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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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MAKSAUST
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2018, 12:56:15 am »

Thank you for your suggestions, they are a great help.  Understand doing a zig zag across Europe as love train travel, will probably understand what you are saying once we actually do the trip.  Will not be able to change Vienna and Budapest as locked in with accommodation.  I have now completed the itinerary to at least Tirano,
Now adding:
Heidelberg to Nuremberg
Nuremberg to Prague
Salzberg to Lucerne
Lucerne to Chur
Bernina Express to Tirano

Could you give me where to purchase train tickets as previous.
From Tirano  is there maybe 2  nice village or town, that has a train stop, you could suggest
on the way to Ljibujana that we could stay overnight please.
other than Milan, Lake Como or Venice.
thanks again for all you help.
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MAKSAUST
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2018, 01:01:56 am »

Oh forgot to say, we are no longer going to Amsterdam.  We were flying with Edihad and they have now cancelled flights out of Perth from October, as we leave November, we are now flying Emirates and will be flying into London then train to Brussels, then Heidelberg.  Bit of a nightmare rearranging accomodation and flights again, plus more expense ;-( sorted now.
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tUt
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2018, 10:20:00 pm »

Heidelberg to Nuremberg: it's the journey within Germany, so it's kind of logical to use already mentioned multiple times in the previous post German Railways (DB) website for purchasing your tickets. The distance is not very lengthy here (around 3 hour travel), so it will be pretty easy to get the discounted tickets for as low as 19 euro per person or, in case you want to be more adventurous and don't purchase your tickets in advance, then DB passes for regional trains (Happy Weekend Ticket (Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket) or Quer-durchs-Land-Ticket) are your best option.

Nuremberg-Prague: well, if your stopover in Nuremberg won't be very long (<48 hours), then you can actually do a small ticket trick - purchase one through ticket Heidelberg-Nuremberg-Prague (starts from only 24,9 euro) with the intentionally forced intermediate stop in Nuremberg for up to 48 hours. If the journey is longer, then you can buy a separate Nuremberg-Prague ticket (with DB bus it's from 14,9 euro, while with FlixBus or RegioJet companies it might be even cheaper). Also possible to go the entire route by train, but it will take much longer and won't be cheaper.

Salzburg to Lucerne: as was already mentioned earlier, in this case you should first of all decide whether you want to travel to Switzerland via Bavaria (Munich, e.g. Munich to Luzern discounted ticket start from 29 euro or you can travel with the so-called Bavaria Lander Ticket=regional pass for entire Bavaria and then Swiss SuperSaver ticket) or throughout entire Western Austria (i.e. via Innsbruck, discounted tickets start from 34 euro per person). With the later option your number one website would be the Austrian Railways (OeBB) http://europetrainsguide.com/Advice/How-to-Buy-Train-Tickets/Austria-OeBB.html , while with the journey via Bavaria the German Railway (DB) website would be of help.

Lucerne to Chur: domestic Swiss trips are easy, link to the Swiss Railway (SBB) was already given earlier, cheapest option would be also mentioned earlier SuperSaver ticket

Chur to Tirano: well, if you necessarily want to take the Bernina Express train, then it's https://www.rhb.ch/en/panoramic-trains/bernina-express , but you can travel the very same route on the regular (=less touristy) trains for much cheaper (in this case once again SuperSaver Ticket bought from the Swiss Railways website are your best option)

From Tirano  is there maybe 2  nice village or town, that has a train stop, you could suggest on the way to Ljibujana that we could stay overnight please. other than Milan, Lake Como or Venice.
Hmm... it kind of depends on your preferences (nature, mountains, old towns, etc.). Getting out of Tirano by rail only means going westward to Como area first, so if you don't want to make this detour, then maybe it makes sense to use the bus to Edolo and switch to train there? Otherwise nearby interesting town is Bergamo (most people skip it, but it's very nice actually), then there is obviously Verona (touristy, but still), already mentioned earlier Triest is also very nice place. If you want more nature & mountains, then South Tyrol might be your choice (however it's not super convenient to get there from Tirano)
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MAKSAUST
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2018, 12:40:58 pm »

Hi ...thankyou for your help so far ...it is invaluable to us Aussies as even travel agents are unable to assist inless you are booking a tour with them.
I have hopefully finalised my itinerary and due to Edihad cancelling our flights...we now fly Emirates and go to London...
Depart Perth 24th November 6am
Arrive London 24th November midday 😂😂😂
Depart London for Brussells (we will not be doing Amsterdam now)
Brussells to Heidelberg
Heidelberg to Nuremberg
Nuremberg to Prague
Prague to Budapest (your idea and have been able to make changes to accomodation booking at no charge)
Budapest to Vienna
Vienna to Salzburg   (is there a scenic route for this or for
Salzburg to Lucerne
Lucerne to Chur
Chur to Tirano 
Tirano to Veroma (looked at your suggestion ended up half way between)
Veroma to Ljubljana
Is there a train from Veroma to Ljubljana?  Or do we do a bus?
Most places we are staying 2 nights and some 3 nights.  I have tried to work out so travelling in day time only and arriving before dark.  So may mean early wake up.  The accomodation booked is near the train station for conveince...your ideas are again welcome and whether this is too much or doable.  We are both mid 60's. TIA
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MAKSAUST
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2018, 01:05:32 pm »

I hear and read about strikes on the rails.   Will any of my itinerary effected? As we are travelling between 24th November in UK to 23rd December through Belguim, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland to Slovenia is the snow something that can delay trains? What other things do we have to be aware off?  The itinerary is made without incidents along the way 😁
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2018, 09:33:23 pm »

...it is invaluable to us Aussies as even travel agents are unable to assist inless you are booking a tour with them.
Well, most travel agents only know how to sell you the most expensive option anyhow :) So I don't think you lost much by not doing your bookings via agencies, maybe besides your time, but in this case point-to-point tickets bought from the actual operating rail companies would save you a lot of money, so your time=savings ;)

Depart London for Brussells (we will not be doing Amsterdam now)
This one is very easy, just make sure you purchase your tickets either via Belgium railways (NMBS/SNCB) or Eurostar websites, since the agencies (like Rail Europe) tend to overcharge unexperienced travelers on routes like this.
Brussells to Heidelberg
Again, Belgium railways (NMBS/SNCB) website is your choice here, otherwise it won't be much different from buying Amsterdam-Heildeberg from the Dutch railways
Vienna to Salzburg   (is there a scenic route for this or for
Salzburg to Lucerne
Vienna-Salzburg... not really, however with Salzburg-Lucerne both routes (or via Bavaria or via Innsbuck/Western Austria) are rather scenic scenic, with the later its a lot of mountains, while with the former you'll get to see a bit of Lake Constance and some mountains
Is there a train from Veroma to Ljubljana?  Or do we do a bus?
No direct trains, but direct buses (e.g. FlixBus) are available (4:30-6 hours depending on connection/bus company)

Most places we are staying 2 nights and some 3 nights.  I have tried to work out so travelling in day time only and arriving before dark.  So may mean early wake up.  The accomodation booked is near the train station for conveince...your ideas are again welcome and whether this is too much or doable.
Sure, especially with your plan to have roughly 2-3 days stopovers without traveling, making a day long trip afterward won't be very tiring. Plus it's not like you'll be doing 10+ hours journeys or something like it, your longest trip would be <7 hours, which is ok on more or less decent trains

I hear and read about strikes on the rails.   Will any of my itinerary effected?
Well, big paralyzing strikes are more a thing for Romance-speaking Europe (i.e. France, Spain, Italy), while with Germanic speaking countries (e.g. Germany, Switzerland, Austria) and nearest neighbours it's not very likely, especially with fancy international connections. Imho, don't think with your itinerary you should worry much ;)

As we are travelling between 24th November in UK to 23rd December through Belguim, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland to Slovenia is the snow something that can delay trains?
It might, but essential delays happen only in the extraordinary snow situations, so you should get very lucky to end up in one of those. With shorter weather related delays you shouldn't really worry much, it won't be a problem, since it will be railways' job to exchange your ticket, get you as soon as possible to your destination and so on.

What other things do we have to be aware off?
In the touristic cities it's mostly about rip-off money exchange points (i.e. make sure you know the correct exchange rate), unworthy expensive city tours/restaurants on the main squares or the walking steets and, in some countries (e.g. Italy), pickpocketing, so just be careful with your wallet, passports & cellphones
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