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Most Scenic rail route from Strasbourg to Vienna

Most Scenic rail route from Strasbourg to Vienna

Old Jan 19, 17, 11:13 am
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Most Scenic rail route from Strasbourg to Vienna

Hi I am trying to decide how to get from Strasbourg to Vienna in August. My options seem to be flying, train to Stuttgart and flight from Stuttgart, or doing route entirely by train. This is the longest option time wise but from what I have been reading there is a very scenic route through Austria, so we would arrive after a longer day, but at least not waiting around in airports. But when I look at the options for the trip I have no idea which routing to look for. Any suggestions?
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Old Jan 19, 17, 5:13 pm
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The most scenic mainline route would via Switzerland, through the Alps: Strasbourg - Basel - Zurich - Innsbruck - Vienna.

To get from Strasbourg to Basel, you can either go through France via Mulhouse, or through Germany via Kehl.

Ticketing-wise, the Kehl route would be easier. Kehl is just over the border from Strasbourg, and Deutsche Bahn will sell you a ticket for the journey from Kehl to Vienna through Switzerland. You would then just need to buy a local ticket from Strasbourg to Kehl. Kehl is 10 minutes from Strasbourg, and with your DB ticket in hand you can just stay on the train to Offenburg, where you change trains for Basel.

Example timing: Strasbourg dep 10:52, Vienna arr 22:40. The bulk of the journey is on the Railjet from Zurich to Vienna (just under 8 hours). The first half of this journey is by far the most scenic part, so don't be too bothered by the late arrival in Vienna.
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Old Jan 22, 17, 2:53 pm
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... and remember to bring a great picnic including a corkscrew and bottle (or two) of wine to really enjoy your day! (We did!)
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Old Jan 28, 17, 1:18 pm
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Thanks for advice, it looks like in playing around with dates that are open to book so far there is only one train per day that is Strasbourg to Basel, zurich and on to Vienna. My alternative if we decided to really get to Vienna earlier is I think train from Strasbourg to Stuttgart and then fly to Vienna? Any comments on this option, obviously I know the stunning scenery is not there on this option.
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Old Jan 30, 17, 5:19 am
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To add my EUR 0.02...

Getting from Strasbourg to Vienna, there are three main "routes":
- south to Basel, then east via Zurich, Liechtenstein, Innsbruck, Salzburg
- north to (approximately) Karlsruhe, then east via Stuttgart, Ulm, Augsburg, Munich, Salzburg
- north to Frankfurt, then east via Wurzburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau

I agree with railways that the route via Basel is the most scenic.
The route via Stuttgart is likely to be an hour or two faster, but involves the highest risk of a misconnect, in which case you may not actually save any time.
The route via Frankfurt has a couple of options that involve only two trains (just a single connection), which may be attractive, depending on your priorities.

Examples (depart Strasbourg at / arrive Vienna at / travel time):

Via Basel:
- 05:51 / 16:30 / 10:39
- 07:51 / 18:30 / 10:39
- 09:51 / 20:30 / 10:39
- 11:51 / 22:30 / 10:39
- 13:51 / 00:30 / 10:39

Via Frankfurt:
- 09:09 / 19:09 / 10:00
- 13:55 / 23:09 / 09:14

Via Stuttgart:
- 06:22 / 15:30 / 09:08
- 08:31 / 16:30 / 07:59
- 09:09 / 18:30 / 09:21
- 12:46 / 21:30 / 08:44

Taking a look at the detailed train timetables makes this clearer. I recommend exploring the schedules at rail.ch (the Swiss Federal Railways' English site). Search for each of the three routes by entering one of "Basel", "Stuttgart", or "Frankfurt" in the "Via:" box on the first page.

Beware that some routes through Germany involve a sequence of tight connections; I would urge you to avoid those. After many years of cost-cutting, trains operated by the German Railways are no longer reliably punctual; delays of "5 to 15 minutes" (sometimes more) are relatively common, and the risk of missing a connection is higher if you have more of them. When planning a train trip through Germany, I try to pick routings with fewer connections, and try to allow at least 20 minutes for each change.

As for booking a ticket--this has become almost as confusing as finding the best price on an airfare. You have several options:
- book starting from Kehl on bahn.de
- book starting from Strasbourg with trainline.eu, or loco2.com (both rumoured to be OK; I haven't used them)
- book starting from Strasbourg with voyages-sncf.com (sometimes problematic, at least with foreign credit cards, YMMV)
- book in multiple segments (e.g. Strasbourg-Zurich with voyages-sncf.com, then Zurich-Vienna with oebb.at or rail.ch). This may be (much) cheaper, but technically removes CIV protection against misconnects. See below.
- walk into any train station in continental Europe, and buy a ticket in person there

Any of the online options will only let you book a subset of the available routings; if that includes the routing that you want--great, go for it. I normally wait until landing in Europe, and then use the ticket desk at the local train station; that is a good way to get the routing that you want, but it is sometimes more expensive, and there is a (very small) risk that the train you want might sell out before you get there. (Based on personal experience and word-of-mouth, I have avoided raileurope.com for many, many years.) The Man in Seat 61 has an excellent explanation of your options, and the pros and cons of each, here: http://seat61.com/Europe-train-tickets.htm ; in particular, he explains misconnects (and what to do about them) well.

Finally, I second Alsacienne's advice: bring some self-catering supplies on board, and enjoy a good meal along with the view. Also, if you can manage it, select at least one train with a real dining car; it's a pleasant experience. Some, but not all, ICEs have a nice "Bord-Restaurant" offering (note that a "Bord-Bistro" is not the same thing--check the timetable to see which one is on which train), and I believe that all RailJets are now equipped with a respectable dining car.
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Old Jan 30, 17, 5:26 am
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The 7:51 or 9:51 departures via Basel would be my choice, allowing you to do the entire trip during daylight.

This is definitely the most scenic route. As has also been stated, it is the route with the lowest possibility of misconnecting.
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Old Feb 5, 17, 10:12 am
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Thanks for all the help. The route via Basel looks to be the way to go.
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Old Feb 5, 17, 10:26 am
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The rail line from Munich vis Salzburg to Vienna is quite scenic as well, at least between Munich and Linz. If you sit on the right and the weather is nice, there are beautiful views of the "Voralpenland" (the country just in front of the Alps).

It's a bit quicker than going via Basel/Zurich.
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Old Apr 4, 17, 2:22 pm
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Ok so in continuing to play around with the ticketing for this I still can't find one place to book the entire ticket, but i seem to able to book 3 tickets, 1 for the Strasbourg to Basel segment, 1 for the Basel to Zurich segment, 1 for Zurich to Vienna segment that would have a direct train for each segment so would change trains in basel, and zurich only but I am not sure if I reading everything correctly. So looks like I could leave Strasbourg on SCNF for a direct train to Basel, leaving at 6:50 or 8:50 getting in at 8:24 or 10:10, then could take a direct train to Zurich leaving Basel at 8:37 to connect to 10:40 train to Vienna or leaving at 10:47 to connect to a 12:40 train to Zurich? Do those option looks like I am reading everything correct? Is 13 minutes enough time between the Basel arrival and departure?
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Old Apr 13, 17, 5:38 am
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You need to walk up an inside corridor (approx 100 meters) into the main station hall, turn right up the escalators onto an overbridge over all platforms (all inside!) then go down on to the appropriate platform. 13 mins should be fine IF you are clued up on your train destination and read the information screens.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 11:09 am
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Just to add to that, have you tried sbb.ch for booking? I think they might be able to sell you the entire itinerary on one ticket which would give you peace of mind in case you miss a connection. (Do check how your ticket is delivered though; I don't know how it works with SBB, but sometimes you need to pick them up at a station which wouldn't work in your case.)
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Old Apr 17, 17, 6:32 am
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I tried the sub.ch site and can't get it to let me choose the specific itinerary but maybe it is because I am still too early, as trying to book for August 5th. SNCF had same problem, said not available yet to book the 6:51 departure out of strasbourg, because at least then I had it down to just 2 tickets if did the strasbourg to zurich one via basel and then zurich to vienna.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 9:14 am
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Departing between 06:30 and 09:30 on August 5th, I think you have the following three options:

--------------------------------------------------------------
Option (1)

TER 96151 dep Strasbourg Ville 06:51 arr Basel SBB 08:20
( IR 2063 dep Basel SBB 08:37 arr Zurich HB 09:49 )
or
( IC 585 dep Basel SBB 09:33 arr Zurich HB 10:26 )
RJ 165 dep Zurich HB 10:40 arr Wien Hbf 18:30

Book on sbb.ch:
Normal fare: CHF 188 x 2people = CHF 364
APEX fare: CHF 94 x 2people = CHF 188

Or book on:
voyages-sncf.com: Strasbourg-->Basel SBB: Normal fare EUR 24.10 x 2people = EUR 48.20
oebb.at: Basel SBB-->Wien Hbf: APEX fare EUR 89 x 2people = EUR 178
Total: EUR 226.20

--------------------------------------------------------------
Option (2)

TER 96251 dep Strasbourg Ville 08:51 arr Basel SBB 10:09
( IR 2067 dep Basel SBB 10:37 arr Zurich HB 11:49 )
or
( IC 569 dep Basel SBB 11:33 arr Zurich HB 12:26 )
RJ 167 dep Zurich HB 12:40 arr Wien Hbf 20:30

(I couldn't get this one to price on sbb.ch, but you may be able to book it by contacting them via email or phone if you're so inclined.)

Book on
voyages-sncf.com: Strasbourg-->Basel SBB: Normal fare EUR 24.10 x 2people = EUR 48.20
oebb.at: Basel SBB-->Wien Hbf: APEX fare EUR 59 x 2people = EUR 118
Total: EUR 166.20

-------------------------------------------------------------
Option (3)

TGV 9877 dep Strasbourg Ville 09:06 arr Mulhouse Ville 09:52
TGV 9203 dep Mulhouse Ville 10:06 arr Zurich HB 11:26
RJ 167 dep Zurich HB 12:40 arr Wien Hbf 20:30

Book on sbb.ch:
Normal fare: CHF 218 x 2people = CHF 436
APEX fare: CHF 120 x 2people = CHF 240
-------------------------------------------------------------

Fares above are 2nd class.
If you book an APEX (advance purchase, non-changeable, non-refundable) ticket on oebb.at, you can get the portion that that ticket covers (i.e., Basel to Vienna) in 1st class for an extra EUR30/person, or in Premium class (which they now call "business", but this is a class beyond first) for either EUR45 or EUR60/person more than the 2nd class fare.

The "normal fare" represents approximately what you'd pay as a walk-up last-minute purchase on the day of departure at the train station in Strasbourg, so it will give you an idea of your "worst-case" cost. Your actual cost would be slightly different, because you'd be buying in France, and paying in EUR, rather than buying in Switzerland and paying in CHF, but it should be in the same ballpark.

If you want to book the whole trip in advance as a single ticket, then sbb.ch is your best bet. Note, though, that they'll need to mail you paper tickets for options (1) and (2), because you can't do print-at-home tickets on a TER train. I'm not sure whether option (3) also requires a paper ticket. I recall seeing a page somewhere that quoted fees for mailing SBB tickets as follows: CHF 8 to the EU, CHF 45 to North America, and CHF 80-something to the rest of the world. I can't find that page at the moment, though, so am not sure.

The most economical option is to book in advance online at oebb.at for the Basel-->Wien portion, and then buy a Strasbourg-->Basel ticket at the train station in Strasbourg. This technically removes protection against a misconnect in Basel, but you have over an hour to connect there which makes the chance of a misconnect vanishingly small.
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Old Apr 28, 17, 8:09 pm
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I think the route through the Black Forest (Strasbourg-Offenburg-Singen),then along Lake Constance (Singen-Lindau) and then via the Arlberg route, Innsbruck, Selzthal and the Simmering Pass to Vienna beats all of the above suggestions for stunning scenery. It involves more changes of train than the others, but it's worth it.
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Old Apr 29, 17, 12:57 am
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Routing via Offenburg-Singen-Lindau-Bregenz is very scenic. But 5-ish hours of back-to-back regional trains is not especially comfortable, and the long sequence of tight connections in Germany makes a misconnect (and resulting delay of one or more hours) very likely.

Here's what the timetable claims you can do on 2017-08-05:

RB 87403 dep Strasbourg 06:22 arr Offenburg 06:52
RE 4709 dep Offenburg 06:58 arr Singen 08:50
IRE 3043 dep Singen 09:57 arr Friedrichshafen 10:41
RB 22715 dep Friedrichshafen 10:50 arr Lindau 11:22
RE 5569 dep Lindau 11:27 arr Feldkirch 12:12
RJ 565 dep Feldkirch 12:17 arr Wien Hbf 18:30


or

RB 87417 dep Strasbourg 09:22 arr Offenburg 09:52
RE 4719 dep Offenburg 09:59 arr Singen 11:50
RB 87677 dep Singen 12:02 arr Radolfzell 12:11
RB 22771 dep Radolfzell 12:18 arr Friedrichshafen 13:23
IRE 4215 dep Friedrichshafen 13:28 arr Lindau 13:52
RE 5577 dep Lindau 13:57 arr Bregenz 14:09
RJ 661 dep Bregenz 14:40 arr Wien Hbf 21:30
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