All you need to know about ski holidays by train

Alpen Express

Introduction

Alpen Express train

The Alpen Express is a dedicated overnight snow train that runs from the Netherlands, via Cologne in Germany, to an excellent range of Austrian ski resorts.

To join the Alpen Express from the UK, take a Eurostar to Brussels, then an ICE train to Cologne. You can even have dinner before boarding the Alpen Express. Find out how to do it in our Eurostar + Alpen Express guide to Austria.

The Alpen Express has a disco-bar carriage, 6, 5 and 3-berth couchettes, with breakfast served. You arrive in the morning close to the slopes, ready for the first of your extra day's skiing - which results from the fact that you've travelled overnight.

At February half-term, when the train is full of families - the disco-bar remains quiet.


Couchettes on the Alpen Express

Alpen Express couchette

The Alpen Express offers three types of sleeping compartments:

  • 6-berth compartment
  • 5-berth comfort compartment
  • Sleep-3 compartment

All compartments:

  • Have beds that can be converted into regular seats (lowest bunk)
  • Can be booked for private use or per individual berth in a shared compartment
  • Include bed linen, blanket and pillows
  • Have beverages, snacks and breakfast available for purchase from the train steward
     

6-berth compartment

Alpen Express sleeper train couchette

Here are the specifics of the six-berth (beds) compartment, which is the cheapest accommodation on the Alpen Express:

  • Compartment for up to 6 persons
  • Can be booked for private use or per individual berth in a shared compartment
  • Shared toilet facilities can be found on the corridor
  • Window blinds and a table for food and drinks
     

5-berth comfort compartment

Alpen Express 5-berth compartment

Here are the specifics of the five-berth compartment, which is a little more expensive than the six-berth option.

  • Compartment for up to 5 persons
  • Can be booked for private use or per individual berth in a shared compartment
  • Shared toilet facilities can be found on the corridor
  • Compartment has power sockets
  • Climate controlled compartment
  • Window blinds and a table for food and drinks
  • Quiet coach, enhanced travel comfort
     

Sleep-3 compartment

Alpen Express sleeper compartment

The Sleep-3 compartments are a little more luxurious and spacious, because the space is shared between fewer people and there is a private sink.

  • Compartment for up to 3 persons
  • Compartment with private sink, shared toilets on the corridor
  • Can be booked for private use only
  • Compartment has power sockets
  • Beds with comfortable mattresses
  • Breakfast is included in the price
     

The view from the Alpen Express

Alpen Express scenery

When the Alpen Express arrives in Austria in the slopes, you're in for a treat in terms of scenery.

The train splits at Innsbruck to head in two different directions. In one direction it heads into the magnificent Arlberg Valley towards St. Anton. In the other it speeds towards Alpback, Soll and Zell am See, a route that also takes in some wonderful views.

The great thing about train travel in this area is that you get such a mix of scenery - mountains, valleys, lakeside expanses and close up vistas onto villages, farms - often beautifully blanketted in snow. Which, some time later, will be crunching under your skis or snowboard...


The Alpen Express bar-disco carriage

Alpen Express bar-disco

The Alpen Express has a bar which turns into a disco. For those of you who remember the party carriage of the Rail Europe Snow Train (which used to run form Paris to the Tarentaise resorts in France), this may bring back misty-eyed memories. Perhaps you're now married to someone you met there!

If you love the idea of a sleeper train, but don't want to be bopping the night away, you can request a sleeping compartment that is further away from the bar-disco. And on family-holiday weeks it's quiet, in any case.


What the Alpen Express is like on board

To get more of an idea of what it's like travelling on the Alpen Express, here is the promo video from the company that run the train. The video is in Dutch, but the images are international...

We're looking forward to trying the Alpen Express during the 2019-20 winter season, and will of course report back on our first-hand experience.

But everything we know about the train bodes well for a good experience by train to Austrian ski resorts.


How to get to the Alpen Express from the UK

The Alpen Express starts in Amsterdam and goes via Cologne, which luckily makes it easy for UK travellers to get to from London St. Pancras station. Either take the Eurostar to Amsterdam, or go via Brussels and Cologne to leave time for a proper dinner out before boarding the overnight train.

Find out how to do it in our Eurostar + Alpen Express guide to Austria.

 

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