Before coming to Vienna, I had always been dreaming about that city. It holds a special place in my heart (and I won’t tell why). Let’s just say that of all the European cities, Vienna was always on the top of my to-visit list.
Yet it took me quite some time after I arrived in Europe to actually visit Vienna. The obstacle is, of course, money.
I had always thought that getting from Amsterdam to Vienna should be a breeze. I mean, it is just Germany between us, right? Right… just like Vietnam is close to Afghanistan–only China in between, or that Korea can be a neighbor with Finland had it not been for Russia.
Yes, you got my points: 1/ Germany is BIG and 2/ Getting from Amsterdam to Vienna is not the easiest thing to figure out when you are in tight budget, because believe it or not, there is no cheap airline that flies you from the Netherlands to Vienna.
So, how did I manage to bring myself across the border, you ask? Well, with my accumulated knowledge of the European train system, my quick-thinking, adaptability and flexibility of course.
In case you don’t happen to have any of the above qualities, here is how:
1. From Amsterdam, or Utrecht, or Maastricht, anywhere in the Netherlands for that matter, catch a comfortable train ride to Cologne (now you know why I went to Cologne…). I booked my tickets on https://www.b-europe.com/ — it is my favorite site to book train tickets just because. I got a cheap deal on the website, only 38 euro roundtrip Utrecht-Cologne (mind you, Utrecht-Mastricht is already 22 euro…)
2. If you have never been to Cologne before, catching an early train to this city is a great idea. I arrived in Cologne at 10am and had more than enough time to explore the city before…
3. Hopping on an ÖBB night train from Cologne (Köln Hbf) to Vienna (Wien Westbahnhof) at 8pm. ÖBB is Austrian train system and like Austria, it is clean, efficient and utterly comfortable. Depends on how early you book, you can get a one-way ticket for as cheap as 39 euro for a normal seat; add 20 euro for a couchette in a compartment with 6 beds, or 30 euro with 4 beds; add 60 to 100 euro for a sleeper berth. The ride is exactly 12 hours, which means that you’d arrive in Vienna bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8am, just in time for your daytime activities.
Worried about having to sit for 12 hours? Fear not. If you go to Vienna in the low season like us, i.e. 20 January, your chance of having a whole car for yourself is high. In fact, my friend and I, being poor as we are, booked the 39 euro ticket, thinking that we would have to sit all night and arrived in Vienna cramped, tired and grumpy. Turned out that the system is so ridiculously humane that it set just the two of us in the same car, without adding anyone else. I took a look at other cars and in each car there were only one or two passengers at most. I mean, the system could be a totes bitch and cramp six people in each car because that is the maximum capacity, right? But alas, praise the Austrian, thanks to the system’s generosity, the friend and I had one of our most comfortable train rides ever. There were 2 plugs for us to charge our electronic gears. We could actually lie down and sleep blissfully, as the train brought us across Germany into the the heart of Austria.
(Of course we had our mini cinema with some movies and TV shows and popcorns)
My journey from Amsterdam to Vienna cost me in total 38 (Utrecht Cologne) + 78 (Cologne Vienna) = 116 euro. I don’t think you can get any cheaper with the same level of comfort like that, plus, this way you can visit TWO cities in a trip!