I'm planning a trip to Germany, Prague & Vienna April 27th through May 4th. We'll be buying a rail pass, and plan to have at least 1 overnight train trip from Vienna to Munich. I know I need to book the overnight and buy the rail tickets in advance, but can anyone tell me if they recommend buying tickets for individual trips in advance? When I say I have a railpass on raileurope.com for the individual leg of the trip, it usually says the price is still $11 or so. Is this because I have to pay for a reservation? My railpass is expensive already, and so I'm wondering if the additional cost for reservations is really necessary. Also, are there usually train stikes or any other issues I need to know about? Is 1st class worth a little more and less likely to fill up, etc?
I have been on 175 trains in Germany the last six years without ever having a reservation. Only once was it difficult not having one. You can always get reservations (for about €3,50) after you get there.
But I would suggest your hold off on buying a railpass until you thoroughly explore the costs and options. A day train from Vienna to Munich takes about four hours and the fare can be as low as €29 purchased online from Austrian Rail. For the night train, you might be able to buy full tickets (rail plus reservations) online for a double compartment on a SparNight fare for €69, about what you would pay for reservations alone, not including the day of a railpass, from Rail Europe.
What is the rest of your itinerary?
Nichole, we're going to get a 1st class Eurail pass when we go in August/September. #1, Even though we're sort of "backpacking," I wanted a bit of comfort in our travels! 1st class seats are more comfortable and offer more legroom. #2, One of the Eurail books I read pointed out a few things about advantages of 1st class. a) it's easier to find a free seat in 1st class without a reservation during rush hours because commuters head to 2nd class. b) On trains that require reservations, you have a better chance at getting a non-smoking FIRST class than non-smoking SECOND class...
And in reference to your train strike question, I don't think they have strikes in Germany very often. Now if you were traveling to ITALY, you might have to be worried. A train strike in Italy really threw us off and we basically lost half a day because of one... Also, if you're going to be traveling all the time with at least one other person, get the "Saverpass" and you will save a LOT of money, no matter which pass you're buying.
Lee, you seem to know a lot about the trains in Germany. The only question that I can't seem to get answered is this: We're going to have a Germany rail pass. We are also going to have the Prague excursion pass for our 3 days in Prague. On the way TO Prague, we'll be traveling from Frankfurt to Prague during the day. But on the way back, we're going to take the night train from Prague to Munich. I know that the regular train ride is covered by both those passes, but we want to get a sleeper cabin and I can't seem to find out what it will cost ON TOP OF our railpass... I know there are several different classes of sleeper cabins, so it will vary, but I wish I could get an idea of approximately how much we're looking at...
No reservations are possible on regional trains. With a pass you simply show up and jump on. Reservations are REQUIRED on fast trains and night trains. They're cheaper if you wait and make them in Europe, but it's good to make reservations on night trains several weeks in advance. See the railpass sections on this site and on www.seat61.com.
In Germany I liked the Second Class train cars more than the First Class train cars. The Second Class seats are very good. On German trains the Second Class train cars are better than the Second Class train cars in some other countries in Europe. Does the Rail pass you want cover all three of those countries ?
Amy, you can find the cost of the accommodations surcharge as well as the complete fare for rail and accommodations or the cost of the discounted SparNight fare from the Nachtzugreise booking website, https://buchung.nachtzugreise.de. The site can be switched to English by clicking on the British flag. When you are looking for the accommodation surcharge, click "accommodation surcharge only, ticket exists" under "what is required".
Amy, PS, you can also purchase your accommodations using this website. You can use a credit card and print the tickets yourself. Nachtzugreise is a combined effort of the German Rail night train lines; the prices here are what you would pay at a station in Europe - much lower than from U.S. resellers.
Lee, My full itinerary is: Cologne (Koln) to Berlin, Berlin to Prague, Prague to Vienna, Vienna to Munich (overnight train), Munich to Bacharach, Rhine Cruise up to Koblenz, train to Cologne and then flight home to USA. The best deal to me for Railpasses seems to be the Austria-Germany Saverpass which is about $300 1st class and $257 2nd class. We'd also need the Prague Excursion Pass, which is $100 1st class or $75 2nd class. The additional cost for a couchette for the 1 overnight is about $35 in a 6-bed compartment. I'll check out the websites you mentioned Lee - thanks for your assistance!
Wow, thanks Lee! I couldn't tell you how long I have tried to find that information and you finally answered the question for me!
You can buy your German rail tickets up to 10 minutes prior to the respective train's departure via your cell phone! Just access mobile.bahn.de from your cell, select the route and make your booking. Seconds later your ticket will be sent to your phone as MMS. It looks similar to an e-stamp. The conductor will scan your MMS picture and you're fine. It works for last minute seats reservations, too. So when you see the platform is packed, just book mobile. However, it only works for trips longer than 51km (ca. 30 miles plus). In order to use this service visit bahn.de from your computer, register, store your form of payment and - if you like - select test MMS to figure out whether it works with your phone, too. You might want to use a prepaid German SIM-card for that service. You can get them at any Aldi, Rewe or other kind of grocery store for very little money...