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Trains in Austria and Germany

I'm planning my trip to the Christmas Markets. 2 People.
I will spend 3 days in Vienna, 1 day in Passau, 2 days in Regensburg, 3 days in Nuremberg, 1 day in Rothenburg, 2 days in Wurzburg, 1 day in Heidelberg and 2 days in Frankfurt. I will be taking the train between each place and hopefully to and from the airports as well. What is my best option? Pre-pay for an unlimited pass? Do the passes also allow local trains like the subway in Vienna? Do the passes work in both countries or would I need to buy 1 for Austria and another for Germany. I'm looking for value but I don't mind spending more for convenience.

Posted by
10586 posts

Hi,

I'll comment on the Pass itself. There is the Austria-Germany Pass, valid obviously in both countries for ICE and regional trains, plus Westbahn, Meridian, etc. The Pass is valid on the S-Bahn, not the U-Bahn.

Posted by
20698 posts

are you talking about the Christmas markets in 2019 or 2020?

Posted by
1178 posts

First of all, you don't need a DB (or Austria-Germny) pass for the Nürnberg - Rothenburg - Würzburg trip, since you will be using local trains only. Nürnberg - Rothenburg is covered by a VGN day pass ("TagesticketPlus", €19.70 for up to 6 people, two of them over 18 yo), which gives you unlimited travel in the entire VGN area. Rothenburg - Würzburg can be done with a Bayern Ticket (€31/2, valid after 9am on workdays, all day on weekends. A walk up ticket for departures before 9am would be €33.60/2).

For the Vienna - Passau leg there are saver fare tickets available which lock you into a speficic train but are much cheaper than a regular ("Flexpreis") ticket (50% and more off). ++) If your stay in Passau is less then 24 hours you may include the Passau - Regensburg trip at no extra cost; buy a ticket from Vienna to Regensburg and request a stop of, say, 23:00 hours in Passau when booking at www.bahn.com. Otherwise you could use local trains from Passau to Regensburg and then from Regensburg to Nürnberg without loosing much time (Passau Regensburg takes 0:56 with ICE and 1:25 with local trains, Regensburg - Nürnberg by ICE is 0:55, by the fastest RE connection 1:05; compare the price of a walk up ticket with the price of a Bayern ticket). Würzburg - Heidelberg is covered by a VRN (Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar) ticket for €10.90 pp.

Finally, for the Heidelberg to Frankfurt leg I'd use a long distance saver fare ticket again, sine there are no cheap regional tickets available. Six weeks out from today the price is 19.90 pp.

++) BTW, if you are looking for saver fares from Vienna to Passau at www.bahn.com you won't find any. Passau is considered the border station between the Austrian and the Germany rail network, and for intra-Austrian travel the DB cannot give you a saver fare. The usual workaround is either (a) to book at www.bahn.com from Vienna to Plattling (the ICE stop after Passau) and to select one of the direct ICE's, or (b) to book at www.oebb.at and select a "Sparschiene" ticket. The price will be approx the same, but availability may vary.

Posted by
15405 posts

If you're not traveling for a whole year, then you have plenty of time for research. There is a sale on for the next day or three that works for two-country Eurail Select passes activated within 11 months of purchase (e.g. activate by November 26, 2019; 6 travel days for $277 per person or 8 travel days for $322, nonrefundable). However, this offer is not the last chance. Other deals and product changes will certainly come up in the course of your future planning.

P.S. If you buy a separate one-way ticket from Vienna to Passau, that's your only train within Austria. The rest of the trip could be covered by a German Rail Pass with Twin discount, such as 5 travel days in a month for $215 per person or 7 travel days for $269.

Posted by
10586 posts

I brought my Pass, the Austria-Germany Pass just by the Nov 2018 deadline date, arrived after 7 days after booking it on-line. . For the identical pass of this year, 10 days/2 months/2nd class I paid $100 less, (ie, $339) than that I paid a year ago to be used on the May/June 2018 trip.

In Euro the price comes out to be 29 Euro per travel day.

Having 11 months (indicated on the Pass) to activate it certainly helps, fits right into my trip plans which call it to be used starting in June 2019. Then I have another two months (60 days) before the activated Pass expires.

Posted by
3241 posts

With the littlest of advance planning, there is no way that any one of your travel days will cost more that 29 Euro.

Please note that this site sells passes, so it is in their interest to promote them.

Posted by
1178 posts

In Euro the price comes out to be 29 Euro per travel day.

Certainly a good deal for your trip. But please consider the case of the OP (prices per person):

Vienna (- Passau) - Regensburg 29.90 (for two days)
Regensburg - Nürnberg 15.50
Nürnberg - Rothenburg 9.90
Rothenburg - Würzburg 15.50
Würzburg - Heidelberg 10.90

Heidelberg - Frankfurt 19.90

Using saver fares and local day passes s/he would end up at €101.60 for seven travel days, that's around €14.50 / day. And contrary to the GR pass, that includes public transport in Nürnberg, Würzburg, and Heidelberg.

Posted by
17011 posts

I last bought a rail pass in 2000 and after my trip I calculated that, using the trains I used, I just about broke even vs. full fare tickets. Since that trip, knowing what I know now about the cost of regional passes and advance purchase tickets, I have never found that a rail pass would pay for itself.

You are really not going far enough to make a rail pass pay.

A pass is usable on the S-Bahn in Germany (and I assume, without looking, also in Austria), but not on other city transport like to U-Bahn, trams, or buses. A regional pass like the Bayern-Ticket or the TagesTicket Plus in Nürnberg, includes those conveyances.

For Frankfurt to FRA, a simple local transit ticket will cost less than a day of a rail pass.

Posted by
178 posts

I'm going out on a limb and giving unsolicited, but very well intended advice. You will be spending more time getting to and from the trains and on the trains then you anticipate. It will eat into your time in each city. I would not make any one night stops; fewer places and more nights in each place. I also have had very unpleasant experience with German trains being late and throwing the whole schedule for the day several hours late. Anytime you must change trains to get from one place to another, this is a possibility. The Frankfurt train station is especially large and making a tight connection can be difficult.

I say all of this in a spirit of genuine goodwill and trying to be helpful. I always try to expect the positive and good, but sometimes it doesn't work out so well schedule wise.