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Training it from Budapest>Vienna>Prague>Meissen>Krakow

We will be arriving in Budapest, from Chicago April 8th. Returning to Chicago from Krakow on the 23rd. Our itinerary is listed in the title. In all of our previous trips to Europe we have rented a car drove to the next destination. This time, however, since we will be in major cities for all of our trip, a car would be a major headache so we will be taking the train. In doing some research, a rail pass seems not be a viable option cost wise, or at best a wash. So we are planning on purchasing one way tickets between cities as needed. Our plan is to purchase a train ticket upon arrival for the next city we plan to visit. For example, arrive in Vienna from Budapest, upon arrival purchase a ticket for the next destination, Prague, etc. This seems like a very viable plan. However, since we are new to train travel in Europe, any flaws in this plan you might see I would appreciate it advice on that or using the train in general.

Thanks!

Mike

Posted by
552 posts

Meissen to Krakow as a night-train for your last segment? There are a few transfers at best with that route. You don't want to add Berlin to this itinerary? A one-hour transfer in Szczecin around 7 p.m. would be your only hassle if you took that night-train.

I don't know why but the best way to find direct (zero transfers, still plenty of stops) trains in that region is to go counterclockwise from Budapest, to Krakow then Prague (all night-trains). That would have you wanting to fly out of Vienna though...

Posted by
2081 posts

manstett,

I more or less did the same trip, but backwards compared to what you have planned.

I dont see any reason why one direction would be better than the other, but for me and how i did it, was due to Octoberfest. i didnt have my hotel reservations in Munich so by the time i had looked at places, staying in munich was expensive. So i swapped directions.

I know where im going to stay and when, so i booked my tickets ASAP. I didnt bother to check on which legs i could walk up and get the same price since again, i knew where i was going.

Hopefully someone will know which legs would be less expensive to buy in advance.

happy trails.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for your input. We are committed to leaving from out of Krakow. We found such a good airfare ($609 rt) that leaving from Vienna is not an option because we would incur high itinerary change fees.
We will be taking daytime train trip to Krakow. I know that there is both German and Polish railway available out of Dresden.
I think we will have to catch the train from Meissen to Dresden and from there on to Krakow. I am under the assumption, according to the information on this website, that there are usually plenty of seats available on the trains for this part of Europe. Therefore reservations and early purchase (now) isn't necessary. I am wondering if others out there have found this to be the case. We don't want to be "stuck" somewhere because of not being able to get train seats.
Thanks

Posted by
2081 posts

manstett,

one other thing that can affect your train is when you go. I know that every country is a bit different when it comes to "spring break". Thats about the only thing i can think of in that time range but I'm sure every county will have some festival/celebration somewhere at sometime.

also, if $$ is important, check out the train cost by plugging in the next day to buy vs 3 months or so from now and see how the price differs. That difference alone may make you change your mind.

Just my opinion and comment. I took my first train ride from Edinburgh to London and it was about 4 hours. I was hooked after that. I love the fact that trains will go from City Center to City Center and no security screening other than the Eurostar as far as i know and have experienced. Some have food cars, some will bring the food to you like on the airplanes.

Once you get on one, try to figure out where its going and the stops ahead. Many of them are similar, but its always fun to figure out how each system conveys the info.

also, i find that I'm able to chat with more locals/travelers on a train.

happy trails.

Posted by
4062 posts

Mike - a few points that haven't already been made. First, seats don't sell out on trains in this part of Europe. If there are no available seats, you just stand. It is not like flying on an airplane where people are counted, etc. Trains make so many stops, it would be impossible to keep track of who is on and who isn't. That said, what many people do to ensure that they have a place to sit (as opposed to stand) is to purchase a seat reservation. This can typically be done weeks, or even hours, before the departure. Second, you are very correct that a rail pass would be like flushing money down the toilet. While you can buy your tickets at the station just prior to departure, the smart thing (and the more economical thing) to do is to purchase your tickets online, in advance from the national rail carrier of the country where your trip originates. For example, you can buy a walk up fare for Budapest to Vienna for 29 Euro. The same ticket, online and in advance would be 13 Euro. You have to buy these online tickets well ahead, however, as there are only a set number of tickets at the reduced fare and once they are gone, the price will rise. The man in seat 61 website is an excellent resource for understanding where and how to buy your tickets.

Budapest to Vienna - http://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Budapest.htm#Budapest-Austria

Vienna to Prague - http://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Vienna.htm#Vienna-Prague

For the parts of your trip that include Meissen, I would use the website of the German rail carrier, Deutsche Bahn, at www.bahn.de.

I would also note that there are no major holidays during your trip, so things won't be too crowded. Finally, second class is perfectly fine.

Posted by
12084 posts

Hi,

From Meissen to Dresden Hbf is the S-Bahn connection. The train from Dresden Hbf to Prague is 2+ hrs, and it's a long day ride to Krakow. I did Krakow to Berlin day which took ca. ten hours.

Posted by
16743 posts

If you already have hotels booked, then perhaps your itinerary is set firm enough to book some advance discount tickets online. On the other hand, then most direct or convenient trains depart at least every two hours on most of your routes, and don't sell out, so you can keep your schedule more flexible, if you prefer.

Meissen to Krakow has only a few departures per day, with 2-3 connections; the Polish express trains or the DB Berlin-Krakow direct bus do require seat assignments, included when you buy tickets. These are sold on the German rail web site.

Posted by
12084 posts

Hi,

The ride Meissen to Krakow is straight forward, which can done with two changes. I suggest the the noontime departure. Take the S-Bahn Meissen to Dresden Hbf. Change to the noontime departure Dresden Hbf to Wroclaw, where you have over an hour layover, change to Krakow Glowny. The route avoids deviating up to Berlin and Poznan. On the issue of a rail Pass, absolutely no need for that as regards to train travel in Poland.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks so much to all of you for your replies to my original post. The information you have provided is exactly I needed to know. One last question: Emily, if you pre-purchase your ticket as you wisely suggest, is the ticket for a certain time and day or is it more or less flexible? I am assuming that it is a for a specific time/day. So if one knows for sure when you want to leave then pre-buy, if one wants to remain flexible in an itinerary, buy when you decide to leave? Thank you for the link to the website as well, I will definitely check that out.

Thanks Again,

Mike

Posted by
4637 posts

Mike, if you pre-purchase ticket for specific day the ticket is valid on that day. There are no specific times. Only for trains with mandatory reserved seats like some special fast trains you have to use that specific train. Otherwise you can use any train which starts on the day for which your ticket is valid. If there are two (or more) routes to your destination then the ticket is valid for the shortest one unless specified.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for your post!
Pre-purchased tickets are specific to the day but not the time of day...is that correct?

Posted by
4062 posts

I must disagree with the above post. Point to point tickets purchased online in advance are for a specific train on a specific date at a specific time. If you know your travel days, then I think picking a train travel time isn't a big deal. Planes fly at a specific time and that works for people so why not also a train?

Posted by
4062 posts

The super saver fares sold by MAV and Oebb on line are for a specific train. Of course you can buy just regular point to points, but they will cost more.

I refer to this link:

http://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Budapest.htm#Budapest-Austria

And this in particulat:

However, it's cheaper to pre-book. You can buy Budapest to Vienna tickets online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu with special cheap advance-purchase fares starting at just €13 in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class. As you'd expect, these cheap tickets are only valid on the specific train you book, no refunds, no changes to travel plans. Booking opens 60 days ahead. (Note that the advice in this section only applies to one-way or round trip journeys starting in Budapest. If your journey starts in Vienna, prices & booking arrangements are different, see the Vienna to Budapest section).

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks to all of you who have provided just the information I needed for our upcoming trip. Your thoughtful sharing of your experiences, insights and advice have assured me that train travel between our destinations will be convenient, economical and most of all a new experience for us to look forward to!
Thanks again!
Mike