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Train ticket purchases. Now or at time of travel?

We will be taking a vacation in Europe from September 12th through October 6th with the time between September 24th and October 4th spent in Salzburg, Hallstatt and Vienna. We go from Munich to Salzburg on September 24th. On October 4th we travel by train from Vienna to Prague for the final stop on our vacation. I am seeing some favorable prices for train tickets now. I am wondering if I can expect the prices to remain stable until we are in Austria or if they will increase. Should we buy now or buy when we are there? Do we need reservations or can we count on getting seats on the train if we buy later?

Thank you.

Hugh

Posted by
23465 posts

You could use the search tool and find more detailed discussion on this near daily question First, trains in Europe rarely sell out so an advance reservation to guarantee a seat is not necessary. However, like our airlines, the new pattern in ticket pricing is to sell on line cheaper advance tickets. The prices do not change hourly as US airlines do but generally the last minute tickets are higher in price. But it varies greatly by the national railroad system. The Italians have three levels of pricing. The Swiss only one. The advance tickets will come with restrictions - generally no change (sometimes one change) and no refund.

Posted by
33305 posts

Hugh

If you are looking at full priced tickets for those two long journeys and various shorter ones, they won't go up.

If you are looking at discount tickets they will disappear as they are sold out.

Munich to Salzburg can be done on several different types of train from private to fancy, and they all come with various terms and conditions. Some can have reservations and some don't offer them.

What are you seeing, and from whom?

Several folk here are pretty knowledgeable of all those routes. Perhaps if you share we can give specific advice....

Posted by
19169 posts

"I am seeing some favorable prices for train tickets now."

If the "favorable prices" you are seeing now are for advance purchase discount ticket, purchase them now. They will only go up. These tickets are sold in "tiers". When the lower tiers sell out, the next tier is more expensive. The advance purchase tickets have already been on sale for over a month. But make sure they are what you want; it costs money to cancel them.

If the "favorable prices" are for standard (full fare) ticket, wait. The prices of those tickets are set in early December of each year. They are very unlikely to change before then.

Regional passes, like the Bayern-Ticket for Munich to Salzburg will be the same price as today at a ticket automat the day you travel. Buy them then.

Posted by
16894 posts

Each national railway web site tends to be pretty good at displaying the price options side-by-side, or with one more click, and naming them in some way, such as Saver/Advance/Economy (sold for specific dates and times, often not refundable or changeable, limited seats at those prices) versus Normal/Standard/Base rates (sold in stations right up to the departure of the train), and some more colorful names. General info with links per country at http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains/buying-tickets. For your trip, the easiest one-stop shopping options would be primarily at the Austrian site www.oebb.at or at your first train station, such as Munich works fine.