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1-Day Trip from Vienna to Zauberberg Semmering for Hiking & Tobogganing

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Der Zauberberg – The Magic Mountain

Not to be mistaken with the novel of the same by Thomas Mann, Zauberberg is a magical place, nevertheless. Not necessary for its undeniable beauty, but by the way the mountain affects the visitors of this unexpected refuge from the troubles of the outside world.

Somewhere in the Alps, on the border of Lower Austria and Styria, in the neighborhood of rocky giants stands a human settlement – Semmering. It might sound like a God-forgotten place, but it is not. Quite the contrary – it is a place of joy and laughter. Once here – all of the misfortunes will be cast aside. Such is the magic of der Zauberberg…

Be sure to take your sun glasses as the sun combined with snow can blind you. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Zauberberg – Semmering Ski Resort

Being the closest ski resort to the Capital of Austria, Zauberberg Semmering doesn’t look like it is going to go out of business any time soon. If anybody thinks that Semmering might be not worth the time just because it is not deep enough in the Alps, or too small to be a serious ski resort, I would suggest thinking again. Semmering is a host of the World’s skiing cups and can operate during the night. 

At the base level where all the tracks connect, you can find anything you heart desires. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

If you never been here, Semmering will most likely be going to surprise you. It sure did me. It is way more popular, way more beautiful and has much more history than I expected. By this time, you might be wondering out of all places in the Alps, why does Semmering get so much attention?

An official map of Semmering and surrounding area. Credit: Local Semmering authorities

Zauberberg Semmering Details

Landmark Map of Semmering

With a Ski-Pass gondola could be used as wanted. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

 

Getting to Semmering Ski Resort

Located midway between Vienna and Graz, Semmering is easy to reach by train between the two most populated Austrian cities. It would not surprise me if that was an exact reason for the location of this popular Ski Resort. It is not like Austria lacks mountains, but some say that the beauty of this railway route alone is a good enough reason to visit Graz.

The beauty of the railway going through Semmering alone is a good enough reason to visit Graz. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

If you don’t have a car to reach Semmering, the most convenient way to do so is either to buy ÖBB Wintersports combi-ticket or Einfach Raus local train ticket. An alternative way to reach Semmering Ski Resort is to use the service of Bring mish skiing bus which just like ÖBB offers a combined ticket with skiing pass.

ÖBB railway company offers a free shuttle from Semmering train station to the skiing area. Be sure not to miss the minibus which from the first sight looks more like a taxi rather than a bus. In case you miss you’ll have to walk up the hill for about 15minutes, the scenery is nice but the view from Zauberberg is even better.

TIP: Tickets between Vienna and Graz could be cheaper than tickets to Semmering.

Half of the route from train station to Semmering goes by a road. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Best Time to Visit 

It depends on the reason for the visit, but the high season of skiing is between Dec 28th and March 31st. For the green scenery and an easy mountain hiking or cycling I would recommend the months of Summer and early Autumn.

A hike to Sonnwendstein is a good way to look around Semmering. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

World’s First True Mountain Railway

Added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1998, Semmering Railway has been a proof of human engineering ingenuity ever since 1854 when it was built. Even before its dawn, the railway was often referred to as an attempt to garden the landscape. Unheard of before and followed by many other projects, Semmering Railway was the World’s first successful attempt of a harmonious combination of human technology and nature of this kind.

The monument is situated directly at the side of the station building; it was dedicated to Carl Ritter von Ghega – the author of Semmering Railway. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

History of Semmering

It shouldn’t be that surprising once this region of Lower Alps was made accessible by a train, the number of visitors has exploded. After all, mountain tourism was getting its momentum by then. As a matter of fact, the golden age of alpinism began in the same year as the opening of Semmering Railway after Alfred Wills ascend to the top of Wetterhorn in 1854. It was the Alps where the modern mountaineering has started, it is called “Alpinism” not without a reason.

Semmering is a fully equipped settlement which can cover all the basic needs. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Having the railway in mind, becoming a major tourist attraction center was the only natural course for a settlement like Semmering. So, the town and its population grew. The increasing popularity of winter sports and recreational needs of the population were interrupted only by World Wars, but just as mountains – Semmering withstood all of it and to this day visitors can witness numerous mansions from the early age of mountain tourism.

The ski lift alone is a venture worth your time. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Things to do in Zauberberg Semmering

Ever since the first steam trains puffed through the Semmering Pass, this elsewise usual and untouched landscape of the Austrian Alps was animated. By coincidence or design, it so happened that the advent of railway rose the tourism. Before many hot modern tourist destinations, Semmering, and the Alps as the whole, were sought-out by the people, having wanderlust beating in their hearts. It is only natural that with time, Semmering had more and more to offer.

Zauberberg is just one of many possible attractions in Semmering Pass. Most of them is by the lifeline of the area –  Semmering Railway. None of this would be possible without it. Given that, Zauberberg Semmering, Sonnwendstein & other peaks along the same ridge might be the best place to observe Semmering from above.

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Hiking in Zauberberg Semmering

Just to be clear – during the skiing season, Zauberberg is owned by skiers, snowboarders & tobogganers. Winter hiking is possible, rewarding and not difficult but part of the route is turned into skiing areas. There is an alternative path to exit the skiing area, but it is way more difficult. It is possible to descend but climbing the steep mountain might be just too hard without spikes on shoes. If you don’t want to trespass with the winter sports enthusiasts, or simply prefer a queiter place, consider other hikes around Semmering Railway, or even other hiking areas in the Alps near Vienna.

Don’t let the beginning of the hike to scare you. The road is relatively easy after you descend the mountain. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Once you get out of Zauberberg everything suddenly changes. Just a few minutes of walking and all the noise in the background will shut mute. It is like to get reminded where you actually are and how much of a human island Semmering is. This shift is exactly why I love hiking in the mountains. There are not so many places left where you can get away from all the colossal amounts of information and spend some time with yourself or your loved ones. This 8km/5mi long hike between Zauberberg and Sonnwendsteinn is perfect for that.

Panorama from in-between Sonnwendsteinn and Zauberberg Semmering. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Tobogganing in Zauberberg Semmering

One of the more fun things to do in Zauberberg Semmering is their track dedicated only to toboggans and sleds. The track is 3km/1.86mi long and you can ride as much as you want with a ski-pass, but for freebies – once you get on the mountain, practically, you can use it with your own sled. In case you are thinking of doing that, I would recommend reconsidering it.

Even with your feet on the ground your sled will reach quite a speed. Breaking before any turn is essential. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Hiking up Zauberberg seems like a waste compared to the hikes on the top of the mountain. So, if you don’t mind walking – save your strength for the routes up the mountain. I would highly recommend investing in ski-pass or limited toboggan ride tickets which can be used for multiple people at once.

Tip: Don’t leave your sleds alone. It is not likely that someone is going to steal it but from what we heard – it is not uncommon that people will take random sleds which will force you either doing the same or paying 100EUR fine for losing the sleds.

Whatever you choose to do, the awe of Zauberberg Semmering will follow. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Zauberberg Semmering Ski Resort Prices

Unless you are here for the winter hikes not related to Zauberberg, there is no reason not to buy the ski-pass. Depending on the transport used to get to Semmering there are a few good combi-options. All prices are for adults only, if you want more information, please, follow the links provided by each listing.

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Combi-tickets


Transportation tickets (from Vienna)


Ski lift


Ski-pass (High season | Low season)


Toboggan track & rental

Full Zauberberg Semmering price list 2019/20

An official map of Zauberberg Semmering Ski slopes and lifts. Credit: Official Semmering website

Skiing & Snowboarding in Zauberberg Semmering

With over 14km of total length among 9 different skiing routes and 2 ski lifts, Zauberberg Semmering has something to offer to everyone. From beginners to world-class professionals, freestyle skiers, snowboarders to families – all will find a slope suitable for their skills and desires. The tracks run daily from 9:00 until 21:00 with a technical break between 16:10 and 18:00. More information could be found on the official website.

Semmering Zauberberg Ski Slopes and Lifts

 

Zauberberg Semmering skiing track is used in Ski World Cups. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

Personal Experience

It wouldn’t surprise me if it is possible to find a hike from Semmering train station with fewer obstacles, but Zauberberg and Sonnwendstein top the first plan of the scenery. Both routes between the peaks are relatively easy to walk and the one on the mountains ridge has breath-taking views in any direction.

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment while you are still at it. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

It might look like mixing apples with oranges but tobogganing was a perfect fit for the rest of the day. Honestly, I can’t imagine myself doing it all day. My butt simply wouldn’t survive it. Despite that, four rides within 2 hours were just enough to feel enough of the joy of it before getting myself killed.

All combined, winter hiking together with some winter sports activities is just what is needed to make it a perfect one-day get-a-way to the mountains from Vienna, and I feel like I share this sensation with all the visitors of Semmering throughout the history of modern mountain tourism era.

Some things are just unforgettable, extraordinary, remarkable, magical. Photo by Alis Monte [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Connecting the Dots

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