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Munich, Vienna or Salzburg: Which is the best airport to fly from?

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
Munich, Vienna or Salzburg: Which is the best airport to fly from?
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Whether you're planning a shorter or longer haul flight, there are no shortage of options at these three modern and easy-to-use airports. But which is the best option for you?


Modern facilities, easy to access by public transport and a growing list of destinations: three of the biggest airports in Austria and Bavaria share a lot in common.

But there's also plenty that sets them apart, from size to the number of daily flights that they offer. 

Here's what you need to know if you're deliberating where to depart.


Munich airport

Germany's second largest airport behind Frankfurt, Munich is not only a popular launching pad for European destinations, but also those all over the world.

During 2022, it counted a total of 31,642,738 passengers, also making it the seventh business airport in all of Europe. That's still down from its pre-pandemic peak of 48 million passengers in 2019. Its busiest routes are to Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, London-Heathrow, Frankfurt, Cologne, Amsterdam, Paris CDG, Barcelona and Madrid.

Worldwide it offers flights to nearly 250 destinations, covering nearly every part of the world except Australia and New Zealand. But as there are several daily direct flights to Asia, reaching these destinations is also not a challenge. 

READ ALSO: Why are fewer people taking domestic flights in Germany?

The Flughafen München may be gigantic (a full 16 square kilometres), but it only consists of two terminals. The oldest, Terminal 1, handles both Schengen and non-Schengen flights. Terminal 2, in operation since 2003, handles all Star Alliance flights.

The airport itself, known for being immaculately clean with friendly staff (especially by German standards), frequently tops lists of the best airports in Europe.

Anyone who has a bit of a wait at the airport itself certainly won't be bored: it offers amenities like a mini golf course, playground and countless shops and restaurants on site - as well as a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) over the holiday season.

It's only a 40 minute train ride to reach the Flughafen from downtown Munich.


Salzberg airport

A flight taking off from the scenic Salzburg airport. Photo: picture alliance / Salzburger Flughafen GmbH/dpa-tmn | Salzburger Flughafen GmbH

Austria's second largest airport, Salzburg's Wolfgang Amadeus Airport, is known as a gateway to numerous ski destinations in the area. During both take off and landing, passengers will take in stunning views of the Alps.

It's also a popular hub for budget airlines such as RyanAir and WizzAir, but for most intercontinental flights you'll need to look further afield to Munich or Vienna. However, as of 2019, the airport offers flights to Tel Aviv, Israel (with Austrian Airlines) and Dubai (with flydubai), and of December 16th this year will also start offering flights via Lufthansa to London-Heathrow.

All in all, passengers can fly to 52 destinations with 19 different airlines. The small airport, spread out over two terminals and 175 acres, can accommodate up to 1,400 passengers per hour.

Despite its modest size, it offers a slew of amenities, including a toy-filled kids play corner at a restaurant with local specialties and a giant telescope, for all ages, to watch flights as they depart. 

It's easy to reach the airport, or just an approximately half hour bus ride from the centre of Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Why are flights to and from Austria so expensive this summer?


Vienna International Airport

Passengers at the Vienna International Airport on August 4, 2021.(Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Not surprisingly, Vienna International Airport is Austria's largest Flughafen. Consisting of four terminals spread over 1,000 hectares, it offers not only a wide variety of Europe-bound flights but also serves destinations in Asia, North America and Africa.

Flughafen Wien-Schwechat, as its known in German, is the hub of Austrian Airlines, as well as a "focus city" - or base outside of their main hubs - for budget airlines Ryanair and WizzAir, as well as Korean Air Cargo.

In 2022, it counted a full 23,682,133 passengers but is still down from its pre-pandemic all-time peak of  31,662,189 in 2019.

It boasts flights to 192 destinations in 62 countries, and also offers 4 domestic flights.

The well organised facility offers many restaurants, shops and even a ‘Family Fun Area’ for those travelling with kids, replete with a climbing wall, slide and labyrinth.

From the centre of Vienna, it's possible to reach the airport in 16 minutes using a CAT (City Airport Train) or about a half hour with an ÖBB train. From the Salzburg area, it's possible to reach the airport in about two hours and 50 minutes using the fastest ÖBB connection. 

Reader question: How do I get from Vienna Airport to the city centre?




Comments (1)

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Paul 2023/09/28 09:48
Mistake about Munich's airport - the terminals are not split by Schengen rules. Terminal 2 is for Star Alliance airlines. Terminal 1 is for non-Star Alliance group. (The one exception is Turkish Airlines, which is Star Alliance but still uses Terminal 1). You can fly both within Schengen and outside of Schengen in Terminal 2. Lufthansa flies to both, obviously, and only flies out of Terminal 2.
  • Anonymous 2023/09/28 10:57
    Many thanks for your clarification. We have updated the article accordingly.

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