery are not the only things to admire during your Semmering Railway adventure. There are also a number of fascinating attractions along the way that deserve a look. One of them is the S-bahn railway culture museum situated in Mürzzuschlag. This museum features Semmering Railway’s history and impressive engineering. Semmering town, in which the train also stops, is a mountain health resort that delights visitors with its relaxing ambience and fresh air. Once in town, you can easily engage in outdoor activities especially in the summer.
Going for a hiking tour on the railroad train is quite rewarding, because you will get outstanding panoramas and get the chance to admire this railroad engineering feat up close. Another lovely town near Semmering is Zauberberg, is a hotspot for tourists exploring the Semmering area. This popular ski resort offers 14 kilometers of downhill slopes and a split park. The other prominent ski resort in the area is Stuhleck Mountain, which is frequented for its exciting snow parks.
If you are visiting Austria you should consider a ride on the Semmering railway which was the first railway to cross the Alps!