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Train from Prague to Austria

Overland Park...
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Train from Prague to Austria

We are planning to take a train from Prague to either Vienna or Salzburg, Austria while we are on holiday in Europe in late September. (We are only planning to stay in Austria overnight and then return to Prague to catch a plane back to the States the following day. This will be a short trip for us) Any suggestions as to which destination is better and what hotels to stay in in either city once there? I am also unfamiliar with the rail system, as this will be my first trip to Europe. Should I book train tickets in advance, or will it be easy to book once we are there? Any website to book online? Thanks for any suggestions!

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1. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

if you are only planning to stay one night, then Prague to salzburg is out. There is only one direct train and that is overnight. Otherwise the train involves changes and it takes 7 hours or so. Even Vienna takes 4.5 hours by direct train and you will not be able to see much in a day. If you want an overnight trip outside Prague to a more manageable place you can see in a day, consider either Cesky Krumlov or Dresden

Overland Park...
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2. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

I misspoke about timing. Looks like we will have about 3-4 days, not just overnight for the Prague to Austria leg of the trip.

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3. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

It is much cheaper to buy tickets when you get here than from abroad. first class is often not expensive and in addition you can reserve your seat. It is best though to go and purchase your tickets soon after you arrive in Prague and definately at least the day before you travel.

The international ticket office at Prague Central Station is often slow, but Wasteels travel agency on the upper floor of the station is much quicker and sells the tickets at the same price as the main ticket office. There is also a city centre office of Czech railways on V Celnici street next to the Marriott where you can buy tickets and where they speak English

Overland Park...
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4. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

What about Vienna versus Salzburg? Which do you prefer? Hotel recommendations?

New York
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5. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

Hi,

I stayed in Vienna last summer from Prague.

Two really beautiful cities, you're lucky.

I stayed in Le Meridien in Vienna. It reanks really high here on TA and it deserves the ranking. It's not terribly expensive considering the service and the hotel itself.

The rooms are also really large for Europe.

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6. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

much more to see in Vienna than Salzburg and easier to get to from Prague. If you really want to see Salzburg, you can do this on a day trip from Vienna by fast Austrian train and the journey is pretty.

On hotels in Vienna, it entirely depends on what kind of luxury / comfort you want, how close to the centre you want to be and what price you want to pay. I generally stay at the Intercontinental, but on the basis that at weekends (when I go), it has easy free parking down the street and is walking distance to the centre. You are not driving and so will have different criteria

San Francisco...
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7. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

I vote for Vienna. We were there last winter and liked it well enough we are going back this fall. We also stayed at Le Meridian. Click on my name and you can read some of my posts about that hotel and about Vienna. If you like classical music you will love Vienna. If you like coffee and elegant desserts you willl love Vienna. If you like a safe, clean environment you will love Vienna. Salzburg would be a possible day trip from Vienna, but with only 3 days you will find plenty to do in Vienna. Check out the combination trip that allows you to boat/train/bike and see little towns called Melk and Krems.

Finally, go to the Vienna forum. There is a lot of information and very helpful experts there.

pierson
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8. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

Since the above posts vote for spending your time in Vienna, I would like to speak for spending more time in the Salzburg area, especially if you like music and stunning mountain lakes. During my thirty plus years of travel to Europe with many trips that included the Salzburg area, I have been to Vienna only twice!

I suggest you consider leaving Prague's main train station (check at www.idos.cz [with an English language option at the lower right corner of the webpage] for your date of travel since schedules change often) at 6:01 am (ouch) and arrive in Vienna Sudbahnhof at 10:28 am. Although this train is EARLY, it has NO transfers as many other schedules have. Czech trains and buses are often late, and connections are easy to miss. There is a direct bus that leaves at 8:00 am from the Prague Florenc bus station and arrives in Vienna at 12:15 pm; however most buses don't have toilets on board. There is also a direct train leaving Prague's main train station at 10:01 am and arriving in Vienna four hours later, if you are not an early riser. When you arrive in Vienna, get your metro tickets before you get on the tram or bus since they will be cheaper than when bought from the driver. There is also a "Vienna Shopping Ticket" that is a good deal (see web for details) for public transportation if you plan more than one round trip before 8:00 pm. I am sure Le Meridien is a nice hotel in a nice location; however for a mere fraction of the price consider Hostel Ruthensteiner (see website for details), a short walk from the Westbahnhof. It has a grocery store nearby and a nice interior patio garden. After Prague, you will be impressed by how clean Vienna is! My "must see" in Vienna is the Kunsthistorisches Museum (closed Monday; see website for details) across the Ring from the Hofburg (the Schatzkammer is worth a trip if you like to see jewels owned by royalty). In the Kunsthistorisches Museum be sure to visit Gallery X which has 14 of the known 45 paintings by Bruegel the Elder. Be sure to take the tram ride around the Ring (the old city wall) at night when floodlights show the varied architecture along the Ring at its best.

The second morning take one of the frequent three hour direct trains from Vienna Westbahnhof to Salzburg Hbf. Make sure that you get off at the "Hbf" since many of a given town's train stations in Europe have similar names. Salzburg is known for its expensive lodging. The hotel information booth inside the train station is a good first stop. A good splurge is the tall hotel across the plaza (on the left side) from the front door of the train station. Their breakfast room and restaurant at the top of the hotel have a spectacular panorama of the old city with the Castle and Cathedral. The view at night is spectacular as well. Consider the 24 or 48 hour Salzburg card that pays for public transportation and the entrance fee to the main sights. My must sees are the Castle, Mozart's childhood residence (NOT his birthplace which is less impressive), Cathedral, Residenz (to see what a fancy palace looks like), and the famous graveyard and catacombs near the Cathedral.

My third day must see is Hallstatt, a beautiful town on a mountain lake, and the pilgrimage church at Traunkirchen, also on a beautiful mountain lake. This day trip can easily be made (ask the Information center for details) taking the train to Traunkirchen and then on to Hallstatt whose train station is across the lake from the old town but connected by a spectacular ferry ride.

For your fourth day consider a trip by train to the famous Werfen Castle and Ice Caves south of Salzburg. If you go to the Ice Caves, be prepared to climb a lot of steps and take warm clothes, even in summer. An easy option is to take an evening train from Salzburg to Munich and then the direct night train (with couchettes and sleeping cars) from Munich to Prague, arriving the next morning.

Another fourth day option would be to take the 6:00 am train from Salzburg to Linz and then the bus and train schedule reaching Cesky Krumlov at 10:35 am. One could spend several hours walking through this beautiful UNESCO town (the Infomation Center on the main square in Cesky Krumlov will store your luggage for you) and touring the Castle perched high on a hill beside the meandering river. If you take the castle tour, be sure to take the one that visits the world famous Masquerade Hall where people painted in pictures on the wall seem to step out into the room. You could either take a night bus back to Prague or spend the night in Cesky Krumlov (the Castle is bathed in floodlights at night) and take an early morning bus back to Prague.

pierson
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9. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

In my recent post I forgot to mention that Hostel Ruthensteiner in Vienna also has rooms with 1,2 and 4 beds.

Concerning the cost of Salzburg lodging, many people spend the night in such lake towns as St. Wolfgang and take the bus each day to Salzburg. Last summer I stayed in a lakeside pension there with a lake view for 20 Euros for a double room (including breakfast on their lakeside porch) and rode the bus to Salzburg each morning. The main Salzburg bus station is just outside the front door of the main train station. To get to St. Wolfgang, take the bus going from the main Salzburg bus station to Bad Ischl, but transfer at Strobl (the bus to St .Wolfgang usually waits for this transfer). Buy the bus ticket for the entire journey since it is cheaper than the individual segments. Get off the bus at the first bus stop in St. Wolfgang, near the first Information Center and before the bus goes through the tunnel to the main part of town. Cross the street to the lakeside and ask at the pensions what rooms are available. If they are full, return to the other side of the street, and ask at the Information Center for a room. St. Wolfgang is also famous for its beautiful lakeside pilgrimage church and the train that goes to the top of the mountain where one has views of several lakes in the region.

If you spend the night in Cesky Krumlov, consider staying in a room that has a Castle view so you can see the floodlights shining on the Castle when fog rolls in during the night.

Overland Park...
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10. Re: Train from Prague to Austria

Thank you very much for your recommendations Travelingmother, peb7, and especially timkeane1, for all the time you put into answering my questions and making recommendations. They are much more helpful than anything we have read in the guidebooks we have purchased. We will be taking that early train to Vienna then on to Salzburg!