One thing we love about Europe: You can travel by train with your dog! We were ready to book our first train ride with James, our Standard Poodle. While train travel in Europe with a dog is easy, it isn't always easy to find how to get the tickets. We wanted to explain the best way to travel through Europe by train with your dog.
We first searched using the OBB Austria website
(since we originally started our Europe journey in Austria) and we found that adding a dog to our searches showed that no trains were available. At all. But if we removed the dog ticket, all of the trains showed up with an option to buy a ticket.
We also looked at the DB Germany website and they don't have an option to add a dog ticket at all. BUT they do have a great train schedule iPhone app
that is very useful to see where your train originates from, what its final destination is and how long it will be stopped at each stop along your journey. This is good information to have when you have a several hour train journey. Most trains stop at a station for 2 minutes but when you find the stop that lasts 8 minutes you know you can get off to let your dog go to the bathroom. I was probably a little extra cautious and brought my phone and passport with me JUST in case the train left early. But it didn't.
Click here to download the DB Navigation train app that is useful:
Then we also looked at the Trenitalia Italy website and it also didn't have an option to add a dog ticket at all.
So we walked over to the train station in Vienna and it turns out you can buy the dog tickets at the station - either from a ticket kiosk or from the ticket office. We asked why we couldn't buy the dog ticket online and we were told it had to be bought from the station. The dog ticket is usually 1/2 price and we were able to pick any train for James to ride with us.
Then the same is true for a night train. You can't buy a nightjet train ticket online if you are traveling with your dog. You have to buy it from the station. The dog ticket is also a half price ticket. AND you have to book a standard sleeper room. You will have this whole room to yourself and it isn't a shared room. If you are traveling alone most nightjet train tickets put you in with strangers of the same gender. We definitely did not want to share a room and we were glad we didn't have to do this with James the Poodle.
All trains require large dogs to be leashed and muzzled. We found that in Austria, they enforce the muzzle rules. And in Italy people ask why we have a muzzle on James! So to be safe, always have your muzzle with you or on your dog.
We also found that for the most part, you don't need to reserve a seat when traveling by train with your dog. The night train is a reserved cabin. But the day trains are usually open seating and finding an open couchette or a space with two empty seats is pretty easy. We did book one train right after Christmas where we reserved two seats and we are glad we did - the train was very full! I'm sure we could have found two empty seats but not having to rush on the train and run looking for two open seats was nice.
We have heard that some trains get crowded around rush hour but we usually don't travel at those times.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions and we will try our best to help :)
James on his first train ride from Innsbruck, Austria to Verona, Italy (a beautiful, scenic route by the way!):
*Some train conductors don't allow dogs on the seats. Be sure to ask if you aren't sure. One Italian train conductor didn't like passengers putting their feet up on the seats across from them and he would yell for you to put your feet on the floor! We travel with a blanket for James in case it is a long journey on a cold floor.