Castle Bran, Brasov, Romania.  Travel there by train!

Bran Castle, Brasov, Transylvania.  Built in 1377 by Vlad Tepes (the Impaler), inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula...  Courtesy Bryan Dawe.

London to Braşov & Bucharest by train...

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, young lawyer Jonathan Harker travels from London to Transylvania by train.  You too can travel by train from London to Dracula’s castle at Brasov and across the scenic Carpathian mountains to Bucharest (Bucureşti in Romanian).  This section explains train times, fares & how to buy tickets.

Train times, fares & information...

  Option 1:  London to Romania via Paris & Munich - train times, fares & how to buy tickets

  Option 2:  London to Romania via Brussels & Cologne - train times, fares & tickets

  Option 3:  London to Romania by daytime trains with overnight hotel stops not sleeper trains.

  Trains to Romania from other European cities

  Trains from Romania to other European cities

  How to book trains within Romania

  Bucharest Nord station facilities

  Visiting Brasov & Castle Bran   Visiting Sighisoara

  Hotels & accommodation in Romania

  General European train travel information

  Luggage & left luggage

  Taking bikes   Taking dogs

Route map:  London to Romania by train...

Route map:  London to Bucharest & Romania by train

Useful country information

Train operator in Romania:

CFR (Societatea Nationale a Cailor Ferate Romβne), www.cfrcalatori.ro

 

 

Eurostar times & fares.  All-Europe online train times

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses

Time zone & dialling code:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+40

Currency:

£1 = approx 4.6 New Lei.   Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.turism.ro    Recommended guidebooks

Hotels:

Hotels in Bucharest.   Backpacker hostels: www.hostelbookers.com

Visas:

UK citizens don't need a visa to visit Romania for up to 90 days.

Page last updated: 

21 November 2014.  Train times valid 14 Dec 2014 to 13 June 2015.


London to Braşov & Bucharest

Option 1, London to Romania via Paris, Munich & Budapest...

This is the fastest and most comfortable option between the UK and Romania.  It runs daily all year round.

London ► Cluj, Timişoara, Sighişoara, Braşov, Bucharest

Bucharest, Braşov, Sighişoara, Timişoara, Cluj ► London

What are the trains like? 

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page.

Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...  Watch the TGV Duplex video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine.  Book an upstairs seat for the best views...

 

2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Munich to Budapest by Kalman Imre sleeper train...  Watch the video

Cosy & inviting, a hotel on rails, this is the modern air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car of the Kalman Imre at Munich Hauptbahnhof...  The sleeping-car has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  The fare includes a light breakfast of coffee, juice & croissantWatch the Hungarian sleeping-car video.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, I recommend the typically Bavarian Mongdratzerl restaurant located inside the Hauptbahnhof, open until late.

The sleeper train to Budapest   Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Munich to Budapest

The Kalman Imre, about to leave Munich...

 

2-berth sleeper...

6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

Hungarian couchette car at Munich

Good morning Budapest!

City of Budapest & the Danube

Budapest to Bucharest on the EuroNight sleeper train Ister...

The Ister from Budapest to Brasov & Bucharest has a modern air-conditioned Romanian sleeping-car with carpeted 1, 2 or 3-berth compartments with proper beds & washbasin, plus several deluxe 1, 2 or 3 bed compartments with private toilet & shower, see the photos below.  Travelling in the sleeping-car is safe, comfortable & civilised.  The Ister also has a Romanian couchette car with 6-berth & 4-berth compartments, each berth with rug, sheet & pillow, berths converting to seats by day.  Couchettes are fairly basic, and a proper bed in the sleeper is much more comfortable and secure yet costs very little extra, so is the recommended option.  There's a modern Romanian restaurant car serving dinner and a cooked breakfast, but taking some supplies of your own is always a good idea.  The Ister also has air-conditioned seats cars, but a mere seat is not recommended.

Traveller Philip Dyer-Perry reports:  "Budapest to Bucharest on the Ister is an absolute pleasure. I booked online with MAV and travelled in the new sleeping car, which was comfortable, smooth, and clean. There is a shower, but obviously not intended for use as most of the hose assembly was missing.  There was a dining car, and if you ask you can get a menu, but it's better to ask the man what he's got and negotiate a price.  If you have hard (non-Romanian) currency there is a certain amount of flexibility.  In the evening it was chicken & potatoes, next morning it was a rather tasty omelette.  Just be aware that the main purpose of the dining car is as a place for the traincrew to smoke!  It's good though, and a world away from Western Europe..."

En suite toilet & shower on EuroNight sleeper train Ister to Bucharest   Single-berth sleeper on the EuroNight sleeper train 'Ister' to Bucharest   EuroNight sleeper train 'Ister' from Budapest to Bucharest

Deluxe sleeper...  The en suite toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper from Budapest to Bucharest.  Courtesy Andy Brabin.

A sleeper set up as a  1-berth compartment with middle & top berths folded away against the wall.  Courtesy Andy Brabin.

 

The Budapest-Bucharest Ister:  This is the modern air-conditioned Romanian sleeping-car.  The letters above the windows say 'Voiture-Lits - Sleeping-car - Carrozza Letti - Vagon de Dormit'...  Welcome to your hotel on rails, some compartments with toilet & shower.  Courtesy Andy Brabin.

Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest   6-berth couchettes   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The vagon cuseta (couchette car) on the Ister, at Budapest.

 

6-berth couchettes.

 

4-berth couchettes.

Bucharest or Brasov to Budapest by air-conditioned InterCity train...

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   Hungarian restaurant car on the train to Brasov

An InterCity train to Romania (left) about to leave Budapest.

 

The restaurant car on the InterCity train to Romania...

2nd class Romanian InterCity coach   Romanian InterCity seating coach

Air-conditioned 2nd class seats used on the Traianus from Budapest to Bucharest.  Or take your own picnic with beer or wine...

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so just add up the price for each leg of the journey...

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

     by TGV...

 From €39 (£34) each way in 2nd class

 From €69 (£59) each way in 1st class.

 The price varies, book in advance to get these fares, full-price €139.

 If you book at www.bahn.de, accompanied children under 15 go free.

 

 3. Munich to Budapest

 on the Kalman Imre

In a  

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Savings fare one-way:

€29 (£25)

€49 (£42)

€59 (£49)

€69 (£59)

€79 (£67) 

€139 (£118)

 Savings fare return:

€58 (£50)

€98 (£84)

€118 (£98)

€138 (£118)

€158 (£134) 

€278 (£236)

 Full price one-way:

€95

€109

€115

€120

€139 

€209

Savings fare = advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans. 

Full price = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

 Or Munich to Budapest

 by RailJet...

 Economy class fares from €39 each way.

 First class fares start at €69 each way.

 If you book at www.bahn.de, accompanied children under 15 go free.

  

 4. Budapest to Bucharest

 on the Ister...

 Bought online at MAV-start.hu...

 From €39 with a bed in a 6-bunk couchette;

 From €59 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper;

 From €97 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper;

 From €182 with a single-bed sleeper

 All per person, berths sold individually, you don't need to fill the whole compartment.

 Booked in the UK...

 £87 each way in 6-berth couchettes.

 £95 each way in 4-berth couchettes.

 £99 each way in 3-bed sleeper

 £112 in 2-bed sleeper

 £198 in single sleeper.

 £162 each way in 2-bed deluxe sleeper with shower, £209 in single-bed deluxe.

 All per person, berths sold individually, you don't need to fill the whole compartment.

How to buy tickets online...

  Hungarian Railways e-ticket collection point
 

You can now book the Budapest to Bucharest sleeper train online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu.  To collect tickets, look for these blue e-ticket collection machines at Budapest Keleti station...  Location of internet ticket collection machines at Budapest Keleti station

Anyone from any country can buy tickets online this way, at the cheapest prices with few on no booking fees.

Buy tickets by email from europeanrail.com...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...


Option 2, London to Romania via Brussels & Vienna...

London ► Sighişoara, Braşov, Bucharest

You then have a choice:

Bucharest, Braşov, Sighişoara ► London

You also have a choice for the return journey:  

The Austrian Railways EuroNight train from Cologne to Vienna...

This is an Austrian Railways (ΦBB) EuroNight sleeper train, with sleeping-car, couchettes & seats.  The sleeping-car has very compact 1 & 2 bed compartments with washbasin, plus two deluxe compartments (still very compact) with 1 or 2 beds plus private shower & toilet.  The sleeper berths come fully made up with sheets and duvets, and all sleeper passengers get mineral water in the evening and a light breakfast served in their compartment next morning.  Towels & toiletries are provided, including shampoo and shower gel in the deluxe sleepers.  In the more economical couchettes, you can book a couchette in a cheaper 6-berth compartment or a less-crowded 4-berth compartment.  Couchette passengers get a small bottle of mineral water, and each couchette is provided with sheet, blanket and pillow.  When waiting for the northbound sleeper train at Vienna Westbahnhof, if you have a sleeper ticket (as opposed to couchette or seat ticket), you can use the first class ΦBB Club Lounge, with complimentary drinks.

1 & 2 berth standard sleeper on the Austrian EuroNight train.   EuroNight sleeper train to Vienna:  6-berth couchettes   The Cologne-Vienna sleeper train is an Austrian Railways (OBB) EuroNight train

1 or 2 bed sleeper: The most comfortable option. Standard sleepers have a washbasin, deluxe sleepers a private shower & toilet.

 

4 & 6-berth couchettes:  The economy option, ideal for families.  Couchettes are basic padded bunks with rug & pillow.  This is a 6-berth couchette.

 

The Austrian sleeping-car or schlafwagen.

Sleeper & couchette passengers receive a complimentary light breakfast with tea or coffee in the morning.

Click for more pictures & information about this EuroNight train

Vienna to Bucharest on the Dacia Express...

The Dacia Express from Vienna to Brasov & Bucharest has a comfortable Romanian sleeping-car with carpeted 1, 2 or 3-bed compartments with proper beds & washbasin, see the photos below.  Bought second-hand from German Railways, these sleepers are safe, comfortable & civilised.  There's even a shower at the end of the corridor, although water pressure & temperature might not be brilliant, assuming it works!  The Dacia Express also has one Romanian couchette car with 4 & 6-bunk compartments.  The couchettes have compartments with 6 seats by day which convert to bunks for night time use with rug, sheet and pillow supplied.  Couchettes are fairly basic, and a proper bed in the sleeper is much more comfortable and secure yet costs very little extra, so is the recommended option.  The Dacia Express also has several air-conditioned seats cars, but making this journey in an ordinary seat is not recommended.

The Romanian sleeping-car on the Dacia Express to Bucharest, at Vienna      Vienna-Bucharest 2-berth sleeper   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The Dacia Express about to leave Vienna for Bucharest.  the Romanian sleeping-car attendant greets passengers at the door...

2-berth sleeper with washbasin on the Vienna-Bucharest Dacia Express...

 

4 or 6 berth couchette compartment on the Dacia Express...

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Cologne

     by Eurostar + Thalys or ICE...

 Fares for Eurostar+ICE start at €59 (£49) each way.

 Fares for Eurostar+Thalys start at £56 one-way or £103 return

 Fares vary like air fares, so book in advance to get the cheapest prices.

 Child, youth, senior Eurostar fares

 

 2. Cologne to Vienna

     by EuroNight train, per person...

In a

seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

2-berth

single

3-berth

+ shower

2-berth

+ shower

single

+ shower

 Savings fare one-way from:

€29 (£25)

€39 (£34)

€49 (£45)

€69 (£60)

€139 (£121)

€89 (£77)

€129 (£112)

€169 (£146)

 Savings fare return from:

€43 (£37)

€59 (£51)

€69 (£60)

€99 (£86)

€139 (£121)

€89 (£77)

€129 (£112)

€169 (£146)

 Normal fare one-way:

€99

€119

€129

€159 

€199

€154

€174

€214

 Normal fare return:

€25

€39

€48

€105

€126

€105

€116

€158

 Child under 14 with own berth:

Savings fares for children slightly lower than adult Savings fares, full fare 50-60% of adult normal fare

 Child under 6 without own berth:

Child  under 6 sharing a berth travels free

Savings fares = Advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans. 

Normal fare = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

3. Vienna to Budapest...

 From €19 (£16) each way in 2nd class.

 From €29 (£25) each way in 1st class.

4. Budapest to Bucharest...

 Booked online at Mav-start.hu...

 From €39 with a bed in a 6-bunk couchette.

 From €59 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper.

 From €97 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper.

 From €182 with a single-bed sleeper.

 All per person, berths sold individually, you don't need to fill the whole compartment.

 Alternatively...

3. Vienna to Bucharest

    by Dacia Express...

At the station or through DB's UK office you may be able to find fares from £80 one-way, £160 return, including a comfortable berth in a 3-bed sleeper.  You can book online at www.loco2.com although here you'll pay the international tariff, £88 one-way, £176 return with a couchette, or £112 each way with a berth in a 3-bed sleeper, £163 each way with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper.

Ask about reductions if you are over 60 or under 26.  You might want to consider a Eurail, InterRail, or selection of Eurodomino railpasses for this journey, although sleeper or couchette supplements will need to be paid in addition to buying the pass.

Braşov is 12km from the skiing resort of Poiana Braşov, and starting point for trips to Castle Bran - Dracula's castle!

How to buy tickets online...

The cheapest way to book this part of this trip is online, because there's no booking fee and all the special offers are there for you to see.  It involves two or three websites, so do a dry run on both sites to check prices and availability before booking for real.  Here's how:

Buy tickets the easy way from europeanrail.com...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...


Option 3, London to Romania by daytime trains with hotel stops...

This takes a bit longer so it's not so time-effective as using sleeper trains, but if you prefer daytime trains through the scenery with overnight stops in comfortable hotels, this is the option for you.  It's also potentially the cheapest option, although this is not necessarily true once the cost of the hotels is added.  By all means stop off for longer between trains, what you do is up to you.

  Lunch in the restaurant car on the train to Romania
 

Lunch in the Hungarian dining-car on one of the daytime trains from Budapest to Romania...  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

London ► Cluj, Timişoara, Craiova, Braşov, Bucharest

Bucharest, Braşov, Craiova, Timişoara, Cluj ► London

  Hungarian Railways e-ticket collection point
 

You can now book cheap tickets for the Budapest to Bucharest daytime trains online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu.  To collect tickets, look for these blue e-ticket collection machines at Budapest Keleti station...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can buy tickets online this way, at the cheapest prices with few on no booking fees.

How to buy tickets by phone...

Paris to Munich by 200 mph TGV Duplex...   Watch the TGV Duplex video

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine...

 

2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Munich to Budapest by smart Austrian Railjet train...

Economy class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   The morning RailJet from Munich has arrived in Budapest.

Economy class on RailJet, comfortable open saloons with picture windows.  Some seats arranged around tables, most unidirectional.

 

The RailJet from Munich, arrived at Budapest Keleti spot on time.  More photos & information about Railjet trains.

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

...and Budapest to Brasov or Bucharest by air-conditioned InterCity train.

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   Hungarian restaurant car on the train to Sighisoara & Brasov

An InterCity train to Romania (left) about to leave Budapest.

 

The restaurant car on the InterCity train to Romania...

2nd class Romanian InterCity coach   Romanian InterCity seating coach

Air-conditioned 2nd class seats used on the Traianus from Budapest to Bucharest.  Or take your own picnic with beer or wine...


Bucharest Nord station

Click for map of Bucharest showing station

Bucharest has one main station, the imposing Gara de Nord (Bucuresti Nord), opened in 1872.  I've always found the grand scale of the architecture somewhat dark and oppressive but it's improved in recent years.  The station is a terminus, with some 14 platforms.  Photos courtesy of Railbookers.com.

Bucharest Nord station   Inside Bucharest Nord station

Left luggage & ATMs

There's a left luggage office 50m past the Relay newsagents, see here for prices.  There are plenty of ATM cash points around the station.

Somewhere to eat...

There is a MacDonalds, a KFC & a Springtime inside the station, as well as many kiosks selling drinks and snacks.  Further feedback appreciated!


How to book trains within Romania

Buy Romanian train tickets online at www.cfrcalatori.ro...

You can book Romanian domestic train tickets online at www.cfrcalatori.ro, the Romanian Railways (CFR) website, including domestic sleeper trains.  Feedback would be appreciated if you use this site.

Alternatively, you can arrange train tickets & reservations on trains within Romania by e-mail via the Wasteels travel agency at Bucharest Nord station, who have been reported as providing 'first class service' by seat61 correspondents.  Their website is now www.triptkts.ro, you can contact them through their website.  They are located inside Bucharest Gara de Nord.  Tel +40 21 300 2730 or +40 21 317 0370, open 10:00-18:00 Monday-Friday.  They also have an office at Brasov station, +40 368 22 80 01, also open 10:00-18:00 Monday-Friday.


Braşov & Castle Bran

Click for map of Brasov showing station...

Brasov is well worth a stop, both for the city itself and nearby Bran Castle.  The station is in the city centre.  Below left, Brasov's main city square.  It's decidedly Germanic, no accident as it was once largely German and known as Kronstadt.  Below right, the Black Church.

Brasov, Romania - the main square   The Black Church, Brasov, Romania.

Dracula's castle, or that of a British princess?

How to reach Castle Bran:  The village of Bran is 30km from Brasov and easily reached by bus from Brasov's Autogara No.2, half-hourly on weekdays, hourly at weekends, fare around 5 Lei (€1.20).  A taxi from Brasov to Castle Bran will cost around 50 Lei (€13). 

Often referred to as Dracula's castle, the connection with Vlad the Impaler (the model for Bram Stoker's Dracula) is tenuous at best.  True, it's a defensive castle thought to be built Vlad Dracul (Vlad Tepes, the Impaler) but it's not clear if he spent much time there.  The surprise is the British connection.  A British princess, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria, married the King of Romania and made the castle her villa, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_of_Romania.  Much of the rustic interior design is hers, rather than that of any Transylvanian vampire.  For information on the castle, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bran_Castle.  The official castle website is www.bran-castle.com.

Castle Bran   Castle Bran courtyard   The royal bedroom, Castle Bran
 

Sighisoara

Click for map of Sighisoara showing station

Sighisoara is Transylvania's historic walled town, a must-see.  It's a 10-15 minute walk up the hill from Sighisoara station to the old town.  You can climb Sighisoara's iconic clock tower dating from 1556, and walk up the town's wooden covered steps to the church on the citadel, seen in the photo below right taken from the clock tower.  The yellow building in the photo below left is the birthplace of Vlad Dracul, known as Vlad the Impaler, the role model for Dracula...

Clocktower & Vlad the Impaler's birthplace   View of Sighisoara citadel from clock tower gallery.

Recommended guidebooks...

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukLonely Planet Romania - buy online at Amazon.co.ukRough Guide to Romania - click to buy at AmazonYou should take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both series are excellent.  The Lonely Planet range offers an in-depth guide for Romania or a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.  You won't regret buying one!

Click the images to buy at Amazon...

 

 

 


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe/Maps--Atlases/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.



Find hotels in Bucharest, Transylvania & Romania...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

  • www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

  • www.booking.com is my own preferred hotel booking system (Hotels Combined being a search/comparison system).  It has a simple interface, a good selection in most countries worldwide, useful online customer reviews of each hotel, and decent prices, usually shown inclusive of unavoidable extras such as taxes (a pet hate of mine is systems that show one price, then charge you another!).

Backpacker hostels...

  • www.hostelbookers.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelbookers offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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