For its time, the Semmeringbahn was an incredible feat of engineering and it took more than 20,000 workers’ years to complete. Even today, it never fails to impress with its switchbacks, 15 tunnels and 16 viaducts. This 42km stretch of track begins at Gloggnitz and rises 455m to its highest point of 896m at Semmering Bahnhof. It passes through some impressive scenery of precipitous cliffs and forested hills en route; the most scenic section is the 30-minute stretch between Semmering and Payerbach.
Completed in 1854 by Karl Ritter von Ghega, the Semmering line was Europe’s first alpine railway; due to its engineering genius, it gained Unesco World Heritage status in 1998.
From Vienna, most express services heading to Graz stop at Mürzzuschlag, from where you take a regional train to Semmering (€21.50, 1¾ hours).