An IC-bus: 'der kleine Bruder der Bahn'. Deutsche Bahn (DB) has a growing network of international bus routes. DB markets the bus network as 'the small brother of the railway' (photo by Matti Blume).
Travel for just €29 from London to Salzburg! That’s just over twenty pounds. This may well be the best ticket deal offered by any European rail operator this summer.
Yes, it really is possible to buy a ticket from Deutsche Bahn which will take you from London to Austria for €29. The itinerary takes in six countries: England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.
The ticket is valid on selected itineraries leaving London on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. The ticket can be booked online at www.bahn.de. Two stopovers are permitted. Each stopover may extend to 48 hours.
Now there has to be a catch in this. And there is. This "train" ticket from London to Austria actually includes a leg on the thrice-weekly overnight bus from London to Düsseldorf — which is run by Deutsche Bahn (DB) under its IC-Bus brand. But the onward journey beyond Düsseldorf is entirely by train.
The lead-in fare for London to Düsseldorf on DB’s IC-Bus is just €29 (with a 25% reduction for holders of DB’s BahnCard 25). Tickets can be booked to destinations beyond Düsseldorf — so to any railway station within Germany and to a limited number of DB tariff points beyond Germany.
Provided that you undertake to use only local and regional trains for your journey beyond Düsseldorf to your eventual destination, then the add-on fare beyond Düsseldorf is completely free. Our itinerary shows a sample journey from London to Salzburg (which is a DB tariff point on Austrian territory). It leaves London on a Sunday evening, using the overnight bus which traverses French, Belgian and Dutch territory to reach Düsseldorf on Monday morning.
Our sample itinerary has a two-night stop in Cologne and then on the Wednesday follows the beautiful Rhine Valley route south to Heidelberg for another two-night break. Then on Friday lunchtime, it’s back on board the trains again, travelling via Munich to reach Salzburg the same evening. All-in-all, a five day journey by bus and train through Europe for just €29.
Woe betide those who, once in Germany, are tempted to hop on one of the country’s sleek ICE trains. If you opt for the free add-on fare beyond Düsseldorf, then you cannot join the faster premium brand trains (generally those prefixed ICE, EC, IC or CNL). Tickets are endorsed to this effect. Of course, you can opt to continue from Düsseldorf to Salzburg by fast trains, also building in stopovers along the way, but then the fare will amount to very much more than €29.
Our sample itinerary consists of the following four legs:
|London-Düsseldorf (by direct overnight bus)||9 hrs 55 mins|
|Düsseldorf-Cologne (by train)||31 mins|
|Cologne-Koblenz-Heidelberg (by train)||6 hrs 16 mins|
|Heidelberg-Munich-Salzburg (by train)||7 hrs 31 mins|
Here is a scan of our sample itinerary from the Deutsche Bahn website: