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TRANSPORT

Ten destinations by direct night train from Austria

Want to explore Austria’s neighbouring countries? Then consider travelling by night train to some of Europe’s most exciting destinations.

Ten destinations by direct night train from Austria
Travellers no longer need to show a 3G proof to enter Austria. (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

The return of the night train in Europe has been a welcome development for many people that like to travel but are concerned about the impact of flying on the environment.

Plus, with Austria’s convenient Central European location, there are currently around 30 night train routes in every direction out of the country and from several different Austrian cities. 

As Covid-19 travel restrictions across the continent start to relax and we edge closer to spring, here are ten European cities that can be reached by night train from Austria.

The timetables and ticket prices mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing but could change. All ticket prices are for a one-way journey.

Berlin

The Nightjet overnight service by ÖBB (Austria’s national railway system) has a direct route from Vienna to Berlin in Germany. The service takes around 12 hours departing from Vienna Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) at 10.10pm, arriving in Berlin at around 10am the next morning.

The train travels north east out of Vienna to the border with Slovakia and the Czech Republic, before transiting through Poland and into Germany.

Ticket prices range from €90 for a Sitzwagen (a seated carriage) to €140 for a Schlafwagen (sleeping carriage).

Paris

From Vienna, travellers can reach Paris Gare de l’Est train station in 14 hours with the Nightjet. The service runs on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 7.40pm and ticket prices range from €110 to €195.

This route travels west out of Vienna and stops at Wien Meidling, St. Pölten, Linz and Salzburg before crossing into Germany.

Rome

The Nightjet runs daily from Vienna to Rome with stops at Wien Meidling, Wiener Neustadt, Bruck, Leoban, Knittelfeld, Friesach, Klagenfurt and Villach. The train leaves Vienna at 7.23pm and arrives in Rome at 9.10am.

Ticket prices start at €40 for a seat and go up to €130 for a sleeping carriage.

ÖBB also runs a Nightjet service from Munich to Rome that picks up passengers in Salzburg at 10.02pm and arrives in Rome at 9.10am. Ticket prices for this route range from €70 to €150.

A woman walks her dog past the Colosseum in Rome on May 8, 2020.

Rome can be reached by night train from Vienna and Salzburg. Photo by: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP.

Zurich

The ÖBB Nightjet service to Zurich in Switzerland operates daily, leaving Vienna at 9.27pm and arriving in Zurich at 8.20am the next morning. Ticket prices range from €45 to €140.

This service stops at several other train stations in Austria, including Wien Meidling, St. Pölten, Amstetten, Linz, Wels, Attnang-Puchheim, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Landeck-Zams, Bludenz and Feldkirch.

Alternatively, Magyar Államvasutak (MÁV) – Hungary’s national rail operator – runs an overnight service between Vienna and Zurich, which leaves Vienna at 11.27pm and arrives in Zurich at 8.20am. There are no sleeping carriages on this route and ticket prices start at €50.

Similarly, a Nightjet service runs daily from Graz Central Station to Zurich. The train leaves Graz at 10.26pm and arrives in Zurich at 9.20am. This route includes the option to load a car or motorbike on the train between Graz and Feldkirch from €39.90.

Brussels

Overnight train services operate between Vienna and Brussels Midi (the main train station in Brussels) on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The train leaves Vienna at 8.13pm and arrives in Brussels at 9.54am, stopping at Brussels Nord seven minutes earlier.

Before leaving Austria, the service stops at Wien Meidling, St. Pölten, Linz and Wels. The train then travels through Germany before reaching Brussels.

Ticket prices start at €70 and go up to €160.

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Ljubljana

The Nightjet train service from Salzburg Central Station to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, is operated by HŽ Putničkim prijevozom, Croatia’s national rail operator. The final destination is Zagreb in Croatia.

Trains between Salzburg and Ljubljana run daily, setting off from Munich, and the service stops at Schwarzach-St.Veit and Villach before crossing into Slovenia. It leaves Salzburg at 1.40am and arrives at Ljubljana at 6.20am. 

Ticket prices start at €19.90 for a seated carriage. There are no reclining or sleeper carriages on this route.

Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is just five hours from Salzburg by night train. Photo by: Blaž Gostinčar / Pexels.

Amsterdam

From Kufstein in Tyrol, travellers can take the Nightjet service to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The train leaves Innsbruck at 8.44pm and stops in Kufstein at 9.35pm before crossing into Germany. It arrives in Amsterdam at 9.59am.

Additionally, a daily Nightjet service leaves Vienna at 8.13pm and arrives in Amsterdam at 9.59am. This route stops at Wien Meidling, St. Pölten, Linz and Wels.

Ticket prices range from €100 to €170.

Split

From June 3rd to September 23, a Nightjet service connecting Vienna and Split in Croatia will operate on Tuesday and Friday, including vehicle transportation. Travellers in Austria can also board the train at Wien Meidling, Wiener Neustadt, Bruck/Mur and Graz.

The route is operated by Slovenske železnice (Slovenian Railways) and offers both seating and sleeper carriages. Ticket prices range from €40 to €120.

Hamburg

Overnight trains between Vienna and Hamburg run daily. The service departs Vienna at 8.13pm and arrives at Hamburg Central Station at 8.50am. The route stops at Wien Meidling, St. Pölten, Linz and Wels before crossing into Germany.

This service offers seating, reclining and sleeper carriages with ticket prices ranging from €80 to €180.

Krakow

A daily Nightjet service runs between Vienna and Krakow in Poland, leaving Vienna Central Station at 10.10pm and arriving in Krakow at 5.46am. Vienna is the only stop in Austria for this route.

The service is operated by Polskie Koleje Państwowe (Polish State Railways). Ticket prices start at €49 and go up to €84.

Essential German words for train travel

Hauptbahnhof – main train station

Zug – train

Sitzwagen – seated carriage

Schlafwagen – sleeping carriage 

Liegewagen – reclining (chair) carriage

Einzelfahrschein – one-way ticket

Rückfahrschein – return ticket

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For members

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

Retiring to Austria to spend time in fresh alpine air is a dream for many people, but who is actually eligible to retire to the Alpine Republic? Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: Everything you need to know about retiring in Austria

People from all over the world can retire to Austria, but unlike some other European countries, Austria does not have a residence permit tailored to retirees.

This means anyone wanting to retire to Austria has to go through the standard immigration channels, with different rules for EU and non-EU citizens.

Here’s what you need to know about retirement in Austria and who is eligible to retire in the Alpine Republic.

FOR MEMBERS: How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in Austria?

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as an EU citizen?

The process for citizens from EU and EEA countries to retire in Austria is relatively simple due to freedom of movement across the bloc.

There are a few rules though.

To stay in the Austria for longer than three months, retirees will need to be able to support themselves financially (e.g. through a pension) and have sufficient health insurance.

When it comes to accessing a pension from another EU member state, this is typically taken care of by an insurance provider in Austria who will deal with the approval process between the states. Access to public healthcare in Austria is also available to all EU/EEA citizens.

Currently the pension age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men. More information about pensions in Austria can be found on the European Commission website.

FOR MEMBERS: Five reasons to retire in Austria

What are the rules for retiring to Austria as a non-EU citizen?

The most popular visa route for non-EU retirees hoping to live out their golden years in the Austrian Alps or the grandeur of Vienna is to apply for a settlement permit

This is issued to people that do not intend to work in Austria and is referred to as “except gainful employment” (Niederlassungsbewilligung – ausgenommen Erwerbstätigkeit) by Austrian immigration.

To qualify for the settlement permit, applicants must prove they have sufficient funds, comprehensive health insurance and a place to live.

Proof of sufficient funds means applicants must have a regular monthly income from a pension, profits from enterprises abroad, income from assets, savings or company shares. 

The minimum amount is €1,030.49 for a single person, or €1,625.71 for married couples or those in a partnership. 

READ ALSO: Baking away solitude: Vienna cafe hopes to unite world’s grandmas

Third-country nationals also have to provide evidence of basic German language skills at Level A1, in line with the Common European Framework of References for Languages. The diploma must be no older than one year when submitted with the application.

However, the application process will be entirely in German so for people that don’t have advanced German language skills, it’s best to hire an English-speaking immigration lawyer.

Additionally, Austria has a social security agreement with several non-EU states, including the UK, Canada and the USA. This allows some people to access their pension directly from Austria, depending on the agreement.

Again, it can be useful to find an English-speaking advisor to help with the bureaucratic part of accessing a pension in Austria if you don’t have strong German language skills.

After five years of living in Austria with a settlement permit, visa holders can then apply for permanent residence.

Want information on pensions? Then check out the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Useful vocabulary

Retirement – Ruhestand

Pension – Rente

Social insurance – Sozialversicherung

Health insurance – Krankenkasse

Settlement permit – Niederlassungsbewilligung

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