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Munich airport to Salzburg. Need seat reservations or just S-Bahn?

DB Bahn site sells tickets, and apparently will reserve a seat without a ticket.
If I buy an S-Bahn at the airport, do I need/want reserved seats through DB Bahn? What about flight delays...make multiple reservations through DB Bahn? What about luggage? Separate seat reserved for it? Saturday arrival, S-Bahn good all day. One S-bahn covers multiple travelers? I searched this site, lots of questions about this route, but nothing at the truly idiot-level I apparently require. And Rick Steve's instructions on the Railpass page seem to assume a base level of knowledge I just don't have. I'm from Chicago. Munich to Salzburg looks like Chicago to Joliet to me. We have Metra, multiple trains, no reserved seating, buy your ticket and ride the ride. Thank you for taking pity and helping the hapless travelers that we apparently are.

Posted by
2829 posts

Stadbahn is just the German equivalent of "commuter rail" in North American English. It's a designation, nothing more. You can save some money with advanced tickets, but the route is reasonably short so you could buy tickets upon arrival. There is no such ticket as seat reservation for luggage, but you must accommodate it in the entrance of the train car at luggage racks, under your seat or above it (if the train has racks there along the seats). You need to take two trains: one from the airport to a transfer station (which will be München Ost or München Hauptbahnbof and from there another train to Salzburg. You can buy both tickets at DB ticket machines at Müncher Airport (no need to waste time waiting in line for a clerk). For the München (ost/hbf) - Salzburg sector, treat yourself to a better service with Railjet trains that cost only € 8 more and are much, much more comfortable than regional stop trains that call at every freaking town in htat route. From the Airport to München ost/hbf S-Bahn trains are your only option. Be ultra-attentive to avoid luggage theft on that train!!!

Posted by
2829 posts

To go back to the reservation issue: - no reservation possible on the S-Bahn train from München Flughafen to München Ost/Haupbanhof - if you take a Raij Jet or Eurocity train from München to Salzburg (the 2nd leg), you can make a reservation and I advise you to do so when you buy the ticket at München airport, so that you are guaranteed a seat after a long flight.

Posted by
7 posts

Really worried about dealing with luggage on what seems like commuter trains from this distance. Do we really need seat reservations? Buy a ticket online through the DB Bahn site? If I buy from them, do I need to buy the S-bahn at the airport? I'm not clear on what exactly an "S-bahn" is. A discount pass to be used in conjunction with real tickets, or a ticket in and of itself? What happens if we get to the 'ost' station and try to get on a train to Salzburg without reservations, with luggage, just with the S-Bahn? Could someone please walk me through the 'taking a train from Munich to Salzburg WITH LUGGAGE' process? (btw the DB Bahn site has over 20 choices in its dropdown menu for 'Salzburg').

Posted by
591 posts

Getting from the Munich airport to Salzburg is one of the best deals in Europe and it's quite simple. When you arrive at the airport purchase a "Bayern Ticket."
The ticket costs €26 for 2 people (deals up to 5 people) traveling together and is good for all day traveling 2nd class on 'Regional' trains (and the S-bahn) to any point in Bavaria. Salzburg is considered an end point even though it's just across the border. If you are traveling alone, there are Bayern Tickets for a single person at €22. From the airport take S-Bahn # 8 to the Ostbahnhof, then switch to a regional train bound for Salzburg (there's at least 1 per hour). There are helpful people at both the airport and train station who speak English if you get confused. http://www.munich-touristinfo.de/Bavaria-Ticket.htm

Posted by
19169 posts

"For the München (ost/hbf) - Salzburg sector, treat yourself to a better service with Railjet trains that cost only € 8 more " The RailJet goes "non-stop" from Munich Hbf to Salzburg Hbf. It does not stop at Muenchen Ostbahnhof. Full fare by S-Bahn and RailJet from MUC to Salzburg is 38€/p. On the other hand, you can get a Bayern-Ticket for one person for 22€, and that will include your S-Bahn from the airport to Muenchen Ost and a Regional Express from Ost to Salzburg. So the difference for one person is 16€, not 8€. And to get that price, you have to buy the complete ticket at the airport. The S-Bahn/RailJet combination takes 2h23m min and you have 10 min at Muenchen Hbf to go from the tief (underground) S-Bahn station to track 11, one of the farthest away. The S-Bahn/RE connection takes 2h38m, and you have 21 min for a 4 platform change at Ost. For you extra 22€, you save about 15 min, if you make the 10 min connection. You can get an advance purchase, online ticket on the RailJet for less than full fare, but it is a train specific, non-refundable ticket, so if your plane is late, the ticket is worthless. Since you said "we", I assume you mean two people. Railjet tickets would cost 76€ for 2; the Bayern-Ticket would cost 26€ for 2. When I land at MUC and go to Salzburg, I always use the Ostbahnhof connection and a Regional Express.

Posted by
4684 posts

If you want to take a faster train than Regional to Salzburg, I would suggest reserving a seat on a Saturday: I took that route on a Friday in July on an express and it was extremely busy. Personally I think it's socially irresponsible to make multiple reservations on different trains, but if you're worried about flight delays and have the money to spare...

Posted by
8700 posts

Here's one more important detail about Bayern-Tickets. On weekdays you cannot use them until after 09:00. On weekends they're good any time of the day.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you for the detailed replies. We will be traveling on a Saturday, so I'm gathering we just buy an S-bahn ticket and head to the Ost station. From there we'll take a regional train to Salzburg. Is there any timestamping required, or is the date & time purchased printed on the ticket itself? Can anyone give me excrutiating details on the luggage situation on these local/regional trains? One (big) backpack, one (largish) roller suitcase, messenger bag, carry-on. Would we be allowed to keep the bag, carry-on and backpack on our laps during the trip? The suitcase isn't going to fit under any trainseat I've ever seen, and definitely won't fit in an overhead bin. I would willingly buy an extra ticket for the luggage if that won't send some local fellow rider screaming to a conductor. When taking the Blue line from O'Hare into downtown Chicago, we just plop luggage on the seat next to us, no problem. Ditto on the Metra trains we then connect with. Is this frowned upon in Germany? Frowned upon to the level of dirty looks or active intervention on the part of a conductor? And again, I'd pay for a seat for the luggage. Thanks again.

Posted by
2829 posts

You buy both tickets together at the train station at München airport. There is not a luggage limitation on German trains, however, you must be able to carry all your luggage and you can't obstruct the alley. No problems getting something in your lap. It's better if you store your larger suitcase at the rack though. On regional trains without assigned places (e.g., you seat wherever it's empty on a first-come, first-save basis), occupying seats with luggage if the train is full (e.g., people standing) is heavily frowned upon.

Posted by
19169 posts

There is no need to buy two tickets at the airport. Just buy a Bayern-Ticket. A Bayern-Ticket will cover both the S-Bahn to the Ostbahnhof (any means of transport in Munich, actually) and also the regional train to Salzburg. The price is 22€ for the first person, another 4€ for each extra person up to five, total. The Bayern-Ticket is valid for all day long on Saturday (after 9 AM on a work day, until 3 AM the following morning of any day) for regional trains (RE, RB, ALX, BOB) all over Bavaria and for the line from Freilassing, Bavaria, into Salzburg Hbf, Austria, but NOT for local transportation in Salzburg. The validity date will be stamped on the ticket, but one person needs to print their name on the ticket and be with it for it to be valid. Take the S8 (left-hand platform at the airport). It will say "Herrsching" because it goes there eventually, but it stops at Ostbahnhof on the way. The S1 (from the RH platform) will say Ostbahnhof, because that's where it goes eventually, but it takes a longer route through the Hauptbahnhof.

Posted by
2829 posts

Lee, if Toivo opts for a combination of S-Bahn and a much more comfortable RailJet, he'll get two tickets, not one, though they are bought in one single process.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks. Part of travel is joining in with the local culture. A commuter train sounds like it would be more 'local', and cheaper, than something like a Railjet, which sounds like Amtrak to me (not a good sound). It's all new to us, but we'll give a go. Especially thanks for the details on specific train information.

Posted by
19169 posts

Toivo, it still doesn't sound like you understand completely. If by the "commuter train", you mean the S-Bahn, you have no choice. The S-Bahn is the only rail choice you have from the airport to town (Hauptbahnhof or Ostbahnhof). Your choice is between an express train (RailJet or Eurocity) or a regional train from Munich to Salzburg. I wouldn't call the regional train a commuter train, but it does make more stops between Munich and Salzburg. In May, I rode from Rosenheim to Munich Hbf on a Regional Express, one that had originated in Salzburg. It was on of the new double decker regional express trains, very comfortable. I certainly would not pay 16€ more for a RailJet. On the other hand, from Ostbahnhof to Freilassing, I rode an older model Regional Express. It was not as nice as the one from Rosenheim, but certainly nice enough. If there are two of you, it will cost 76€ by RailJet vs 26€ by regional train with a Bayern-Ticket. I'm not real familiar with the space in the overhead rack, because in twelve years there have been very few times where I could not set my bag on the seat next to me. However, when I wanted to use the overhead rack, there has always been room.

Posted by
7 posts

I think I'm starting to understand the concepts, if not the nomeclature. Munich to Salzburg is really like taking a Metra train out of Chicago to a far-flung suburb, same distances involved, and, from your description, same type of train cars...so, to me, its a 'commuter'. What I still don't quite understand is what exactly DB Bahn is selling. Are they selling 'regional' train tickets, or Railjet/ICE tickets only? As long as the train gets me from the airport to Salzburg, I don't really care too much about the nicer amenities that might be offered...I'll be getting off of a airliner after 12+ hours afterall, any seat is going to down-filled bliss after that. Thanks.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi, After a 12 hour flight (I don't prefer more than a 10.5hr flight myself), I would take the S-Bahn to Hauptbahnhof, maybe have some down time there (very good food court and WC facilities, the Rail and Fresh on the lower floor), then catch the Railjet to Salzburg. Railjet is a bit more expensive, more convenient, more comfortable, faster.

Posted by
2829 posts

Toivo, in any of these trains, locals will be the overwhelming majority. RailJet is not like Amtrak. And just because people riding RailJet are not travelling short distances, they are no more "European" than the others using RailJet. At most, those using RailJet have more money, but unless you signed up for a filthy Occupy-something camp, traveling with people with a bit higher income doesn't make the "experience" less "cultured" (sic) than a regional train.

Posted by
7 posts

I'm starting to wonder if there aren't Railjet shills trolling these boards. What exactly will I gain by paying an extra 80 euro's (somewhere around that number anyway, vs a Bayern ticket) for two people vs. just hopping on a regular train? We're talking about a ride of what? 2 hours? Like going to Milwaukee from Chicago. I mean, seriously, just how much more plush is a Railjet seat compared to any other? Does the train go by different scenery or something? Local trains will be fine, just needed to get a better grasp of how the systems worked there. Thanks

Posted by
19169 posts

I can remember a couple of decades ago, when most German trains were of the side-aisle, compartment type. One of my most memorable experiences was going from Karlsruhe to Munich in one of these cars, sharing a 6-person compartment with five Germans, who, when they realized I was an American, took great delight pointing out all of the sights along the way. Unfortunately, those compartment cars are now rare, replaced by two by two aircraft style seating. Unless you end up in a two-facing-two arrangement, there is little interaction with the locals, and the two-facing-two seats are often already taken by groups. In May I traveled from Munich Ost in an older regional train which did have side-aisle compartments in 1st class. In second class there was 2 by 2 seating and some 2 facing 2 open compartments. Later in the week I came back from Rosenheim to Munich and sat in a modern, double-decker RE, in a two facing two arrangement across from 2 giggling teenyboppers who spent the entire trip texting someone and laughing at the texts. I guess that was culture.

Posted by
33317 posts

Railjet shills? Probably not. Hey, if you want to take the slow train, take the slow train. No worries.... I've ridden all sorts of trains and when I have a choice I'll take the fast one every time. I've only ridden the Railjet three times but every time I've been amazed at the ride. Very comfy indeed, quiet, very fast - by Austrian standards - , good air conditioning. It would be my train of choice. I work for a rail company but certainly not Railjet.

Posted by
3050 posts

I don't think anyone is a RailJet schill. I do think that with what I know how, I would use a Bayern ticket and take the "slow" train from Munich to Salzburg because the time difference isn't substantial. However, people are right that the RailJet is a very nice train. In fact, it's my favorite high speed train in Europe. They're just lovely, even in 2nd class. But for your trip, no, not necessary.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you to everyone. We'll soon be off. Anyone have any train tips for the leg from Vienna to Prague? Be willing to splurge on that leg, 5+ hours on a train. Be traveling on a weekday. Thanks again.

Posted by
2829 posts

@Lee: compartments were all but phased out. They don't optimize space and lost their noise insulation purpose now that all modern trains have managed ventilation (e.g., mechanical, via A/C or even fans, with sealed panel windows). Nowadays most trains have some sort of camera surveillance and that is more complicated if you have 60 compartments of 6 seats each instead of 6 rail cars with open-plan seat to monitor. Facing seats are great if you are travelling with more than 2 people, otherwise they become awkward when there are stranger in the seat in front of yours. You have less space to stretch your legs (pushing your legs under a stranger "space projection" is a big no-go, you have to be careful not to stumble or touch the stranger in front of you and those seats put people in a position to unintendely stare at each other, which is awkward.

Posted by
19169 posts

"compartments were all but phased out" Andre, four month ago I might have been inclined to agree with you. I had not actually seen compartments on trains for years, although I didn't go looking for them (according to the Rail websites, three, probably all four, of the express trains I rode in 2008-9 had compartments). However,after my last trip, I can't agree. Other than short distances, in commuter type trains, I rode in compartments on 4 out of 14 legs (Pilzn to Praha on a Czech regional train, Praha to Bad Schandau on an EC, Bad Schandau to Dresden on another EC, and Hof to Freising on an ALX train). I also saw compartments for 1st class on the RE from Munich to Salzburg, and the Bahn indicates there were compartments on the EC from Werfen to Salzburg). In addition to the two teenyboppers I mentioned above, I shared a compartment with three female American college students from Praha to Bad Schandau, and that experience was not at all uncomfortable.