Travelling by train in Austria during the COVID-19 pandemic

Always check the latest advice from the UK Government before travelling to Austria. The official travel website for Austria (English-language) also contains the latest info on Coronavirus regulations.

Face masks

FFP2 masks are compulsory on public transport and in other public spaces. FFP2 masks can be bought from high-street pharmacies.

There are currently strict entry requirements for foreign nationals entering Austria. Check the latest requirements on Austria’s official travel website.

Who runs trains in Austria?

ÖBB is the national railway company of Austria, operating both passenger and freight services.

Known as the “Austrian Federal Railways” in English, ÖBB is Austria’s state-owned railway company, administering the nation’s railways as well as Lichtenstein's railways. ÖBB operates several different passenger services, including the high-speed Railjet and Intercity-Express, the Nightjet sleeper service and suburban commuter services.

Find out more about ÖBB.

ÖBB tickets

Trainline connects directly to ÖBB’s ticket inventory, meaning you can buy train tickets for Austria on our app or through our website.

Fare types in Austria are broadly comparable to fare types in the UK, with the cheapest tickets (such as Sparschiene tickets) being the least flexible, and the more expensive tickets offering greater flexibility with regard to catching a different train or getting a refund on your ticket should you not travel.

A key concept to understand when buying train tickets in Austria is the ticket’s day of validity. The day of validity is the day from which your tickets are valid for travel. So, if you buy a ticket to travel on the 1st of January, your day of validity is the 1st of January.

This is important as some ticket types permit you to travel on the day after the day of validity. Plus, the refund period varies between ticket types from 15 days before the day of validity to the night before – so it helps to know the jargon.

It’s also worth noting that where refunds are mentioned below, this refers to a voluntary refund should you choose not to travel. If the train is cancelled or delayed, separate refund conditions apply.

The main fare types offered by ÖBB are explained below.

Standard-Ticket

Validity

Refunds

Valid for travel on the day of validity or the following day

Full refund available up to the day before the first day of validity

 

Standard-Tickets offer the most flexibility. They come at a slight premium, but you are free to take any train within your 2-day window of travel. And if you’re no longer able to travel, you can request a full refund right the day before your window of travel opens.

Komfort-Ticket

Validity

Refunds

Valid on the day of travel for the selected night train only

Full refund available up to 15 days prior to the day of validity; after that, you can claim a 50% refund (minimum charge of €15)

 

The Komfort-Ticket applies to night trains, such as the sleeper service between Vienna and Brussels. You must catch the train listed on your ticket, and there is some flexibility on refunds – full refunds are available up to 15 days prior to travel, after that you can claim back 50% (with a minimum charge of €15).

Einfach-Raus-Ticket

Validity

Refunds

Valid on the day of travel for unlimited travel that day

Full refund available up to the day before the day of validity

 

Einfach-Raus-Tickets are group tickets for groups of 2-5 people, allowing unlimited travel for that day. Note: this ticket type is for regional trains rather than long-distance or intercity services. Einfach-Raus-Tickets are great if you’re going sightseeing in the countryside or hopping from village to village.

Sparschiene Komfort-Ticket

Validity

Refunds

Valid on the day of travel for the selected train only

Full refund available up to 15 days prior to the day of validity; after that, you can claim a 50% refund (minimum charge of €15)

 

Sparschiene Komfort-Tickets are similar to Sparschiene fares, except they apply to night trains. They offer discounted prices but you must catch the exact train listed on your ticket.

Child tickets

Age

Standard-Ticket price

0-5

Free

6-14

50% of adult fare

15+

Full adult fare

 

Children are eligible for discounted fares until their 15th birthday, after which they must pay adult fares. Simply use the passenger picker when buying tickets through our Journey Planner to add children to your booking.

Are tickets cheaper in advance?

Yes, the further in advance you book, the more likely you are to find cheaper tickets. For long-distance and intercity services such as the Railjet, the cheapest Sparschiene fares are available to book up to six months in advance. These tickets can sell out well ahead of the date of departure on the most popular routes.

However, tickets for regional services will often cost the same on the day as in advance, so there is less to be gained from an advance booking. Regional services (such as the Regional Express) are usually confined to specific regions in Austria – like Upper Austria or Styria – and operate at lower speeds than intercity services.

Do I need a seat reservation?

Seat reservations are not mandatory on Austrian trains, and will usually cost €3-€5 on top of your ticket. However, seat reservations are a sure-fire way to ensure you will have a seat – we’d highly recommend opting for one on busy long-distance routes, such as Vienna to Salzburg.

When buying your ticket through Trainline, seat reservations are listed as an optional extra at checkout under ‘Comfort Options’. The option is left unselected by default.

There are a couple of important things to note about seat reservations. Firstly, the reservation is valid for the chosen train on the chosen day of travel. If you’ve bought a flexible ticket such as Standard-Ticket, you will of course be free to take any train in the ticket’s period of validity, but the seat reservation will only be valid for the specific train you chose when booking the ticket.

Secondly, seat reservations expire 15 minutes after the train departs – make sure you find your seat as soon as you get on board!

Note: some regional trains do not have seat reservations, you simply get on and find a seat.

Scenic railway journeys

While Switzerland is the best-known country in Europe for its scenic railway journeys with panoramic views, Austria is not far behind when it comes to stunning rail routes. The routes below are all available through ÖBB, but there are several private narrow-gauge railways that operate independently of ÖBB.

Here are the top scenic journeys in Austria.

Semmering Railway

Constructed in the mid-19th century, the Semmering Railway winds through 41km of mountainous scenery and is considered the world’s first true mountain railway. The route begins at Gloggnitz, crossing the Semmering mountain pass on its way to Mürzzuschlag. The railway reaches a maximum altitude of 895 metres above sea level at the mountain pass, climbing over 400 metres from Gloggnitz.

The train passes over 16 stunning viaducts, 11 iron bridges and 14 tunnels along the entire route. Keep an eye out for the steam locomotive monument at Reichenau station, displayed as a homage to the Class BBÖ 82 locomotives which were used on the Semmering Railway until 1972.

Arlberg Railway

Connecting Innsbruck to Bludenz at the western edge of the country, the 136km-long Arlberg Railway climbs to a maximum altitude of 1,311 metres above sea level, making it the second-highest railway in the country in Austria after the Brenner Railway.

You’ll wind through the picturesque Arlberg Pass and the 10km-long Arlberg Tunnel on the way to Bludenz. The line connects to Switzerland – indeed, you will most likely travel on this line if you’re travelling from Zurich to Vienna. Keep an eye out for the Zürichsee & Walensee lakes on the way.

Brenner Railway

The Brenner Railway runs all the way from Innsbruck to Verona in Italy, winding through the Alps, and passing over the Brenner Pass at 1,371 metres above sea level. The Austrian section of the railway winds through the picturesque Tyrol region, following the course of the River Inn. If you’re heading south from Innsbruck, the train begins a spectacular ascent on its way to the Brenner Pass, climbing over 900 metres. Head to the rear of the train (behind the cycle storage) for amazing views out of the rear window as the train climbs to the mountain pass!

Train types in Austria

Ranging from high-speed Railjets to slower, more functional regional trains – here’s a summary of the main train types you’ll encounter in Austria.

Railjet

High-speed

One of the fastest trains in ÖBB’s fleet, Railjets are capable of speeds of up to 230km/h (143mph). They operate on intercity routes between major cities in Austria, and beyond to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Slovakia.

There are three classes on Railjet trains: Economy, First Class and Business Class. The cheapest Sparschiene fares for Railjet routes are released up to six months in advance, so if you’re planning on doing some city hopping in Vienna, be sure to have a look for tickets in advance.

Learn more about Railjet trains.

Nightjet

Overnight

Nightjets operate on overnight services from Austria to Italy, Switzerland and Germany. They also run into several Eastern European destinations such as Poland and Croatia.

Nightjet trains are fitted with different seating and sleeping arrangements to cater for different price ranges. The cheapest way to take the Nightjet is in a seated carriage – this is shared with 4-6 passengers and seats are upright. Couchettes sleep 4-6 passengers in horizontal berths, and at the top of the price range are sleeper cabins – luxurious private cabins.

Learn more about Nightjet trains.

Intercity-Express

High-speed

As the rival high-speed train to the Railjet, Intercity-Express trains also have a maximum speed of 230km/h (143mph) and operate on long-distance routes. There are two classes on board (First and Standard), an onboard restaurant, and electrical outlets for every row of seats.

Intercity-Express trains operate on routes between Austria and Germany, including Vienna to Nuremberg and Vienna to Frankfurt.

Regional trains

Generally speaking, regional trains are slower, cheaper and don’t usually allow seat reservations. Ticket prices tend to be less variable than long-distance trains, so you don’t have to worry about booking months in advance – unless you want peace of mind!

Regional Express (REX)

Regional Express is the umbrella term for a semi-fast regional service, which calls at fewer stations than regular regional services. If you see ‘REX’ as the train type in our Journey Planner, the train in question is a Regional Express service.

All REX trains have one class and all seats are unreserved. The REX fleet comprises several different rolling stock models, including the electric Cityjet and Talent trains, diesel-powered Desiro trains and double-decker City Shuttle trains.

Read more about train types in Austria on our ÖBB information page.

Travel inspiration for Austria

Explore Austria by rail with our travel guides.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who operates trains in Austria?

ÖBB is the national railway company of Austria, responsible for the vast majority of passenger services in the country. However, a handful of smaller operators also run services in Austria, including WESTbahn and Raaberbahn.

Do I need a seat reservation for Austrian trains?

Seat reservations are optional on trains in Austria. They are highly recommended for busy high-speed and intercity services, however on quieter regional services seat reservations are not necessary, and in some cases not available.

Are there discounts for children?

Yes, children are eligible for discounts up to the day before their 15th birthday. Children aged 0-5 travel for free, children aged 6-14 travel at half-price; from age 15 onwards they are eligible for the full adult fare.

What's the fastest train in Austria?

The fastest trains in Austria are Railjets and Intercity-Express trains, both of which are capable of hitting 230km/h (143mph). That's pretty speedy!

 

Europe’s leading train and coach app

We help customers across Europe make more than 172,000 smarter journeys every day.