My family and I (mom, dad, 2 girls, ages 10 & 17) are planning to take the Nightjet train between Vienna and Venice in June. I've read some reviews online that have made me pause, both in terms of service on the train and comfort. We've never done a night train before and are looking forward to the adventure of it, but I also want to know what to expect. I'd be interested in hearing from some of you who've taken that particular train. What was your experience like? Any advice for us? Thanks.
The Alps is a physical barrier between Vienna and Venice. The distance between the cities is farther than most people expect. The train ends and you have to switch to a bus before switching back to a train.
I would suggest flying on Austrian Airlines.
I'm not aware of any bus component on the overnight trip from Vienna to Venice, but I haven't taken that night train.
Keep in mind that such trains do not provide non-stop service. This one isn't as bad as many I've looked at, because it doesn't make as many stops, but at all of these places, at the time indicated (schedule for next Monday), the train will come to a stop, there will be platform noise, then the train will start up again. Sometimes there's jerking involved.
NOTE: The itinerary below is not the best option. There's a later departure that doesn't require a change of trains in Padua. See my second post below.
Friesach in Kärnten 23:01
Klagenfurt Hbf 23:37
Villach Hbf 01:34
Tarvisio Boscoverde 02:15
Change to a regional train in Padua. No sleeping accommodations, of course.
6 more stops before you get to:
Venezia Santa Lucia 06:25
So it's 6:25 AM and you're in Venice, having gotten probably not a great deal of sleep. I hope it's summertime so it's not still dark (and chilly). Again: See my second post below; you need not change trains in Padua, and you need not arrive super-early in Venice.
After acraven's description, I think I would explore some other means (i.e. air) to do the trip
Overnight 10 hr train trip with a change vs a one hour flight. I do not have to contemplate that very long to make a choice.
Look at skyscanner.com for a info on flight options
Sorry, I have no answer for your question regarding the 'experience'.
Acraven's schedule is correct. No bus component. Just the NightJet to Padova at 5:21 and the regional train from there. The general rule of thumb is that a one hour flights is really about six hours from town to town after you spend time getting to and from airports, check in, go through security, wait to board, wait to get off the plane, and find ground transportation. Fly people never mention that part. It's one hour of flight and five hours of hassle vs. one uninterrupted ride. I'd normally rather spend a night sleeping on the train (and I can) than all that time in an airport. Plus, the train ride is during time not normally used for sightseeing (evening to morning) whereas flying is normally right out of prime daytime.
However, in this case, the train ride ends just after 5 am and then you have to transfer to a regional train in Padova. So much for a good night's sleep.
So, maybe it is better to fly, but don't forget to add the cost of a hotel night plus transportation to/from airports to the already high cost of flying. To get the best airline fares you have to book months in advance. With that kind of advance booking you can usually get pretty good rail fares.
Loving train travel as I do, I'd probably opt for the 7:40 hr daytime trip. Leaving 6:25 and arriving Venice 14:05.
Whatever you decide to do, have a great trip!
Edit to add: checking a random date 39 euro fare.
I've taken that train and several other sleeper trains over many, many years.
I must be missing something here because the Vienna-Venice nightjet goes straight through with no change of trains in Padua (of course it makes stops throughout the night). The schedule shows it leaving at 21:27 and arriving Venice at 8:24. To me, the 11 hour ride is perfect timing. You can have dinner in Vienna, get settled in your compartment, and not have to get off until a decent hour.
Will it be your best night's sleep? Probably not. Will it be an adventure? Absolutely. I think your girls will love the adventure.
Take a look at the website Man in Seat 61. You can find out all about train travel and look at photos of the compartments.
Baxter is right; I don't know how I overlooked the through-service when I initially checked the itinerary. This is the weekday schedule in early June for the NightJet with no change in Padua:
Wien Hbf dep 21:27
Wien Meidling dep 21:35
St.Pölten Hbf dep 22:02
Amstetten NÖ dep 22:29
Linz Hbf dep 22:58
Wels Hbf dep 23:16
Attnang-Puchheim dep 23:34
Salzburg Hbf dep 01:40
Villach Hbf dep 04:45
Tarvisio Boscoverde dep 05:30
Udine dep 06:25
Pordenone dep 07:00
Conegliano dep 07:24
Treviso Centrale dep 07:44
Venezia Mestre dep 08:14
Venezia Santa Lucia arr 08:24
acraven, That last schedule you posted is the one that I have been looking at. I didn't think there were any train changes in it. The schedule and timing of it all seem to fit our itinerary, so I guess what I'm interested in hearing from people is specific information on the NightJet train itself. Other reviews online seem mixed. We know it won't be the best night's sleep, but we're up for the adventure of it. Are there any other reasons that people have for NOT going on the NightJet train?
My opinion is that your experience will depend on your expectations.
The compartments are small and not at all like a hotel room. I think of it more like camping. You did not indicate if you were looking at a 4 berth couchette or sleepers (you would need two doubles).
Sleepers have a wash basin, couchettes do not. A few sleepers have bathroom (more extensive).
The car attendant will bring you a breakfast, depending on your accomodation. It is nothing fancy, more like a roll with butter, yogurt and coffee/tea in a paper cup. There is really no onboard "service". If I remember correctly for this particular train there will be a couple of water bottles and mini wine bottles on the bunks when you board.
The car attendant will collect your passports and return them to you in the morning.
You can bring your own snacks and a bottle of wine.
You need to manage your own luggage and storage is tight. There is a small overhead rack and large cases go under the bunks. There is a ladder to get up/down from the top bunks. Again, it is a tight fit.
If you do not get a sleeper with wash basin you have to use the corridor bathroom for teeth brushing.
If you could say what the concerns were in the reviews you read we could address those.
The website I mentioned in my prior post will give you a realistic view of the accomodations.
When our children were 12 and 15 they rode their first sleeper from Munich to Paris. They were thrilled.
The oldest took his bride on her first sleeper on their honeymoon. She loved it.
Aside from the toilet and wash basin down the hall, my problem with couchettes (no experience with sleepers) is that I do not sleep well at all so do not enjoy the next day. My most recent experience (different country, with I assume far poorer railbeds) was as bad as a sleepless overnight flight. Any budget-level hotel room will be massively more comfortable than any sleeper, I believe.
The other reviews I read online (mostly Trip Advisor) mentioned that the train was dirty, attendants were rude and not helpful, and that there was a lot of noise from other people on the train. I figured that the accommodations wouldn't be too comfortable for the adults (kids are much more resilient). My husband and I have traveled in Europe before so we have good experience with train travel. I did an overnight train YEARS ago (like 24 years ago) in a regular seat, which was horrid. Neither one of us have ever done a sleeper or a couchette. We're looking at booking a 4 person couchette. I was all set to book the NightJet, but then hopped on Trip Advisor, read some reviews, and then hesitated.
This may well be something you want to do because it will be fun for your children. (Kind of like using a precious day in France to go to Disney-Paris, I guess.) Just factor in the possibility that you may not be in great shape the next day.
This is one night train route i would take, the arrival schedule fits just fine. No, I've not taken this particular route, arriving after 0800. Most of night train rides I've taken arrive between 0600 hrs to 0700 hrs, which I find as ideal.
No reason at all, there is nothing "bad" in choosing the Austrian Night Jet line. I've taken their other night routes. OeBB puts out a brochure booklet (I have one) in which all their night train routes are listed, be it in Austria, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Slovenia.
You can get a copy at any Reisezentrum ticket office in Austria. The booklet is a valuable source of info in planning the night train rides on a trip.
I would only consider reviews from the past year. The Nightjet branding only started in December, 2016, at which time I'm sure they made some upgrades. See also https://www.seat61.com/trains-and-routes/nightjet.htm. Of course, there's no accounting for noisy neighbors (in hotels, too), so ear plugs can help.
Thanks to everyone who posted and offered advice. We have booked two sleeper compartments for our trip. We decided the extra room and comfort was worth the upgrade from the couchette. Thanks again for all the help!
I have not ridden on this particular train, but I love night trains and sleep well. They are always a fun adventure for me. The hours for this trip are perfect and the fact that you now have sleepers, which is how I travel, is perfect. Your kids will have a great time, and I suspect, you will also.