If you’ve ever wondered how to take the train from the Austrian Alps to the UK via Amsterdam on the way back from a ski trip, then Neil Guthrie – co-creator of  the excellent map ‘The Alps – Skiing by Train‘ kindly put together this report for Ski Flight Free.


The new best entry point to the Alps: Wels, Austria

The main entry points to the Alps are familiar names to the British winter-sports traveller – Lyon, Zurich, Grenoble, Innsbruck, Geneva, Salzburg, and, err, Wels?

The latter has yet to become an established name in a typical UK to Austria travel itinerary but as sleeper trains become more convenient and affordable, its profile can only increase, particularly for those looking to explore a lesser-known corner of the mountains.

Wels is a fraction under an hour from Salzburg by train.

Dachstein Austria to the UK by train

I recently travelled home from the little known Dachstein Krippenstein resort to the UK by train.

Starting at the local station at Obertraun, this is an idyllic train ride through the Salzkammergut (often referred to as Austria’s ‘Lake District’) via a change of trains at Attnang Puchheim to Wels.  This cost just EUR20.

Take the ‘NightJet’ sleeper train

Wels is on the route of the sleeper train between Vienna and Amsterdam, one of OBB’s many ‘Nightjet’ services.

This particular route operates every night of the week with three stops in Austria (Wels is the last), ten in Germany and two in the Netherlands before reaching Amsterdam at the end of the line.

The train pulled into Wels at 21:48 and I was directed towards the Amsterdam end of the train (as the other part of the train ends in Frankfurt).

My cabin contained four couchettes with mine on the top level. The train rumbled through the night and I managed to sleep pretty well on and off as large chunks of central Europe drifted by.

Four cabin choices from EUR49

There’s a choice of four accommodation options on Nightjet. In order of increasing cost, you can choose a reclining seat, a couchette compartment, a shared sleeper cabin (with a proper bed) and a private sleeper cabin.

Prices are set dynamically – I paid EUR49 for my couchette from Wels to Amsterdam. A private compartment would have been EUR165 on that particular service. For your money, you get some basic bedding, coffee and a croissant, and a wake-up call.

The train arrived in Amsterdam Centraal at 09:58 in the morning at the same station as the Eurostar departures, and it only takes about 10 minutes to walk from the sleeper train to the Eurostar platform.

Eurostar leaves approximately every two hours, with some direct and some requiring a change at Brussels. The direct ones take just over four hours.

A day in Amsterdam

I decided, however, to catch a late afternoon onward train to St Pancras, freeing up several hours to explore Amsterdam.

After leaving my luggage in a locker (EUR5), I hired a bike and took in the sights – an enjoyable contrast to the usual experiences of a winter sports holiday.

The Eurostar journey home was pleasant and relaxing. The train was about two thirds full so there was little queuing in the buffet carriage and plenty of space for luggage, and we arrived back at St Pancras bang on time.


My single fare cost £80, bought two weeks before departure, making the total cost of the train travel from Austria £140.

All in all, it was a longer journey than flying home from the Alps but it felt like an adventure, a chance to get a feel for the relative enormity of the continent, meet and chat to people en route, and the time spent in Amsterdam was an unexpected holiday highlight.

Neil booked his tickets via Eurostar and the OBB Nightjet website.