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Salzburg to Zürich

Hi, me and my wife are traveling to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland about 2-4 weeks from now. Does anyone know a good train to take for this trip? How much would it cost? We are both only 24, so any tips to save is very much appreciated!

Posted by
1040 posts

As I mentioned when you posted a similar question on the Germany forum, look at the German railway site. You can use it for information on train travel throughout Europe.

Posted by
6793 posts

You dont have to plan a route or pick a specific train. Just plug in starting point and ending point, and the railway websites (Swiss, Austrian or German) will show you the available departure times. The cost will show up for each option.

Posted by
4370 posts

I went from Salzburg to Luzern via Zurich, so essentially the same as you. I purchased a ticket from OBB to go from Salzburg to Buchs well in advance and saved a lot of money. When we got to Buchs we used our Swiss Pass. If you are not getting any passes or a half fare card, you can just buy a ticket at Buchs to take you to Zurich. It is my understanding that Swiss tickets are always the same rate? Please confirm this for yourself. I also know there is a newer budget Austria railway, but when I checked them out, their rate was the same as the OBB advance purchase rate. I'm not sure how much of Austria the budget railway covers. All I know is they had a route Vienna to Salzburg. I would also look at what the advance purchase rates would be for one ticket, Salzburg to Zurich on OBB. Lastly, I'm pretty sure that for some of the tickets that I purchased, there was a young person's rate, I think up to age 25. You could check DB, OBB and SBB. Oh and another thought, if you are taking any trips within Bavaria (which for some reason includes some cities in Austria including Salzburg) the Bayern ticket can save money.

Posted by
16941 posts

Tip to save? Buy it now, nonrefundable. Right now, 136 CHF for 2 24 yo's. that is almost 50% off the walk-up price. That is for August 16, from www.sbb.ch/en.

Posted by
4370 posts

Sam, I didn't know SBB had advance purchase rates. Maybe because I had a Swiss Pass. Anyway, you say its nonrefundable. Is it for a specific day and time?

Posted by
16941 posts

They do for International trains where they are matching the operator's conditions. This is the 7:56 Railjet operated by OEBB, but SBB is showing a better price. Conditions:

Supersaver Ticket
Ticket for single journey.
Seat reservations required for international services; Tickets are only valid in the trains for which they were booked.
Exchange / Refund:
No exchanges or refunds
If you print your own ticket: the A4 printout of the OnlineTicket must be shown to the ticket inspector. OnlineTickets are non-transferable.
The person named on the ticket must show the ticket inspector an official ID document (ID card, passport or driving licence) without being asked to do so.
International travel is subject to the «General Terms and Conditions for the Carriage of Passengers by Rail» (GCC-CIV/PRR) and the «Special Carriage and Tariff Conditions of SBB» (STC-SBB) www.sbb.ch/passenger-rights.
Special conditions apply to OnlineTickets in accordance with the General Terms and Conditions on www.sbb.ch/ticketshop.

Posted by
4698 posts

For Salzburg to Zurich, you’ll take a train with OEBB, the national Austrian rail carrier. Use their website to plug in your dates and preferences. Buying a ticket now, online for a train at a specific time will be half as much as a walk up fare on the day of travel. But, seriously, buy the ticket now as there are only a limited number of tickets at the lowest price.

https://www.oebb.at/en/

Posted by
8889 posts

If you are not getting a Swiss Pass, you DO NOT have to split the purchase at the Swiss border. Just buy one ticket from Salzburg to Zürich (or to wherever you are actually going in Switzerland, e.g. Luzern). You can do this at either the SBB or ÖBB websites (see which has the better price). DB won't sell you a ticket as the only sell for German trains.

And yes a "good train" is whatever train goes where you want to go at whatever time you want to go. Just go to SBB or ÖBB website ( https://www.sbb.ch/en or https://www.oebb.at/en/ ) and enter Salzburg to Zürich (or Luzern, or Lauterbrunnen or wherever your final destination is).

Posted by
759 posts

I see from the schedule that you could also take the night train from Salzburg to Zurich.
We did this about 5 years ago, bought a couchette, and slept thru most of it.
I thought it was fun.
Good news is that you save time and money on a hotel. Bad news is that it leaves 2:30 am, though I am fairly sure you can board MUCH earlier.

Posted by
4684 posts

Not much earlier - the train arrives at Salzburg from Vienna at 0024.

Posted by
16941 posts

There are 5 direct day trains a day at 7:56, 9:56, 11:56, 15:56. and 17:56 that take 5 hours and 24 minutes. No need for a night train. Sleeping accommodations, whether couchettes or sleeping compartment will cost extra.

Posted by
7 posts

Is it ok to assume that when I remain inside a country (for ex. I went to Italy 2 months ago but stayed in Italy the whole time) it is fine to walk up and buy a ticket as I go, but for international trains buying ahead is better.

Is this correct?

Posted by
7 posts

Another Question -

We plan on buying the Swiss Rail pass. Is it easy to buy in Switzerland? Can we just purchase it at a Swiss rail station?

Thanks for all your help!

Posted by
16941 posts

but for international trains buying ahead is better.

Nothing to do with better, but everything to do with cheaper. You wouldn't think to just go to the airport and walk up and say "Put me on the next flight to X." You know you would be paying through the nose. Same deal with long distance trains in Europe. Walk up and you are guaranteed to pay the highest price.

Now Swiss domestic trains are pretty much always the same price, so that statement does not apply, but for international trains into and out of Switzerland, they do get discounted for advance nonrefundable tickets.

Taking a train from Salzburg to Zurich, you will not have an opportunity to buy a Swiss Pass until you get to Zurich, but you can buy on-line ahead of time and either print it out, or download the app and display it on your smartphone. If you have it ahead, you can save money by just indicating you have a Swiss Pass when you buy the ticket on-line from SBB. You will have to show it to the conductor, along with your passport once the train enters Switzerland.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks Sam, do you know where I can find the Swiss Pass online? You mentioned an app, does it work the same way, what is the app called? Which one do you recommend?

Posted by
4698 posts

Regional train tickets you walk up and buy. Long distance, intercity trains (even within the same country) you buy ahead to save $$$.

Posted by
8889 posts

but for international trains buying ahead is better.

Nothing to do with whether it is an international train or not, everything to do with which railway company it is and what their pricing policy is.

  • Germany, Austria: Long distance trains have discounts for advanced purchase, but you can still buy on the day. Reserved seats optional, but recommended on some trains and dates. You can buy "open" tickets valid on any train, these are more expensive. Local trains no discount for advance purchase.
  • Italy: Long distance trains have large discounts for advance purchase (like you pay 1/2 or 1/3), but you can buy on the day. Tickets are specific to one train, and include seat numbers on the ticket. Local trains (regionale) no discount for advance purchase.
  • Switzerland: Fixed price for all trains, no discount for advance purchase. Tickets are valid on any train on the date shown on the ticket, no reservations. Except a few lesser used trains where Supersaver advance tickets are sold.
  • France: TGV (High Speed trains) have discounts for advance purchase, but you can buy on the day. Tickets are specific to one train, and include seat numbers on the ticket. Other trains no discount for advance purchase.

A train can have reserved seats and discounts in one country, but as soon as it crosses the border it new rules apply and any ticket can be used.