Austria

Europe by Bike – Austria

The Austrian standard gauge network is about 5700 km in length. Map The OeBB – Österreichische Bundesbahn, Austrian Federal Railways, runs some 255 mainline passenger trains and goodness knows how many regional trains daily. It is bicyclist-friendly, and should soon be more so in the case of the ‘railjet’ high speed trains too (see below). Bicycle carriage on all main line trains in Austria will continue to need reservations though, and a domestic bicycle ticket costs € 10.

Trains

A to B Austria - Railjet High Speed Train

Railjet High Speed Train © ÖBB

Railjet UPDATED 15/3/13
High Speed Trains link Vienna via Salzburg to Innsbruck, Bregenz and Zurich, Vienna to Budapest and Vienna to Munich. There are three classes: Economy, First and Premium (25 Euros plus First Class fare*). Until now, no bikes have been allowed except folders and even then only in a bag. It is intended to modify each of the 51 Railjet trains to take six bicycles. Each bicycle point will be equipped with a plug socket to allow charging of e-bikes while underway. However, the original plans to modify the rolling stock by constructing a bicycle compartment at the front of the train in the First Class portion didn’t meet with acclaim from the cycling community. The new cycle slots would have been some distance from the Second Class seats used by the majority of cyclists. The OeBB decided to go back to the drawing board, and has started a new study to decide where to put the bicycle compartment in the Second Class section of the train. This has delayed the project.

* For the extra cost you not only get leather seats and more legroom, but more importantly, you are addressed as Herr or Frau Doktor. The Austrians are big on titles.

InterCity Trains
EC and IC trains link major centres. The majority carry accompanied bicycles. Reservation is necessary. Domestic journeys cost 10 Euros. International bicycle tickets cost 12 Euros. These include a reservation.

REX/Rt
Local trains take bicycles, but reservation is not possible.

Tickets

Austrian Federal Railways InterCity Train © ÖBB
A to B - Austrian Federal Railways InterCity Train

ÖBB’s ticket pricing policy has all the clarity of a discount airlines’ marketing policy. Lower price special offer ticket with restrictive conditions are available for foreign destinations. Thus if one books with the ÖBB from Vienna to Salzburg, a ticket costs 47.50 Euros. A ticket from Vienna to Munich travelling through Salzburg by the slightly slower IC limited to a specific train costs 39 Euros.  You need change to a regional train in Salzburg even though it is a longer journey. Who is going to know that you did not travel on to Munich?

ÖBB offers a cheap ticket similar to the DB Schönes Wochenende ticket called Einfach raus. It costs 28 Euros for one person and 35 Euros for up to 5 people, valid for local and regional trains, after 09:00 until 03:00 the next morning from Monday to Friday,  and all day weekends and public holidays.

Getting to Austria

ÖBB IC © ÖBB
A to B Austria - ÖBB IC

We have looked at popular Austrian cycle routes and one cycling area to assess how to get there and back. Starred trains* require bike reservation. We can suggest only one route to get to Austria from Britain by train with an unwrapped bicycle: Via Paris. There are two trains: CitytNightLine from Paris to Munich or the late morning TGV from Paris to Stuttgart and connecting EC to Munich. We would love to be able to report that  there is a decent daytime bike carrying train from Holland: Amsterdam or Rotterdam to Munich or Salzburg. We can’t.

The prices shown here are theoretically possible and are for a certain train. However if you are going to make a bike reservation on CNL, Eurostar or TGV then you need to book early and you have to travel on a specified train. In general, it is cheaper to:

  • Buy tickets from DB directly rather than from an agent for the Paris Munich stretch.
  • Buy tickets from Munich and within Austria from OeBB.

Getting to Munich from London

Overnight

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
London Paris Nord Eurostar* £39-79/£30 (95-120) Last possible train is 16:02 departure from St Pancras.
Paris Est is a few minutes walk from Paris Nord.
Paris Est d: 20:20
Munich a: 07:16
CNL* 59/10 (69)
(Couchette)
Booking via DB appears to be cheaper than via SNCF but check.

Daytime

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
London Paris Nord Eurostar* £39-73/£30
(76-113 Euros)
Last possible train is 07:22 departure from St Pancras.
06:52 departure is much cheaper. Paris Est is a few minutes walk from Paris Nord.
Paris Est d: 11:24
Stuttgart a: 15:04
TGV* 39 Euros / 10 Euros (49 Euros)
Stuttgart d: 15:58
Munich a: 18:14
EC*

Danube Cycle Route (Passau to Vienna)

This is the grandfather or grandmother of the Austrian cycling routes and is rightly very popular. It reinvigorated the tourism in the Danube Valley in Austria and is very suitable for families. It is refreshing to travel a route with more official parking places for bicycles than cars.

Getting there: We realise that Passau is in Germany, but it is the start of the most popular section of the Danube Cycle Route. It is a hop, skip and a jump to the Austrian border from Passau station.

Connection to the overnight CNL

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Munich d: 07:24,
Passau a: 09:37 or d: 08:24
Passau a: 10:37
RE Cost London-Passau 145-182 Book through to Passau from Paris.

 

Connection to the daytime TGV/EC

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Munich d: 18:24, Passau a: 20:40 RE Cost London-Passau 115-189 Book through to Passau from Paris.

 

Getting back:

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Vienna Westbf. d: 22:26 Zurich a: 07:20 EN* 39/12 (51)
Zurich d: 07:34 Basel SBB a: 08:27. IC 12 Euros Assumes International bicycle ticket valid from Vienna to Paris. If not the journey would cost 10€ more.
Walk 5 minutes to Bâle SNCF. Bâle SNCF d: 09:47, Paris Est a: 12:34 TGV* €84 to Paris
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £62/£30 (€101) Paris Nord is a few minutes walk from Paris Est.
Total Cost €248

Drau Cycle Route: Toblach/Dobaccio (Südtirol) – Malibor (Slovenia)

The route follows the River Drau from the Dolomites through the East Tyrol and Carinthia downriver to Slovenia.

Getting there: The connections to the daytime route via Paris are very poor. Only the overnight route is feasible, but this is fiddly at the end. You will need to change trains four times after Munich. However there is enough time to change trains in comfort and often to get something to eat at some stations.  Buying individual tickets from Innsbruck onwards is not possible online, but a human being at Rail Europe for example, can do it.

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Munich d: 08:32 Innsbruck a: 11:23 REX/R €32 Assumes international bicycle ticket valid from Paris. If not the journey would cost 10 Euros more.
Innsbruck d: 11:52
Brenner/Brennero a: 12:32
S 7.2 Euros
Brenner/Brennero d: 13:08
Franzensfeste a: 13:44
R 11.50 Euros to Toblach
Franzensfeste d: 13:50
Toblach a: 15:05
R
Total Cost London – Toblach 195-233 Euros Not enough time for a quick beer in the bar. There’s a pity!

Getting back:

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Maribor d: 14:21 Graz a: 15:22 EC* Approximate price to Munich: 42 Euros**/12 Euros ** In part lower price special offer ticket from Graz to Munich with restrictive conditions: www.oebb.at. There is an earlier direct train from Graz to Munich offering an afternoon there.
Graz d: 15:38
Bischofshofen a: 18:48
IC*
Munich HBf d: 22:43
Paris Est a: 09:23
CNL* 93 Euros Assumes International bicycle ticket valid to Paris. If not the journey will cost 10€ more.
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £62/£30 (101 Euros) Paris Nord is a few minutes walk from Paris Est.
Total Cost Maribor-London 256 Euros

Salzkammergut

The Salzkammergut is familiar to many of us perhaps because of Julie Andrews running up and down its hills warbling about deer in “The Sound of Music” or hearty tenors tickling their tonsils singing romantic songs at the White Horse Inn in St Wolfgang. It is Austrai at it’s best – an enchanting area of lakes and hills. Culturally and historically it has a lot to offer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, also rightly renowned for its baroque Altstadt (old city heart) and for its chocolate marzipan Mozart Kugeln. Bad Ischl was the Austrian Kaiser’s summer residence in the latter part of the 19th century. The 345 km long Salzkammergut Cycle Route crisscrosses the area and has feeder routes offering circular tours.

Getting there: If you are prepared to get up at the crack of doom you can travel to Salzburg in a day from London or have a longer breakfast to travel more leisurely overnight.

Connection to the overnight CNL

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Munich d: 08:27
Salzburg a: 10:09
EC* 19 Euros Book through to Munich from Paris. BayernTicket from Munich to Salzburg costs 21 Euros after 09:00 weekdays.
Total Cost London Salzburg 163 Euros

Connection to the daytime TGV/EC

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Stuttgart d: 15:58
Munich a: 18:14
Munich d: 18:27
Salzburg a: 20:07
EC* Cost from Paris to Salzburg:39 Euros Stay on the train from Stuttgart in Munich.
Total Cost 125-162 Euros

Getting back:

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Salzburg HBf d: 07:51
Stuttgart a: 1201
EC* 39 Euros/12 Euros
Stuttgart d: 12:54
Paris Est: 16:34
TGV*
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £75/£30 (96 Euros) Paris Nord is a few minutes walk from Paris Est.
Total Cost 147 Euros

Tauern Cycle Way

The 310 km long Tauern Cycle Way  starts in the Alps and runs downhill following the River Salzach and the River Saalach. You cycle below Mount Großglockner, where the energetic can shed lbs by climbing up the Hochalpenstraße. Families should follow the Saalach variation for a quick trip through Bavarian Bad Reichenhall to Salzburg or follow the Salzach through Hallein with its Celtic Museum and salt mine to reach Salzburg. Afterwards the route runs through the meadows of the Inn past Burghausen (Bavaria) with its incredibly long castle to reach Passau.

The connections on the daytime route via Paris are very poor. Only the overnight option is practicable. It is slow at the end but pretty. The narrow gauge Pinzgauer Lokalbahn runs steam hauled trains on this route between Zell am See and Krimml every Thursday and the first Sunday in the month in summer.

Connection to the overnight CNL

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Munich d: 08:27
Salzburg a: 10:09
EC* 19 Euros to Zell am See Booked through Austrian Railways.
Salzburg d: 10:15 Zell am See a: 11:49 IC*
Zell am See d: 12:00 Krimml a: 13:23 R 8.40 Euros/2.50 Euros
Total Cost 188 Euros Assumes international bicycle ticket valid from Paris. If not the journey would cost €10 or €12 more.

Getting back: Overnight

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Passau d: 19:16 Munich a: 21:35 RE 43/€10
Munich d: 22:43 Paris Est a: 0923 CNL*
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £87.50/£30 (130€) Paris Nord is a few minutes walk from Paris Est.
Cost Passau London €183

Daytime

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Passau d: 07:18
Nürnberg a: 09:25
IC* €39/€10
Nürnberg d: 09:39 Stuttgart a: 11:23 IC*
Stuttgart d: 12:54
Paris Est a: 16:34
TGV*
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £75/£30 (€116) Paris Nord is a few minutes walk from Paris Est.
Cost Passau London €165

Inn Valley Cycle Route

This route offers 517 km downhill from St Moritz to Passau. Whether it can be called an Austrian route is debatable. The Inn rises near St Moritz in Switzerland. The route follows the Inn through the Engadin into Austria near Nauders, then passing through Innsbruck. It crosses into Germany and visits the pilgrimage town of Altötting before running along the border between Germany and Austria to reach Passau. The scenery at the start is mountainous, Lederhosen, chalets and sheep, but seen from the valley bottom, the best way to view the scenery when cycling in our opinion. Later on, it runs in to the meadows and onion-towered church country of the Inn flood plain.

One series of daytime trains will take you and your bicycle from London to St Moritz:

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
London Paris Nord Eurostar* £39-73/£30 (€76-113) Last possible train is 07:22 departure from St Pancras. The 06:52 departure is much cheaper. Paris Est is a few minutes walk from Paris Nord.
Paris Est d:11:24
Strasbourg a:13:42
TGV* €103/10
Strasbourg d:13:51 Bâle SNCF a: 15:19 RE
Walk 5 minutes to Basel SBB.
Basel SBB d:15:33 Chur a: 17:52 IC*
Chur d: 17:58
St Moritz a: 19:58
RE
Cost London St Moritz €189-226

Getting back: Overnight

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Passau d: 19:16 Munich a: 21:35 RE €43/€10
Munich d: 22:43 Paris Est a: 0923 CNL*
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £87.50/£30 (€130)
Cost Passau London €183

Daytime

Journey Train Cost Passenger/Bike (Euro) Comment
Passau d: 07:18
Nürnberg a: 09:25
IC* €39€/10
Nürnberg d: 09:39 Stuttgart a: 11:23 IC*
Stuttgart d: 12:54
Paris Est a: 16:34
TGV*
Paris Nord London Eurostar* £75/£30 (116€) Paris Nord is a few minutes walk from Paris Est.
Cost Passau London €165

Ferries and Ships

ÖBB run ships on Lake Constance west from Bregenz. These take bikes by the container load. There are not as many services the Danube as on the Rhine, but Brandner does run trips from Melk to Krems through what the company describes as the prettiest part of the Danube.

Diversions

We have not often travelled by train through Austria during the day. We went to Toblach/Dobaccio in Südtirol one winter’s day and were most impressed by the run from Munich to Innsbruck and then the climb up the Brenner Pass. This is followed by the high speed descent down the Brenner and the bar on Franzenfeste station, but that is another story and in Italy.