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Getting There Getting Around
Vienna is Austria's main air transport hub, but there are international airports at Linz, Graz, Salzburg, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt. If you're visiting Austria from outside Europe, it may be cheaper to fly to a European 'gateway' city and travel overland from there. Munich, for example, is only two hours by train from Salzburg. Technically there's no departure tax when flying out of Austria, instead you cop a 'passenger service charge' of around US$15.
Austria has excellent rail connections to all major European destinations. Buses are generally slower, cheaper and less comfortable than trains. Getting to Austria by road is simple, and there are fast, well-maintained Autobahnen (motorways) to all surrounding countries. Major border crossing points are open 24 hours a day. Those served by minor roads are open between 7 am and 9 pm (give or take an hour). Fast hydrofoils skim along the Danube between Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest during spring and summer but they're not exactly cheap. Steamers ply the Danube between Vienna and the German border town of Passau from May to late September.
Transport systems in Austria are highly developed and very efficient. Tyrolean Airways is the main domestic carrier and operates several flights a day between Austria's larger cities. Austrian trains are comfortable, clean and reasonably frequent. The Bundesbus (federal bus) network supplements the rail service, and is used for local trips or to get to out-of-the-way places rather than for long-distance travel. Some ski resorts in Tirol and Vorarlberg can only be reached by Bundesbus or private transport.
Rental car companies have branches in main cities. Roads are generally good, but sufficient respect should be given to difficult mountain routes. Austrians drive on the right, so you should seriously consider doing likewise. Trams are a common feature in Austrian cities; so take care if you've never driven amongst these mechanical creatures before. Bicycles can be hired from over 160 railway stations and returned to any other station with a rental office. Separate bike tracks are common and the Danube cycling trail, which runs from the Black Forest in Germany to Vienna and beyond, is something of a Holy Grail for cyclists.
Boat services along the Danube are slow and expensive and geared to scenic excursions rather than functional transport. Mountain transport falls into five main categories: funicular (Standseilbahn), cable car (Luftseilbahn), gondola (Gondelbahn), cable chair (Sesselbahn) and ski lift (Schlepplift). The cheapest way to get down a mountain is to place a dustbin liner under you and let fate and gravity prevail.
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