Bargain trains: Cheap rail fares across Europe for 2009

A German train pulls into station. Photo by Francois Roche.
A German train pulls into station. Photo by Francois Roche.

It is that time of year when many travellers start sketching out their plans for 2009 trips to Europe. And for travel within Europe, many of the continent’s budget airlines will unveil their summer 2009 schedules in the coming weeks. Book early for the best discounts.

Plan ahead: Rail travel for next year

Rail travelers can still take a while refining their travel plans for summer 2009, for although many of the schedules are now becoming available, tickets do not generally go on sale until two to four months prior to travel.

The extension of the Europa-Spezial scheme to encompass many more countries means that canny travellers can now plan long treks across Europe with rail fares that greatly undercut even the lowest air fares.

Europa-Spezial: Great value for money

Europa-Spezial fares can be booked online at the German Railways website. Tickets generally go on sale 90 days prior to travel, so bookings can already be made for January 2009.

Choose your trains carefully and you can travel from Budapest to Cologne for just €39 one way – and you can include stopovers on the way (each for a maximum of 48 hours). We chose a Budapest – Prague – Berlin – Cologne routing, with en route stops for two nights in both Prague and Berlin, and found plenty of availability for mid-January 2009 at the lead-in €39 fare.

Other gems there for the taking are €29 one-way from Hamburg to Vienna (via Prague), €39 from Paris or Copenhagen to any station in Germany, and a €39 fare that will take you from any station in Belgium or the Netherlands to Basel on the Swiss border or to Salzburg in Austria.

First class options: Worth considering, even for Cheapos

If the lowest fare for your selected route is already sold out, you can still buy a Europa-Spezial ticket, but it will be priced at a higher tariff tier (e.g. €49, €69, and up). Europa-Spezial fares are also available for first class, and these are really worth checking.

Berlin to Vienna (either direct or with a one or two night stopover in Dresden) for €49 first class sounds almost too good to be true. If you find little availability for Europa-Spezial fares in second class, just have a look to see if the cheapest first class option is still available. First class sells out less quickly, and we have found many examples of journeys where remaining first class availability is cheaper than heavily-booked second class.

The great thing about these Europa-Spezial fares is that, subject to availability at the time of booking, you really can use them on the fast express services. The only real snag is that you must commit yourself to date and time of travel, but at such rock bottom fares that is scarcely a burden.

The new Europa-Spezial fares, along with long-standing promotions like discounted TGV fares in France, might really tip the balance as you weigh up whether it is worth buying a rail pass for 2009.

About the author

hiddeneurope
About the authors: Nicky and Susanne manage a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine.
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Cheapo Comments

117 Responses to “Bargain trains: Cheap rail fares across Europe for 2009”
  • Oooh, you can also travel from Munich to Zagreb for 29 euros, and down the Adriatic coast to Split for 39 euros. Now THAT would be a fun ride. Thanks for the tip.

  • Yes, Marilyn (cf. comment above). The basic fare from any station in Germany to Zagreb is €29, but for just €10 more (so €39 in all) you can extend your journey beyond Zagreb to any other station in Croatia, including Split as you mention. So, choose your trains carefully and you could travel from Aachen (on the German-Belgium border) or Flensburg (on the German-Denmark border) all the way to Split on the Dalmatian coast. On some routings, over forty hours of train travel for less than €1 an hour!

  • If you are thinking of travelling this season, visit Paris or Brussels for just

    £59 return. You have to be quick as there are around 50’000 seats left, of 200k.

    The high-speed trains leave from Ebbsfleet or Ashford in Kent and London St

    Pancras.

    The London trains are almost sold out, however tickets are available from Ebbsfleet International station, which is located just off the M25 in Kent and

    there are still lots of tickets available.

  • Rela Al Khadra says:

    i would like to buy a train tickets for me and my family ( my husband and my 6 years son ) we want to travel from Frankfurt to Munchen and then from Munchen to Paris , so kindly let me know what is the offer you have along with the price .

    Thank you
    Roula

  • As the authors of the original posting (on bargain rail fares across Europe for 2009) we should like to react to two of the comments above.

    1. The comment of 23rd December is an absolute red herring. The poster suggests that 2009 tourist season tickets from London to Paris or Brussels “are almost sold out.” This is absolutely not the case. Although summer fares to Avignon with Eurostar are already on sale, fares to Lille, Brussels and Paris for the midsummer peak season in July and August are not yet on sale at all. Eurostar tickets on those routes generally go on sale four months prior to departure. And availability from Ebsfleet is never greater than that from London St Pancras. Indeed, it is often very much less, as far fewer trains serve Ebbsfleet. So yes, use Ebbsfleet if it is convenient to you, but Ebsfleet is not a way to secure cheaper fares.

    2. Rela Al Khadra on 26th February asks about our offer for two routes (viz. Frankfurt-am-main to Munich and Munich to Paris). We (ie. the original authors of the article above) are not travel agents. However, we can advise you a little. Tickets for both routes go on sale three months before departure.

    There is no need to book in advance on these routes, but you’ll then have to pay the full fares. Far better to commit yourselves to a specific travel date and a specific train and the fares will tumble. For example, looking one month hence (so late March) there is plentiful availability for Frankfurt to Munich for €39, and Munich to Paris for €89.

    Looking two months ahead (so to the last week in April), there is even the occasional train which still has a one way fare of €29 on Frankfurt to Munich, and €69 for day trains from Munich to Paris. And some overnight trains from Munich to Paris that week are only €29 one way (but that’s in a seat, not in the comfort of a sleeper carriage).

    You can book any of the fares mentioned here on the Deutsche Bahn website at http://www.bahn.de. For Munich to Paris you may find that the fares quoted on the SNCF or TGV websites are marginally lower. For best functionality stick to the German version of the DB website and the French versions of the SNCF or TGV websites.

    We hope this information helps the Eurocheapo community.

    Nicky and Susanne
    editors / hidden europe magazine
    http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk

  • Naresh says:

    We are a party of 8 and are wondering if travelling from Vienna to Copenhagen by overnite train on July 4, 2009 is a good idea? What is the fare and what are the train timings? I have tried to get this info online but no luck.
    Thanks for your help.

  • Well, there is no direct night train from Vienna to Copenhagen. Your four main choices would be as follows:

    1. Late afternoon train Wien to Nürnberg from where there is a direct overnight train to Kobenhavn.

    2. Early evening night train Wien to Hamburg Hbf, which connects into a convenient day train from Hamburg to Kobenhavn arriving early afternoon.

    3. Mid-evening overnight train from Wien to Berlin Hbf, arriving after breakfast, with a six layover in Berlin (good for sightseeing), and continuing mid-afternoon on a direct day train to Kobenhavn.

    4. Day train from Wien to Berlin, connecting there onto the night train to Malmo in Sweden, from where it is just a short hop (30 mins) on local train to Kobenhavn.

    The reason you cannot get a price is that tickets are not yet on sale for these routes. You can buy tickets for early July travel from the start of April. /

    The price will depend on your route, how early you book, and what kind of en-board accommodation you want, viz. seats, couchettes, shared sleeper, single sleeper, etc. For accommodation in seats it could be as low as €68 per person. For the luxury of a single sleeper with shower, etc., it could be as much as €300 per person.

    We hope this information is of assistance. we would emphasise that we are not travel agents but writers. The Deutsche Bahn Office in England provides an English language telephone service that could assist in booking these tickets, or you can of course also book online.

    Susanne and Nicky
    editors / hidden europe magazine
    http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk

  • mary mom of 4 says:

    My family (there’s 6 of us, our oldest 11, youngest 3) is going to Paris, France this April. We want to visit some family in Cannes. I have heard about cheap train fares from Paris to Nice, but can seem to find any online. Are there family passes? What is the cheapest option? Would appreciate your expertise.
    Thanks, Mary

  • Mary

    We would be interested in hearing quite where you looked to find fares? Surely the first place is the French national rail website at http://www.voyages-sncf.com. Fares for travel in April went on sale in January, so the best deals will be long gone. But even booking now, just four to six weeks in advance of travel, you will still find plenty of good deals. For example, on almost every day in April (but not so easily over the Easter holiday peak period), you’ll still get one way fares from Paris to Cannes or Nice for €45 on at least two or three well-timed day trains. On some days, that fare is still available on many more trains. (The fare to Nice or Cannes is usually the same, by the way, and most trains stop at both).

    There are a few days in April on which some very cheap fares remain available on the Corail Overnight services from Paris to Cannes and Nice. These start at €17 per person.

    But, as said, we are always genuinely interested in how folk in North America (which is pesumably where you are) research tickets and fares in Europe, so it would be interesting to us to hear quite where you looked. We sometimes fear that US agents keep quiet about the availability of cheap fares (which often carry no agent commission) and insist that gullible travellers MUST buy the full fare.

    Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner
    editors / hidden europe magazine
    Berlin, Germany

  • Amber says:

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands. We are in the states and are having quite a time trying to track down the best deals on anything!
    Please help us come up with some sort of itinerary utilizing airfare, trains, and/or car rentals. We fly into Dublin April 2nd. We need to rent a car (you know any cheap ones?) until the 7th, 8th, or 9th and then fly out of Ireland (Dublin maybe?) to somewhere in Scotland (maybe Edinburgh or Glasgow?) We then need to rent another car. Then on April 14th, 15th, or 16th, we need to fly out of Scotland to the Netherlands (preferrably close to Amsterdam.) We don’t want to get a car here. We do, however, need to find a cheap place to fly out of mainland and back to Dublin to fly back to the states on the 22nd of April. We will utilize trains or air to get back to Dublin.
    Please help us! :)

  • Victoria says:

    Question: Two of us will be visiting friends in Weisbaden Germany in July. We plan to stay @ 4 days with them after flying into Frankfurt. We then have seven days (i.e. Monday – Saturday) before leaving to go back to the States from Frankfurt the following Sunday.

    We would like to travel to Paris and London and spend at least two full days in these cities before arriving back in Frankfurt for our mid-day Sunday flight. Should we travel first to Paris? Should we take a train on to London? We are planning to follow Frommer’s Two Days in schedule when visiting each city.

    We’re looking for the most economical both in lodging and transportation. Is it possible for us to get a late night overnight train back from London to Frankfurt so we arrive early on our Sunday departure date? Any recommendations on trains and schedules?

  • Carla Bianpoen says:

    i would like to travel from venice to prague via basel
    how do i do that, how many hours and what is the cost?

  • ummu farid says:

    Hi,

    I read the post with excitement, however when I use the bahn.de site checking for trains from hamburg to copenhagen, i could not get any quotation of fares, let alone the europa special fares mentioned here. I was looking to travel within the stipulated 30 days period of booking. Please advice.

  • TO UMMA FARID ABOVE
    __________________

    Well, we are really surprised, as the Europa-Spezial Dänemark is very easily available. You will find the tariff conditions online at http://www.bahn.de/p/view/angebot/international/europaspezial/daenemark.shtml. Looking ourselves at availability just now (for next week and on through to the end of May), the €39 fare from Hamburg to Koebenhavn seems to be valid every single day. On selected dates, it is still available at €29. You can use it on the direct trains from HH to CPH (which go on a ferry) or on the longer route via Odense (but if the latter you must cross the border at Flensburg / Padborg on a train with the prefix ICE, EC or IC.

    So why not look again? Just go to http://www.bahn.de. Stick with the German language interface. Enter your departure stations (so Hamburg Hauptbahnhof and Koebenhavn h). Enter your preferred travel dates in European format, viz. DD/MM/YY. And Bob’s your uncle (metaphorically).

    If it does not work, we were be very interested in hearing from you. We have come across booking systems that variously offer fares according to the market you are in (so by recognising your IP address, they judge which fares you can be offered). But as far as we know, the Deutsche Bahn does not do this at all, so if the fare is there, you can get it.
    Note that you must enter your destination station in Denmark correctly. For the centre of Koebenhavn, enter Koebenhavn h.

    Please tell us how you get on, Ummu.

    TO CARLA BIANPOEN ABOVE
    _____________________

    Time: Venezia – Bad Basel Bf – Praha hl.n.: 22 hours – though these are very scenic routes and you could easily spin this journey out, using slow trains to make a wonderful transect through Europe of, say, 36 hours travel in all, travelling 6 hours a day for 6 days.

    Fare: all depends when you book. Cheapest possible fare you could do this for is €78 – by buying one ticket Venezia to Bad Basel Bf and then second one on to Praha. But if you book just a month or so in advance, you might find fares will have hiked up to thrice that.

    TO AMBER AND VICTORIA
    ___________________

    We feel that answering quick questions on fares is absolutely fine, but complex itinerary planning is not quite our forté. In truth the notion of trying to visit some many places in such a short time is just not our sort of travel. Sorry we couldn’t really help.

    Nicky and Susanne

  • ummu farid says:

    Yeay! I have found the tickets at Euro 29 each. Yesterday, I used the English site and typed in Copenhagen. The site return my search as Kastrup h despite my attempt at correcting it. I guess these were the reasons for the initial failure:

    1. use of non-German site
    2. use of non-German spelling.

    I may be wrong, though.

    OK, I dont suppose you know of any cheap train fare for Stockholm –> Copenhagen, for 2 adults + 1 infant travelling in July, do you?

  • Carla Bianpoen says:

    i actually don’t need to go via Basel.
    would like to take a short cut venezia to prague.
    any ideas?

    thanks

  • Hi Ummu
    That is realy good of you to report back like that. A salutory tale for all Eurocheapos (perhaps worthy of more publicity, Monsieur Meyers?). Always use the local native language version of websites to get the full range of offers, and always use local spellings of place names. So Praha to Wien rather than Prague to Vienna. Köln to Koebenhavn rather than Cologne to Copenhagen.

    On your Copenhagen to Stockholm fare, check http://www.sj.se. That’ll be a difficult one as Swedish Railways (SJ) tickets go on sale 310 days before departure – so 10 months in advance rather than the 3 months that is the norm in most of western and central Europe. So by now the cheapest tickets for July (a really busy travel period) might well be sold. But still worth a try. A child travels anywhere for just 5SEK, so she/he will be cheap. SJ do sell off unsold tickets 48 hrs before departure in an auction (at same website), which makes Sweden easily the most exciting country on the planet to buy train tickets, and explains why most train travellers there have nails bitten out of nervous anticipation. The auctions include the Koebenhavn to Stockholm route.
    Nicky

  • Hi Nicky and Susanne,

    Thanks so much for your willingness to share your rail expertise. You bring up a great tip for searching in the native language on national rail websites.

    I’ve had a similar experience when checking fares in France. On the SNCF website, when you click for English language, you’re redirected to an English site that’s powered by RailEurope. That site seems to list fewer train options, and ticket prices are more expensive. Thus, French speakers have a definite advantage.

    We’ll focus on this in an upcoming blog post.

    Thanks!
    Tom (aka “Monsieur Meyers”)

  • Carla (above)
    There are two Venezia to Praha routes you may care to consider (plus dozens of others, but these two conveniently require just a single change of train).
    1. Daily from Venezia at 22.51, changing München, arriving Praha at 14.50 next day.
    2. Daily from Venezia at 21.32, changing Budapest, arriving Praha at 20.31 next day.
    Route 1 has better deals for advance purchase, while Route 2 has much the cheaper fare if you are booking late and paying the full fare.
    Route 1 is faster, but you’ll get woken up very early in the morning to change trains in München while Route 2 is a bit circuitous, but has more interesting trains and you get a 2.5 hr stop in Budapest (10.59 till 13.28) for sightseeing. Route 2 has excellent restaurant car on the evening run out of Venezia along the Adriatic coast, contributing to our view that it may take longer, but it is in some ways the better choice.
    Nicky and Susanne

  • Ajay says:

    Hello Nicky and Susanne, thanks for the great information on this site. I am especially interested in this blog topic because, although I have been a few times, I have never traveled by rail in Europe. I am planning a trip to Europe during June and July of this year. I am traveling with my girlfriend, who is from Italy, and we will spend the first week in Rome before departing. From there, we would like to visit the different relatives she has around Europe. First of all, what is the best rail service to use for traveling within Italy? I know there are services that offer deals for travel just within Italy, which would you consider the best, and do they service all major cities?
    Also, we want to go from Turin to just outside of Stuttgart, is that possible and at what cost? I can’t seem to find any fares for that anywhere!? Thanks for any help, as I have never traveled by rail in Europe before, and it is very frustrating trying to find the best services and prices. Thanks!

  • Ajay (above)
    For all your journeys within Italy, http://www.trenitalia.it will meet your every need. For best functionality, stick to the Italian version. For your journey from Torino to Stuttgart, the most obvious routings are EITHER Torino-Milano-Chiasso-Zürich-Stuttgart OR Torino-Milano-Brig-Bern-Bale-Stuttgart. You can check times on http://www.bahn.de. The best day time conections take ten hours. Ticket-wise your best bet is to buy the DB EuropaSpezial Schweiz from the first station in Switzerland to your German destination. This could be at little at €29 if booked three months in advance. Buy it online at http://www.bahn.de. Then buy the ticket from Torino to the last station in Italy on http://www.trenitalia.it. This leaves a tiny cross-border hop to be purchased on the train (or at the ticket office before boarding).
    Nicky & Susanne

  • freya says:

    hi, i’m going to be in spain for the summer and have to trips i’d like to make by train.
    the first is barcelona to nijmegen in the netherlands on thursday 28th may (returning tuesday 2nd june).
    the second is barcelona to glasgow on monday 29th june (returning 6th july).
    are there any websites where i can plan and book journeys over several countries? the ones i’ve seen have all been limited. and am i being realistic with my proposed 2nd journey? i’m hoping i don’t have to travel for ages on slow, local trains!
    thanks :)

  • Carla Bianpoen says:

    dear nicky and susanne,
    thanks so much for your info.
    do you also have information on trains from nice to prague?

    Carla

  • Hello Carla
    Susanne and Nicky are away for a couple of weeks, so cannot reply to your query just now. Perhaps best if you contact them directly later this month – you can find their contact details on the hidden europe website. It would perhaps be best if you knew first which journeys you really wish to make. I see that initially you wanted to travel from Venezia to Praha via Bale, then directly to Praha (not via Switzerland), and now from Nice to Praha. All routes lead to Praha evidently, but it would just be absolutely great if you indicated which of the many journeys you really wish to make, and then when you have the date, etc, just ciontact N&S and I’m sure they’ll oblige with information aplenty.
    Natasha

  • On a trip to belgium ? Did I get a deal ? last time we got the plane it was delayed and no sign of the bags for another 1hr 45 mins. This time we went by rail from Ashford, so the journey took less time as we drive from only Maidstone, the train was direct from Ashford and we were there so quickely it felt like a day trip to London. Then the transfer train which was free and took us to Burges very easy nice trip.

    P.s. Susanne and Nicky Have a great time !!!

    ( sound like they will ) :)

  • Deema says:

    Dear Nicky and Suzanne,
    I would like to know what it costs for travel of two adults by train -from czech republic through to austria, switzerland, italy and back to france? preferably first class? our prospective trip should be at the end of august september? we would like a stop over of 48 hours per country? and are there tour offices we can refer to if we wanted to see the best of these cities in the time constraint of two days? what about lodging? what would you advise us in that area?
    Kindly advise :)

  • Hey guys

    We wonder if we are being set up here. Just back from a couple of weeks away, relaxing in Liguria, slow travel at its best, great food, bla.. bla.. bla.. Yep, it was great.

    So back at work, quill pens to hand, on a sunny Monday morning here in Berlin. Wonderful to find Ebbsfleet International (EI) giving her perennial plug for Kent stations. Yes, Ebbsfleet and Ashford train stations do deserve to be better known for their Eurostar connections. But, EI, why did you drive to Ashford from Maidstone. Would your Eurostar ticket not have given you free travel with SouthEast trains to connect into Eurostar, and saved you a packet on car parking fees at Ashford International station? (And what’s this about Burges, EI? Not on our Belgian maps. Do you mean Bruges?).

    And now dear Deema. We are gentle, placid souls, ever patient. But five countries in ten days? Do you really intend such folly? This is not travel as we understand it. As you give no place names but merely mention countries we cannot give you any information on fares. We would like to illustrate this with respect to the last part of your itinerary… “visiting Italy and then back to France.” If you last stop in Italy is at Palermo and your return to France is to Morlaix in Brittany, that last leg will take about 60 hours and cost upward of €200 (if you do not book in advance). If your last stop in Italy is Ventmiglia and your return to France is to Menton, that last leg will take 6 minutes and cost less than €2.

    Get the point, guys? We are not divine spirits, able to intuit the details of your itinerary. Mere mortals.

    Isn’t it great to be back at work!
    Nicky and Susanne
    hidden europe magazine

  • UPNEET says:

    Hi! I am spending some time Ljubljana,Slovenia in September – I am interested in going to Bosnia and Macedonia as well as Vienna and Venice whilst I’m there. Am on a shoestring budget – though safety, not necessarily comfort and time, form the crux of every trip I take. Any bus/train recommendations? Thanks loads!

  • Ljubljana is well placed to visit the areas you mention, but the time you’d need to devote to each trip will vary greatly. Vienna is just a stone’s throw away, served from Ljubljana by one daily direct train and many additional services, these latter requiring a single change of train en route. The journey time from Ljubljana to Vienna one way is between six and seven hours. By contrast, interesting spots in Macedonia (eg. Ohrid and Tetovo) will take upwards of twenty-four hours to reach (usually with a change of train in Belgrade and, depending on your destination in Macedonia, additional changes further south).

    You can check times for every journey on your itinerary by buying a copy of the monthly Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable (details at http://www.thomascookpublishing.com/series.htm?series=Timetables). This does not include all services, but it is decidedly useful to have to hand for occasions when, while en route, you change plans or miss a connection.

    You raise the issue of safety being a top priority for you. Ljubljana is one of the safest places on earth, and so too are the destinations you mention. You really can travel easily and without fear to everywhere you mention. Trains are generally trouble free and reliable.

    Bosnia, Macedonia and Vienna are all feasible by train from Ljubljana, but – as noted above – do remember than you are in for some long journeys. Venice is actually better done by bus, from Ljubljana to Trieste by bus (once daily direct or more frequently via Koper) and then on by train to Venezia.

    Why not report back on the journeys you make?
    Nicky & Susanne
    editors
    hidden europe magazine

  • UPNEET says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne!

    Thank you very much for all your reply. Appreciate it loads. I’m looking forward to the trip and will certainly give you an update on my travels! :) Upneet!

  • Claudia says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne,
    My husband and I are planning a trip for our son’s college graduation in December 2009. We are departing from the US to Prague and want to take a train to Salzburg for at least a day and then a train to Vienna in order to take our return flight from Vienna back to the US. There will be 6 adults on the trip. Any suggestions that you can make about trains and how to find the best fares would be appreciated.
    Claudia

  • There are only two direct trains each day from Praha to Salzburg, one very early morning and the other in the evening, each taking about seven hours. Praha to Wien is a shade over four hours on the fastest trains, of which there are several daily. Wien to Salzburg is just over 2.5 hours. All of which means that actually it is sometimes quicker to travel Praha to Salzburg via Wien.

    So if your interest in Salzburg is (as you suggest) merely in seeing it for a day, why not make a day trip from Wien? You can get a discount on the regular fare by using the OEBB Gruppenticket. Details on http://www.oebb.at/pv/de/Guenstiger_Reisen/Gruppen/. This will make the return fare Wien to Salzburg about €54 per person, and that would be valid on even the fastest trains. Even this compares very favourably with the fares sold in the US market for European rail travel. Rail Europe in the US suggest US$160 return. With the same fare you can stay overnight in Salzburg and return next day.

    If saving money is the key thing, a group of five can travel one-way from Wien to Salzburg for €28 (that’s for five people, rather than six) but you’ll then be restricted to slower trains. This cheap ticket is called Einfach-Raus. Details via the same weblink.

    Timings for travel in 2010 will not be available till mid October, and tickets will be on sale shortly thereafter. Hope this helps for starters.

    Nicky Gardner
    Editor / hidden europe magazine

  • ray says:

    hi my self and my partner r traveling from paris, zurich,munich,innsbruck and then to venice leave paris on the 12/10/09 arrive venice 15/10/09 what is the cheapest means of travel thanking you ray

  • Ray

    The cheapest way of doing these journeys would be by a combination of bus and local trains. But was that really your question? Is your priority the cheapest possible route without regard to any other consideration? Your schedule seemed rushed and does not allow for those cheap possibilities, which would be perforce very slow. You could only accomplish such a mammoth journey within the four days you have allowed if you use the fastest trains.

    Here would be a tentative schedule:

    12th Oct

    Leave Paris 0824 Arrive Zurich Hbf early afternoon

    13th Oct

    Leave Zurich Hbf 0916 Arrive Munchen Hbf early afternoon

    14th Oct

    Leave Munchen Hbf 1130 Arrive Innsbruck Hbf early afternoon

    15th Oct

    Leave Innsbruck Hbf 1327 Arrive Venezia Santa Lucia early evening

    You would need to buy three tickets. A TGV Prems fare from Paris to Zurich. A DB Europa Spezial Schweiz fare from Zurich to Munchen. A DB Europa Spezial Italien fare from Munchen to Venezia, taking care on the latter to specify a 24 hour stopover at Innsbruck on the way. If you buy these tickets soon (the DB tickets go on sale for mid October next week), you’ll be looking at about €150 for the entire journey. The most variable factor here is the TGV from Paris to Zurich, where the actual can vary greatly according to anticipated load on the service you select. The other two tickets, if you buy them as soon as they go on sale next week on http://www.bahn.de, will cost €49 and €53 respectively.

    But if your aim was to save money, the proposed routes would be very different. But you could never accomplish such an ambitious schedule in so brief a time. Remember to use the local language versions of the SNCF (French Railway) and DB (Deutsche Bahn) websites when buying tickets to secure the best deals.

    Hope this helps.

    Nicky and Susanne

  • Satish says:

    Hi can you suggest the cheapest way to travel from paris to zurich…..can i print tickets online ?

  • Hello Satish (above)

    Well, if the cheapest is (as you say) is your overriding concern, we’d suggest your try hitchhiking from Paris to Zürich. You could try and fix something up with one of the online agencies that connect ride-givers with ride-takers (eg. http://hitchhikers.org/). Or just head out of Paris to the start of the motorway, and just stick out your thumb. Yep, it really works, and chances are you’ll meet some interesting folk along the way. With luck you’d do the journey in a day, but equally you could end up having a night on the road. The E54 Paris to Zürich route has a lengthy non-motorway stretch east of Langres.

    We would just ask if you really are intent on the cheapest route. Trains start at €42 if booked more than two months in advance. Look for the TGV Prems or Piccolissimo fares. You’ll find the cheapest options will be for Paris departures at a time when no sane French citizen would dream of travelling. For example the 06.24 early morning train to Bâle (change there for Zürich) often has that €42 fare from Paris to Zürich. But even more amiable mid-morning departures (some direct to Zürich, others with a change at Bâle or Mulhouse) often have fares as low as €71.80. The train travel time is about five hours.

    Nicky and Susanne

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Suzanne and Nicky, I wonder if you can give me some advice. I’m travelling around Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy in September. The only thing I’ve fixed so far is the ferry from Split to Ancona (got a great cheap fare!) Would it save me a lot of money to buy the various train tickets in advance? I don’t really want to fix my itinerary but I’m happy to if it would cost a lot more to buy tickets as I go.

  • Kavita says:

    What would be the best way to travel from Zurich to Brussels? There does not seem to be buses between these two locations….

  • For Kavita (above)
    You are right in thinking there are no direct express coaches linking Bruxelles with Zürich. The journey is best done by train. There are two excellent direct EuroCity trains each day from Zürich to Bruxelles, departing at 11.36 and 14.36 respectively. Scenery wise, a great route. Journey time is eight hours.

    For Lisa (above)
    If you are just doing short local hops in Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, no advantage whatsoever in advance booking. Train tickets in all three countries are incredibly cheap. For Italian local journeys, the same applies. For longer journeys in Italy (viz. using trains prefixed by AV, CIS, E, ES, ESc and IC train numbers, as well as all night trains), then, yes, there are big advantages to be secured by advance booking, though possibly some of the best deals for September will already be sold out. Even if you have to pay the full fare, you’ll still find that the regular tariffs are very reasonable, though not perhaps so unbelievably cheap as on the east side of the Adriatic. We always work on the basis, Lisa, that if a traveller can afford a transatlantic plane fare, then they can certainly afford Italian regular train fares. Any discount is a bonus, to be sure, but the basic fares are reasonably cheap.

    Susanne and Nicky
    editors / hidden europe
    Berlin, Germany

  • Gloria says:

    Dear Nicky and Suzanne,
    Am travelling London to Munich around 24th Aug/early Sept returning around end Sept. Have spent hours on DB (German version) website trying to find cheapest fares but do not understand what it is saying/asking me to do. Got a page up showing journeys but did not know if they were the cheapest or if they were still available, or what to do next. Then I was being asked for my payment details. Very user-unfriendly to non-German speakers so I gave up in frustration. I am eligible for senior rate fares and I have a Bahncard 50 but still paid £242 return last time even with a Europe Special and discount (booked on phone with DB England). My preference would be to find the cheapest fare online but then book by phone. Desperate to find cheaper fares so can visit baby grandson more often. Earliest Eurostar I can make is 8.30am otherwise very flexible. I had accepted defeat till I found this fantastic website. Can you help with advice on this trip and enlighten me any further on the dreaded website.

  • Hello Gloria (above)

    Well, if you have a Bahncard 50, you clearly travel by German trains very much more than us. And you’ll surely know that age earns no discounts on most European railways (Eurostar is an exception, as are certain central and eastern European countries where pensioners travel for free or near-free). If you wish to secure the cheapest London to Munich fares (and the rock bottom is €49 one way) just book three months in advance. We find the DB website excellent, but of course you’ll need a good understanding of German (to get the best deals) and you need to understand the various routing and timetable options. You can check the fare conditions for every category of fare on the DB website. So the Europa-Spezial MUST be routed via Aachen Süd (Gr) and you must use ICE (not Thalys) trains for the Bruxelles to Köln leg of the journey.

    Bearing in mind the timetable constraint you cite (viz. no pre-dawn departures from London), you’ll still find London to Munich (dep. 0834, arr 1904) at €69 on 26th Aug (which is surprising given that it’s less a month hence). Come back on 26th Sept, also available at €69 one way, and you’ll pay €138 return. Actually not a bad fare given you are booking little more than three weeks before departure. You will of course secure a €5 discount each way with your Bahncard 50, so that brings the return fare down to €128. The value of BahnCard 50 (BC50) of course (as you’ll surely know Gloria, but others here may be interested) is that it gets you 50% off premium fares – ideal for long hops across Germany by folk who cannot bring themselves to book three days in advance. We personally prefer to book in advance, so any long hop usually costs just €29. But if we just hop on the next train leaving Berlin today for the Alps, the full fare (paid on the train in cash) would probably be €100 per person one way. Having a BC50 would halve that to €50. In truth, though, even that BC50 fare of €50 is still way more than what most folk on the train are paying – as most travellers do now prebook to take advantage of the lower fares that then apply. And a BC50 gets a measly €5 discount off any prebooked fare (or €10 discount on a return).

    Susanne and Nicky
    editors / hidden europe
    http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk

  • Roz says:

    My son & our cousin arrived in Germany a couple of days ago. They are staying at the Atrium Hotel Mainz. Unfortunately, the hotel staff is not helpful at all because no one speaks English and trying to reach them via telephone is nearly impossible. Most of the time, no one answers the hotel phone. As well, searching websites for information on the hotel computers only have websites that are in German. The issue here is that they are only there for one week. They would like to find an “Information center”, where they could perhaps get some English speaking tours. They are young, this their first visit and have no idea of where to go to get this information. I’m so sorry that I sent them to this hotel. They said it was a very nice hotel, but were unhappy with the lack of customer service. Can anyone advise on this?

  • Gloria says:

    Dear Nicky and Suzanne
    I am absolutely delighted to say that thanks to your providing me with a specific date and time to ask for, I was able to buy a London-Munich ticket with the sure knowledge that it was the cheapest available at the time. This is a benefit denied to me in the past because I am forced to book on the phone and provide the DB operator with a specific date of travel, (when there may be no cheap fares available), even though I would have been willing to travel on an alternative day (or even week) if there was a cheap fare available. Unfortunately, circumstances usually require me to book between two to four weeks ahead, so it would be great if I could at least check whether there was still the odd cheap fare left, such as the one you found for me. That information has saved me over 100 euros, for which I am immensely grateful to you. You can imagine how frustrating it is to feel that I might just possibly be paying over 100 euros more than I need to, simply because the DB website does not adequately facilitate non-German speakers. I have no doubt that the German version of the website is very good, but that is of little comfort to the majority of Europeans who wish to access the best fares, but cannot, simply because they do not speak German. There must be many people such as myself who are unable for one reason or another to book three months, or even two months ahead, and whilst there will obviously be far fewer cheap fares available to us, we have no way of finding them. I would be very interested to hear from anyone else who feels this is
    not acceptable.
    The various European rail companies are apparently trying to co-ordinate their services so as to make cross-border European travel easier. This is good for business and hopefully will tempt people away from flying, but booking systems which discriminate in favour of native speakers will not help to achieve this. Without your help I would probably have ended up paying almost 300 euros, as I did last time, whereas I’m guessing that with 3 or 4 weeks notice I could have found, if I had wished to, a return flight for around half that.
    I had intended to give you, as you requested, more feedback on this booking, previous travel to Germany, BahnCard etc. but I am on a friend’s computer and have run out of time, so will have to save that for my next posting. Once again, many thanks for your expert help and for this excellent website.

  • Jack Chang says:

    My wife and I plan a trip to Europe in Sept. In 26 days, we try to stop at Vienna, Budapest, Praha, Berlin, Munich, Salzburger, Ljubliana and Istria (Rovinj) then back via Ljubliana to Vienna, which is our gateway from/to US.
    We toke train in Europe before. But this trip we going to use the rail system there a lot. Our trip will also include some short stops, like Dresden, Rothenburger or lake Bled etc. We have a planed route and a flexible staying days for each cities, 3-4 days for most, 1-2 days for some. Without well fixed date, time to book ahead for taking advantage of special cheaper ticket, we plan to buy a Eurail Germany flexpass saver $195 (4 days /month) and a East europe flex pass $209 (5 days/month, good for Aus, Hug, Cze, Pol and Slovakia). This is total of $400 a person. I understand that we still need to prebook the seats for each trip and pay a booking fee. We still need use additional rail ticket or bus as a supplement.
    I saw a lot of feedbacks regarding Europass ( they are different from Eurail, or same ?) on the net is not very positive. I know that the pass is not the cheap fare, but it buy me some sort of flexibility while protect me from getting charged with expensive full fare.
    I had same experience as Gloria. Spent hours search rail site, such as DB and Scott, using their English version. The fare is never cheap. The fare between Vienna to Praha/Budapest 49, 59 euro;Berlin/Munich $180- 200. I figure that one trip of full price ticket can buy me a 4 days pass.
    Do you think this plan make sense?
    In a response you said it wonderfully. I quote here : But was that really your question? Is your priority the cheapest possible route without regard to any other consideration?
    Your posting is very informative and you are so helpful. Thanks !

  • Interesting comments, Jack (above). Well, hard to comment without knowing more of your itinerary. we cannot quite see where you got some of those fares from – and in particular a dollar price of $180 to $200 for Vienna to Berlin / Munich. Both routes seem readily available on many September days for €40 or less, and you can specify stopovers on the Europa-Spezial fares (eg. at Prague and Dresden on the Vienna to Berlin run). You seem to be trying to cover quite a lot in 26 days. But anyway, the passes will give you lots of flexibility – albeit at a price. Be aware that the supplements for pass holders on some trains (esp. night trains) can be hefty.
    Nicky and Susanne

  • Ron and Beverly says:

    what is the quickest way from Rome to either Munich or Salzburg, Austria. We want to take in both cities with a stop in Brechtesgaden….but have not determined whilst city we would bed down at. I hear the train ride is for many days and we wish to do this at a faster route.
    We also thought about going from Rome to Vienna, then to Salzburg, then end up in Munich. Just not sure whist city would be the cheapest to fly from back to the USA. Any suggestion you can give would be greatly appreciated.

  • Diane says:

    Dear Susanne and Nicky,
    My husband and I will be going to Germany in early December. We plan to use a German Railpass but we also want to go to Prague and Budapest. We want to leave from Berlin to go to Prague and then from there to Budapest and from Budapest to Munich. We plan to spent two days in Prague and two days in Bupapest. I have read that it is cheaper to get point to point tickets rather then getting a pass (i.e. Eastern Europe pass) for travel in Eastern Europe. Is this so? Would I be able to do this route on the Europa-Spezial that you have mention to others? Any suggestions you can give me will help.
    Diane

  • Hello Diane

    Yes, you could indeed use the Deutsche Bahn Europa-Spezial fare for your two journeys: 1. Berlin to Budapest (with a stop in Prague) and 2. Budapest to Munich. Tickets for early December are already on sale and the one way fare for each journey is €39 – and, at the moment, easily available on all the best connections. On some days, the Budapest to Munich fare has already crept up to €49 on some late morning departures, but the basic €39 fare is still there for the taking on most trains.

    You can stop for two days in Prague on the Berlin to Budapest journey – at no extra charge. When you make the booking (which you can do online at http://www.bahn.de), select ‘Weitere Optionen’ to access the more detailed booking mask, and then enter where it says ‘Uber’ the name of the station where you wish to break your journey (which will be Praha Holosovice), and how long you wish to break the journey – there enter, for example, 47:00 (implying a 47 hour stopover).

    Typical timings for your journeys would be:

    BERLIN TO BUDAPEST WITH TWO DAY STOP IN PRAGUE

    Berlin dep. 10.35 arrives Prague 15.18

    followed by two nights in Prague

    Prague dep. 11.30 arrives into Budapest 18.32

    BUDAPEST TO MUNICH

    Budapest dep. 13.01 arrives into Munich at 20.34

    Note that train times across Europe change on 13 December 2009, and these timings mentioned here apply only to early December. The new schedules (and bookings for those services from 13 December) will only be available from late next month.

    Use local versions of place names of course to ensure you are booking to the correct station (so Praha Holosovice or Munchen Hauptbahnhof).

    Bear in mind that the Europa-Spezial commits you to specific trains in Germany (and on the cross-border part of the journey) and you must specify those trains at time of booking.

    And bear in mind that the ticket can be booked to and from any station in Germany. So your Budapest to Munich €39 fare could also be a €39 ticket from Budapest to Cologne with a two night stopover in Munich along the way. We mention this as it may influence your decision on whether a German rail pass really is the best buy. Of course, everything needs to be pre-specified to get Europa-Spezial fares.

    Within Germany, there is a similar €29 one way fare that is good for long hops across the country, but that inner-German fare will already have sold out for some popular trains in early December. It will however still be readily available on the less popular slightly slower services prefixed IC or EC (rather than ICE). It is however worth taking a look, and if you are clear about your plans, it’s feasible that tickets bought now may undercut the amount you would pay for a rail pass. Against those possible savings, you must weigh the fact that a rail pass, although probably a more expensive way of handling the inner-German travel, affords magnificent flexibility, even allowing you to travel on a whim and change your plans without restraint.

    We hope this information is of use to you.

    Nicky and Susanne
    http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk

  • Krupo says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne – I’ve just booked travel but figured I’d share my experience, getting a one-way ticket for 2 family members over 60 doing a last-minute trip to Europe for two weeks (just visiting France and Switzerland, to see family).

    I suggested they just book on the spot, but they were afraid of sold-out tickets. I showed up here googling to figure out whether booking ahead is necessary and decided to just go for it, particularly after noticing that a few trains for their travel day were in fact booked full.

    I found Paris-Basel tickets for Saturday 10 days from now for €50 per person or so, but that involved one connection. Given that this’ll be said family members’ first European trip, they’ll have luggage and don’t want to risk getting confused and then lost in Strasbourg, they wanted to spend the extra €20 for the direct train. (I’ve done the connection myself and know it’s not complicated, but then, through their eyes I guess I can understand where they’re coming from – they’re not pure eurocheapos!). :)

    I used the full french SNCF site, and only discovered the English TGV site after the fact. I ran through a dummy transaction on the English site to compare prices and found everything seemed to be identical except if there was a Senior Carte discount offer the English site didn’t show it to me, and in place of three ticket pick-up options (including pick up at the station’s ticket office), the English site ONLY showed the automatic kiosk option. Given that the site warns you you’ll need a Credit Card chip-PIN to complete automatic kiosk transaction (and most North Americans don’t have such cards yet), I’m glad we went with the French option. Yay Canadian bilingualism.

    “And you’ll surely know that age earns no discounts on most European railways (Eurostar is an exception, as are certain central and eastern European countries where pensioners travel for free or near-free).”

    I suppose the other exception is the senior card on SNCF – except it costs €56 per person for the 25% minimum discount it offers. Oddly enough the discount doesn’t apply to the direct Paris-Basel train, so I decided against it (perhaps because the discount is only on the “pure-French” leg? Still, doesn’t seem to make sense!).

    If they were doing 3 or 4 similar trips the Senior Carte might make sense though – French SNCF is pretty good about pointing out the discounts on the other trains.

    Hope this helps.

  • Brian Early says:

    I am looking to use Deutsche Bahn to purchase train tickets. It only allows a maximum of 5 travelers to be chosen. I cannot find anything that helps me to know how to purchase tickets for 6 travelers. Any clues?

  • Brian (above). The reason for this is simple. On most routes, group discounts kick in with a group size from six travellers. The amount of the discount varies, but is usually in the range of 50 to 70 per cent off the regular tariff. These group fares can usually be booked from one year in advance until one hour before departure. They offer great flexibility, and really allow a group of six to travel at will (without the need for long-term advance booking) at prices way below those might obtain for just a single traveller. You can book these tickets at any DB ReiseZentrum or by phone to their call centre.
    Nicky

  • Deval Ghorecha says:

    which is the cheapest way (either by Train or Flight) to visit London to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Milan and Milan to London.

    Hope I’ll get best advices with web links and proper guidance with fare details.

    Thanks.
    Deval Ghorecha

  • Helen L says:

    Hi,
    I’m looking to get from Moscow to Istanbul around November 14 (my date is flexible). Any ideas?
    Thanks!
    Helen

  • Brian Early says:

    Thanks Nicky. So here’s a follow-up question. I have tried to find an English speaking number for DB. The only one I tracked down was in the UK. I try this number from the USA and I am not able to use it. Any clues.

  • 1. To Brian (above)
    The regular number for the Deutsche Bahn’s UK (so English-speaking) call centre is 0044 8718 80 80 66. I have no problem calling that number from outside the UK, but perhaps your network in the US has restrictions on you calling certain numbers. I’ve no idea about that. If that is the one you have tried without success, here is an alternative: 0044 2083 39 47 01. Again I’ve just tried that (from Germany) and it worked perfectly.

    2. To Helen (above)
    Moscow to Istanbul on 14 Nov (ore indeed any other day) is easy. 9.39 pm from Moscow kiyevskay station, with one change in Sofia.

    Nicky

  • surjit says:

    Hello! We r in Ljubljana and we (3 including myself, wife and 10 years daughter) would like to travel to Vienna and a few Austrian cities in last week of october. how best to go about it on low budget. will bus be better or train. and how does one go about it. please advise for day trip and also a 2-3 night trip.

  • Brian Early says:

    Nicky, thanks for your help. The DB office in UK is very friendly and helpful.

    FYI, I tried using three different calling cards to get through to the UK office and I discovered that the number is blocked. But if I call direct I can get through just fine. Go figure why it is blocked.

  • John K says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne,
    My family of 2 adults, 4 children are travelling to Europe from Australia in Dec/Jan.
    Our intended itenary was Milan, Verona, Florence, Venice, Salzburg, Vienna, Paris and London staying 4 days in each and travelling by train. We have looked at Eurail Select tickets…do you think they are a good option.
    Thanks,
    John

  • John (above)… Probably not. But so much depends on your dates of travel, whether you would be prepared to take the time and trouble to book in advance (and fairly soon), and what ages your children are. For example, with some European rail tickets, your children (depending on ages) could travel entirely for free. Many of your journeys are short hops (eg. Milan to Verona, Verona to Florence), where tickets (esp. if pre-booked now) will cost no more than a few euros each. If you are using Eurail Select, I guess you’d need a 4-country pass (IT, AU, FR and DE) to cover the Salzburg or Vienna to Paris leg (which would normally be via Germany), and even then you’ll have to buy the London sectors on top.
    Nicky and Susanne

  • For Surjit (above)
    RE: SLOVENIA TO AUSTRIA AND BACK
    The cheapest way to do this would be to buy the Regio AS fare from Ljubjlana to a station in Austria. Choose one close to the border. For example the Regio AS return from Ljubljana to either Villach or Klagenfurt is €19 (that’s return and per person). The ticket is valid for four days maximum.

    Then for local journeys within Austria, use the Einfach Raus ticket which will give your whole family unlimited travel for a day on all but express services (so on over 95 per cent of Austrian trains). Just one Einfach Raus ticket will cover all of you. It costs €28. The ticket may be used any time on Sats, Suns and public holidays, but on regular work days it is valid only from 9 am.
    *************

  • Hello
    If I want to travel from Paris to Aix en Provence this coming Sunday, would it be better for me to get the ticket when I get to Paris, as I am finding that the ticket prices are really very expensive right now, and I am a senior. I am leaving for Paris on Friday.
    Thank you
    Nicole

  • For Nicole (above)
    Better to buy the ticket online now. The regular one way fare, depending on quite which service you use, is in the range of €110 to €140. Book well in advance (say a month or more prior to travel) and that plummets to about €25 one way.

    But you are looking to travel on a peak travel day (Sundays are always extremely busy on main TGV routes in France, and esp. so for journeys leaving after midday). At this stage, less than a week prior to travel, you will still find discounted fares (eg. Paris to Aix for €80.90 is still there on several morning departures – to both Aix TGV and Aix Centre), but these cheaper fares will be sold out on the busier trains, esp. later in the day. So book online now on the SNCF French language website if you are keen to get a cheaper fare. Or just show up in Paris and pay slightly more. It is a 500 mile journey, so even a €120 fare is still a reasonable deal. Check out the first class fares too. Often on these busy days (and esp. Sunday afternoons when the trains are packed with students), the extra fare for first class is not a lot more.

    Susanne and Nicky
    editors
    hidden europe magazine

  • Sayata says:

    Susanne and Nicky,

    Your web posting was extremely informative. Thanks a lot.
    My husband and I are planning to travel from Nuremberg to Budapest on June 5, 2010. Our 22 month old will also be with us. I could not find any information on Deutsche Bahn whether we will need a ticket for her.
    If I understand correctly, we should start looking for tickets from March 5 – right? We plan to travel on the couchettes since it will be an overnight trip.
    Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  • Hello Sayata

    Come, come now, Sayata. We think you might be teasing us. No sane parents travelling with an infant ever opted for couchettes as their preferred choice.

    Couchettes are HORRIBLE. Take our word for it. Just imagine a June night, temperature about 30 degrees Celsius – that’s 86 deg F, and you three sharing a couchette compartment with three total strangers, all of whom bring their crates of beer and doner kebabs on board. Those three decide to chat their way overnight through Europe singing half remembered Beatles tracks from their childhood. They’ll share salami, hard-boiled and life stories while you and family just want to sleep. No Sayata! You won’t enjoy it, and if you daughter grows up to be a recluse who for evermore refuses to leave North Dakota it’ll all be down to that one awful night on the night train to Hungary.

    Sleeping car = fine (blissful sleep all the way). Couchettes = a night you’ll wish never happened.

    So let us give you the good news and the bad news news.

    First the BAD NEWS: there is no direct overnight train from Nurnberg to Budapest, not now, nor in 2010.

    Now the GOOD NEWS: this is a very easy journey, and a pleasant one, accomplished without hassle in a single day. Sample timings are as follows: leave Nurnberg at 10.31 on a German ICE and you’ll arrive into Wien at 15.20. An easy half hour change between trains at Wien Westbahnhof, going on at 15.50 on an Austrian RailJet service and you’ll arrive Budapest at 18.49.

    The one-way fare for two adults and one infant, inclusive of seat reservations, will usually be €82 second class. If you opt for first class, the one way fare for all three of you will be €142. These fares are both the Europa-Spezial Ungarn Ticket, which will go on sale at http://www.bahn.de 92 days prior to travel – so, just as you say, on 5 March. To secure that cheapest fare, do book early on that day.

    When you select the reservation accommodation, you may care to select the Kleinkindabteil option. These are special compartments, on German ICE trains, for parents travelling with small children. Remember to include your daughter in the listing of number of passengers. There is no extra charge for her, but she must be included in the booking.

    If you prefer to book in the US rather than on the Deutsche Bahn website, US based agents can book you onto the same trains (as cited above), but we know of none that charges less than 500 US dollars PER PERSON for this journey.

    Hope this helps. Do let us know what you actually do (and if you decide to buy the tickets through a US agent, we’d be intrigued to hear how much they actually charge you).

    Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner
    http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk

  • Sayata says:

    Thanks a lot for your reply.

    I had ABSOLUTELY no idea about the couchettes.

    The only time that we have traveled by train in Europe was from London to Edinburgh and it was a pleasant 4 1/2 hr journey and we had no problems with our daughter.

    The reasons for wanting to take the overnight train to Budapest were simple – 1) save money on a hotel, 2) figured that since it was a longer journey, we were better off planning it during her bed time rather than during the day.

    We do have another option of taking the train from Munich. I think that in that case we will get direct trains and we really want to avoid changing trains.

    Do you think that taking the night train from Munich in the sleeper class would be too terrible?
    Any suggestions will be appreciated :) .

    And when the time comes, we do plan on using the Deutsche Bahn website – it is very user friendly.

  • kirti says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne,

    Your website has been very helpful so far. I am trying to book train tickets for my parents (traveling to Brussels and Paris in late November) online. I am worried that if I buy them electronic tickets online using my credit card (they live in India and don’t have a credit card) they won’t be able to board the train. Do you know what the rules are regarding third party purchase of train tickets in Europe?

    They can also purchase their tickets at the train station in Brussels when they arrive there but I am worried that the prices will be much higher if they buy the tickets 5 days in advance.

    Also, on the Eurostar website this is what I get:
    Total price of 260 for 2 adults (1 over 60yrs)
    RT Brussels to Paris
    Depart: November 22nd, 09 afternoon to November 27th, 09 early morning return Paris to Brussels.

    Do you think this is a good price? Will it much higher if my parents buy it at the station?

    Thank you in advance,
    Kirti

  • Sayata says:

    Nicky and Susanne,

    I checked out the Deutsche Bahn website for the night train from Munich to Budapest. I checked out the fares for February 11 (3 months out) and I found something rather strange:
    When I put in 2 adults and 0 children, I can get a sleeper fare of Euros 138 (3-berth) or 158 (2-berth).
    When I put in 2 adults and 1 child (and specify the age of child as 1), the sleeper fares jump to 207 Euros for the 3-berth.
    So I have to pay 69 Euros for an infant who will share a berth????
    Do I then just buy a ticket with 2 adults and 0 children? Or are infants under 2 not free?

    I was also not able to find the Kleinkindabteil option.

    I am quite sure that I am doing something wrong, but I have no idea what it is…..

    Oh, and Rail Europe offers tickets on their website for a total of $330+their fees and it is for the regular seats, not berths. Seems quite expensive compared to buying direct from the Deutsche Bahn website.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Whoever invents these random queries sure has a vivid imagination.

    For Sayata (above)

    Couchettes are fine, but six to a compartment just is not a lot of fun with children. Sure, if you really are determined to go by night, you can train it to Munich (but remember that Nuremberg-Munich will probably cost more than Nuremberg-Budapest by day (as quoted above). Once you’ve got to Munich, you can hop on the night train to Budapest (which takes longer than the daytime services from Nuremberg to Budapest). You’ll have to hang around in Munich until almost midnight to board the train (surely hardly fun with an infant). Reckon on about €150 per person for the journey in a sleeper if you book in advance. You’d save a few euros if you take the couchette option.

    For Kirti
    Eurostar have no trains at all from Brussels to Paris. The services are run by Thalys, so best to book with them. Order a paper ticket to be mailed to your parents’ address in Brussels and that way you’ll have no problems with the credit card issue. The fare you mention is high, but you’ll find cheaper alternatives on the Thalys website.

    Susanne

  • Look Sayata

    Susanne’s last comment was written without having seen your updated query. We are 100 per cent totally confused. We suggest you contact the travel centre at a station when you arrive in Germany.

    No sane person would detour to Munich to catch a night train at midnight when you can do the journey by day much more quickly and more cheaply. If you catch a night train and opt for sleeping berths, you must buy a berth for each person travelling. So yes, if you catch that €69 per person one way fare (unlikely for travel in June), you must pay for a berth for your daughter.

    If you really are intent on using a night train, why not travel by bus from Nuremberg to Prague on the afternoon of 5 June 2010? From there the night trains to Budapest are very cheap. You would be best to book direct with the Czech railways to secure the best fare for that routing.

    Nicky

  • Sayata says:

    Susanne and Nicky,

    I appreciate your responses and was not aware that I was making up queries…sorry about that.

    Anyway, I was not able to find the Kleinkindabteil option. Since you mentioned about it and I could not locate it, I asked for some help in trying to find it out. And neither was I able to find anywhere if infants were free.

    Also, you had asked for US agents that quoted prices and I supplied you with information about rail europe website that seemed more expensive than Deutsche Bahn website. Once again, I thought I was providing some information that you were interested in. My mistake :(

    Thanks you for all your help.

  • Think we had some crossed wires in recent postings, and if that was due to misunderstandings on the part of one or both of us, our apologies.

    With respect to the query on what might be the best way to travel from Nuremberg to Budapest, clearly we have laid some false trails. We assumed that this was a journey that would only be done by day, on the basis that it is a relatively short trip, cheap and served by very high quality trains (viz. ICE and RailJet services). And that advice still stands. With a one-way fare for three people (inclusive of all seat reservations for two adults accompanied by one infant) of €82 (second class) or €142 (first class), we would judge that as being a good option.

    If, as the original questioner implied (particularly in the reference to the need to save an overnight hotel bill), the real need is to cut costs without regard to comfort, then those same fares cited above are valid on an overnight route via Munich. The overnight train from Munich is the Kalman Imre, one of the more colourful night trains in Europe, used mainly by Balkans-bound passengers. It has Romanian, Croatian, Hungarian and Slovenian carriages – some of which are quite period pieces (and we mean that positively – some have a certain antique charm).

    The Kalman Imre timings are pretty gruesome, mainly because departure from Munich is not till just before midnight, which is (believe us) just not a lot of fun with an infant. Trust us! We’ve done it!

    But if that’s the way you want to go, sample timings would be:

    Dep. Nuremburg at 7.08 pm arr. Munich Hbf at 8.53 pm (Regionalbahn)
    Dep. Munich Hbf at 11.40 pm arr. Budapest Kel at 8.49 am (EuroNight service)

    The three of you could do this journey for €82 second class. Note that when you book the Munich to Budapest sector specify you would prefer ‘Ruhesessel’ (ie. reclining seat) to the regular second class seated accommodation. It comes at no extra cost, but must be pre-specified when booking.

    Now might we comment on the difficulty of finding the child-friendly special section on the train? This ‘Kleinkindabteil’, we mentioned in an earlier comment, is on German daytime ICE trains. It could not be found on a night train booking because such accommodation is found only on day trains.

    Finally, we would suggest a compromise. If we have really misunderstood, and the main considerations are that a night train MUST be included, then go for a night train route that allows you to board at 7pm-ish, not midnight. That is just so much nicer, especially with a young child, than hanging around on deserted station platforms till nearly midnight. That would suggest going NORTH from Nuremburg to make the time you spend on the night train longer. Even via Berlin. This will have little effect on the overall fare.

    If you take one of the night train routes and cost is not an issue, then definitely consider the upgrades to Schlafwagen (ie. sleeper). Much better than couchette. You will need to reserve all three berths in an Economy 3-berth compartment. Travelling with an infant, you cannot just book two of the three berths.

    We very much hope that this clarification helps you as you plan your journey through Europe next year. If we misled you in an earlier post, we’re sorry. Sometimes when we are travelling, we have only limited internet access and often rely just on memory to provide key data. We are very fallible.

    Nicky and Susanne
    editors / hidden europe

  • Jutamas says:

    We are a party of 4 adults 2 boys age 14 and 8 from Bangkok Thailand and would like to travel from Zurich to Vienna and back on train (air fare costs too much!!) We will be traveling Dec 20 – 23, 2009.
    Can you please advice??
    Thank you so much
    Jutamas

  • Jatamas (above)

    The usual return fare we’d expect on the route you describe for your family of four would be €196. But now you are booking at very short notice, with your outward journey just five days hence. So as it stands now the cheapest option would be as follows:

    Outward (overnight on the 20th): €176.80
    Return (by day on the 23rd): €98
    Total: €274.80 (for all four of you).

    Given you are booking at the last minute, and travelling on really peak travel days, we’re surprised that even that is still available. It could well be that remaining availability at that fare will be limited, so best to book in the next day or two. You can book http://www.oebb.at.

    The full return fare (by very comfortable day trains) is 566 Swiss Francs for the four of you. That is about €360. That is called the TEE Normalpreis and includes a family discount. You can book that online at http://www.sbb.ch, where you can print out the ticket. The best trains are out from Zurich on 20th at 8.40 am, and back from Wien at 9.30 am on 23rd. Definitely do the journey at least one way by day. The central part of the journey between St Anton and Innsbruck through the Austrian Tyrol is superb.

    Nicky and Susanne
    editors / hidden europe
    Berlin, Germany

  • Krupo says:

    I think they meant they’re a group of 4 adults plus 2 boys, rather than 4 total? Or perhaps you guessed more correctly than I did? Hmm.

  • .
    Aaaggghhhh, yes, Krupo. You are surely right. We just did not take time to read the query. Sorry.

    4 adults return with two children (provided the latter are entered on the ticket at the time of booking) will be 1132 Swiss francs return. That’s the full fare, which is now really the only option. But for six people, each making a 10 or 11 hour journey and return, still not really over the top. €92 per person per direction. We always think it would be nice if folk would comment back. So Jutamas… if you are there… why not let us all know what journey you actually make and what it cost?

  • Wulf says:

    Hi All.

    My wife and I are looking to travel from England to Germany (possibly Berlin) by train sometime in January or February of 2010. We are purposely looking to travel by train and make the journey an integral part of the holiday as a train provides much more comfort and legroom than an aeroplane AND we like to take in the scenery as we travel.

    My one bugbear from what I have so far seen is the trouble we have to go to searching out and booking separate journeys through each different rail company where we would like to literally make one simple booking from Weymouth to Berlin and have done with it without the messing around. My other concern is obviously to keep costs down to a minimum.

    Are there any feasible ways of achieving either of these objectives?

    Many thanks.

    Jason.

  • Wulf / Jason (above, on 27 Dec)

    You raise an interesting point about through bookings from outside London to the continent via Eurostar. Through bookings are available to selected stations in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany from some 130 stations in the UK. Unfortunately Weymouth is not one of them. Westbury to Nice can booked, as can Exeter to Cologne. But no through fares for journeys starting from Weymouth. we could explain why, but now’s probably not the place for that digresson!

    So your best bet would be to use the Deutsche Bahn website to book your London to Berlin tickets (and the return). This is a journey we do often. Book at http://www.bahn.de. The rock bottom one way fare is €49 second class or €99 first class. For this fare you use Eurostar to Brussels, continuing with a German ICE train from Brussels to Cologne (which runs only thrice daily), then on from Cologne by any train. The only realistic daytime connection from London to Berlin leaves St Pancras (London) at 8.30 am-ish, and takes about 10 hours to Berlin. So coming from Weymouth, you would need an overnight stay in London.

    The London to Berlin tickets mentioned above, sold by the Deutsche Bahn, go on sale three months prior to travel. The €49 fare sells out very quickly, and it is unlikely you would still get that for any date in the coming six weeks. The fare does allow break of journey en route (insofar as that is specified when making the booking), so you could consider a later departure from London – so allowing you to travel from Weymouth to London on the day of travel to Germany. Then you could break your journey overnight in, say, Cologne. The tickets also allow (to some degree) circuitous routes (again only if specified at the time of booking), so if you break your journey in Cologne you could then travel up the Rhine Valley, a very beautiful route, before continuing to Berlin.

    There are a myriad of other options, of course. Eurostar from London to Paris then overnight train to Berlin is one we like too. But more expensive and you’ll not see much by way of scenery as you trundle through Europe by night.

    After you have your London to Berlin return ticket, you can buy (from your local station in Weymouth) a special ticket to London to connect with Eurostar. Not a lot cheaper than normal, tho’ it may undercut the peak fares, but the ticket is made out as going to London International (CIV). The advantage of this is that it provides a guarantee that if your Weymouth to London train is late, then Eurostar will still honour your onward tickets. And vice-versa.

    Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
    editor
    hidden europe magazine

  • Wulf says:

    Very helpful advice thank you Nicky and Susanne. We will almost certainly be looking to travel by day as the scenery and train journey experience is the whole reason for taking the train rather than flying / driving. It is something we are very much looking forward to doing.

    Many thanks.

    Jason.

  • Kevin Page says:

    My wife and I plan to travel from Brussels to Zagreb on 31st May 2010, leaving Brussels in the morning. I am very interested in your comments regarding 29 euro fares from Germany to Zagreb. Do they still apply? If so, could you confirm the conditions for these fares please? Does one have to sit up all night. If so how much extra for a sleeper.

  • Lisa says:

    Hi, I’m trying to plan ahead for trip in April. I’ve tried researching and booking through Deutsche Bahn website for the night trains for the following route: Paris -> Munich (April 4) , Munich -> Vienna (April 6). When I tried to book for Paris -> Munich and going through the payment process, the website showed that it’s not possible to book. My question is when the Bahn website shows the fare as “Check availability”, does it mean it’s not available at all? Rather confusing since the website allows you to actually go all the way through payment process before saying that it’s not possible to book the ticket.

  • Brussels to Zagreb is too far for a day, but there is no need to go overnight. You can, for example, break your journey in Munich. The €29 fare is now €39, but sells out very quickly. Availability of that fare is much higher if you book it from Munich rather than further north. Which suggests it is best to book the Belgien-Spezial fare from Bruxelles to Munich, then the Kroatien-Spezial fare from Munich on to Zagreb. Tickets for May are not yet on sale, but just checking dates a little closer, that looks fairly easily available at €78 total for various March dates.

    If you do take a night train, you will need to pay the supplement for couchette or sleeping depending upon what category of accommodation you select. Supplements vary from a modest €20 for an uncomfortable berth in a crowded couchette to over €200 for the best single berth sleepers.

  • Lisa

    Paris to Munich on 4 April looks perfectly bookable on the DB German site. Cheapest €43 seats are gone, but lots of remaining options from €63 seats to sleeping car at €119.

    Munich to Vienna on 6 April is still available at €29. In truth, we’d not recommend Munich to Vienna as a night train journey. Late departure (just before midnight) and you get turfed out at 5.45 am at a suburban station in Vienna. That train is designed really for passengers going on to Budapest, so it skirts round the edge of Vienna before dawn. Hardly the best way to start a day exploring Vienna.

    Susanne and Nicky

  • Jong says:

    Hi Susanne and Nicky,

    I have just encountered this and found that you’ve already helped a lot of people in their trips. May I also seek your trip?

    I’m currently here in Dresden for a short course, and with 3 of my friends plan to spend the Easter Holiday on a trip to explore VIENNA and BUDAPEST, then sight-see PRAHA on our way back to DRESDEN. Please advice on the cheapest train itinerary on this trip tentatively scheduled on April 1 to 5, 2010. This is our first time here in Europe, we just arrived last 16th january and will be here till 16th July.

    Thank you very much in advance.

    sincerely,

    JONG

  • Kevin Page says:

    Hi Nicky,

    Thank you so much for your answer. I have one more question. On an older website I saw that a stop-over on these train journeys of not more than 48 hours is permitted. Is this still the case and if so, does the one ticket cover the whole journey – in our case from Brussels to Zagreb, even though we would be stopping o/night in Munich?

    I really appreciate your help.

    Regards,

    Kevin

  • Brandon says:

    I am needing to find the cheapest train (or even a plane) from Madrid to Prague. My wife and I are arriving in Madrid on Feb. 4th and then on the 6th she has to fly to London for 2 days to visit a friend in the hospital. We are going to meet up in Prague on the 8th – she’ll be flying from the UK, but I wasn’t sure if taking a train could fill up the two days affordably, or if I should just fly. Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Brandon

  • Gamal says:

    i plann to visit amestrdam next week with my wife i like to get the cheapest train from amestrdam to a coruna in spain so please help me to get the price of that train .

  • Ruth says:

    Great information about the Europa Spezial but I’m struggling with the stopovers as whatever time I enter say 24.00 hours it gets changed to 00.24 minutes when I click search. We are planning on travelling from Vienna to Berlin stopping off at Prague and Dresden on the way for between 24 and 48 hours. Can you give me any hints about what I’m doing wrong?

  • Ruth

    This is very easily fixed. Note the syntax. 24:00 requests a stop of 24 hours. The number before the colon is interpreted as hours. You probably typed 24.00. There being no colon, it would be interpreted as 24 minutes.

    Odd eh? And, if you ask quite how I come to know this absurd detail, I cannot rightly say. Perhaps it is knowledge that is injected secretly into European travel writers at birth. But worth remembering that the syntax on many travel websites across Europe is that a colon separates hours and minutes.

    Why not try again, and report back on how it works this time round?

    Nicky Gardner
    joint editor
    hidden europe magazine
    Berlin, Germany

  • Kevin Page says:

    Hi Nicky,

    As I intend to book tickets through DBahn and had the same trouble as Ruth, I tried your suggestion and it worked. Thanks for the info.

  • Kevin Page says:

    Hi Nicky,

    As I intend to travel between Ljubljana and Hannover on 8th/9th June with an overnight stop in Munich, I have been entering ticket requests for the day 92 days from today to practice. I find if I intend to travel 2nd class I can may the whole journey for 39 euros but if I wish to travel first class there are no tickets available even though I am entering the information at 0001 92 days before the intended journey. I can get to Munich for 69 euros and it is possible to travel to Hannover the next day for an additional 49 euros. Is this a reflection of DBahn policy in that they do not allocate first class seats including an overnight stop or does it seem to be a problem with the online booking system. I note you mention that first class tickets usually do not sell out as early as second class tickets but my experience online is the opposite. I guess I may be doing something wrong.

    Because I am in Australia it is easy for me to access the site at midnight German Time but I am wondering if I would do better telephoning the London Office when they open that day.

    I do appreciate you assistance.

    Regards,

    Kevin Page

  • Kevin Page says:

    Further to my last post I tried the DBahn site in German and found I could get the 69 euro fare providing I did not want a three hour stop in Nuremberg between Munich and Hannover.

    Regards,

    Kevin

  • Alo says:

    Going to Paris in May and would like to travel to Buapest and Praque. Would the easiest way to travel be by train and how much would it costs. Any usefule websites to look into? How long would we need in each city?

  • aubrey says:

    we are visiting europe and we are a family from singapore. I would like to know whether I could buy the bahn rail ticket online on bahn website? I was told by some friends that we cannot buy on bahn website if we are not in europe, is it true? We are flying into Zurich and we intend to take the rail from zurich to munich then to salzburg and finally to st gallen, can I buy the train tickets on bahn website for these routes and can I print the ticket instead of delivery? thank u for your kind advice. regards

  • Selma says:

    Hello!! I would like to go from Frankfurt to Munich on April second, could somebody help me telling me what is the cheapest way? train? which train company? and how the discounts work? thank you.

  • Kevin says:

    Hi Selma,
    The best thing to do is go to DB German site. At the top you can find a box where you can change the language to UK English or USA English if necessary. Put in details of your required trip i.e. Frankfurt to Munich and your time and date on departure. The site will give you a choice of trains and also show the lowest price. Using the German site in German is sometimes better but, having entered your requirements the cheapest ticket showing at the moment is second class for 49 euros. All trains are run by German railways.

  • Kevin says:

    Sorry Selma, I should have mentioned typing bahn.de into google will take you to the site.

  • Actually, Munich to Frankfurt on 2 April is still do-able for €29 (city centre to city centre) as long as you would not mind taking slower trains for part of the route. So if cost (rather than speed) is of the essence, you may consider this option. Just one of many routings still on offer at that €29 fare is 07.46 from Munich on Train IC2290. Change at Stuttgart Hbf (arrive 10.01) when there is a good connection onto the Regional Express to Heidelberg, where change again for Frankfurt. If you wished to break your journey for a few hours in Stuttgart or Heidelberg (or both), that would be allowed at this €29 fare.

    You can book this on the German language Bahn website, taking care to enter Stuttgart Hbf in the field marked ‘Ueber’ and untick ICE and EC/IC in all but the first row of the field marked ‘Verkehrsmittel’. The fare would be €49 for two people.

    If you do not wish to book in advance and are happy to use slower local services you can travel from Munich to Frankfurt by buying a Bayern Single Ticket which costs €20. That will take you as far as Kahl-am-Main (the last station in Bayern before the border with Bundesland Hessen) from where it is a short €7 hop on to Frankfurt. If you are not travelling alone, but with others, buy the Bayern Ticket for €28 which allows 5 people to travel from Munich to Kahl-am-Main, where you buy the add-on for the onward hop to Frankfurt-am-Main.

  • Apologies, Selma. Frankfurt to Munich equally available at €29 one way on 2nd April. Our notes above gave the right route but the wrong direction. The knack in securing the €29 Deutschland-Spezial fare is to choose an appropriate midway point (eg. Stuttgart or Wurzburg), and use IC/EC options (not ICE) for one half of the trip and Regionalverkehr for the other half. And what we said about using Regionalverkehr throughout still stands of course. The great advantage of that latter option is that you do not need to prebook. You could usefully pre-purchase a Bayern Single Single (if you travel alone) or a Bayern Ticket (for up to five of you, plus children, travelling together). Then just get Frankfurt to Kahl on the day or departure.

  • Kevin says:

    Hi again,

    My wife and I wish to travel from Dresden to Augsburg first class on Friday 18th June. I realize I can’t book now but in practice I looked at the same journey on 4th June. I was hoping to find a 49 euro fare for each of us but the cheapest I can find without ICE is 101.90. Is there an alternative so I can get the cheap fare or is travelling on a Friday a problem?

  • There is plenty of availability from Dresden to Augsburg for 4th June at the lead-in cheapest fares. If you book now, it’ll be €49 one way second class for two people or €79 one way first class for two people. This is still available even on services using ICE services (eg. by way of example 08.53 or 09.44 from Dresden via Ingolstadt, but lots of other options too).

    This is an instance of a journey where some of the fastest services are in the category that cannot be pre-reserved, viz. IRE departures at 10.53 and 12.53 from Dresden Hbf, which take 5hrs 48mins to Augsburg with just one change of train in Nürnberg. For these tickets, just buy the ticket on the day and it is just the same price as if you prebook. For these services, using the Sachsen and Bayern Tickets, the one way fare on this route from Dresden to Augsburg is €40 for one person and €56 one way for a group of two to five people.

  • Victor MacIlwaine says:

    Hi, Three of us have planned a trip to Europe from 27th June 2010 to the 10th July 2010. Our itenarary will take us from London to Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Venice,Vienna, Berlin and back to Paris and London. We wish to travel extensively by rail. Please help us make a schedule that would enable us to touch all or most of the cities as planned above and at reasonably priced rates. We are all adults above 40 yrs of age and most likey do not qualify for any discounted fares. Please also inform us when and where rail bookings could be done in the UK. Thanks.

  • Jamaal says:

    Hi, I am going to Italy in about a month and a half and I am trying to figure out the best way to travel by train. I am thinking of flying into Czech bc my girlfriend has family there, then either flying or taking the train to Italy (which ever is cheaper). I guess my question is… Is it cheaper/smarter to buy a pass that would allow me to travel from Czech to Italy and be able to train throughout Italy or should I buy one plane or train ticket from Czech to Italy then buy an Italy pass or just buy a 3 country pass even though I would only be coming from Czech and staying in Italy afterwards. Sorry I know this sounds confusing but I am really just going to be in italy for several months after leaving Czech and I don’t want to pay for something that I am not going to use! Thank you if you could help me solve this problem I would greatly appreciate it!

  • Helen says:

    Help! i’m trying to figure out a specical ticket from Zurich up to Brussels, but despite your kind advice the only zurich station that appears is ‘ZRH zurich airport’. any tips?

  • Helen says:

    Sorry – I’ve figured out the answer now, ignore me. Turns out its Zürich with an umlaut

  • Helen (above)
    Zurich to Brussels is a very easy journey, straight through on one train which runs twice daily. This is a route on which there are rarely many discount options, and I fear you may need to resign yourself to paying the full one way fare of 153 Swiss francs (about €106). Travel time 7 hours. We would be very interested in hearing if you find anything cheaper on either of those twice daily direct trains.

    There are some cheaper options, but they take longer. The first is SNCF-TGV to Paris then onward by Thalys. An awkward change of station in Paris.

    The second is DB ICE to Frankfurt-Main (or another interchange point in Germany) then to Brussels. Book 3 months in advance, avoid the peak trains, and you can book this for €78 (using the Europa-Spezial Schweiz and the Europa-Spezial Belgian fares). Travel time 9 hours.

    If cost is really of the esssence and you can book well in advance, an even cheaper variant would be to buy the Europa-Spezial Schweiz fare from Zurich to Aachen for €39, connect at Aachen onto Thalys and pre-purchase a Smoove Toutes Gares Belges ticket to Liege for €15. You can use Thalys from Aachen to Liege then continue from Liege to Brussels by local trains using that same ticket. Total fare Zurich to Brussels would be €54. Travel time 11 hours.

    This is one of those case you, as the proverb says, ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’. We would say the full fare for the direct train is not bad. €106 for seven hours of sheer entertainment on one of the finest daytime trips that Europe has to offer. This is a really lovely journey that takes in Alsace vineyard aplenty plus the Ardennes hills.

    Nicky and Susanne

  • Toni says:

    Hello, I will be stay in Salzburg for three weeks during August and I would like to take a trip to Budapest and Prague. What is the cheapest train (regional or intercity) to these directions?
    Thanks in advance,
    Toni

  • Kevin says:

    Hi,

    I plan to travel from Halberstadt in Germany to London using the London Spezial, if available in May 2011. Is is possible to take a break of 40 hours in Brussels or does this only apply to German stops?
    Regards,

    Kevin

  • Kevin (above)
    As tickets for May 2011 will only be on sale in the upcoming weeks, we can only now venture to answer your question. The DB London Spezial technically excludes a Bruxelles stopover (in the relevant fare rule), but in practice the online booking system allows it. Tickets are on sale already for April 2011, and looking at a hypothetical journey from Halberstadt to London on a random date – we chose 9th April – the one way fare is €49. Leave Halberstadt around 1pm, change Hannover and Köln and arrive Bruxelles that same evening. 40 hour stop, just as you suggest. Continue two days later for a short afternoon hop top London. Tickets for your May 2011 journey will be on sale next month, but we judge it unlikely that the system will now change to preclude a Bruxelles stopover. On which date precisely will you travel?
    Nicky and Susanne

  • Kevin says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne,

    Thank you for the information.

    We plan to leave Halberstadt on 18th May but an invitation to Hamburg has meant we will not be able to stop in Brussels after all.

    I appreciate all the work you do for people like me. Hopefully this information will be helpful to someone else.

    Regards,

    Kevin

  • Jeff says:

    You could probably use the Deutsche Bahn’s London-Spezial to travel from Halberstadt via Hamburg to Brussels and London. You may not need to buy a separate ticket from Halberstadt to Hamburg.

  • Ralph & Annette Siedel says:

    Dear Young Ladies,
    We 70 year olds are ipressed with your data and the responses. Annette and I will visit Rome for a month in Sept/Oct. 2011. A quirk in our residence booking requires us to vacate for 4 days (/23- 9/25) and we’d like to visit Florence during that time. We’ve just begun to explore your web site(s) and were wondering if you have advise for two frisky oldies who want to travel from Rome to Florence and back by train…? We don’t need first class but aren’t cheapo(s) either. Any Advise?
    Thanks, Ralph

  • .
    For Ralph and Annette

    From Rome to Florence and back is such an easy journey. The fast AV trains are really too fast to catch more than a glimpse of the scenery, and the new fast line has too many tunnels for our taste. So why not take one of the older-style InterCity services, of which there are several departures each day? The journey from Rome to Florence by these IC trains takes 3 hours and costs €30 one way. (Compare the fast AV services which take 90 mins and cost €45 each way).

    For a real Italian train experience, one which would be really good fun, take the direct slow train from Rome to Florence. These services run every two hours and take four hours. You will see much more of everyday Italy from these slower trains which stop off at many little local stations along the way.

    Do hope this helps.
    Nicky and Susanne

  • T.T. Foo says:

    Which low cost airlines or train do I use from : London ->Amsterdam ->munich ->Praque ->Vienna ->Venice ->Rome ->Zurich -> Nice ->Paris ?
    Thank you !

  • David says:

    Hi friends,
    I reside in asian country, and not familiar with european transport system. If anyone could help me find the cheapest way to go from Paris to Bern/Lucernce/Zurich, i’d really appreciate it =) thanks

  • shah says:

    hi.i wish to travel by train ( as airlines are exp)..i want to depart 7 june from frankfurt to brussels..or frankfurt to paris with a stopover of 2 days in brussels if possible but the tickets are so expensive liek around 200 euro for each person.We are also travelling with a 7 month baby..Could u pls mention any cheap trains or special sale offers..Thanks alot.

  • Steph says:

    Hi Nicky and Susanne,
    Would love some help. I am trying to book sparschien tickets for my family to travel to and from Prague from Regensburg. My children are/will be 13 and 10 when we travel. It is my understanding from Dbahn that because it is an international train trip with children that we have to book over the phone. I successfully booked my trip to Prague using the UK no: +44 8718 808066, 2 days later when I went to book the return journey this number prompted a ‘disconnected’ message, and I can’t get through. The Dbahn 24/7 number +49 1806 996633 keeps me on hold for over an hour and then cuts me off, without being able to book. (I have attempted this on a number of different days and times.)

    My question:
    How do I best (without the hold/disconnection stress) book family of 4 trip back from Prague to Regensburg at a sparschein price?

    N.B I can speak German, so I am happy to do it over the phone in German, I just need to get to actually speak to a person.

  • SparSchiene Fares are an initiative of the Austrian rail operator ÖBB. They are not available on journeys from the Czech Republic to Germany. The German operator Deutsche Bahn does have a EuropaSpezial tariff (which is broadly similar to ÖBB’s Sparschiene fares), but we are pretty certain it’s not available on the Praha to Regensburg route which is not run by DB.

    There are four direct trains each day from Praha to Regensburg, namely at 05.15, 09.15, 13.15 and 17.15. The trains are run by Alex and the regular fare from Regensburg to Prague is €43 return. Children under 15 travel for free. This is the standard full fare and you can buy it on the train. You’d need to check but we think this fare is only purchasable in Germany.

    From the Czech side we do know of various special offers. For example, if you travel on a Saturday or Sunday, there is a very good deal with a Group Weekend Ticket (look in Czech for the ticket called “Skupinová víkendová jízdenka+Nemecko” which give unlimited travel for 2 adults and 2 children in the Czech Republic and a big swathe of Germany. It costs 750 Czech crowns and you can use it for the whole journey from Prague to Regensburg on the Alex train. 750 crowns is about €27. Wonderful deal. You cannot buy it in advance. Buy on the day of travel.

    On other days (ie. other than Sat and Sun), there is a good ticket, only available online, called Vlasná jízdenka Nemecko. From Prague to Regensburg (only using the direct Alex train) the fare is 395, 540 or 675 crowns (about €14, €19 or €24), depending on how long in advance you book. Discounts for children of 10 and above are not allowed on the very cheapest fares. Tickets go on sale two months in advance and these tickets must be booked 3 days prior to travel. Book at https://www.cd.cz/eshop/.

    So, in short, Prague to Regensburg will cost you €56 for all four of you for travel on a Mon-Fri – or just €27 if you all make the journey on a Sat or Sun.

    Hope this helps. Find out more about European rail travel on http://www.europebyrail.eu and about our own work at http://www.hiddeneurope.co.uk

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