This year’s May is a mistake. So far the temperature has not once exceeded 20 degrees, and even 15 degrees rarely happens. On top of that it’s pouring – one after another Italian low pressure is pushing in, there are floods in the vicinity, in Italy there are big floods, and on top of that I’m cold and miserable, because I can’t go anywhere, let alone write something.
However, having a little more time, I thought to make a more useful post, so today about trains, or rather, how to make a bicycle tours in Carinthia easier with train.
Let’s start with the fact that the national carrier, OEBB, is considered one of the best rail carriers in Europe. It is also considered one of the best employers in Austria. The trains are clean, neat, comfortable and on time. It’s easy to buy a ticket through the app, on the website, at the ticket machine or, if one still does, at the ticket office.
The OEBB website provides information on local, i.e. state-by-state promotions, including those for bicyclists. Generally speaking, every „S” train, has plenty of places designated for bicycles. They are located at the ends, beginnings and also in the middle of depots and are marked with a clear bicycle symbol on the door glass. These places make it possible to fasten the bicycle so that when the train brakes sharply, it stays in place.
Additional charge for transporting a bicycle on a standard route is €1.90. The company also offers special trains and fares for specific routes. So let’s look at the offer in and out Villach.
Activ Ticket An all-day rail ticket for all routes throughout Carinthia, valid on weekend days and holidays from the time of purchase until 3am the next day. The ticket for a person with a bicycle costs €16 (adult) and €11 (child) regardless of the length of the route, and can be used multiple times during the day. Very convenient if you want to shorten the route, for example, because of the weather. For comparison, on a regular ticket (i.e. single ticket) for 16€ (person + bicycle) would cover about an hour-long route, which is about 70-80km.
Special trains. They are distinguished by the fact that they run additional car(s) just for bicycles. The bicycle is handed over upon boarding, the destination is declared, and the bicycle is picked up there. Please note that some connections, especially on the Udine – Villach route, may unpleasantly surprise you with last-minute seat shortages. It is essential to purchase a ticket in advance.
Taurensprinter special train. Departs Villach at 8:35 a.m. (REX1824) and travels to Mallnitz- Obervellach, return (REX1825) at 16.24. Travel time about 50minutes. It runs on weekends and holidays from June 3, and daily from July 8 to September 10.
Mallnitz is an entry to High Taurian National Park. Beautiful, wild mountains and a not so demanding (660m of ascent) bicycle route from Mallnitz to Villach is about 80km long. I recommend to hooking up with Lake Millstatt near Spittal an der Drau on the way.
Gailsprinter special train. Departs Villach at 8:18 am (4807), in the opposite direction from Hermagor at 9:44 am (4804). Runs on weekends and holidays from June 3, and daily from July 8 to September 10. Travel time 1h. The morning return time means that if one wants to return, it’s on the regular S4 line train, which runs every hour and, of course, has spaces for bicycles. There is the beautiful R3A route around, and Hermagor is also a good starting point to climb up to Weissensee, or visit Kötschach or Nassfeld. And on foot to the Garnitzerklamm waterfall.
Karawankensprinter special train. Departs Villach at 8:35 a.m. (4601) for Jesenice, Slovenia, return at 4:00 p.m. (4608), travel time just over an hour. It runs on weekends and holidays from June 3, and daily from July 8 to September 10. Departure usually from the platform which is located on the other side of the Villach railroad junction, you go there like the other platforms, only further away. I don’t recall that this train has a special carriage, but of course bicycles can be transported normally.
Jesenice is an ideal place to start towards the beautiful Lake Bled, or take the very popular route via Krajnska Gora, Tarvisio to Villach.
MICOTRA special train. From Udine at 7:14 a.m. and 5:22 p.m. to Villach, from Villach to Udine 10:07 a.m. and 7:29 p.m. Travel time 1h45m. Cost €14 one way with bike for an adult. Along the way, it stops at many towns along the beautiful Cyclovia-Alpe-Adria route. The route, although long, is easy and can be easily ridden with children. Of course, you can also use the train to return from other, much more ambitious routes. And from Udine it’s not far to Grado or Venice. It is worth remembering to book your ticket in advance, very many people return by train whether from Udine or Venzone. There are sometimes hot disputes at the stations, because suddenly a group of 50 tourists would appear, who do not have tickets and want to get on, because rain, because fatigue and they can even block the train. This is fortunately a rare thing, but it happened once or twice.