Scenery from the train to Belgrade
 

Scenery between Ljubljana & Belgrade as you travel to Serbia comfortably by train. No airports, no flights.

To Belgrade & Serbia by train...

You can travel by train from London or Paris to Belgrade in Serbia, Skopje in North Macedonia or even Pristina in Kosovo.  Leave London mid-morning, travel via Paris and Zagreb and you'll be in Belgrade by early evening the next day, with good-quality air-conditioned trains throughout.  It's safe, scenic & comfortable, too.  It can cost little more than flying, yet it's a memorable travel experience not a soulless flight.  This page explains how to plan, book and make a train journey from the UK to each of these countries.

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2023:  The Zagreb-Belgrade train is currently still suspended, even after the pandemic has ended.  With the Budapest-Belgrade route also suspended for rebuilding until 2025, Serbia is now cut off.  You can reach Budapest or Zagreb, but there are currently no trains at all into Serbia.

Train times, fares & tickets

small bullet point  London to Belgrade & Novi Sad (Serbia)

small bullet point  London to Skopje (North Macedonia) & Pristina (Kosovo)

small bullet point  Trains to Belgrade from other European cities

small bullet point  Trains from Belgrade to other European cities

small bullet point  Belgrade station facilities

small bullet point  How to book trains in Serbia

small bullet point  Visiting the city of Belgrade

small bullet point  Hotel Moskva - the recommended hotel in Belgrade

small bullet point  Marshal Tito's private train

small bullet point  General European train travel information

small bullet point  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking dogs

small bullet point  Useful country information: visas, currency...

small bullet point  Hotels & accommodation

Route map

Route map, London to Serbia by train


Useful country information

Train operators:

Serbia: ZS (Zeleznice Srbije) & ZCG (Zeleznice Cme Gore), www.srbvoz.rs.

North Macedonia:  MZ (Makedonski Zeleznici), mzt.mk.  Kosovo:  www.trainkos.com

Eurostar times & fares.  All-Europe online train times:  www.bahn.de

 

Railpass:

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

Serbia +381, Macedonia +389

Currency:

£1 = 130 Serbian Novi Dinar = 68 Macedonian Denar.  Currency converter

Hotels:

Find a hotel anywhere in Eastern Europe

Tourist information:

Tripadvisor Serbia page    Tripadvisor Macedonia page

Check www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for advice on visiting Serbia or Macedonia.

Page last updated:

13 February 2023.  Train times valid 11 Dec 2022 to 9 Dec 2023.


Which route to choose?

It's easy, fast & comfortable to travel by train from the UK to Serbia, and there's usually a choice of routes and departures.  However, long-term work to upgrade the Budapest-Belgrade line means this route is blocked in 2021 and possibly beyond, so currently only the route via Zagreb-Belgrade remains open.  By all means stop off on the way, each train is ticketed separately so it costs no more to spend an extra day in Paris or Munich or Zagreb en route.

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Option 1:  London to Belgrade via Paris, Stuttgart & Zagreb

This is the fastest option, taking a high-speed TGV from Paris to Stuttgart, the excellent Croatian sleeper train from Stuttgart to Zagreb then a train to Belgrade.

London ► Belgrade

Belgrade ► London

How much does it cost?

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

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Stuttgart

      by TGV Duplex...

 From €39 each way in 2nd class

 From €59 each way in 1st class.

 Fares work like air fares, cheap in advance, expensive on the day.

 

 3. Stuttgart to Zagreb

 on the Lisinski...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 One-way per person from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

 3. Zagreb to Belgrade

      by day train...

 Around £44 each way if bought by phone in the UK.

 Around €30 each way if bought at the station in Zagreb.

 Around 188 Croatian kuna if bought on board the train.

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

Let Railbookers arrange it as a package

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Stuttgart by TGV Duplex...   See the video guide

In Paris it's an easy 7 minute 500m walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 320 km/h (199 mph), past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, 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.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris & Stuttgart, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine.  Book an upstairs seat for the best views...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

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

1st class on upper deck, a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

3. Stuttgart to Zagreb by sleeper train Lisinski...  Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Munic to Zagreb, boarding in Munich

Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb is boarding at Munich Hbf.  It has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as 1, 2 or 3 berth, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartments convert to a private sitting room for evening or morning use.  A light breakfast is included in the sleeper fare.

The Croatian couchette car is the next vehicle to the right, also modern & air-conditioned with 4 & 6 bunk compartments, ideal for families.  Couchettes convert from bunks to seats for evening or morning use.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

4. Zagreb to Belgrade by train...

This is a comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's also no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  Below right, the Belgrade to Zagreb train.  Below left, 2nd class seats.

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

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Option 2:  London to Belgrade via Paris, Zurich & Zagreb

This is similar to option 1, but instead of TGV to Stuttgart and the Croatian sleeper train from Stuttgart to Zagreb, you taka a TGV-Lyria to Zurich and the Croatian sleeper train from Zurich to Zagreb.  There are two minor disadvantages compared to option 1:  First, departure from London is a little earlier in the morning with an identical arrival in Belgrade.  Second, you need to cross Paris by taxi or metro from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon, whereas in option 1 it's just a 7 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est next door.  This option also has lovely scenery in the morning on the way to Zagreb along the Sava river!

London ► Belgrade

Belgrade ► London

How much does it cost?

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

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Zurich

      by TGV-Lyria...

 From €29 each way in 2nd class

 From €79 each way in 1st class.

 Fares work like air fares, cheap in advance, expensive on the day.

 

 3. Zurich to Zagreb

 by sleeper train...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 One-way per person from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

 4. Zagreb to Belgrade

      by day train...

 Around £44 each way if bought by phone in the UK.

 Around €25 each way if bought at the station in Zagreb.

 Around 188 Croatian kuna (€25) if bought on board the train.

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Standard Premier & Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to cross Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 train at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria...

All TGV-Lyria trains are now 320km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex like the one shown below.  TGV-Lyria trains have 3 classes:  Standard class (2nd), standard premiere (1st class) and business premiere (1st class with hot meal & drinks included in the fare).  There's a cafe-bar car selling drinks & snacks.  There are power points for mobiles & laptops at all seats in all classes.  Lyria is a consortium of the French and Swiss national railways.  More information about TGV-Lyria.

TGV-Lyria train from Paris to Switzerland, at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV-Lyria TGV Duplex train at Paris Gare de Lyon. More information about TGV-Lyria

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes...

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

 

A TGV-Lyria boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

3. Zurich to Zagreb by sleeper train...  Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Zurich before boarding at a local restaurant, try the Brasserie Federal inside Zurich HB.

The Zurich to Zagreb sleeper train boarding at Zurich HB

The Zurich-Zagreb sleeper train boarding at Zurich HB as the sun sets on a summer day.  That's the Croatian couchette car on the right, the Croatian sleeping-car on the left.  See the Croatian sleeper video.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

4. Zagreb to Belgrade by train...

This is a comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's also no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  Below right, the Belgrade to Zagreb train about to leave Belgrade.  Below left, 2nd class seats.

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

Option 3:  London to Belgrade by daytime trains with hotel stops...

This takes longer than using a time-effective sleeper train, 3 days/2 nights instead of 2 days/1 night, but if you prefer daytime scenery and hotels to sleeper trains this is the route for you, London to Belgrade with overnight stops in Munich and Zagreb.

London ► Belgrade

Belgrade  ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...   See the video guide

In Paris it's an easy 7 minute 500m walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 320 km/h (199 mph), past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, 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 & Munich.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guideMunich Hbf station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris with Stuttgart & Munich...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

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

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Zagreb by daytime train...

Now for a real treat.  Sit back with a glass of red, catch up on your reading and enjoy the views...  This is actually two trains, a smart modern Austrian Railjet train with restaurant car from Munich to Villach on the Austrian/Slovenian border, then a comfortable air-conditioned Slovenian & Croatian EuroCity train from Villach to Ljubljana and Zagreb.  After leaving the Munich suburbs the train snakes through pretty Bavarian scenery to Salzburg, past churches and picturesque villages.  Just before arriving at Salzburg, look to your right as you cross the River Salzach for great views of Salzburg citadel.  Soon after Salzburg, the train enters the Austrian Alps proper, climbing through vast mountains.  Look out for the magnificent fortress at Werfen (although the train doesn't call here), perched on its hilltop on the right hand side, guarding the approaches to Salzburg along the Salzachtal valley.  You make a quick & easy change of train across the platform at Villach, the Croatian train will be waiting for this connection.  After entering Slovenia, the scenery flattens out, and the train snakes along the pretty river Sava all the way into Ljubljana.  Beyond Ljubljana, the train continues to follow the river Sava, passing through a beautiful river gorge between mountains, a real treat.  Beyond Zidani Most the valley widens into a plain, and you cross the border into Croatia at Dobova and soon arrive in Zagreb's impressive central station, a palace of a building, right in the centre of the city.

A railjet train about to leave Munich Hbf

A railjet about to leave Munich Hbf...

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

Through the Austrian Alps...  Clinging to the mountainside high in the Austrian Alps, the railjet snakes along between snow-capped mountains, absolutely wonderful.  There's a quick cross-platform change of train at Villach onto a Slovenian & Croatian train called the Sava...

Scenery as the train runs along the Sava river   2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

...and along the Sava river in Slovenia.  Now across the border in Slovenia, the EuroCity train runs along the pretty River Sava all the way to Ljubljana and Zagreb...

 

Comfortable seats:  The 2nd class seats in the Slovenian cars are arranged 2+1 abreast, the same as 1st class!

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

More lovely scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb...

The EuroCity train 'Sava' from Munich to Ljubljana & Zagreb   Scenery from the train to Belgrade

The EuroCity train Sava, arrived at Zagreb.

 

More scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

4. Zagreb to Belgrade by train...

This is a comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's also no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  Below right, the Belgrade to Zagreb train about to leave Belgrade.  Below left, 2nd class seats.

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

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North Macedonia & Kosovo

London ► Skopje & Pristina

Pristina & Skopje ► London

How much does it cost?

Skopje to Pristina by train

Traveller Jeroen van Marle reports:  "I took the train from Priština in Kosovo to Skopje. Absolutely freezing cold as there was no heating, but the ride was lovely, very scenic compared to the highway blight that the buses pass."  This train has ceased running.

The train to Skopje at Pristina   The Pristina to Skopje train at the border.

The morning train waits to leave Pristina.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

 

At the border, where locomotives are changed.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

Seats on the Pristina-Skopje train   The train at Skopje

The train uses old Norwegian coaches.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

 

The train from Pristina, arrived at Skopje station.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

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Booking trains in Serbia

The Serbian Railways reservation system is linked to the western European railway computer reservation systems, so seat, couchette or sleeper reservations can be made on domestic or international trains starting in Belgrade from most reservation offices or train booking agencies across Europe, including UK European rail booking agencies.  In practice however, the computer link sometimes goes down, and in any case agencies outside Serbia can only sell full-price 'TCV' international-tariff tickets, they can't sell you the various cheap fares that are available directly from Serbian Railways themselves.

Buy tickets at the station...

The easiest option is simply to buy tickets when you reach Belgrade, at the ticket office.  There is hardly ever a problem doing this, there are almost always places available on all trains, even on the day.

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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 set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukTo get the most from your visit, you should take a good guidebook - even in the age of the internet.  For the independent traveller, I think this means one of two guidebooks, either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both series are excellent.  You can buy a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.  Lonely Planet Eastern EuropeAmazon logo.

Click to buy online at Amazon...

 

 

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Hotels in Belgrade & Balkans

Look no further for a hotel in Belgrade than the historic Hotel Moskva.  Opened in 1906, anyone who is anyone who has visited Belgrade has stayed here, from British author Graham Green to Ethiopian emperor Haile Salassie.  It served as Gestapo Headquarters in 1941-44, although fortunately no trace of these former occupants remains.  It's right in the centre of Belgrade at the end of the pedestrianised main street that leads to Belgrade fortress.  It was only 10 minutes walk (admittedly uphill) from Belgrade's old station, but now a taxi ride from Belgrade Centar station or Topcider.  The hotel has immaculate rooms, friendly staff and a good cooked breakfast.  Book the Hotel Moskva.

The Hotel Moskva, Belgrade   A double room at the Hotel Moskva, Belgrade

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

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

Backpacker hostels...

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

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Travel insurance & other tips

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  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, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package for Europe

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for Europe and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility listMaya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Always carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.

Touring cities & museums?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

 


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