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Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Travel plans, routes and timetables  |  Australian Newbie with Itinerary
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MAKSAUST
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« on: April 06, 2018, 06:10:07 pm »


Hi, I am new to this site, and finding what I have read so far very informative, but confusing to say the least when it comes to my own itinerary.
We have booked airfares to arrive in Amsterdam in the early hours of 1st December.  We will stay 3 nights and depart on the morning of the 4th.
We are having Christmas in Slovenia, Ljubljana and as long as we are there by 23rd December.  We like train travel and day travel, hence getting into the next stop by daylight. 
I would be interested if you could tell me if this is a realistic itinerary, I have made some hotel bookings already, but they can be cancelled or altered to suit.

4th December Amsterdam to Heidelberg via Koblenz (2 night)
6th Depart Heidelberg for Prague (3 nights)
9th Depart Prague for Vienna (3 nights)
12th depart Vienna for Budapest (3 nights)
the next two stops not sure about is there a better option?
15th depart Budapest for Salzburg (1 night)
16th Salzburg to Lucerne via Munich - or Innes burg 
Lucerne (3 nights)
19th Churn overnight  (the next few days need help with)
20th Bernina Express and travel to Zermatt ??
21st Verona via Lake Como
22nd ??
23rd Slovenia Ljubljana fly out again on 30th December
What sites would be best to book these tickets on please and how long before can they be booked?
Another question, would I be better to buy a pass?  If so which one would suit? 
I probably have a few more questions, but once I get the itinerary right, can ask then.
I thankyou in advance to any help or assistance.
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tUt
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« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2018, 11:06:41 pm »

Ok, so lets take a look at each leg and see what options you have:

Amsterdam to Heidelberg via Koblenz: very easy & relatively cheap (from 29,90 euro) if you would purchase your tickets in advance either via German Railways (DB) or Dutch Railways (NS) websites. The only inconvenience is that during your 5-6 hours long trip you'll have to make a few train changes, but in Europe it's an ordinary procedure, so nothing really to worry about

Heidelberg to Prague: again, easy and cheap (from 19,90 euro on German Railways bus or from 29,90 with a train section) with the so-called Sparpreis Europa offer. DB website is your helper here. In case you want to be adventurous/can't buy tickets in advance, then you can take a look a the offers like Happy Weekend Ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket) or Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket (more info on our Germany page http://europetrainsguide.com/Countries/Germany/Germany-DB.html or DB website). Travel time about 7 hours, so you either will have to start in the dark or arrive after the sunset... December

Prague to Vienna: even easier & cheaper, since here you have a private rail company RegioJet, which competes with the Czech/Austrian State railway companies. Ticket for the direct trains (4 hour journey) start from only 15 euro. Might be helpful our page http://europetrainsguide.com/Advice/How-to-Travel/Vienna-to-Prague.html , it's the reverse route, but still

Vienna to Budapest: fast (<3 hours) and cheap, Austrian Railways sell discounted tickets for as low as 19 euro. Step by step guide on how to buy it - http://europetrainsguide.com/Advice/How-to-Buy-Train-Tickets/Austria-OeBB.html . Also might be of help http://europetrainsguide.com/Advice/How-to-Travel/Budapest-to-Vienna.html

Budapest to Salzburg: with the direct train it's 5+ hours and either 29 euro (discounted ticket, in advance purchase required), or 45 euro ("Excursion (Tourist) Ticket" (in Hungarian it is called Kirándulójegy), can be purchased on the day of travel). Or, as a total alternative, travel with two separate tickets, i.e. Budapest-Vienna and Vienna-Salzburg

Salzburg to Lucerne via Munich or Innsbruck: in both cases you should start with the Austrian Railways (OeBB) website. If you plan to travel via Munich, then Salzburg-Munich is cheaper to do with the so-called Bavaria Ticket (again, see our Germany page). Then Munich-Luzern address already known to you German Railways (DB) website

Churn overnight??? You mean Chur?

Bernina Express and travel to Zermatt ?? Swiss Railways (SBB) since not very long ago offer this very cheap day pass offer - https://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/tickets-for-switzerland/1-day-travelpass/saver-day-pass.html , so perhaps you can use it. In Switzerland it's not that important to ride those private scenic trains, you can easily enjoy traveling on the regular trains (run on the same lines & often even less crowded compared to the fancy tourists trains)

Verona via Lake Como: with in advance purchase on the same Swiss Railways (SBB) website you can get the so-called international Super Saver Tickets to Italy, it will be the cheapest option. Or, as an alternative (will depend a lot on your departure point) you can simply use regional trains

22nd ?? Well, Venice? Triest? Udine? Italian Railways (TrenItalia) website will give you a hint on prices & travel times, but in general the distances there are not very long, so you don't really need to bother with any in advance tickets purchase, just use regional trains & buy tickets before departure

Italy-Ljubjana: for Northern Italy-Slovenia options we recommend checking out our Slovenia page (see the last section) - http://europetrainsguide.com/Countries/Slovenia/Slovenia-SZ.html , you can choose one of the options and simply do it in reverse order.

What sites would be best to book these tickets on please and how long before can they be booked?
Well, it should definitely be the official websites of the railway companies in each country (we already gave the links to all those above), since buying via agencies and other middle-man like resellers is a) more expensive & b) less reliable
Another question, would I be better to buy a pass?  If so which one would suit?
Doubt it, your itinerary doesn't really have any super expensive legs, especially if you ok buying discounted point-to-point tickets in advance.
I probably have a few more questions, but once I get the itinerary right, can ask then.
Sure, that's the usual way how we proceed. You check all the recommendations, websites, fares, etc. and then come back with the particular questions, which can clarify those point you aren't sure about ;)

Regarding the "itinerary right" ... as of now it looks a little bit zig-zag like, first east, i.e. Heidelberg-Prague-Vienna-Budapest, then back west Budapest-Vienna-Salzburg-Switzerland, then again east -Northern Italy-Slovenia. It can be done, but maybe simple geographic logic didctates to make it more straight, e.g. Netherlands-Germany-Switzerland-Northern Italy by train, then fly to Prague with one of the multiple lowcost airlines and finally make you way southeast to Slovenia via Vienna andBudapest. Or, if you want zigzags, then maybe at least don't do Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Vienna (all the trains from Budapest to Salzburg go via Vienna)-Salzburg, but instead Prague-Budapest-Vienna-Salzburg to avoid Vienna-Budapest part twice
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