Kiev, Ukraine.  Easy to get there by train!

Kiev, Ukraine

Take the train from the UK to Ukraine...

It's easy to travel by train from London to Ukraine, an adventurous journey that's also safe, comfortable & affordable, far superior to any mere flight.  Eurostar and German Railways link London with Warsaw, then there is a daily sleeper train from Warsaw to Kiev.  Change in Kiev for Odessa or Simferopol and Sebastopol in the Crimea.  This page will tell you train times, approximate fares and how to buy tickets.

Train times, fares & information...

  London to Kiev, Odessa & Crimea - train times, fares & how to buy tickets.

  London to Lviv - train times, fares & how to buy tickets.

  London to Yalta & Balaclava - 1945 & the Charge of the Light Brigade...

  Train travel within Ukraine, a beginner's guide

  How to buy Ukrainian train tickets online

  Useful country information - visas, time zone, currency, dialling code

  Hotels in Kiev, Lviv, Odessa & Ukraine

  Odessa-Istanbul by ferry

Sponsored links...


Useful country information

Train operator:

Ukrzaliznytsya (UZ), (now also in English).  To buy train tickets in Ukraine online in UK, see or  For train times & fares in all ex-Soviet countries see www.poezda.netAll-Europe online train times     Eurostar times & fares



Time zone:

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

Dialling code:




1 = 22 Hryvnia

Tourist information


Tripadvisor Ukraine page    Find hotels    Recommended guidebooks


UK, EU, Swiss & US citizens no longer need a visa for stays of up to 90 days.  This visa-free arrangement was introduced in 2005, but has been extended indefinitely.  To check, see the Ukrainian embassy website ay

Given the current situation in parts of Ukraine, check Foreign Office travel advice at

Page last updated: 

15 September 2015.  Train times valid 14 June to 12 December 2015.

London to Kyv (Kiev), Odessa & the Crimea

It's safe & easy to travel from London to Kyv (Kyv in Ukrainian, Kiev in Russian) by train.  It takes just 2 nights, taking Eurostar to Brussels, a connecting train to Cologne, the Jan Kiepura sleeper train overnight to Warsaw, then the Kiev Express overnight from Warsaw to Kyv.  The journey can be booked in the UK with one phone call, and is an adventure in itself.  Why not spend some time in Paris, Berlin or Warsaw on the way?  There used to be a direct Berlin to Kiev train, this was sadly discontinued in December 2012.

London to Ukraine using the Warsaw-Kiev Kiev Express...

This is usually the slightly cheaper option, depending on what prices you can find for London-Cologne and Cologne-Warsaw.  It runs daily all year round.  You get some time to see a bit of Warsaw, too!

London ► Kyv, Odessa, Simferopol, Sebastopol

Kyv, Odessa, Simferopol, Sebastopol ► London

Take Eurostar to Brussels, then a German ICE high-speed train to Cologne:  Watch the video.

High-speed ICE3 train from Brussels to Cologne & Frankfurt ICE3 second class ICE3 first class

An ICE to Cologne waiting to leave Brussels Midi.  More ICE information.

ICE3 2nd class.   ICEs are perhaps the most comfortable daytime trains in Europe...

ICE3 1st class , with real leather seats.  All seats in both classes have power sockets.

...then the EuroNight sleeper train Jan Kiepura from Cologne to Warsaw...

Dinner in Cologne before you board?  For a traditional German meal in Cologne before boarding the sleeper to Copenhagen, try the Brauhaus Sion (, 5 minutes walk from Cologne hauptbahnhof, or the Malzmuehle restaurant (, 10-15 minutes walk from Cologne Hauptbahnhof, or there's a restaurant inside the Hauptbahnhof itself at the Schweinske, www.schweinske.deFeedback is always appreciated!

A sleeping-car on the Jan Kiepura sleeper train from Cologne to Warsaw   3-berth sleeper (standard type) on the Jan Kiepura   3-berth sleeper on the Jan Kiepura, beds folded away

1, 2 or 3 bed sleepers:  The EuroNight  Jan Kiepura has modern air-conditioned Polish sleeping-cars, with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments, either standard with washbasin or deluxe with shower & toilet...  More info about this train


A cosy standard sleeper shown with all 3 beds folded out & the  washbasin visible.


Standard sleeper with beds folded away & seats out.  There's a socket for laptops & mobiles...

Jan Kiepura couchettes (4-berth)   Jan Kiepura couchettes (6-berth)   A couchette car on the Jan Kiepura overnight train to Warsaw

4-berth couchettes:  Ideal for families.  More space per person than 6-berth couchettes.


6-berth couchettes:  A very economical option, far better than a seat for just a few euros more...


The Jan Kiepura also has two couchette cars, with 4 & 6 berth compartments.  There are toilets & washrooms at the end of the corridor. 

More pictures & info about this train

... and the Kiev Express from Warsaw to Kiev.

The Kiev Express has modernised Ukrainian sleeping-cars with 2-berth & 3-berth compartments.  All bedding is supplied, and washrooms and toilets are at the end of the corridor.  Berths convert to seats for daytime use.  A smartly-uniformed Ukrainian railways sleeper attendant travels with each car.  Photos courtesy of

The Kiev Express   1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper compartment   Each compartment has a washbasin

Boarding in Warsaw...


A sleeper compartment...


...with washbasin.

How much does it cost?

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

 1. London to Cologne

 by Eurostar + 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 Warsaw

 by Jan Kiepura...

In a


In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

Deluxe sleeper








 Savings fare one-way from:

43 (36)

59 (49)

69 (58)

71 (59)

91 (76)

151 (126)

124 (103)

184 (153)

 Savings fare return from:

86 (72)

118 (98)

128 (116)

142 (118)

182 (152)

302 (252)

248 (206)

368 (306)

 Full price one-way:

147 (122)

163 (136)

173 (144)

175 (146)

195 (163)

255 (213)

294 (245)

354 (295)

 Children under 15*









Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.

If you want sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a single sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette and so on.

* Children under 15 travel free if accompanied by a fare-paying adult, but must pay the berth supplement shown here.

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

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

 3. Warsaw to Kiev

 by Kiev Express...

 Booked in the UK through German Railways or Erail:

 93 each way in a 3-berth sleeper.

 123 each way in a 2-bed sleeper

 185 each way in a single-bed sleeper.

 Booked online at

 111 for a bed in a 3-berth or around 162 for a bed in a 2-berth.

 Ordered online through

 432 zlotys (88 or 101) in a 3-bed sleeper.  Children under 12, 288 zlotys (61).

 505 zlotys (103 or 118) in a 2-bed sleeper.

 853 zlotys (174 or 200) in a single-bed sleeper.

 All these prices are per person per bed, berths are sold individually.

How to buy train tickets online...

How to buy train tickets from the UK to Kiev, the easy way...

How to buy tickets from the UK to Kiev by phone...

If you want to buy all your London-Kiev tickets together by phone, with booking opening 60 days before departure, the best agencies to call for this trip are:

How to buy onward tickets from Kiev to Odessa, Simferopol or Sebastopol...

London to Lviv

  The opera house, Lviv, Ukraine

The opera house, Lviv...

If Krakow has become the new Prague, then Lviv is the new Krakow...  Lviv (spelt Lviv in Ukrainian, Lvov in Russian) is a beautiful city that escaped most of the ravages of world war 2.  For accommodation in Lviv, whether your budget is 1 star or 5 star, check out the faded grandeur of the excellent and historic George Hotel.  This is the place to stay in Lviv, 30-68 per night.

The quickest and easiest route from the UK to Lviv is via Krakow, using a new daily Krakow-Lviv sleeper train.  Why not stop off in Krakow and see two great cities this way?  Train times via Prague are also shown below, although you arrive in Lviv late at night this way.  Why not go out one way and back the other?

London ► Lviv  (via Krakow)

This is probably the quickest and easiest route, with good connections from London.  Combining Krakow and Lviv, two of eastern Europe's most unspoilt cities, has to be a winner!

Lviv ► London  (via Krakow)

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

London to Yalta & Balaclava

  The Livadia Palace courtyard where the photos of Roosevelt, Stalin & Churchill were taken at the Yalta Conference in 1945


A seaside resort and site of the 1945 Yalta Conference, Yalta has no railway station but it can be reached by trolleybus from Simferopol.  These run every 20 minutes throughout the day.  It's the longest trolleybus ride in the world, taking a very scenic (but bum-numbing...) 2 hours 40 minutes across the mountain range and down to the coast.  The fare is just a few hryvnia.

Livadia Palace, site of the Yalta Conference 1945:  Don't miss the Livadia Palace on the coast just outside Yalta town centre - the famous photographs of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin seated side-by-side at the 1945 conference was taken in the courtyard here.  The photo on the right shows the same courtyard today.  For a mass-murderer, Stalin was pretty good at choosing cool conference locations...


Balaclava, 7 miles from Sevastopol, also has no railway station.  It's most easily (and very cheaply - about 2) reached by taxi, but there are also buses (with a change of bus required from trolleybus to diesel bus at the out-of-town trolleybus terminal).  In recent times a submarine maintenance base, it was closed to foreigners until 1996.  During the Crimean war of 1854-55 the British used it as their supply port for the siege of Sevastopol.  You can climb up to the ruined fortress on the hill overlooking the harbour on one side and the Black Sea on the other.

The battlefield at Balaclava in the Crimea, site of the famous Charge of the Light Brigade in 1854.  

The charge of the Light Brigade, 1854... 

"...into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred..."  wrote Alfred Lord Tennyson.  Walking or taking a taxi the three miles inland from Balaclava town you can visit the site of the Battle of Balaclava, where the famous 'charge of the Light Brigade' took place during the Crimean war.  The battlefield is completely unmarked, so take a good map.

The photo on the left shows the site of the battle and the famous charge today, when the Light Brigade would find their horses hindered by the endless vineyards.  In the photo, the Light Brigade would have charged from left to right towards the line of Russian guns which were lined up across the shallow valley roughly where the line of tall pointed trees is in the distance.  Only about 100 of the 600 British cavalry survived.

Train travel in Ukraine

On board Ukrainian trains...

  Russian trains:  'Kup' class 4-berth sleepers      Russian trains: 'Platskartny' class sleepers

Kup.  Lockable 4-berth compartments.  This is an older train - newer coaches have more modern compartments.  Courtesy David Smith


Platskartny.  54 bunks per coach, arranged open-plan in bays of 4 (left of photo) & longitudinal bays of 2 above & below the window (right of photo).  Courtesy of

  2-berth spalny vagon sleeper on the Lviv to Kiev overnight train

Spalny vagon 2-berth, with two lower berths. This is on the overnight Lviv to Kiev train.  Courtesy of Tim Makins

Ukrainian trains offer the normal 'Russian' range of sleeping accommodation:

Whichever class of travel you choose, each coach is looked after by a pair of attendants called a 'provodnik' (male) or 'provodnitsa' (female).  The provodnik will check your ticket at the door to the sleeper when you board.  Shortly after departure, the provodnik will come round to take your ticket.  You may be asked if you would like a glass of black Ukrainian tea ('chai') - this costs about 3 gryvnia, or about 30p.  Bedding (two sheets, pillowcase and towel) is then handed out in sealed packs - blankets and mattresses will already be stacked in your compartment.  After a few journeys, you will become quite proficient at making up your bed!

A samovar with unlimited free hot water is available at the end of the corridor - pack some tea or coffee, sugar, cuppa soups or water-based drinking chocolate and bring your own mug.   Most long distance trains have a restaurant car serving drinks, snacks, and inexpensive full meals - reckon on less than 6 for two courses and a couple of bottles of beer.

There is no need to worry about security on Ukrainian trains, it's the way Ukrainians themselves travel, including families and women travelling alone.  Just use the same common sense that you would use anywhere, use the locks on your compartment door at night and don't leave valuables unattended.  In addition to the normal lock on the compartment door, 'Spalny Wagon' and 'kup' compartments have a security latch which stops the door opening more than an inch or two, and which cannot be released from outside.  There's also a safe place for your bags at night - if you have a bottom bunk, there is a metal box underneath the bunk which you can only get to by lifting up the bunk - in other words, for anyone to get to your bags, they will have to shift you off your bunk first!  Your provodniks will probably also lock the access doors at each end of the corridor at night to prevent any unwanted guests.

How to buy tickets...

Reservations are fully computerised, and you can book train tickets up to 45 days in advance for any journey within, or originating within, Ukraine at any Ukrainian railway station.  If your Ukrainian or Russian isn't up to scratch, write down your requirements, using the Cyrillic (Russian) script if you can.  Alternatively, to avoid the queues and any language hassles, you can book rail tickets through travel agencies, for example those located in the lobbies of certain major hotels.

Buy Ukrainian train tickets online... 

Option 1, buy tickets from or Unipress or other agencies...

Normal UK European rail agencies cannot book rail travel within Ukraine, although Deutsche Bahn can book international trains from Germany or Poland into Ukraine.  However, there are a number of reliable agencies who can book Ukrainian train tickets for you and either allow you to collect them or courier them to your home country.


The internet train ticket collection window at Kiev ticket office


The internet ticket collection window at Kiev station.  Note the break times, so don't leave it till the last minute to collect tickets & find them closed!  Courtesy of David Aspa.

Option 2, buy online direct from Ukrainian Railways at

The Ukrainian Railways (UZ) website is and it now has an English-language online booking facility at  It has a few quirky translations, but it's the cheapest way to buy tickets as there are minimal fees.  Remember that Kiev in Ukrainian is 'Kyiv'.  'Suite / First-Class Sleeper' means beds in 2-berth Spalny Vagon sleepers.  'Coupe / Coach With Compartments' means beds in 4-berth kup sleepers.  'Berth/Third-Class Sleeper' means Platskartny open-plan bunks. 

At the end of the booking you usually get a voucher which must be exchanged for a ticket at the station before departure, for example in Kiev main station there's a collection counter at window 12, hall 4 in the old wing of the station, with a self-service collection machine installed there too.  However, recent improvements mean that when booking some (not all) trains you get a print-at-home ticket which you can print out and use to board the train with no need to exchange it for a ticket at the station.  Just read the confirmation page carefully to see what you have to do once you have made your booking.

Several seat61 correspondents have successfully used this to book tickets, using UK or other non-Ukrainian credit cards.  Feedback if you use this service would be appreciated!

Ferries from Ukraine

Unfortunately, it now seems there are no ferries at all between Istanbul and Odessa, at least none that accept foot passengers.  Further feedback always appreciated!

Istanbul - Odessa ferry:  Option 1, Princess Elena passenger ship...

A weekly passenger ship used to link Istanbul with Odessa in Ukraine across the Black Sea, taking about 36 hours, see (in Russian only, but open it in Google Chrome and use the translate facility).  The ship was the 'Prinses Elena' with a full range of cabins, restaurants, bars available.  However, the ferry was 'undergoing repairs' in 2013 and has appeared to resume service.

Istanbul - Odessa ferry:  Option 2, Sea Lines truck ferry...

This is more of a truckers ferry than a passenger ferry, but it sails twice a week and used to take foot passengers.  It goes from Haydarpasa port to Ilischevsk, a port 30km (19 miles) south of Odessa itself.  However, in 2015 it's reported this ferry no longer takes foot passengers, only freight, allegedly due to restrictions imposed by Istanbul port authorities.

Recommended guidebooks

The Man in Seat 61 book - click to buy onlineLonely Planet India - Click to buy onlineDefinitely invest in a good guidebook. For the serious independent traveller the best guidebook is probably the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.

Buy Lonely Planet Ukraine online at

My own book, an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", was published in June 2008 & revised April 2010, available from with shipping worldwide.



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 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 or (in the Netherlands) for 13 + 5.50 postage from

Find hotels in Kiev, the Crimea & Ukraine...


◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison. 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! 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.

Personal recommendations...

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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 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

        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  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 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 for info.


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