Trains from Vienna

   Click here for Vienna Hbf station information.

   Click here for ÖBB first class lounge info

I want to go from Vienna to...

      

       Click here if your journey starts in another city.

This page explains how to travel by train from Vienna to other cities all over Europe, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way. Train information is current for 2019.

Departing from Linz?  All trains from Vienna westwards to Salzburg, Innsbruck, Germany & Switzerland call at Linz around 1h15 after leaving Vienna, you can pick up these trains there.  Eastbound, travel to Vienna and use the information below.

Before you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  They answer all the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a €35 point-to-point ticket online?".  Click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

European train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to InterRail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...

Which station in Vienna?

Vienna to Salzburg:  See the Vienna to Salzburg page...
Vienna to Hallstatt...

Option 1, the fastest & most direct route...

Option 2, the scenic route via the UNESCO-listed Semmering Railway... 

Vienna to Innsbruck, Hallstatt, Graz & other destinations within Austria...
A railjet train about to leave Vienna

A railjet about to leave Vienna.  Railjets are Austria's premier train...

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet arrived at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf spot on time.  More photos & information about railjet trains

 

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

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Vienna to London...

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Vienna to Paris from €59...

Option 1, Vienna to Paris in a single day by high-speed trains - the high-speed daytime option... 

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

An ICE-T from Vienna, arrived at Frankfurt am Main Hbf...

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the restaurant.  In 1st class you can choose to be served at your seat.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Scenery from the train

You'll glimpse the Inn and Danube rivers from the Vienna-Frankfurt ICE...

Option 2, by Nightjet sleeper train & TGV-Lyria - the civilised & time-effective option...

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

Step 1, take the Nightjet from Vienna to Zurich, overnight while you sleep.  This is a double-deck sleeping-car arrived at Zurich. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on lower deck...

 

Stairs down to pair of lower compartments...

 

1 or 2-bed sleeper on lower deck with washbasin, viewed through window.  Set up as 1-bed.  Note how compact the compartment is...

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

TGV-Lyria at Paris Gare de Lyon   TGV bar car

Step 2, by TGV-Lyria from Zurich to Paris.  There's no check-in, just walk up to it & get on..

 

The cafe-bar, serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, hot & cold snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  Larger photo.

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width.  360ş photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  360ş photo.

Option 3, Vienna to Paris with overnight stop in Zurich, via the Arlberg Pass - the leisurely scenic route, watch the video!

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

A railjet train about to leave Vienna...

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet arrived at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf spot on time.  More photos & information about railjet trains

 

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

The mountains of Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, the stewardess takes your order & serves lunch at your seat...

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.  Once in Switzerland, the railjet runs alongside the Zürichsee, then along the Walensee...

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Vienna to Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Marseille...

Option 1, by sleeper from Vienna to Milan then a scenic coastal ride...

Option 2, by day trains with overnight stop in Verona - the scenic route, mountains & coastline...

Option 3, by day trains with afternoon & overnight stop in Venice...

Thello train from Marseille & Nice to Milan, at Marseille St Charles   1st class seats on Thello train from Nice to Milan

A Thello train to Nice about to leave Milan Centrale.  See more photos & information about these Thello trains...

 

1st class seats on Thello.  More space per person than 2nd, with seats arranged 2+1 across the car width.

2nd class seats on the Thello train from Nice to Milan   Cafe counter on the Thello train from Nice to Milan

2nd class seats on the Thello train.  Very comfortable, seat arranged 2+2 across the car width.

 

The small cafe-bar counter on the Milan to Nice & Marseille Thello train serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks.

Coastal scenery from the Thello train from Nice to Italy

Views from the train, along the Ligurian coast between Milan and Nice.  Photos courtesy of Lucas Martin.

Option 4, by direct Russian sleeper train every Friday...

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Vienna to Brussels & Bruges from €59...

Option 1, Vienna to Brussels in a single day - the high-speed daytime option...

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

An ICE-T from Vienna, arrived at Frankfurt am Main Hbf...

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the restaurant.  In 1st class you can choose to be served at your seat.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Scenery from the train

You'll glimpse the Inn and Danube rivers from the Vienna-Frankfurt ICE...

Option 2, Vienna to Brussels using the Vienna-Cologne Nightjet sleeper train - the comfortable time-effective option...

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Vienna to Cologne.  More information about Nightjets.

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

High-speed ICE3 train at Brussels Midi   ICE2 train, 2nd class

A Cologne-Brussels ICE3 at Brussels Midi.

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro car.  See sample menu.

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Vienna to Amsterdam from €49.90...

Option 1, Vienna to Amsterdam in a single day - the high-speed daytime option...

  • You can travel from Vienna to Amsterdam in one leisurely chill-out day, with one easy change at Frankfurt, on comfortable (even luxurious) German ICE trains across 3 different countries.  The ICE trains have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see the ICE information page.  For example...

    Leave Vienna Hbf at 06:50 by ICE, change at Wurzburg & Hannover onto an IC, arrive Amsterdam Centraal at 19:00.

    Leave Vienna Hbf at 09:15 by ICE, change at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf onto another ICE, arrive Amsterdam Centraal at 20:28.

    Leave Vienna Hbf at 11:15 by ICE, change at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf onto another ICE, arrive Amsterdam Centraal at 21:58.

  • Fares start at €49.90 in 2nd class or €79.90 in 1st class.

  • You can easily check times and buy tickets from Vienna to Amsterdam at either www.loco2.com (in €, Ł or $) or the German Railways website www.bahn.de (in €).  You print your own ticket.   It's worth also checking prices at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at as they sometimes have cheaper prices for exactly the same trains, you also print your own ticket.

    Tip:  It's often cheaper to split the booking, especially if you only see expensive prices when you try booking as one journey:  Use www.bahn.de or www.oebb.at to book Vienna to Frankfurt then use www.bahn.de again to book Frankfurt to Amsterdam.

  • How about a stopover in Nuremberg or Cologne?

    Both cities are worth a stop, in Cologne the cathedral is right next to the station, and in Nuremberg there's a pleasant old town, a railway museum and the historic Party Rally Grounds.  You can stop for 3 hours and still do the journey in a day, or stop overnight and have a more leisurely look round.  To programme in a stopover, use www.bahn.de to book Vienna to Amsterdam, but click Add intermediate stops, enter Cologne or Nuremberg, enter desired number of hours stopover and off you go.  You can have up to 2 stopovers each of up to 48 hours and still get an end-to-end sparpreis fare.

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

An ICE-T arrived in Frankfurt from Vienna...

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the restaurant.  In 1st class you can choose to be served at your seat.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Germany...

Scenery from the train

You'll glimpse the Inn and Danube rivers from the Vienna-Frankfurt ICE...

Option 2, using the Nightjet sleeper train from Vienna to Cologne then luxurious ICE train to Amsterdam - the time-effective option.

  • Step 1, take the excellent Nightjet sleeper train from Vienna to Cologne, leaving Vienna Hbf at 20:41 and arriving Cologne Hbf at 08:15.

    Between Mainz & Koblenz (06:04-07:05) the sleeper train runs along the scenic Rhine Valley past the legendary Lorelei Rock and many castles, mountains, vineyards & river boats.  A real treat!  The river will be on the right hand side.

    Fares start at €59 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69 with couchette in 4-berth, €99 in a 2-bed sleeper or €139 in a single-bed sleeper.  Deluxe sleepers with shower & toilet also available.  There's a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.

    Book this using the German Railways website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket.  You can also book this train at www.trainline.eu which connects to the ÖBB system so can have cheaper prices, it's a good idea to check both sites!

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the consist for this train, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Click the UK flag for English, click composition, then look under Austria & click nj.

  • Step 2, then take a luxurious ICE train with bistro-restaurant & free WiFi from Cologne to Amsterdam, leaving Cologne Hbf at 08:41 arriving Amsterdam Centraal at 11:28, with fares from €19.90 in 2nd class or €49.90 in 1st class booked at www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

Step 1, take a Nightjet sleeper from Vienna to Cologne.  This is a Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on the Nightjet train from Vienna to Cologne...

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

High-speed ICE3 train at Amsterdam   ICE2 train, 2nd class

Step 2, ICE3 from Cologne to Amsterdam...

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro car.  See sample menu.

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Vienna to Luxembourg...

Option 1, using Vienna-Koblenz sleeper train - the time-effective option...

  • Step 1, travel from Vienna to Koblenz by Austrian Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Vienna Hbf at 20:41 and arriving in Koblenz at 07:05 next morning.

    This train has modern Austrian couchettes and a sleeping-car, see the Nightjet sleeper train page. You can book this train at either www.trainline.eu (easiest to use) or at Austrian Railways' own website www.oebb.at, with fares from €59 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69 with a couchette in 4-berth, €99 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €139 in a single-bed sleeper. You print your own ticket.

    Enjoy the run along the scenic Rhine Valley between Mainz & Koblenz (06:04-07:05), past the legendary Lorelei Rock and many castle, vineyards & river boats as a light breakfast is served in your sleeper compartment, included in the fare.

  • Step 2, now book a ticket from Koblenz to Luxembourg at the German railways website www.bahn.de or you can just buy at the station when you get to Koblenz.  The standard price for Koblenz to Luxembourg by regional train is around €41, but you can do this with a Rhineland-Pfalz+Luxembourg day ticket for €30, as is shown when you look up the journey on www.bahn.de.

Option 2, by daytime trains...

  • Alternatively, you can travel from Vienna to Luxembourg by daytime trains in a single day with as few as one change at Koblenz. 

  • For the best price, split the booking like this:  Go to www.bahn.de and book from Vienna to Trier from €49.90.  Now add a regional train ticket from Trier to Luxembourg for a fixed-price €17 or so, also at www.bahn.de.  The reason you split the booking is that Trier is in Germany, and cheap sparpreis fares are only available for journeys to or from Germany.

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Vienna to Zurich, Basel, Geneva & Switzerland from €39...

Option 1, by daytime railjet train - the scenic option, through the beautiful Arlberg Pass...

  • There are four or five daily railjet trains from Vienna Hbf to Zurich HB in Switzerland between 05:30 and 15:30, journey time 7h50, with restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  The scenery through the Tirol via the Arlberg pass is superb, watch the Arlberg Pass video to see for yourself & see the Arlberg Railway page.

  • Fares from Vienna to Zurich and other Swiss cities start at €39 in 2nd class, €54 in 1st class or €69 in business class (= premium 1st class, a real treat).  Book ahead for the cheapest prices, on the day, the full-flex standard price from Vienna to Zurich is over €118.

  • You can buy tickets from Vienna to almost any Swiss station at either www.trainline.eu (easiest to use) or at Austrian Railways' own website www.oebb.at.  Booking opens up to 180 days ahead, you print your own ticket.

  • Going beyond Zurich, for example to Geneva, Zermatt, Lucerne, Lauterbrunnen or anywhere else in Switzerland?

    www.trainline.eu and www.oebb.at can sell you a through ticket between Vienna and almost any town or city in Switzerland (in either direction) from €29 upwards, one inclusive price covering both the railjet to Zurich and onward Swiss trains.  Indeed, you'll often find that Vienna to Interlaken, Chur, St Moritz, Geneva, Lucerne or wherever costs the same as a ticket to Zurich!

    Incidentally, I get a lot of people who think they will save money by using their Swiss Pass for the Swiss part of the journey.  But if (let's say) Trainline.eu gives you a price of €39 from Vienna to Zurich and exactly the same price from Vienna to Lucerne, €39, (as budget train fares are no more related to distance than budget air fares are), then using up an expensive day on a Swiss Pass to cover the Zurich-Lucerne part of the trip is potentially saving you a big fat zero!  So check prices before wasting a Swiss Pass day!

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

A railjet train about to leave Vienna...

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf.  More photos & information about railjet trains

 

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

The mountains of Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, the stewardess takes your order & serves lunch at your seat...

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.  Once in Switzerland, the railjet runs alongside the Zürichsee, then along the Walensee...

Option 2, by Nightjet sleeper train - the safe, comfortable & time-effective option that saves a hotel bill...

  • An excellent nightjet sleeper train called the Wiener Walzer leaves Vienna Hbf at 21:27 arriving Zurich HB at 08:20, featuring double deck sleeping-cars with 1 or 2 bed deluxe compartments with en suite shower & toilet, 1, 2 & 3 bed standard compartments with washbasin, and (single-deck) 4 or 6 berth couchettes.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the nightjet information page.

  • Book this sleeper train at www.oebb.at with fares from €59 with a couchette in a 6-berth compartment, €69 with a couchette in a 4-berth compartment, €99 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €139 in a single-bed sleeper.  You print your own ticket.

    Tip:  In the search results you may see a second sleeper train leaving Vienna around 23:25 and also arriving 08:20.  This is the Hungarian EuroNight (EN) sleeper train from Budapest to Zurich, which gets combined with the Vienna-Zurich nightjet (NJ) at Salzburg.  By all means take this if you really need to be in Vienna until late, but otherwise I'd stick with the Austrian nightjet leaving 21:27.

    Tip:  If you like, you can check the consist for these trains, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Click the UK flag for English, click composition, then look under Austria & click nj.

  • Going beyond Zurich?  www.oebb.at can sell you a through ticket to almost any town or city in Switzerland (in either direction) for one inclusive price covering both the sleeper train to Zurich and onward Swiss trains.  It's usually much cheaper than buying a separate onward ticket!

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

The safe & comfortable Nightjet from Vienna to Zurich.  This is a double-deck sleeping-car arrived at Zurich HB. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on lower deck...

 

Stairs down to pair of lower compartments...

 

1 or 2-bed sleeper on lower deck with washbasin, viewed through window.  Set up as 1-bed.  Note how compact the compartment is...

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

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Vienna to Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome & Italy from €29...

Option 1, by nightjet sleeper train - the safe, comfortable, time-effective option.  Saves a hotel bill too...

  • These trains have modern Austrian Comfortline sleeping-cars with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin plus several deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower, see photos & information about nightjet trains.  There's a shower at the end of the sleeping-car corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeper fare includes a complimentary sparkling wine on departure and breakfast served in your compartment.  These trains also have comfortable Austrian couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments.  The couchette fare includes a light breakfast.

  • Fares start at €59 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69 with a couchette in 4-berth, €99 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper, or €139 with a bed in a single-bed sleeper.

  • Buy tickets online at either www.trainline.eu (easiest to use, accepts overseas credit cards, you print your own ticket) or Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, you print your own ticket).  If it won't let you select the couchette or sleeper you want, try choosing a higher semi-flexible fare.  Booking usually opens up to 180 days ahead.  Do not use Trenitalia.com to book these trains if your journey starts in Austria, as tickets have to be collected at a Trenitalia station in Italy.

  • Tip:  If you like, you can check the consist for these trains, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Click the UK flag for English, click composition, then look under Austria & click nj.

The Nightjet train from Vienna to Venice, arrived at Venice Santa Lucia

The Nightjet sleeper train from Vienna, arrived at Venice Santa Lucia.  See more nightjet information, photos & video.

Nightjet deluxe sleeper, 2-bed   Nightjet deluxe sleepe toilet & shower   4-berth couchette compartment from Cologne to Vienna

2-berth deluxe sleeper.  More info about Nightjet trains.

 

...en suite toilet & shower.

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 2, by railjet train from €29 - the scenic option, via the wonderful Semmering railway...

  • Fares start at €29 in 2nd class, €44 in 1st class or €59 in business class if you book in advance.  Booking opens up to 180 days ahead.

  • Buy tickets online at www.trainline.eu (easiest to use, accepts overseas credit cards, you print your own ticket) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, you print your own ticket).

  • Onward tickets from Venice to Florence, Rome, Naples and other Italian destinations should be booked separately at either www.trainline.eu easy to use, recognises English place names, no booking fee) or www.italiarail.com (easy to use, recognises English place names, the small booking fee will be refunded if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your PNR) or Italian Railways own website www.trenitalia.com (much more fiddly to use, requires Italian language place names, no booking fee, read this advice on using it first). 

    Whichever site you use, high-speed trains in Italy are ticketless, you simply quote your booking reference on board the train.  I'd allow at least 45 minutes in Venice to make a connection, in case of any delay.

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

The afternoon railjet to Venice, about to leave Vienna Hbf.  More photos & info about Vienna-Venice railjets.

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet boarding at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf.

 

Economy class on railjet.

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

The railjet travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Option 3, via the Brenner Pass from €39 - another scenic daytime option...

  • You can also travel to Italy via Innsbruck & the scenic Brenner Pass, see the Brenner Pass video, although it's a significantly longer way round than the direct route via Semmering.

  • You take a fast railjet train west to Innsbruck and change for one of the comfortable Austrian EuroCity trains running south through the Brenner Pass to Verona, with one a day continuing to Bologna, one of two per day continuing to Venice.

  • To buy tickets the easy way, book from Vienna to your Italian destination all in one go at www.trainline.eu.  The critical thing here is to look through the search results really carefully with brain engaged.  A journey to Florence or Rome or Naples should have no more than 2 changes, and if one of those changes is at Rosenheim, Jenbach or Innsbruck then the system is routing you via the Brenner Pass.  The other change will be at either Verona or Bologna.  If a journey you find this way suits you, go ahead and buy.  If not, read on...

  • To buy tickets with more control so you can ensure longer more robust connections for example, first use www.oebb.at to book from Vienna to your Italian destination (Venice, Rome, Florence and so on) but click via to the right of the origin/destination box and enter Innsbruck.

    It will give you times & prices, but it may say Ticket for section only.  That's because the fare shown covers the Austrian train from Vienna to Innsbruck and the Austrian EuroCity from Innsbruck to Verona, Bologna or Venice (depending on the service), but does not cover any Italian domestic train, which will be greyed out.  The Austrian Railways website cannot sell tickets for Italian domestic journeys.

  • So you now just need to book this Italian domestic section separately at www.italiarail.com (easy to use, recognises English place names, the small booking fee will be refunded if you email them at seat61@italiarail.com with your PNR) or Italian Railways own website www.trenitalia.com (much more fiddly to use, requires Italian language place names, no booking fee, read this advice on using it first).  High-speed trains in Italy are ticketless, you simply quote your booking reference on board the train.  I'd allow at least 40 minutes in Verona or Bologna between trains.

  • For example the 07:30 from Vienna, change at Innsbruck, will get you to Venice Santa Lucia at 18:10.

  • Or take the 09:30 from Vienna, changing at Innsbruck and Verona, getting to Venice Santa Lucia at 21:40.

  • Like I said, it's a longer way round then the direct route via Semmering!  But the scenery is just as good,,,

After running south through the Brenner Pass from Innsbruck, this EuroCity train has arrived at Verona.  You don't need to book a table in the restaurant car, just go along and sit down.  Dining on the move as the scenery glides by is one of the pleasures of travelling on trains like this.  More photos & information about these EuroCity trains.

Austrian second class seats   Austrian second class seats   Austrian first class seats

Second class seats, mostly in 6-seat compartments with side-corridor like this, but some cars are open-plan saloons...

 

First class leather seats.  On a few trains you'll find 6-seat compartments too....

Mountain scenery on the Brenner route...

Scenery (and vineyards!) on the Brenner route   Scenery on the Brenner route

Vineyards, mountains and castles south of Brenner as the train heads for Trento & Verona...

Hilltop fortresses seen from the Brenner Pass train

Watch out for hilltop fortresses...  See the Brenner Pass scenery video here.

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Vienna to Barcelona, Madrid & Spain from €98...

By daytime trains with overnight stop in Geneva...

  • Step 1, take a smart Austrian railjet train from Vienna to Zurich HB through the wonderfully scenic Arlberg Pass, with restaurant car available, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Change in Zurich onto a comfortable Swiss domestic train to Geneva.  There are several departures to choose from, but the best is arguably the 09:30 from Vienna Hbf, change at Zurich arriving Geneva at 20:18.  Put your feet up and enjoy the ride, have dinner in the restaurant car, watch this video & see the Arlberg Railway page.

    Vienna to Geneva starts at €39 in 2nd class, €54 in 1st class or €69 in business class (= premium 1st class, a treat).

    Book from Vienna to Geneva as one transaction at either www.trainline.eu (easiest to use, accepts overseas cards, you print your own ticket) or Austrian Railways' own website www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, you print your own ticket).

  • Step 2, travel by train from Geneva to Barcelona.  Usually you'll find a TER regional train leaving Geneva at 11:31, change trains at Lyon Part Dieu (arrive 13:22, depart 14:24) onto a direct AVE-S100 high-speed train arriving Barcelona Sants at 19:30.  Fares start at around €69 in 2nd class.

    Book this at either www.loco2.com (can be used by anyone from any country, no booking fee, recommended) or www.trainline.eu (can also be used by anyone from any country, no booking fee, recommended).  You usually print your own ticket.

    What's the journey like?  Between Lyon & Barcelona you'll follow the same interesting route taken by the Paris-Barcelona TGVs, see the photos & video on the Paris to Barcelona page.  You'll pass the Chateau de Montfaucon, Béziers cathedral, flamingos on the lakes in the South of France between Montpelier and Perpignan, the historic Catalan-built Fort de Salses right by the tracks, and get great views of the massive Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees, visible all the way from Perpignan to Girona.

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

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Vienna to Lisbon & Portugal...

It's perfectly possible to travel from Vienna to Lisbon or Porto or Faro by train, in great comfort.  The whole journey takes 3 nights.

Option 1, via Geneva & Barcelona...

Option 1, via Paris...

To Morocco by train...   En route to Morocco by train: gran classe 2-bed sleeper (day mode)   en route to Morocco by train: Gran Classes 2-bed sleeper (night mode)   Paris to Madrid & Barcelona by trainhotel: Gran Classe sleepers have a private shower and toilet

The Sud Express, about to leave Irun on the Franco-Spanish frontier, bound for Lisbon...  Courtesy of Ron Baker See panorama photo...

 

Gran Clase sleeper, in evening mode with the seats folded out...

 

....return from the bar & the attendant has made up the beds...

 

Gran Clase private toilet & shower...

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Vienna to Nuremberg, Frankfurt, Cologne & Germany from €29.90...

Option 1, by day trains to anywhere in Germany - the fast daytime option...

  • Every hour or two, a luxurious German ICE-T train leaves Vienna Hbf for Regensburg, Nuremberg (4h12), most then continuing to Frankfurt (6h21), two per day continuing via the scenic Rhine Valley to Cologne Hbf & Dortmund (the 11:15 & 15:15 from Vienna), one per day continuing to Berlin Hbf (the 10:15 from Vienna) and one per day continuing to Hannover & Hamburg Hbf (the 13:15 from Vienna).

    ICE trains are a pleasure to travel on, with bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see the ICE information page.

  • Fares from Vienna to anywhere in Germany start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €59.90 in 1st class.

  • Buy tickets & check train times from Vienna to anywhere in Germany using the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket or can simply show it on your smartphone or laptop screen.  I recommend registering when prompted, so you can always log in and check or re-print all your bookings.

    Tip:  It's also worth checking prices on the Austrian Railways site www.oebb.at as I have often found them cheaper for exactly the same train.

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

An ICE-T arrived in Frankfurt from Vienna...

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the restaurant.  In 1st class you can choose to be served at your seat.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Scenery from the train

You'll glimpse the Inn and Danube rivers from the Vienna-Frankfurt ICE...

Option 2, by Nightjet sleeper train - the comfortable time-effective option...

  • There are excellent direct Nightjet sleeper trains from Vienna to Munich, Frankfurt Flughafen, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg & Berlin.

    Vienna Hbf depart 20:41, Frankfurt Sud arrive 05:24, Frankfurt Flughafen 05:36, Koblenz 07:05, Cologne Hbf 08:15, Düsseldorf 08:42.

    Vienna Hbf depart 20:41, Hannover arrive 06:49 & Hamburg Hbf arrive 08:44.

    Vienna Hbf depart 22:00, Berlin Hbf arrive 09:16.

  • These sleepers have 4 & 6-berth couchettes and a sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, breakfast included, plus a limited number of deluxe sleepers with 1, 2 & 3 beds with en suite toilet & shower.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes on Nightjets, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet information page.

  • Fares start at €59 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69 with a couchette in 4-berth, €99 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper, or €139 with a bed in a single-bed sleeper.

  • You can book these online at www.bahn.de or www.trainline.eu - check both sites as one can be cheaper than the other.  You print your own ticket.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Cologne to Vienna...  More pictures & information about Nightjets.

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...

 

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

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Vienna to Munich from €29.90...

Option 1, Vienna to Munich by railjet train - the fastest way...

  • Smart Austrian railjet trains run from Vienna Hbf & Linz to Munich Hbf every two hours from 06:30 to 18:30.  Vienna to Munich takes only 4 hours from city centre to city centre, with a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class, €39.90 in 1st class or €54.90 in deluxe Business class if you pre-book.  A reserved seat is optional and costs an extra €3-€4 - in business class seat reservation is compulsory but included in the fare.

  • Buy tickets at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket or simply show it on your smartphone or laptop screen.

    I recommend registering when prompted, rather than booking as a guest, so you can always log in and check or re-print all your bookings.

  • To book business class tickets at bahn.de, book 1st class then use the Show seats seat selection feature to select a seat in the low-density Business class car, usually seats 13-55 in car 27 - although they don't label it as business class so you have to engage brain!  It should then add the €15 Business class upgrade to the first class fare when you pay.  You can also buy using www.trainline.eu.

  • Tip:  It's worth checking www.trainline.eu as well, as this links to the Austrian system.  Although fares also start from €29 I've often seen significantly cheaper fares on the Austrian system than bahn.de on the same date & train.

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

A railjet about to leave Vienna Hbf...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet arrived at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf spot on time.  More photos & information about Railjet trains

 

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

Bistro-restaurant car...

Pleasant farmland scenery between Vienna & Salzburg...

View of Salzburg as the train crosses the River Salzach

This is the view of Salzburg's Fortress Hohensalzburg on your left hand side as the railjet crosses the River Salzach after leaving Salzburg station....

Pleasant Bavarian scenery between Salzburg & Munich...

Option 2, Vienna to Munich by Westbahn/Meridian - slower, but more flexible, cheaper at short notice...

  • The excellent railjet trains link Vienna to Munich in just 4h from just €29.90 if you book in advance and commit to a specific train with limited refunds & no changes to travel plans allowed.  What if you don't want to stay flexible & not commit to a specific departure way in advance?  Or all the cheap railjet tickets have sold out as you've left it too late?  On railjets, full-price paid on the day is around €100.  Ouch!

  • The solution?  Westbahn!

    Every hour, smart double-deck Westbahn trains run from Vienna Hbf & Vienna Westbahnhof to Salzburg, connecting with an hourly Meridian regional train from Salzburg to Munich.

    The journey is slower at 4h28 overall but you pay just €33.50 for the Westbahn train (€1 more if you buy on board) and €25 for the Meridian using a Bayern Ticket valid any time weekends or anytime after 09:00 weekdays.  You can pay the Westbahn fare to the conductor on board the train, no reservation necessary, although it's €1 cheaper if you buy from the Westbahn ticket machines or buy online at www.trainline.eu or www.westbahn.at.  Buy the Bayern Ticket at the station in Salzburg on the day or online as shown hereMore info on Bayern Tickets.

  • Direct Vienna-Munich Westbahn trains from June 2019, but possibly now postponed again until Autumn...

    From June 2019 (originally April, but postponed, and now possibly postponed again until Autumn), Westbahn plan to operate 3 daily direct trains from Munich to Vienna in co-operation with Meridian, and in competition with ÖBB's railjets.  They will leave Munich Hbf 05:43, 08:43 & 14:43, journey time to Vienna Hbf 4h23.

  • You can check Westbahn prices & times at www.trainline.eu or www.westbahn.at.  You can check Meridian times and prices at www.bahn.de, the Meridians are the ones marked as M.  All these tickets have unlimited availability at these prices - they cannot sell out!

Westbahn train stairs to upper deck   Westbahn train to Salzburg at Vienna

Stairs to upper deck...

 

WESTbahn double-decker train to Salzburg at Vienna Westbahnhof...

Westbahn train buffet car   Westbahn train 2nd class seats on upper deck

Food vending area, 4 in each trainset...

 

Upper deck seats...

Option 3, Vienna to Munich by EuroNight sleeper train...

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Vienna to Berlin from €39.90...

Option 1, Vienna to Berlin by ICE train Berolina - the leisurely daytime option with restaurant car...

  • Starting 9 December 2018, a superb German ICE train called the Berolina leaves Vienna Hbf every day at 10:15, arriving Berlin Hbf at 17:58.  The ICE train has a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi, see the ICE information page.

    Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.

    Book at the German Railways website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket.

    Tip:  Check Austrian Railways www.oebb.at as well, as although fares also start from €39 I've often seen significantly cheaper fares on oebb.at than bahn.de on a given date & train.  You also print your own ticket.

    Tip:  Consider a stopover in Nuremberg...

    The direct train goes via Nuremberg, but there are other trains between Vienna and Nuremberg, and between Nuremberg & Berlin.  In Nuremberg you'll find a pleasant old town, a railway museum and of course the infamous but thought-provoking Party Rally Grounds (take tram 9 from outside Nuremberg Hbf, it's well worth the trip). 

    To book a ticket with a stopover at www.bahn.de, simply click Add intermediate stops, enter Nuremberg and a duration of up to 48 hours (the maximum stopover possible with a cheap sparpreis fare) or up to 8 hours (the maximum you can stop off and still get from Vienna to Berlin in a day, if you catch an early train from Vienna then a late train from Nuremberg to Berlin).  You'll now get a cheap fare from €39.90 upwards from Vienna to Berlin with a stopover in Nuremberg.  There are left luggage lockers in Nuremberg for your bags.

Vienna to Berlin ICE train

The ICE Berolina...  On the first day of the new timetable, 9 December 2018, the southbound Berolina from Berlin to Vienna has arrived at Vienna Hbf spot on time.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler .

1st class table for two on the Vienna to Berlin ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Vienna to Berlin ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the Bordrestaurant.  I highly recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Option 2, Vienna to Berlin by nightjet sleeper train - the time-effective overnight option, saves a hotel bill too...

  • Starting 9 December 2018, an excellent nightjet sleeper train leaves Vienna Hbf at 22:10 every night arriving Berlin Hbf at 09:16 next morning.

    This comfortable nightjet has a Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3 bed standard compartments with washbasin, three 1, 2 & 3 bed deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower, there's a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in standard sleepers.  There are also 4 & 6 berth couchettes.  A light breakfast is included in the fare in both sleepers and couchettes.  See the nightjet sleeper train page for more photos, travel tips & information.

  • Fares start at €59 with a couchette in a 6-berth, €69 with a couchette in a 4-berth, €99 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper with washbasin or €129 in a single-bed sleeper with washbasin.  The sleeper & couchette fares include a light breakfast, served in your compartment.

  • Book at the German Railways www.bahn.de or at www.trainline.eu, it's worth checking prices on both sites.  You print your own ticket.

  • Tip:  If you like, you can check the consist for these trains, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Click the UK flag for English, click composition, then look under Austria & click nj.

Vienna to Berlin Nightjet sleeper train

Nightjet to Berlin...  On the first day of the new timetable, 9 December 2018, the very first Vienna to Berlin Nightjet prepares to leave Vienna Hbf.  See the nightjet page for more photos, tips & informationCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Nightjet deluxe sleeper, 2-bed   Nightjet deluxe sleepe toilet & shower   4-berth couchette compartment from Cologne to Vienna

2-berth deluxe sleeper.  More info about Nightjet trains.

 

...en suite toilet & shower.

 

4-berth couchettes...

Option 3, Vienna to Berlin by day trains with overnight stop in Prague from €39.90...

Czech restaurant car on a Berlin to Prague train   Lunch in the restaurant car between Berlin & Prague

So civilised!  A meal in the Czech restaurant car as the Berlin-Prague express snakes along the beautiful Elbe river south of Dresden.  Photo courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

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Vienna to Copenhagen, Stockholm & Scandinavia...

Option 1, Vienna to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gothenburg or Oslo with an overnight stop in Hamburg..

  • Day 1, travel from Vienna to Hamburg by luxurious ICE train with bistro-restaurant car & free WiFi leaving Vienna Hbf at 13:15 and arriving Hamburg Hbf at 21:53.  By all means take an earlier train if you like for a leisurely evening in Hamburg, but this is the ideal direct train, other departures require at least one change, usually in Wurzburg.

    Fares start at €39.90 in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Book at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.

  • If you're going to Stockholm... 

    Travel from Copenhagen to Stockholm by X2000 train.  If you take the 09:28 from Hamburg you'll make the 16:23 X2000 arriving Stockholm Central at 21:37, with time for lunch in Copenhagen. 

    You should book from Hamburg to Stockholm as one transaction from €39.90 at www.bahn.de, looking for suitable departures with 1 change marked either 'ICE, X2' or 'EC, X2' (X2000s are shown as X2 on bahn.de for some reason).  

    If you want the 09:28, book Hamburg to Stockholm departing 09:28 using this special link which I have set up with the necessary parameters.

  • If you're going to Malmö or Gothenburg...

    Travel from Copenhagen to Malmö or Gothenburg by Öresund Link train, these run several times each hour to Malmö, journey time 52 minutes, and once an hour to Gothenburg, journey time 4h05.  Book from Hamburg to Malmö or Gothenburg as one transaction at www.bahn.de (Gothenburg is listed as Göteborg Central).

  • If you're going to Oslo...

    Travel from Copenhagen to Gothenburg as shown above.  Trains then run every few hours from Gothenburg to Oslo, you can check times at www.bahn.de and buy at the station or at www.sj.se or (if you have any problems) www.acprail.com or www.snalltaget.se.

    Alternatively, sail overnight from Copenhagen to Oslo by direct cruise ferry with bars, restaurants and en suite cabins, booked at www.dfds.co.uk.  the ship sails around 16:30, don't risk any tight connections in Copenhagen.

Option 2, Vienna to Copenhagen from €69 by comfortable daytime trains with an overnight stop in Munich...

  • Day 1, travel from Vienna to Munich by railjet train with restaurant car, leaving Vienna Hbf at 18:30 and arriving Munich Hbf at 22:31.  These railjets run every couple of hours, so by all means book an earlier one to have a leisurely evening in Munich.

  • Stay overnight in Munich...  Try the Sofitel Munich Beyerpost, Eden Hotel Wolff, InterCity Hotel or (budget) the Pension Locarno, all right next to the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from Munich to Copenhagen by EuroCity train with 1 easy change in Hamburg.  There are several possible departures, for example leaving Munich Hbf at 06:17 arriving Copenhagen 18:26, or at 11:20 arriving Copenhagen 22:26.

    The Hamburg to Copenhagen EuroCity train goes onto a ferry between Puttgarden & Rřdby, one of the few places in Europe where trains still get shunted onto ferries.  It's an interesting experience in its own right - you must leave the train and go upstairs into the ship's passenger accommodation during the 50-minute crossing, although you can leave your luggage on the train.

  • How much does it cost?  Fares work like air fares, book early for the cheapest prices...

    Vienna to Munich starts at €29.90 in 2nd class, €59.90 in 1st class.

    Munich to Copenhagen starts at €39.90 in 2nd class, €69.90 in 1st class.

  • How to buy tickets...  Step 1, book from Vienna to Munich at www.bahn.de looking for the direct EC train with 0 changes leaving at or around 13:35.  Step 2, book from Munich to Copenhagen at www.bahn.de looking for a convenient option with just 1 change.  You print out your own tickets.

Danish InterCity train at Copenhagen...   1st class seats on a Danish IC3 train

All Hamburg-Copenhagen trains are now Danish IC3 trains like this...

2nd class seats on a Danish IC3 train   IC3 train to Copenhagen at Hamburg

2nd class seats on an IC3 train...

 

Boarding a train to Copenhagen in Hamburg.

Train boarding ferry

The view from your seat as the IC3 train slowly runs onto the Puttgarden-Rřdby ferry.  Courtesy of Adina Bogert-O'Brien.  Interior & Hamburg photos above courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

125 mph tilting 'SJ2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station SJ2000 2nd class seats

A Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train boarding at Copenhagen main station...

 

2nd class seats on an X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm.

SJ2000 train   SJ2000 buffet car seating area   SJ2000 self-service buffet car.

X2000 bistro car...

 

X2000 bistro car seating area...

 

Bistro self-service...

Winter scenery fro a Copenhagen-Stockholm train

Winter scenery from a train between Copenhagen & Stockholm. Courtesy of Radoslav Sharapanov

Option 3, using the Vienna-Hamburg sleeper train.  The most time-effective way!

  • Step 1, take the Austrian Nightjet sleeper train from Vienna to Hamburg, Vienna Hbf depart 20:41, Hamburg Hbf arrive 08:44.  This train has 1, 2 & 3 bed sleepers and 4 & 6 bunk couchettes.  Fares from €59 with a couchette in 6-berth, €69 with a couchette in 4-berth, €99 with bed in a cosy 2-bed sleeper or €139 in a single-bed sleeper.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes.  Book this at German Railways www.bahn.de or at www.trainline.eu (check prices at both sites!) and print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, now take the 09:28 EuroCity train from Hamburg Hbf to Copenhagen arriving 14:26.  Fares from €29.90 in 2nd class or €59.90 in 1st class at www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket.

    This train goes onto a ferry between Puttgarden & Rřdby, one of the few places in Europe where trains still get shunted onto ferries.  It's an interesting experience in its own right - you must leave the train and go upstairs into the ship's passenger accommodation during the 50-minute crossing, although you can leave your luggage on the train.  See photos, tips & information for the Hamburg to Copenhagen journey.

  • If you're going to Stockholm, travel onwards from Copenhagen to Stockholm by X2000 train.  If you take the 09:28 from Hamburg you'll make the 16:23 X2000 arriving Stockholm Central at 21:37, with time for lunch in Copenhagen.  You should book from Hamburg to Stockholm as one transaction from €39.90 at www.bahn.de, looking for suitable departures with 1 change marked either 'ICE, X2' or 'EC, X2' (X2000s are shown as X2 on bahn.de for some reason).   Book Hamburg to Stockholm departing 09:28 using this special link which I have set up with the necessary parameters.

  • If you're going to Malmö or Gothenburg, travel from Copenhagen to Malmö or Gothenburg by Öresund Link train, these run several times each hour to Malmö, journey time 35 minutes, and once an hour to Gothenburg, journey time 3h48.  Book from Hamburg to Malmö or Gothenburg as one transaction at www.bahn.de (Gothenburg is listed as Göteborg Central).

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian nightjet train from Vienna to Hamburg...

Danish InterCity train at Copenhagen...   1st class seats on a Danish IC3 train

All Hamburg-Copenhagen trains are now Danish IC3 trains like this...

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Vienna to Oslo & Norway...

Option 1, via Hamburg & Copenhagen - by train all the way...

Option 2, Vienna to Oslo via the Kiel-Oslo Color Line cruise ferry - the most comfortable way to Oslo...

  • Step 1, travel from Vienna to Kiel on any suitable train.  Check times & buy tickets at the German Railways site www.bahn.de.  You can catch a daytime train and stay overnight, or use the Vienna-Hamburg sleeper and connection to Kiel. 

  • In Kiel it's just a 5-6 minute walk from Kiel Hbf to the Color Line ferry terminal, but allow several hours between trains and ferry for the ferry check-in and in case of any delay.

  • Step 2, sail from Kiel to Oslo by luxurious overnight Color Line ferry, with a full range of en suite cabins, suites, bars, restaurants and lounges.  The m/v Magic or m/v Fantasy normally sails at 14:00 arriving Oslo at 10:00 next morning. 

    Check times & buy tickets online at the seat61 Ferry Shop or www.colorline.com.

Germany to Oslo Color Line ferry at Kiel

This photo is taken from the exit of Kiel station, so you can see how close the ferry is.  It's a 5-6 minute walk across the harbour, with a street lift up to a connecting walkway which takes you to the ferry terminal. If you have reserved one of what Color Line call their "5 star suites", check in at the desk rather than the machines and you'll be directed to a special lounge to wait with free tea, coffee, juice, snacks & WiFi.  You'll also have priority boarding of the ship.  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

Boarding the ferry in Kiel

Boarding the Color Line ferry to Oslo in Kiel...

Kiel to Oslo ferry, Color Class suite   Kiel to Oslo ferry, restaurant

A 5 Star Suite on the ferry...

 

More cruise liner than ferry!  The restaurant.

View from Color Line ferry to Oslo

Wake up to this....

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Vienna to Helsinki...
  • Although you can travel to Stockholm then take a ferry to Helsinki, you'll probably find it easier to take a direct ferry from Germany to Helsinki.

  • First, check for Finnlines ferries from Travemünde to Helsinki at www.finnlines.com.

  • Then use www.bahn.de to find connecting trains from Vienna to Travemünde.  Allow plenty of time for a transfer to the ferry terminal and the ferry check-in.

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Vienna to Prague from €19...

Option 1, by daytime railjet trains in just 3h58...

Option 2, by competing RegioJet train

Czech Railjet train to Vienna at Prague Hlavni station

A blue Czech railjet train from Prague to Vienna, seen at Prague Hlavni...

Option 3, by sleeper train.  This is discontinued from the timetable change on 9 December 2018...

  • With daytime trains now taking only 3h57 it's hardly worth taking the sleeper.  But for those who want to save a hotel bill, there's also a sleeper train leaving Vienna Hbf at 22:50, arriving Prague Hlavni at 06:04 with a sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments and couchettes with 4 & 6 bunk compartments.

  • You can book it at either Austrian Railways www.oebb.at or Czech Railways www.cd.cz and print your own ticket.

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Vienna to Český Krumlov for €11...
  • You can travel from Vienna to Český Krumlov in around 4h29, city centre to city centre from just €11 with two easy changes of train, at Ceske Velenice and Ceske Budejovice.  Departures are every two hours, leaving from Vienna's Franz Josef Bahnhof in the north of the city, see location map.

    The Austrian Regional Express (REX) train from Vienna to Ceske Velenice is 2nd class only, but it's a comfortable City Shuttle train using ÖBB's double-deck air-conditioned Weasel trains.  Sit on the upper deck for the best views!

    At Ceske Velenice it's a simple case of getting off, walking a few feet across the same platform and getting on the waiting Czech local train to Ceske Budejovice, also 2nd class only.  Ceske Velenice is only a small station and lots of people make this connection - if the Austrian train is a little late the Czech train will wait.  Both Austrian & Czech trains have plenty of luggage space & toilets.  Bring any food & drink you want with you.

    Incidentally, Ceske Budejovice might sound more familiar by its former Germanic name, Budweis.  That's right, where the name of the beer comes from!  The town is worth a look around in its own right.

    From Ceske Budejovice you take the little green-&-orange GWTR local train to Cesky Krumlov, a leisurely journey on a winding single track branch line past farmland & forest.  This runs every hour or so, journey time 44 minutes.  The train has luggage space, a toilet, power sockets and free WiFi.

    A request:  If you get any photos of the ÖBB Weasel train or the Czech train at Ceske Velenice, please let me know!

  • How much does it cost?

    (1)  Vienna to Ceske Budejovice costs just €9 if you book a cheap Sparschiene fare in advance (even booking just a day or two ahead), just remember that Sparschiene fares commit you to a specific departure with no refunds or changes to travel plans.

    If you want to stay flexible, a Standard (GünTar) ticket costs around €38.20, this is good for any train on this route that day, unlimited availability so it cannot sell out, you can buy this ticket at this price online or at the station on the day and simply hop on any train.  No reservations needed, you sit where you like.

    (2)  Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov by GWTR local train costs 40 Koruna (around €1.55), bought on the day.

  • To check train times & buy tickets...

    Go to Austrian Railways www.oebb.at and ask it for Vienna (just plain Vienna) to Cesky Krumlov.

    In the search results, look for journeys from Vienna Franz Josefs Bahnhof with 2 changes marked REX, Os and then a greyed out train symbol.  It'll specify via Ceske Velenice and Ceske Budejovice underneath.

    You'll also see journeys from Vienna Hbf routed via Linz (Donau) & Ceske Budejovice, this is a longer way round but the trains are faster so it doesn't take much longer.  The trains have first class on this route.  However, it's less frequent and more expensive with Sparschiene fares starting at €19, so I'd stick with the direct route unless leaving from the main Vienna Hbf is significantly more convenient for you.

    Whichever route you choose, www.oebb.at will show fares including Sparschiene tickets, but it will say Ticket for section only.  That is because ÖBB cannot sell tickets for the local train between Ceske Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov as this is run by private operator GWTR.  The fares shown are for the Vienna to Ceske Budejovice section, so go ahead and buy a cheap Sparschiene ticket, or you can buy the Standard Ticket (GünTar) online or at the station on the day.

    Then buy the GWTR local ticket from Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov either at Ceske Budejovice station from the green-&-orange GWTR ticket counter inside the ticket hall or (if time is short) simply board the GWTR local train and buy from the on-board ticket machine which accepts cask or (reportedly) contactless Visa & MasterCard.  Tickets cannot sell out, you sit where you like, it's just local transport.  Easy! 

    If you want to double-check GWTR local train times for any reason, see jizdnirady.idnes.cz/vlaky/spojeni, English button bottom right.

New GWTR train from Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov

The GWTR local train from Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov...  Courtesy of @wanisbunes

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Vienna to Bratislava for €10.80...
  • Regional Express trains link Vienna Hbf with Bratislava Hlavna every hour through the day, journey time 1h06.  They usually leave Vienna Hbf at xx:16 minutes past each hour, it's the easiest way to travel between these cities.

    Hlavna stanica is often abbreviated to hl.st and simply means main station.

    Incidentally, there's also an hourly train from Vienna Hbf to Bratislava Petrzalka station, but Bratislava Petrzalka is a secondary station further from the city centre and the trains to Bratislava Petrzalka  cost a few euros more.  So I'd stick with the trains to Bratislava Hlavna!

  • How much does it cost?

    The one-way fare is €10.80, no reservation is necessary or even possible.  Just turn up, buy a ticket at the station & hop on.  These tickets have unlimited availability so cannot sell out, they are good for any train that day.

    For a round trip, a Bratislava Ticket (also known as a EuRegio Slovakia ticket) costs €16.  You can travel outward on any train on the first day of validity and can travel back on any train on any day within 16 days.  These tickets have unlimited availability so cannot sell out, just buy at the station on the day.  With a Bratislava Ticket you also get free use of buses & trams in Bratislava city all day on the first day of validity, a bargain.

  • Buy online...

    If you want to save time buying a ticket, you can buy a €10.80 one-way ticket online at www.trainline.eu and print it out.  It's valid on any train that day.  However, you cannot buy a Bratislava Ticket  online, so if you're planning a round trip, buy at the station.

  • Seating tip:  You sit anywhere you like.  As you can see in the photo below, there's usually one smart Slovakian air-conditioned intercity coach, whilst the rest of the train consists of more basic non-air-con Austrian City Shuttle regional carriages, with interiors as shown in the photo below right.  Grab a seat in the more comfortable Slovakian car!

  • River trip?  Also consider a river trip along the Danube, Vienna-Bratislava fast ferries and hydrofoils runs at least once a day in winter, up to 5 times a day in summer, 80 minutes.  At least two companies operate, see www.twincityliner.com (but only hand luggage is carried) or www.lod.sk (excess fee charged for bags over 15Kg)

The train from Vienna to Bratislava, at Vienna Huaptbahnhof...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

The hourly regional express train from Vienna to Bratislava Hlavna, about to leave from Vienna Hauptbahnhof. 

Tip:  Behind the locomotive there's usually a smart Slovakian air-conditioned intercity coach, whilst the rest of the train consists of more basic non-air-con Austrian City Shuttle carriages, with interiors as shown in the photo above right.  Find a seat in the more comfortable Slovakian car if you can!

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Vienna to Budapest from €19...
  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

Bistro-restaurant car...

Economy class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   The morning RailJet from Munich has arrived in Budapest.

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with picture windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

 

A railjet from Vienna, arrived at Budapest Keleti spot on time.  More photos & information about railjet trains.

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Vienna to Sighisoara, Brasov & Bucharest from €58...

Option 1, by Dacia Express sleeper train from Vienna to Sighisoara, Brasov & Bucharest - the direct option...

  • A direct train called the Dacia Express leaves Vienna Hbf every day at 19:42 arriving next day at Sighisoara 10:52, Brasov 13:32 & Bucharest Gara de Nord at 16:06.  It has a modern air-conditioned Romanian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin, plus several deluxe compartments with en suite shower & toilet.  It has a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments.  A bar-bistro is attached in the morning between Arad & Bucharest, serving drinks, snacks and breakfast, but take your own picnic and bottle of wine along for the evening.  There's wonderful almost Alpine scenery through the Carpathian mountains between Brasov and Bucharest, a real treat...

  • You can book this train at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at which can sell cheap sparschiene fares from Vienna to Bucharest for as little as €49 with a couchette in a 6-berth compartment, €69 with a bed in a 3-berth sleeper, €89 with a bed in a 3-berth sleeper or €149 with a bed in a single-berth sleeper, all to yourself.

    In the search results, look for the direct train marked D with no changes.  If it says not available you can't book it (booking may not have opened yet), but if a sparschiene fare is shown you can.  You collect tickets from  an ÖBB ticket machine in Vienna.

  • Tip:  If you like, you can check the consist for this train, check car numbers & see in what order cars for different destinations are marshalled using the excellent www.vagonweb.cz.  Click the UK flag for English, click composition, then look under Austria, click D and look for Dacia.

Option 2, by railjet to Budapest then Ister sleeper train to Brasov & Bucharest - a good alternative...

  • Step 1, travel from Vienna to Budapest by EuroCity train, leaving Vienna Hbf at 14:42 and arriving Budapest Keleti at 17:19.  By all means take an earlier train and spend a day or an afternoon exploring Budapest.

    Fares start at €19 each way in 2nd class, €29 in 1st class, €44 in business class.

    To check times and buy tickets use either www.trainline.eu (easiest, accepts overseas cards) or Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly).  You print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, take the EuroNight sleeper train Ister leaving Budapest Keleti at 19:10 and arriving next day at Brasov at 09:30 & Bucharest Gara de Nord at 12:30.

    This comfortable train has 4 & 6 berth couchettes and a modern air-conditioned sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, also deluxe sleepers with 1 or 2 beds and shower/toilet.  Ister is the historic name for the river Danube.  There's no restaurant car so take a picnic and bottle of wine.  Enjoy the alpine scenery through the Carpathian mountains between Brasov & Bucharest.

    Fares from Budapest to Bucharest start at €39 with a couchette or €59 with a bed in a sleeper.  There's wonderful scenery in the morning over breakfast in Transylvania and through the Carpathian mountains between Brasov and Bucharest.

    To book the Budapest to Bucharest train, use the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, see advice on how to use mavcsoport.hu & how you collect your tickets from the yellow self-service machines at Budapest.  Click EN for English top right and use Bucuresti for Bucharest.  If www.mavcsoport.hu won't offer tickets for a 2-bed or 1-bed sleeper, simply book 3 tickets in a 3-bed sleeper to get sole occupancy.

Dacia Express at Vienna   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The Dacia Express couchette car boarding at Vienna Hbf.  Always book a couchette, not just a seat.  Couchettes convert from bunks at night to seats by day.

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Sleeper on the Dacia Express   Dacia Express at Sighisoara

A 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper with washbasin.  Larger photo.

 

The Dacia Express arrived at Sighisoara.  Sleepers convert from beds to private sitting rooms for day use.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest  

Enjoy breakfast in the bar-bistro eastbound, or an evening beer westbound, as a bar-bistro is attached in Romania to both the Ister & Dacia ExpressBar-bistro photos courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Option 3, using daytime trains with overnight stop - if you prefer day trains & hotels to sleepers...

  • Day 1, take an air-conditioned railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, leaving Vienna Hbf at 18:42 and arriving Budapest Keleti at 21:19.  By all means take an earlier train if you'd like an evening or even a whole afternoon in Budapest.

    Book this train from just €19 in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class at either www.trainline.eu (easiest to use, accepts overseas cards, you print your own ticket) or Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, you print your own ticket).

  • Stay overnight in Budapest.  For an inexpensive hotel with great reviews right next to Keleti Station, try the Royal Park Boutique Hotel More hotels in Budapest.

  • Day 2, take a daytime train from Budapest to Transylvania & Bucharest.  A comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train called the Traianus leaves Budapest Keleti at 07:10 and arrives Bucharest Nord at 23:44.  Another comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train leaves Budapest Keleti at 09:10 via Simeria & Sibiu arriving Brasov 22:45. 

    Book these trains from €29 (but no equivalent 1st class offer, so my advice is to stick with 2nd) at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, clicking EN for English top left.  You collect your tickets from the yellow ticket machines at Budapest Keleti station.

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest

The morning train from Budapest to Bucharest at Budapest Keleti, with modern air-conditioned Romanian carriages...

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   2nd class Romanian InterCity coach

On the left, the daytime train to Bucharest is about to leave Budapest Keleti...

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats in an air-conditioned Romanian carriage.  Larger photo.

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Vienna to Ljubljana & Slovenia...
  • A direct air-conditioned EuroCity train called the Emona links Vienna with Ljubljana every day, leaving Vienna Hbf at 07:58 and arriving in Ljubljana at 14:14 (14:06 from 21 July 2019 onwards).

    The Emona has a Slovenian restaurant car serving inexpensive waiter-service meals, beer & wine.  Enjoy the fabulous scenery along the beautiful UNESCO-listed Semmering route through the mountains between Vienna & Graz.

    The Emona uses a mix of comfortable & spacious air-conditioned Austrian & Slovenian carriages with a choice of sitting in an open-plan saloon car (my own preference) or in classic 6-seater compartments with side corridor.  The Austrian cars have power sockets at seats, although the Slovenian ones don't.

    If you like you can check the train formation & see what the carriages are like at www.vagonweb.cz - click the UK flag for English, click composition then look for Austria and click EC then look for the Emona.

  • Other departures are available leaving Vienna Hbf around 12:25, changing at Villach to arrive Ljubljana around 18:33, and leaving Vienna around 14:25, changing at Villach onto a train to Ljubljana arriving around 20:42.

  • Cheap sparschiene fares from Vienna to Ljubljana start at €24 in 2nd class or €34 in 1st class.

  • Buy tickets at www.trainline.eu (quickest & easiest to use, accepts overseas cards, you print your own ticket) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, you print your own ticket).

Austrian 1st class car   Austrian 2nd class compartment

1st class open-plan seating as used on the Emona.  1st class seats in classic 6-seat  compartments are also available...

 

2nd class compartment as used on the Emona.  Seats in open plan cars are also available

Lunch in Slovenian restaurant car   Slovenian restaurant car

The Emona has a Slovenian restaurant car with inexpensive freshly-cooked meals, beer & wine...

Between Vienna & Villach the Emona travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Scenery from the train between Zagreb and Vienna

Scenery in Slovenia, between Maribor & Zidani Most....

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Vienna to Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik & Croatia...

Option 1, all year round...

  • A direct air-conditioned EuroCity train called the Croatia links Vienna with Zagreb every day, leaving Vienna Hbf at 15:58 and arriving in Zagreb at 22:41.

    The Croatia has an Austrian restaurant car, so treat yourself to dinner, and at least in summer enjoy the fabulous scenery along the beautiful UNESCO-listed Semmering route through the mountains between Vienna & Graz.

    The Croatia uses comfortable and spacious air-conditioned Austrian carriages, with power sockets at all seats with a choice of sitting in an open-plan saloon car (my own preference) or in classic 6-seater compartments with side corridor.

    If you like you can check the train formation & see what the carriages are like at www.vagonweb.cz - click the UK flag for English, click composition then look for Austria and click EC then look for the Croatia.

  • Another good departure is available leaving Vienna Hbf around 08:25 by railjet train, changing at Villach onto a Croatian train to Zagreb arriving around 17:10.  And at 12:25, change at Villach, arriving 20:51.  This train also takes the UNESCO-listed Semmering route.

  • Cheap sparschiene fares from Vienna to Zagreb start at just €29 in 2nd class or €39 in 1st class.

  • Buy tickets at www.trainline.eu (quickest & easiest to use, accepts overseas cards, you print your own ticket) or at Austrian Railways' own site www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, you print your own ticket).

  • For Split, either stay overnight in Zagreb and take a daytime train from Zagreb to Split next day (a great idea as it's a lovely scenic route well worth seeing by day) or take the overnight sleeper from Zagreb to Split.  The fare by daytime train is only around €20 in 2nd class.  See the Trains from Zagreb page for photos & full details.

    You can check times & buy tickets online at the Croatian Railways website www.hzpp.hr - though it's not usually a problem to get places on the day.

  • For Dubrovnik, take a bus from Split to Dubrovnik.  Buses leave every hour or even every half hour from Split bus station and take between 3h45 and 4h35 to Dubrovnik bus station.  There are various operators, the fare is between €13 and €17.  Buy at the bus station on the day, it's easy.

Austrian restaurant car

Vienna to Zagreb on the Croatia:  This is an elegant Austrian restaurant car of the type used on the Croatia, a very civilised & comfortable train...

 

1st class open-plan seating as used on the Croatia.  1st class seats in classic 6-seat  compartments are also available...

 

2nd class compartment seating as used on the Croatia.  Seats in open plan saloon cars also available

Between Vienna & Villach the Croatia travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Scenery from the train between Zagreb and Vienna

Scenery in Slovenia, between Maribor & Zidani Most....

Scenery from the train between Zagreb and Vienna

Sevnica Castle, seen from the train between Zidani Most & Zagreb....

An ICN train to Splt at Zagreb station   1st class seats on the fast tilting ICN train from Zagreb to Split

Zagreb to Split by train:  These fast, tilting, air-conditioned ICN trains link Zagreb & Split once or twice a day through great scenery.  Above right, first class seats.  You can now buy tickets online at www.hzpp.hr.

Scenery seen from the Zagreb-Split train

Scenery between Zagreb and Split seen from the train...  Photo courtesy of Páraic Maguire.

Option 2, using the Budapest-Split sleeper train Adria, runs in summer June-September...

  • Step 2, travel from Budapest to Split by direct sleeper train called the Adria.  This runs from 15 June to 7 September 2018, leaving Budapest Keleti at 18:53 every evening arriving Split at 08:56 next morning.  It has a comfortable Hungarian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments and a couchette car with 4 & 6 bunk compartments.

    The fare is around €79 with couchette or from €92 with a bed in a cosy 2-bed sleeper.

    Check to see if it is bookable online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu.  If not, you will need to book at the station or by phone with a ticketing agency in your home country.

  • For Dubrovnik, take a bus from Split.  There are buses every hour or even every half hour, run by several companies.  Journey time between 3h45 and 4h35, fare around €13-€17.  Buy a ticket at the bus station in Split.

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Vienna to Belgrade from €34.  Vienna to Sofia from €59...

Option 1, using the EuroCity train Avala from Vienna to Belgrade...

  • A direct air-conditioned EuroCity train called the Avala leaves Vienna Hbf at 08:42 every day, arriving Belgrade Centar station at 20:42. 

    The Avala uses comfortable air-conditioned Hungarian Railways carriages.  Note that the train spends around 20 minutes at Budapest Keleti on the way where the locomotive is hanged and (as Budapest Keleti is a terminus) the train changes direction.  There's usually a refreshment trolley between Vienna & Budapest, but there's no catering between Budapest & Belgrade so bring your own picnic and bottle of wine.

    Note that just one car (a comfortable air-conditioned 2nd class car with 6-seat compartments) runs direct from Vienna to Belgrade, the rest of the train consists of Vienna-Budapest cars and Budapest-Belgrade cars.  If you insist on going 1st class you have to switch cars in Budapest.

    If you like you can check the train formation & see photos of what the carriages are like at www.vagonweb.cz - click the UK flag for English, click composition then look for Hungary and click EC then look for the Avala.

    IMPORTANT UPDATE:  From 1 February 2019 until December a section of the Budapest-Belgrade route is being rebuilt for 200km/h operation which will eventually reduce journey time to 3˝ hours.  Just one train  per day will link Budapest with Belgrade during this period, the Ivo Andric leaving Budapest Keleti at 11:57 arriving Belgrade Centar at 20:42, 2nd class only.  You will still be able to take the 08:42 from Vienna, but will need to change in Budapest and possibly switch trains in Kelebia & Novi Sad.  Important:  See further details & read latest updates about this engineering work.  I strongly recommend diverting via Zagreb using options 4 & 5 below.

  • To buy tickets the easy way, go to Austrian Railways www.oebb.at and book from Vienna to Belgrade.  You can book this train online with cheap sparschiene advance-purchase fares from €42 in 2nd class or €52 in 1st class.

  • To save a few euros, or if no sparschiene fare shows up from Vienna to Belgrade at oebb.at, you can split the booking like this:

    Step 1, use www.oebb.at to pre-book a cheap advance-purchase sparschiene ticket from €19 from Vienna to Budapest on this 08:39 departure, train EC345.  You print your own ticket.

    Step 2, now use the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu (see this advice on using it & collecting tickets) to book a cheap €15 ticket from Budapest to Belgrade on the same train, the 11:57 EuroCity train EC345 from Budapest Keleti to Belgrade arriving 20:22.

    Tickets booked at mavcsoport.hu have to be collected from the yellow ticket machines installed at all main Hungarian stations including Budapest Keleti, they cannot be printed at home.  But don't worry, this train arrives at Budapest Keleti at 11:19 and doesn't leave again until 12:05 - it's a terminus, so the train changes direction and they have to attach another locomotive at the other end.  So you have plenty of time to nip to one of the yellow ticket machines located around the station just feet away from your train.

    Incidentally, there is no 1st class equivalent of the €15 fare between Budapest and Belgrade therefore the Hungarian Railways site won't sell you anything in 1st class as it only sells special fares not regular fares.  So if booking using this method, stick with 2nd class, it's simply not worth buying a €70 1st class ticket at the station on the day to get 2" more legroom when you can buy a €15 ticket for 2nd class in advance online.

  • If you're heading to Sofia, spend the night in Belgrade - I recommend the excellent and historic Hotel Moskva at the end of Belgrade's main pedestrianised shopping street - then take the daytime train from Belgrade to Sofia, see the Belgrade to Sofia page for full details.  From June to September there is a direct train called the Balkan, leaving Belgrade Topcider station at 09:06 and arriving Sofia Central Station at 20:12.  2nd class only, bring your own picnic and bottle of wine as there's no catering.  At other times of year you leave Belgrade Centar station  at 06:10, change at Nis & Dimitrovgrad arriving Sofia at 19:00.  Buy this ticket at the station for €20.60, there are always places available, even on the day.  It cannot be booked online, and there's no need.

The Avala from Vienna to Belgrade

The Avala from Vienna to Belgrade, about to leave Budapest Keleti.  The Avala uses comfortable air-conditioned Hungarian Railways cars  Courtesy of Colin Wilby...

1st class seats on the Vienna-Belgrade train Avala   2nd class seats on the Vienna-Belgrade train Avala

1st class 6-seat compartment on the Avala.

 

2nd class seating on the AvalaPhotos courtesy Colin Wilby...

Option 2, Vienna to Belgrade with overnight stop in Budapest: 

  • Day 1, take any train you like from Vienna Hbf to Budapest Keleti in 2h40 from €19 in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class booked at www.oebb.at with print-at-home tickets.  It only takes 2h40, you can leave early evening if you like, see the timetable & information on the Vienna-Budapest page.

  • Stay overnight in Budapest.  For an inexpensive hotel with great reviews right next to Budapest Keleti station, try the Royal Park Boutique Hotel More hotels in Budapest.

  • Day 2, take the EuroCity train Ivo Andric on day 2, leaving Budapest Keleti at 07:57 and arriving Belgrade Centar station at 16:42.  Book this for €15 at Hungarian Railways www.mavcsoport.hu.  This is an unlimited-availability special offer, it is available at that price even at the station on the day, although seat reservations are required on trains from Budapest Keleti to Belgrade.  The Ivo Andric uses Serbian air-conditioned cars (comfortable enough if the air-con works) but there's no catering car so bring your own provisions and a beer or two.  The later 11:57 is the Hungarian Avala, with nicer cars, but also bring your own provisions and beer.  Don't bother with 1st class on this route, as there is no 1st class equivalent of the €15 2nd class special fare.  A 1st class ticket would have to be bought at the station on the day for perhaps €70, a lot extra to pay for a mere 2" more legroom!

    IMPORTANT UPDATE:  From 1 February 2019 until December a section of the Budapest to Belgrade route is being rebuilt for 200km/h operation which will eventually reduce journey time to 3˝ hours.  Just one train  per day will link Budapest with Belgrade during this period, the Ivo Andric leaving Budapest Keleti at 11:57 arriving Belgrade Centar at 20:42, 2nd class only.  You may be asked to switch trains in Kelebia & Novi Sad.  Important:  See further details & read latest updates about this engineering work.

Serbian air-conditioned coach   1st class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train

The morning Serbian train from Budapest to Belgrade, seen at Budapest Keleti.  Just €15!

Option 3, using the Budapest-Belgrade sleeper...

  • Step 1, travel from Vienna to Budapest by smart Austrian railjet train leaving Vienna Hbf at 17:42 arriving Budapest Keleti around 20:19.  Have dinner in Budapest, the Baross restaurant on platform 6 will probably be closed, try the Huszar Restaurant just a few minutes walk from the station, huszar-etterem.hu.  Fares start at €19 booked at www.trainline.eu or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.  You print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, travel from Budapest to Belgrade on the sleeper train Beograd, leaving Budapest Keleti at 22:15, arriving Belgrade Centar station 06:43.

    The fare from Budapest to Belgrade is just €15 if you book at the Hungarian railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, clicking EN for English top left.  A couchette is an extra €8 in 6-berth or €10 in 4-berth.  A bunk in a 4-berth is recommended as it gives you a lot more space per person.  You collect your tickets from the yellow ticket machines at Budapest Keleti station.  There's usually no sleeper on this train these days.

    IMPORTANT UPDATE:  From 1 February 2019 until December a section of the Budapest-Belgrade route is being rebuilt for 200km/h operation which will eventually reduce journey time to 3˝ hours.  Just one train  per day will link Budapest with Belgrade during this period, the Ivo Andric leaving Budapest Keleti at 11:57 arriving Belgrade Centar at 20:42, 2nd class only.  You may be asked to switch trains in Kelebia & Novi Sad, and may have to make your own way between Novi Sad & Belgrade.  The sleeper train is cancelled while this work is carried out.  Important:  See further details & read latest updates about this engineering work.  I strongly recommend diverting via Zagreb using options 4 & 5 below.

  • Step 3, travel from Belgrade to Sofia, see the Belgrade to Sofia page for full details.  From June to September there is a direct train called the Balkan, leaving Belgrade Topcider station at 09:06 and arriving Sofia Central Station at 20:12.  2nd class only, bring your own picnic and bottle of wine as there's no catering.  At other times of year you leave Belgrade Centar station  at 06:10, change at Nis & Dimitrovgrad arriving Sofia at 19:00.  Buy this ticket at Belgrade station for €20.60, there are always places available, even on the day.  It cannot be booked online, and there's no need.

A Serbian sleeping-car on the Belgrade to Budapest train   Serbian 6-berth couchettes

The Budapest to Belgrade couchette car, unrefurbished example...

 

Elderly Serbian 6-berth couchettes...

A refurbished Serbian couchette car on the Belgrade to Budapest train   Serbian couchettes

The Serbian couchette car from Budapest to Belgrade.  At least one refurbished car like this is now in service.  Courtesy of @OO$WAG..

 

Serbian 6-berth couchettes in the refurbished car. Note the laptop power socket!  Larger photo...

The train from Belgrade to Sofia   2nd class seats on day train from Belgrade to Sofia

The direct train from Belgrade to Sofia, in summer.  Just two coaches, but comfy enough, and a scenic run across the Balkans.  Bring your own food & drink.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats.  Photos courtesy Remco van der Kort.

Option 4, Vienna to Belgrade via Zagreb, unaffected by engineering works...

  • This is a slower route, but it's the way I'd recommend while the direct Vienna-Budapest-Belgrade route is disrupted by engineering work.

  • Step 1, travel from Vienna to Zagreb by EuroCity train Croatia, as shown above, booked as shown above.  This is a lovely journey on a comfortable train with restaurant car.

  • Stay overnight in Zagreb.  There are good hotels just a stone's throw from the station.

  • Step 2, travel from Zagreb to Belgrade by daily daytime train leaving Zagreb at 11:03 and arriving at Belgrade Centar station at 17:42.  2nd class only, there's no catering car so bring your own food & drink.  Zagreb to Belgrade costs around Ł44 bought in the UK, or just €35 or less bought locally.  It's easy to buy a ticket at the station.  You can check train times using the journey planner at www.bahn.de.  There's no restaurant or buffet car, just the occasional on-board vendor, so bring your own picnic and even bottle of wine or beer...

If you're heading for Montenegro...

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Vienna to Warsaw & Krakow from €39...

Option 1, to Warsaw by comfortable daytime train...

  • Two air-conditioned EuroCity trains with restaurant car link Vienna with Warsaw every day, city centre to city centre:

    The EuroCity Sobieski leaves Vienna Hbf at 08:10 and arrives Warsaw Centralna at 15:07.

    The EuroCity Polonia leaves Vienna Hbf at 14:10 and arrives Warsaw Centralna at 21:07.

    Take a good book and treat yourself to an inexpensive meal in the restaurant car with beer or wine.

  • Sparschiene fares start at €39 in 2nd class or from €49 in 1st class if booked in advance.

  • Book online at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at and collect tickets from an ÖBB ticket machine in Vienna.

Option 2, to Krakow by comfortable daytime trains...

  • Check times and buy tickets at Austrian Railways www.oebb.at.  You collect tickets from an ÖBB ticket machine in Vienna.

    Leave Vienna Hbf at 08:10, change trains at Katowice, arrive Krakow 16:05.

    Leave Vienna Hbf at 09:10, change trains at Ceska Trebova, arrive Krakow 17:02.

    Leave Vienna Hbf at 14:10, change trains at Katowice, arrive Krakow 21:12.

  • New direct train from 13 April 2019 onwards...  From 13 April 2019 there'll be a new Vienna-Krakow through coach, leaving Vienna Hbf at 08:10 every day all year round and arriving at Krakow Glowny at 14:12.  It consists of a comfortable air-conditioned 2nd class seats car attached to the morning Vienna-Warsaw EuroCity train.  There are no 1st class seats, if you insist on going first class you'll have to switch cars en route.  A restaurant car is available from Vienna as far as Bohumin, reached around 11:00.

  • Sparschiene fares start at €39 in 2nd class or from €49 in 1st class if booked in advance.

Morning EuroCity train from Vienna to Warsaw

The morning EuroCity train from Vienna to Warsaw, at Vienna Hbf.  The green stripe above the windows indicates 2nd class.  Yellow indicates first class.  Red indicates the restaurant car.  Courtesy of Jennifer Delaney.

Option 3, to Krakow or Warsaw by EuroNight sleeper train - the time-effective option...

  • A safe & comfortable EuroNight sleeper train called the Chopin leaves Vienna Hbf at 22:10 arriving Krakow Glowny at 06:17 & Warsaw Centralna at 09:14.

    This train has a comfortable and secure sleeping-car with 1, 2 or 3 beds per compartment.  It's air-conditioned and also has a couple of 1 or 2 bed deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, see the photos below.  The train also has economical couchettes in 4 & 6-bunk compartments.

  • Vienna to Krakow starts at €19 or Vienna to Warsaw at €29, these are the cheapest possible advance-purchase sparschiene fare, the price varies with limited availability at each price level.  You then need to add one of the following supplements to get a bed:

    €20 for a couchette in 6-berth, €30 for a couchette in 4-berth, €35 for a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €50 for a bed in a 2-bed sleeper, €100 for a bed in a single-bed sleeper, €70 for a bed in a 2-berth deluxe sleeper with shower & toilet, or €120 for a single-bed deluxe sleeper with shower & toilet (all per person, berths are sold individually).

  • Book this train online at www.trainline.eu (easy to use, happily accepts overseas payment cards) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly), you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  If using www.trainline.eu and no sleepers appear, try selecting Semi-Flex at the top instead of Cheapest.  If using oebb.at, if it says Please choose a different service when trying to select a couchette or sleeper, scroll back up to the fares section, click More services and select the higher-priced fare instead of the cheapest sparschiene price.  It means couchettes and/or sleepers are no longer available in conjunction with the cheapest sparschiene rates.

Modern Polish sleeping-car

Modern Polish sleeping-car of the type used Vienna-Warsaw.  Photo courtesy of WieselFahrer...

Modern Polish sleeper in day mode   Modern Polish sleeper in day mode   A deluxe sleeper on the Amsterdam to Warsaw train   Deluxe sleepers have a private shower & toilet

Standard sleeper in evening/morning mode with seats folded out.

 

Standard sleeper set up as a 3-berth.  It can also be sold as a single or double.

 

Deluxe sleeper, set up as a 2-berth, showing TV & wardrobe.

 

Deluxe sleeper:  En suite shower & toilet...

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Vienna to Kiev & Ukraine...

Option 1, by new direct sleeping-car from Vienna to Lviv & Kiev.  See Ukrainian news report showing the new Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car service.

  • A direct sleeping-car leaves Vienna Hbf at 16:42 every day, travels via Budapest & Chop and arrives next day at Lviv at 09:10 & Kiev at 16:14. 

    Introduced in December 2017, this train has a Ukrainian sleeping-car with comfortable 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin, see the photos below.  There's an air-conditioned Slovakian restaurant car for dinner, it runs from Vienna as far as Zahony on the border with Ukraine reached around midnight.  At Chop on the other side of the border the through sleeping-car is jacked up to have its wheelsets changed from European standard gauge (4'8˝") to Russian gauge used in Ukraine (5').

  • Book the train from Vienna to Lviv or Kiev online at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.  This will only book one-way or round trip starting in Vienna because tickets need to be collected from an ÖBB station in Austria.  They cannot be collected in Ukraine.  Booking this way you pay no fee or mark-up, just the official fare.

    If you have any problems or want a one-way ticket starting in Ukraine, you can also book the Vienna-Kiev train via reliable agency www.polrail.com, with tickets posted or couriered to you for a small fee.  Polrail are based in Poland so charge in zlotys, but as they have access to Ukrainian ticketing system they are good for booking this train.

    The sleeper has become popular, it can sell out.

  • Booked through oebb.at:

    Vienna to Kiev costs €80.50 in a 3-berth sleeper, €90.50 in a 2-berth sleeper or €152.90 in a single sleeper.

    Vienna to Lviv costs €62.10 in a 3-berth sleeper, €70.10 in a 2-berth sleeper or €119.30 in a single sleeper.

  • Booked through Polrail:

    Vienna to Kiev costs around €138 in a 3-berth sleeper €149 in a 2-berth sleeper, or €241 in a single-berth sleeper.

    Vienna to Lviv costs around €120 in a 3-berth sleeper €129 in a 2-berth sleeper, or €207 in a single-berth sleeper.

  • Booked at the station in Ukraine, Kiev to Vienna costs around €80, Lviv to Vienna around €60, in both cases with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

Boarding the Vienna to Kiev sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf.  Photo courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Sleeper to Kiev about to leave Vienna   Ukrainian sleeper corridor   1, 2 or 3 bed Ukrainian sleeper compartment

The Vienna-Kiev sleeper about to leave Vienna Hbf... Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

The sleeper corridor.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

A comfortable 1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car has its wheels changed at Chop

The Vienna-Kiev sleeper is jacked up to have its bogies changed at Chop on the Ukrainian border.  Photo Helmut Uttenthaler.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car arrived Kiev Pass.  Photos courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Option 2, using the Budapest-Lviv daytime connection, also useful to Kiev if the direct sleeper is full...

  • Step 1, take any afternoon or evening train you like from Vienna Hbf to Budapest Keleti booked online at www.oebb.at from €19 in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class.  Trains leave every hour or two, journey 2h45.

  • Stay overnight in Budapest.  For an inexpensive hotel with great reviews next to Budapest Keleti, try the Royal Park Boutique Hotel More hotels in Budapest.

  • Step 2, travel from Budapest to Chop on the Ukrainian border by air-conditioned Hungarian intercity train Latorca, leaving Budapest Nyugati station at 07:23 every day arriving Chop at 13:40.

  • Step 3,  travel from Chop to Lviv & Kiev by Ukrainian train called the Desna, leaving Chop at 16:58, arriving Lviv at 22:18 and then travelling overnight to Kiev, arriving 07:27.

  • To buy tickets from Budapest to Lviv:

    Step 1, pre-book Budapest to Zahony on the 07:23 InterCity Latorca from Budapest Nyugati for around €17.50 at www.mavcsoport.hu.  You collect tickets from the blue or yellow machines in Budapest.

    Step 2, Zahony to Chop costs €2.50, you buy this at the station at Zahony.  The train spends an hour at Zahony station, so plenty of time!

    Step 3, pre-book Chop to Lviv for around €6 in a 4-berth sleeper or €12 in a 1st class 2-berth at the Ukrainian Railways website www.uz.gov.ua on train 81 Desna leaving Chop at 16:58.  Or book to Kiev if going there, obviously!

  • Feedback and any photos of the Hungarian or Ukrainian train inside or out would be most welcome, please email me if you travel this way!

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Vienna to Moscow, St Petersburg & Russia...

Option 1, via Kiev - runs daily & avoids Belarus, the route I'd recommend.

  • Step 1, take the direct sleeper train from Vienna to Kiev, leaving Vienna Hbf at 16:42 and arriving Kiev at 16:14 the next day.  To book this, contact agency www.polrail.com or try contacting ÖBB (Austrian Railways) telesales via www.oebb.at - it seems tickets aren't being sold online.  See the photos & journey details in the section above.

  • Step 2, take one of the various Kiev to Moscow sleeper trains, for example one leaves at 19:36 arriving Moscow Kievskaya station at 10:09 the next morning.

    The fare is around €92 with a bed in 4-berth kupé or €180 with a bed in a 2-berth spalny vagon.

    You can ask www.polrail.com to book this for you too, or you can book tickets from Kiev to Moscow at the Ukrainian Railways site https://booking.uz.gov.ua/en/ booking from Kyiv to Moskva Kievskaya.  You collect tickets at the station in Kiev.  Feedback appreciated!

Option 2, by direct train, aboard the weekly Nice-Moscow Express...

  • The direct weekly Russian sleeping-car from Vienna to Moscow was discontinued in December 2017.  But you can travel from Vienna to Moscow on the weekly Nice-Moscow Express run by RZD Russian Railways.  This leaves Vienna Hbf around 16:41 on Sundays arriving Moscow around 22:00 on Monday.  It's identical to the Paris-Moscow train shown here.  You can book it online at the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru and print your own ticket - see my advice for using rzd.ru.

Option 3, with a day in Warsaw, 3 times a week...

  • Step 1, take the daily EuroNight sleeper train Chopin from Vienna to Warsaw as shown in detail above, booking this train online at www.oebb.at.

  • Spend the morning and much of the afternoon exploring Warsaw.

  • Step 2, then take the sleeper train Polonez leaving Warsaw Centralna at 16:25 on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays and arriving Moscow Belorussky station next day at 12:11 (late March to late October) or 13:11 (late October to late March). 

    The Polonez uses modern air-conditioned Russian sleepers, with 1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth compartments with washbasin, toilets & shower at the end of the corridor.  This train passes through Belarus, so you'll need a Belarus transit visa.  Fare around €111 in a 2-berth sleeper.  See panorama photo inside one of these new Russian sleepers.

  • You can try booking the Polonez online at en.oui.sncf, this may or may not work for this train, it has in the past.  Alternatively, anyone can contact highly-recommended Polish train ticketing agency www.polrail.com (their booking system is at http://booking.polrail.com), who can arrange train tickets for international trains starting in Poland with tickets collected in Warsaw or (at extra charge) shipped to any address worldwide.

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Vienna to Athens & Greece...

Option 1, overland by train through the Balkans, an adventure...

  • Day 1, travel from Vienna to Belgrade by air-conditioned EuroCity train Avala as shown above from €34, booked as shown in that section.

  • Spend a night & day in Belgrade.  I recommend the excellent and well-located Hotel Moskva, at the end of Belgrade's premier pedestrianised shopping street.

  • Day 2, take the direct overnight train leaving Belgrade Centar station at 18:35 for Thessaloniki in Northern Greece as shown on the Trains from Belgrade page for €42 including couchette.  You can buy at this price at the station on the day if you like, there are almost always places available and it's not expensive.  This train now runs summer-only, from mid-June to mid-September.

The Macedonian couchette car on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train   A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train

The Belgrade to Thessaloniki couchette car...  Below, scenery between Thessaloniki & Athens...

2nd class on Greek InterCity train   More mountain scenery, and the Gorgopotamos Viaduct...

After leaving Thessaloniki, the InterCity train runs along the Aegean coast and past Mount Olympus (seen above, from the train), mythical home to the Greek gods...

 

Between Larissa & Athens, the train snakes through the mountains, over the famous Gorgopotamos viaduct, blown up by the British S.O.E. in WW2...

Great scenery from the train:  In the mountains between Athens and Larissa   More scenery on the train to Athens

Emerging from the mountains, the train descends a spectacular escarpment (above left), with the Greek plain laid out hundreds of feet below...

Option 2, by train to Italy then ferry...

  • Day 1, take the comfortable Nightjet sleeper train from Vienna to Venice as shown above from €59 with couchette or from €99 with a bed in a cosy 2-bed sleeper or €139 in a single-bed sleeper, light breakfast included.  You could also take the earlier 19:23 sleeper from Vienna to Bologna instead, this works just as well.  Book this at www.oebb.at and print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, take a train from Venice (or Bologna) to Bari, booked at either www.italiarail.com or www.trenitalia.com from just €29.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  I'd allow at least 60 minutes between trains in Venice.

  • Day 2, sail from Bari to Patras in Greece by cruise ferry.  The ferry usually sails daily except Sundays at 19:30, arrives Patras around 13:00 next day (day 3 from Vienna).  Fares from around €60 with a deck place, rising to over €120 or so if you want a cabin - check times, prices and buy tickets at www.superfast.com.  It's a wonderful journey, past Ithaca & Kefalonia on a ship with cabins, sun decks, bars & restaurants.  Then catch a bus from Patras to Athens.  You'll find more details about both the ferry and onward transport from Patras to Athens on the London to Greece page, just ignore the London to Bari part!

A 2 or 4 berth cabin on the Italy-Greece ferry  

2 or 4-berth cabin with private toilet & shower.

 

Relaxing on deck...

The ferry from Bari to Greece at sea

At sea, passing Cephalonia & Ithaca.  This is what travel to Greece should be like!

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Vienna to Istanbul & Turkey...

Option 1, via Budapest & Bucharest...

  • Take an afternoon railjet train from Vienna to Budapest in 2h41 from €19 bought at www.oebb.at

  • Then pick up the overnight sleeper train Ister from Budapest to Bucharest and the onward train from Bucharest to Istanbul as explained in detail in this section on the London to Turkey page, buying tickets as shown on that page.  It's a 2-night journey.

Option 2, via Belgrade & Sofia...

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Railbookers custom-made tours

If you just want to buy train tickets at the cheapest price, book online as shown on this page.  However, if you want someone to sort out your whole trip for you, arranging all your trains, hotels and transfers, and to look after you if anything affects your arrangements, the people to talk to are Railbookers.  Railbookers can tailor-make a train trip around Europe to your own specification.  Just tell them what you want and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels.  They get good reports and a lot of repeat business!  They now have offices in the UK, North America and Australia.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.co.uk.

  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website.

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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Hotels in Vienna & other cities

    

Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

  • www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

  • www.booking.com is my own preferred hotel booking system (Hotels Combined being a search/comparison system).  It has a simple interface, a good selection in most countries worldwide, useful online customer reviews of each hotel, and decent prices, usually shown inclusive of unavoidable extras such as taxes (a pet hate of mine is systems that show one price, then charge you another!).

Backpacker hostels...

  • www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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