How to Travel by Train From Vienna to Prague
Expect a train trip from Vienna to Prague to take between four and five hours. (Photo: train image by Jacques PALUT from Fotolia.com )
Figuring out how to travel by rail in Europe can be tricky. Timetables are difficult to decipher, city names are sometimes referred to in the native language rather than English, and travelers may be required to change trains multiple times. You can find a route from Vienna to Prague without too much hassle because of the relatively short distance between them, as well as the prevalence of English in those two cities. Nine direct trains link Vienna to Prague, two of which travel overnight, according to Czech Transport.
Know the city names in the local languages. In German, Vienna is «Wien» and in Czech, Prague is «Praha.»
Choose the railway station in Vienna from which you wish to depart. If your hotel is on the north side of the city, Wein Praterstern is closest; if you’re staying on the south side of Vienna, it will be more convenient for you to depart from the Südbahnhof-Ostbahn station. As of early 2011, Vienna was in the middle of a major rail station upgrade. Some stations, such as Südbahnhof, were to be completely closed and replaced with new stations by 2013. And Wein Meidling Station doesn’t traditionally serve Prague but is doing so until the construction projects have been completed. All trains to Prague arrive at Praha HLN, the central station.
Decide whether you wish to purchase a more expensive first-class ticket or a less costly second-class ticket. First-class cars generally have three plush seats in each row, while second-class cars are equipped with four narrower seats. Additionally, first-class cars may be less crowded.
Understand the European notations for dates and times. In Europe, the day and month are written in reverse of that in the United States — for instance, March 12th is 12/3, not 3/12. Note that times are expressed in the military time format — for example, 3 p.m. is 15:00.
Search for routes and fares online. You may buy directly from OBB, which in English stands for Austrian Federal Railways. Or you may buy from Eurail, a company that sells tickets for train travel throughout Europe to non-Europeans. Both companies use the same trains and timetables and offer single one-way fares. However, if you plan to travel back and forth between the Czech Republic and Austria multiple times, you may want to consider Eurail’s Austria-Czech Republic pass. This pass entitles you to travel between the two countries on any four to 10 days within a two-month period. Prices for this pass increase in proportion to the number of travel days — for instance, a pass entitling you to travel on any nine days is costlier than a pass entitling you to travel for five days.
Choose a route with as few stops and train changes as possible to eliminate hassle. There are many nonstop trains from Vienna to Prague, but others have one or two stops, often in Breclav, which may require you to switch trains.