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TRAIN TRAVEL

Five European cities you can reach from Austria in less than five hours by train

Austria is located right at the centre of the European continent, and its extensive rail network can get you to many beautiful cities in just a few hours. Here's five to help you plan your trip.

austria train ebb
Austria's ÖBB train with scenery views (© ÖBB/Philipp Horak)

Austria may be landlocked but has some beautiful spots that are definitely worth at least a short trip over the months.

READ ALSO: Austria home to the ‘best bathing waters’ in Europe, new ranking claims

Many villages and destinations can also be visited on a day trip from Vienna. But if you want to go further, and see different cities in Europe, then a train ride might be just the option – especially given the problems around European airports this year.

Trains are becoming more popular form of transport, especially among those looking for a convenient and greener way of travelling.

It may not be as cheap and quick as some low-cost flights, but travelling by train also has its advantages, such as enjoying the incredible view (especially in and around Austria), being able to work and have internet and phone access, and leaving from and arriving at city centres, instead of far away airports.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Inside Austria’s Europe-wide’ night train of the future’

Even more, train travelling has become cheaper and faster in the last few years. In a country with an extensive railroad system and surrounded by beautiful lands, train travelling becomes even more attractive.

Here are some suggestions if you are looking for great summer (or any season, really) destinations from Austria by train.

Budapest Hungary

Budapest can be reached in just a few hours from Vienna (Photo by Anna Hunko on Unsplash)

From Vienna to Budapest, Hungary

Looking for a city destination with plenty of music festivals, cultural events, parks, and beautiful sightseeing opportunities? A train leaving Vienna’s central station will get you to Hungary’s enchanting capital in just about 2 hours 40 minutes.

Prices vary, but tickets can be found at as little as € 24.90 for the one way on a Friday.

Prague, in the Czech Republic, is also one of the beautiful destinations from Vienna (Photo by Alice on Unsplash)

From Vienna to Prague, Czech Republic

A train from the central station of Vienna will get you to historical and lively Prague in 4hours and 40 minutes, for under € 40, depending on the day – even cheaper if you don’t mind changing trains during the trip.

Prague is a great city to visit, cheaper for tourists than other European capitals. It offers plenty of activities for people of all ages.

Zagreb croatia

Zagreb, and the surrounding attractions, make for a lovely family trip (Photo by Tuba Mert on Unsplash)

From Graz to Zagreb, Croatia

How about a visit to the stunning Plitvice lakes in Croatia? From Zagreb, driving to the beautiful Dalmatian coast, and dropping by the lakes to enjoy your summer by the Adriatic Sea is easy.

A direct train leaves from Graz’s central station and arrives in the centre of Croatia’s capital about 3hours 50mins hours later. Tickets can be found for € 29,90 on the ÖBB website.

Munich germany

Munich is also a great and popular destination for people living in Austria (Photo by Sergey Mind on Unsplash)

From Salzburg to Munich, Germany

This is a very popular trip since both cities are relatively close, and trains back and forth drive often. You can get on board at Salzburg’s main station and arrive in Munich less than two hours later for just over € 30.

Munich is a major touristic destination, and summer is filled with events, festivals and cultural offers.

Lovely Zurich is a perfect summer destination just a few hours from Innsbruck. Photo: Pixabay

From Innsbruck to Zurich, Switzerland

Austria’s neighbour by the Alps is also known for its beautiful lakes. It is just the perfect scenery for a nice summer trip with friends and family. From Innsbruck, the ride is relatively short by train, just about three and half hours. A ticket can be found for € 39,90 on a direct train – you can also venture a trip with four changes that will still get you there in less than five hours but cost € 14.30.

If you want to go on even further, many destinations can be reached after longer trips of six, seven, or eight hours. Austria’s rail operator ÖBB also offers a series of night trains that can get you almost anywhere from Split to Amsterdam.

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TRAIN TRAVEL

REVEALED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Planning to travel by train across Europe but not sure where to start? Here are the best websites to help make it happen.

REVEALED: The best websites for cross-Europe train travel

Travelling across Europe by train is quickly becoming the preferred mode of transport for many people – mostly due to environmental concerns.

For others though, making the switch from cars or planes to trains is not so simple.

With planes, there are well-known websites like Skyscanner and Expedia, which makes it easy to find cheap flights. As well good connections across the continent from most major airports.

Then there is the convenience of travelling by car, which can be hard to beat – especially for those living in more rural areas. 

So what are the options for trains? Are there websites like Skyscanner but for train travel? And where can you find cheap tickets or the best routes?

Here are the websites you need to know when planning a trip across Europe by train.

Seat 61

The Seat 61 website provides tips on how to travel comfortably and affordably by train, while aiming to help visitors to rediscover the “pleasure, romance  and adventure of the journey”.

It includes an introduction to train travel in Europe, as well as an extensive search feature to find trains by starting location.

For example, The Local searched for trains from Salzburg to Italy and found routes to Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome and Naples, including on Nightjet sleeper trains.

The guide then describes the features of the Nightjet service, such as air conditioning, showers and room service all useful information for any newbies starting out with train travel.

Seat 61 is run by Mark Smith, a train enthusiast and former manager at the UK Department of Transport.

READ MORE: Discover Austria: 19 ways to make the most of autumn this year

Trainline

The Trainline is an international platform focused on train travel. The company is based in the UK but has extensive coverage of train travel in 45 countries across Europe.

The aim of the Trainline is find to the cheapest tickets for a selected route. Most of the time, this means booking in advance.

The site also highlights some great offers, such as €7 tickets between Barcelona and Madrid, and Paris to Amsterdam from €20.

As an added bonus, the search function on the Trainline is very user-friendly and allows people to search by location, as well as add extras such as railcards or return tickets.

The Trainline can be accessed via the website or app.

Rail Europe

Rail Europe is a leading distributor of European train tickets. The website covers 25,000 destinations and 11,000 routes across the continent.

The search function on Rail Europe works in a similar way to other websites and users can view tickets by destination to get the best price. It’s also possible to purchase railcards direct from Rail Europe.

Additionally, the site includes a useful overview of the latest ticket releases and sales, such as special offers on journeys between Paris and Geneva.

Users can pay for tickets in Euros, Sterling or Dollar (US, Canada and Australia) on the website or the app.

Rail Europe is headquartered in Paris but was founded in New York in 1932.

READ ALSO: Ryanair to raise flight ticket prices in Austria

Interrail

The Interrail Pass is a railcard that is available for residents in Europe. For people that live outside of Europe, they can purchase the Eurail Pass.

The passes are aimed at backpackers, or anyone spending time travelling across Europe.

The Interrail website has details about the different passes on offer under the umbrella of Interrail, like the Global Pass, One Country Pass and the German Rail Pass

For example, prices for the One Country Pass for Spain start at €182 for three days of travel within one month. Or you can pay €235 for five days of travel within one month.

Whereas the Global Pass starts at €251 for seven days of train travel in one month, but goes up to €677 for a three month unlimited travel ticket.

Interrail or Eurail Pass holders can buy tickets and make reservations via the desktop website or the Rail Planner app.

Omio

Omio is a travel platform where you can book train, bus and flight tickets. It has a free app to download or users can search and book on the website.

The Omio site has a dedicated section just for train travel. It even highlights 28 routes in Europe that are faster by train than plane – as well as the amount of carbon dioxide saved on the trip.

Examples are London to Brussels, which takes just two hours, or Frankfurt to Cologne in one hour.

There is also a handy FAQ section with information about booking train tickets in Europe, baggage conditions and travelling with pets.

At the time of writing, The Local found a ticket from Zurich to Vienna on Omio for €60 (when searching for dates two months in advance).

Do you have other suggestions for websites we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below or email [email protected]

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