Austria Tickets & Rail Passes

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Our guide to Austrian train tickets, and how to buy them online, covers the basics of what you can expect to encounter when making bookings.

What we have set out to provide is some context for the tickets and journey options you SHOULD encounter when making a booking either online or at the station.

We have striven to ensure that the advice we present is as accurate as possible, but a guide such as this cannot cover every combination of journey options.

Encountering the OBB website:

Austria’s state railway operator OBB’s website is very pretty, but the booking path for purchasing tickets is comparatively unusual, particularly on a desktop PC.

It can be particularly quirky when looking up international journeys, particularly on overnight trains - Hence our guide to using the OBB website, which you can find HERE.

It can also take a while to download, particularly on a PC, so have patience.

You'll also need a smidgeon of patience to take in all the time and money saving info below

So if need be, click a question to jump straight to what you need to know most.

BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS FOR JOURNEYS WITHIN AUSTRIA:

Is it possible to save money by booking Austrian train tickets in advance?

How far ahead can tickets be booked on the OBB website?

What are the steps for booking 1st class tickets for train journeys in Austria?

Is there anything in particular to be aware of when booking discounted Sparschiene tickets?

Which Austrian train tickets sold by OBB can be exchanged or refunded?

What are the terms for child tickets on Austrian trains operated by OBB?

Do I need a ticket for my bike on Austrian trains operated by OBB?

Can tickets for any train journey within Austria be booked on the OBB website?


BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS FOR JOURNEYS FROM and TO AUSTRIA:

Does the OBB website sell tickets for international train journeys from and to Austria?

USING RAIL PASSES WITHIN AUSTRIA and ON TRAINS TO/FROM AUSTRIA:

How can Eurail and InterRail Passes be used on trains within Austria?

How can Eurail and InterRail Passes be used on trains FROM and TO Austria
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BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS FOR JOURNEYS WITHIN AUSTRIA:

Is it possible to save money by booking Austrian train tickets in advance?

Yes - the further ahead you book, the bigger the savings to be made, but you can save if you book online - even up to your travel date

The DISCOUNTED tickets for journeys by Railjets, IC trains AND on international trains from Austria are branded ‘Sparschiene’, but these tickets can ONLY be booked online.

Online bookings now don't close 3 days ahead of the travel date, so IF Sparschiene tickets are still available on the day that you will be travelling, it can be possible to travel at the reduced rate.

So if you will be travelling long distance on an OBB express* train, avoid booking tickets last minute at the station.

*However, journeys by regional REX trains are NOT discounted online, so tickets for journeys by these trains will cost the same if you pay at the station immediately prior to travel.

Check through the departures to find a bargain:

A sliding scale of prices is usually applied to Sparschiene tickets, so the very cheapest tickets of all disappear first.

So search through the departures on your travel date because the cheapest Sparschiene tickets inevitably sell out fastest on the most popular trains, but they can linger on alternative departures..
These alternative departures may not be initially visible when you look up your journey.

However, they can be worth seeking out and then adjusting your travel plans accordingly - it's possible to save more than €40, particularly when travelling to/from Wien/Vienna.

How to book tickets on the OBB WebsiteREAD MORE.

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How far ahead can tickets be booked on the OBB website?

Tickets are available on OBB up to 4 months ahead of the travel date.

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What are the steps for booking 1st class tickets for train journeys in Austria?

(i) When looking up journeys on OBB it initially shows one price for each journey - namely the cheapest 2nd class price available for that specific journey.

(ii) However, if you want to book a 1st class ticket and therefore don't want to pay the price shown, you still need to click THIS price.

(ii) You will then be taking to the booking page on which other options are provided, including the price of upgrading to 1st class (and Business Class if you will be travelling on a Railjet).

The trick to saving money when booking 1st class tickets on OBB:

Something that can be less than obvious is that the price of upgrading to 1st class can vary radically between departures, particularly on the Railjet routes.

Also this variation in price can be out of sync with the price of 2nd class tickets.

For example you can look up a journey from Salzburg to Wien and see 2nd class prices of €19 or €29 for multiple departures.

But the price for a 1st class upgrade on a departure with a 2nd class price of  €29 can be only €10, in contrast for a departure with a 2nd class price of €19 it can be more expensive at €20.

So don't be guided by the price of 2nd class tickets and check the price of the 1st class upgrades carefully - what won't be obvious is that you can save more than €30 on the price of 1st class upgrades.

How to book tickets on the OBB WebsiteREAD MORE.

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Is there anything in particular to be aware of when booking Sparscheine tickets?

Book a Sparscheine ticket and it will be specific to the departure you selected when making a booking AND it can't be refunded at all if YOU subsequently change your travel plans.

It also can't be exchanged to an alternative, later departure.

Meaning that if you arrive at a station too late to board a train because your taxi got stuck in traffic, or there was a fault on the tram etc, you will have to pay the full price at the station for a replacement ticket.

The only scenario in which a ticket can be used for an alternative, later departure is IF your journey involves more than one train AND a delay to an OBB train causes you to miss the departure you were booked on to.

How to book tickets on the OBB Website - check out our GUIDE.

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1st Class Sparschiene tickets:

When initially looking up a journey it's fairly obvious on which departures Sparschiene tickets are available.

Look up virtually any long distance journey more than 24 hours ahead and all you will initially see are Sparschiene tickets.

However, if you opt to add a 1st class upgrade, having clicked on the Sparschiene ticket price, the terms of the Sparschiene tickets still apply,

Meaning that your 1st class ticket will also be specific to the departure you selected when making a booking AND it can't be refunded at all if you subsequently change your travel plans.

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Which Austrian train tickets sold by OBB can be exchanged or refunded?

Austrian national rail operator OBB follows its own path for the refund and exchange of tickets.

For long distance journeys, OBB doesn't sell specific types of ticket that can be refunded or exchanged in the conventional sense.

However, if you want the peace of mind of being able to claim a refund, if you do need to change your travel plans, you can opt to purchase 'Highest Flexibility'.

Adding 'Highest Flexibility' to your booking:

The price you will see for virtually all departures will be 'Sparschiene' tickets, which can't be refunded UNLESS you opt to add the 'Highest Flexibility'

Do that and not only will you be able to claim a refund, up to 24 hours ahead of your travel date, you can ALSO choose to travel by any train on the travel date you selected when making a booking.

However, 'Highest Flexibility' tickets cannot be 'exchanged'.
The logic applied by OBB is that, if you want to subsequently travel on a different date, you can refund your 'Highest Flexibility' booking and purchase another ticket.

If you want to travel by a different train to that what you had originally planned to take, then you can simply use your ticket on an alternative departure.

Though be aware that adding 'Highest Flexibility' can be expensive - it can cost more than 3 x the Sparschiene price.

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What about seat reservations on Austrian trains operated by OBB?

Reservations are available, but optional for journeys for journeys WITHIN Austria by Railjet trainsIC trains and international express trains.

However, seat reservations are now automatically initially included when booking any ticket for journeys within Austria by these trains.

So if you don't wait to tpay the €3 seat reservation per per person fee, you now need to remove the reservation from your booking by unticking the box

However, seats on the train you will be travelling are NOT guaranteed if you haven't reserved.

Our advice is that reservations are recommended in 2nd class on Railjets that are departing/arriving from Wien between 08:00-10:00 and 16:00 -18:00 - and on IC and Railjet trains on Fridays and Sunday afternoons/evenings.

How to book tickets/reservations on the OBB WebsiteREAD MORE.

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What are the terms for child tickets on Austrian trains operated by OBB?

If discounted 'Sparschiene' tickets are offered for your departure on the OBB website then these tickets are great value if you will be travelling with children who will be aged 14 and under on your date of travel.

That's because each adult (aged 15 and over) purchasing a 'Sparschiene' ticket can take up to 4 children aged 14 and under for free.

These children will still require tickets, but there will be no charge for them.

This also applies when 'Sparschiene' tickets are available for direct journeys by international trains from AND to  Austria - so when travelling with children from and to Austria, it usually pays off to book with OBB.

However, the flat rate will be charged for seat reservations per child and upgrades to 1st class.

What can be confusing is that when adding the age of the children you will be travelling with to the booking, you will see 'no discount' - but this is referring to the fact you won't be using a travel card or any other offer.

You will need to show the proof of age of the children to the conductor on the train, so make sure you have the children's passports with you when making journeys within Austria.

For journeys when no 'Sparschiene' tickets are available, including journeys by REX train, the terms are;

Children aged 5 and under travel for free

Children aged 6 – 14 travel at half-fare.

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Do I need a ticket for my bike on Austrian trains operated by OBB?

Yes, you can’t just hop on a train with your bike in Austria.

To travel by regional REX trains you will need to purchase a special bicycle ticket, which costs 10% of the full price 2nd class ticket – a minimum fee of €2 applies.

For journeys by Railjet trainsIC trains and on international EC trains within Austria you will need to reserve a space for your bike prior to boarding – the reservation fee for bikes on these trains is €3.50.

Before boarding, ask station staff where the bike space on the train will be when it arrives.

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Can tickets for any train journey within Austria be booked on the OBB website?

OBB doesn't operate every train in Austria - the two main exceptions are:

(1) Trains operated by Westbahn, which offer an alternative to OBB trains in both directions on the Wien/Vienna - Linz - Salzburg route.

The OBB website does not sell tickets for journeys by Westbahn trains and the Westbahn website does not sell tickets for journeys by OBB trains

(2) The independent tourist lines in mountain areas.

OBB will sell tickets for train journeys within Austria that commence/finish on independent railways that aren’t operated by OBB, such as the Zillertalbahn between Jenbach and Mayrhofen.

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BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS FOR JOURNEYS FROM and TO AUSTRIA:

Does the OBB website sell tickets for international train journeys from and to Austria?

OBB will sell tickets for international journeys by train from/to Austria.

It offers Sparschiene tickets for journeys FROM Austria, so generally has the best prices in this direction.

Though keep in mind that international Sparschiene tickets also can't be exchanged or refunded.

However, when purchasing Adult travelling TO Austria comparing prices is on the other websites listed below recommended.

Child Tickets:

When 'Sparschiene' tickets are available for direct journeys by international trains from AND to  Austria, each adult (aged 15 and over) purchasing a 'Sparschiene' ticket can take up to 4 children aged 14 and under for free.

These children will still require tickets, but there will be no charge for them, so when travelling with children from and to Austria, it pays off to book with OBB.

Booking 1st class tickets for trains between Austria and Germany:

If you book 1st class tickets on the DB (German national railways) website, seat reservations are included within the booking.

This also applies when booking tickets for journeys between Austria and Germany.

However, in contrast, if you book tickets for train journeys between Austria and Germany on the OBB website, reservations AREN'T included

They can be added to the booking on payment of an additional fee.

Booking tickets for non-direct international train journeys from Austria:

Some international journeys require a change of train outside of Austria.

OBB can generally sell tickets for end-2-end journeys which involve a change of train in Germany or Switzerland, but NOT in other countries

Look out for ‘Ticket Valid for Section of the Journey Only’ when looking up some international journeys on OBB that involve a change of train outside of Austria..

In these instances the price displayed by OBB only includes the first leg of the journey from Austria over the border.

If you book these tickets you will have to purchase another ticket(s), in order to continue your journey to your final destination - and OBB doesn't sell these tickets.

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USING RAIL PASSES WITHIN AUSTRIA and ON TRAINS TO/FROM AUSTRIA:

How can Eurail and InterRail Passes be used on trains within Austria?

A big tick in the box for using rail passes in Austria is that ordinary 'Sparschiene' tickets are departure specific.

Meaning that those who have booked them, have the pressure of HAVING to be at the station on time.

But if you're using a Eurail or InterRail pass, you can just hop on the next train if need be. 

You OFTEN won't have to wait more than an hour for the next train to depart - and seats will USUALLY be available on the next train to leave.

Reservations: 

Rail pass users don’t HAVE to make reservations to travel on any DAY train operated by OBB - so you can be spontaneous and hop on and off the trains.

Seats are usually available on Railjet trainsIC trains and on international EC trains within Austria.

However, we recommend making reservations on Railjets departing/arriving from Wien between 08:00-10:00 and 16:00 -18:00 and on IC and Railjet trains on Fridays and Sunday afternoons/evenings.

Also if you want to take in the scenery, then it can be worth being aware that some seats on Railjets in both 1st and 2nd class have no window - and on busy trains these can be the only free seats available.

Booking reservations:

Rail pass users can book reservations for daytime trains online on the OBB ticketing site - our guide to how to book tickets/reservations on the OBB Website explains how HERE.

Seat reservations can also arranged without booking fees at the Reisezentrum desks at major stations.

Using Rail Passes on non-OBB trains:

Eurail and InterRail passes are also valid on the Westbahn trains between Wien and Salzburg.

Howwever Eurail and InterRail passes are not valid on some independent railways, including

(i) the Zillertalbahn  trains between Jenbach and Mayrhofen
(ii) Achenseebahn trains between Jenbach and Achensee.

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How can Eurail and InterRail Passes be used on trains FROM and TO Austria?

Whether you do or don't have to make reservations on the trains from and to Austria depends on the train service you will be travelling by;

When rail pass reservations (supplements) are OPTIONAL:

Reservations are optional on these international trains to/from Austria:

(1) The international Railjet trains to Budapest, Munchen/Munich, Praha/Prague via Breclav, Venice/Venezia and Zurich

Although reservations are recommended for 2nd class pass users on the trains to Budapest, Munchen/Munich, Praha/Prague and Venice/Venezia

(2)The ICE trains to Germany - but are highly recommended for 2nd class pass users


(3) The EC trains to Germany and Switzerland (and for journeys to the Czech Republic on the EC trains heading to Poland).

They're also not available on cross border local trains.

Worth knowing if you want to travel between Innsbruck and Italy is that they are hourly local (S-Bahn) trains between Innsbruck and the border station at Brennero.

There are less frequent Regionale trains between Brennero and locations to the south including Bolzano, Trento and Verona.

When rail pass reservations (supplements) are COMPULSORY:

(i) the EC trains to Croatia and Slovenia

(ii) the EC trains to Italy

(ii) the EC trains to Poland

(ii) the Nightjet trains

(iii) All other overnight trains

Booking these reservations:

Rail pass users can book seat reservations for daytime trains online on the OBB ticketing site - our guide to how to book tickets/reservations on the OBB Website explains how HERE.

Or you can arrange and pay for the reservations at the Reisezentrum desks at major stations without paying a booking fee.

Although if you want to secure your first choice of accommodation on overnight trains it can pay off to make use of the Eurail/InterRail reservation service.

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