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...

It's easy to 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 either Zagreb or Budapest, 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.

COVID-19 update:  See COVID-19 updates & travel information.  Eurostar is running a much-reduced service between London & Paris/Brussels.  Between Paris/Brussels & Zagreb, trains are running close to normal.  However, the Zagreb-Belgrade train is currently still suspended.

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:  London to Serbia & the Balkans by train...

Route map, London to Serbia by train


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operators:

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

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:

26 November 2021.  Train times valid 12 Dec 2021 to 10 Dec 2022.


large bullet pointLondon to Belgrade & Serbia

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, Munich & Zagreb...

This is the fastest option, taking a high-speed TGV from Paris to Munich, the excellent Croatian sleeper train from Munich 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 Munich

      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. Munich to Zagreb

 on the Lisinski...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Saver fare one-way, from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

 Saver fare return, from:

€58

€98

€118

€138

€178

€258

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

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 (10-minutes for business premier) 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 & Munich, 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 red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich 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 from Munich to Zagreb is boarding on platform 12 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 Munich and the Croatian sleeper train from Munich to Zagreb, you taka a TGV-Lyria to Zurich and the Croatian sleeper train from Zurich to Zagreb.  There are two minor disadvantages of this option compared to option 1:  First, 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.  Second, with this option you leave London around the same time, but arrive in Zagreb a couple of hours later - though this matters little when you're catching the onward train to Belgrade.  There's one advantage, you can board the sleeper in Zurich much earlier, for a 20:40 departure, whereas in Munich you have to wait up for a late-night 23:20 departure.  There's also lovely scenery in the morning on the way to Zagreb along the Sava river, you won't regret those extra 2 hours!

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

 Saver fare one-way, from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

 Saver fare return, from:

€58

€98

€118

€138

€178

€258

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

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 (10-minutes for business premier) 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 to Geneva 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. 360Ί photo.

 

A TGV-Lyria for Geneva, 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 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

Croatian sleeping-car:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car from Zurich to Zagreb 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.  Above left, the sleeper arrived at Zagreb.  See larger sleeper photo.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound sleeper train boarding at Zagreb. See 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 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 (10-minutes for business premier) 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 Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

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 red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green 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...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

Railjet is Austrian Railways premier train...  More photos & information about Railjet trains

 

Economy class on railjet, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

1st class on the railjet train   Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

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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large bullet pointLondon to Macedonia & Kosovo

London ► Skopje & Pristina

Pristina & Skopje ► London

Fares...

Belgrade to Skopje by overnight train...

The Macedonian couchette car on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train   A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train

The Belgrade-Skopje-Thessaloniki overnight train has a Macedonian couchette car, though no sleeper.  But it's comfortable enough and seldom full, see the photos below, courtesy of traveller Tom Whitehead.  Clean sheets, pillow and blanket are provided.  You'll probably find fellow travellers from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia or Britain on board.

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."  Latest reports in autumn 2017 suggests that Kosovan Railways has become insolvent and this train is cancelled.

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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large bullet pointBooking trains in Serbia

Making reservations from outside 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.

Option 1, buy tickets at the station...

One 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.

Option 2, buy tickets via the excellent Mr Popovic...

To be 100% sure rather than 95%, you can pre-book international tickets starting in Belgrade at local prices by emailing the highly-recommended Mr Popovic, who used to run the Wasteels office at Belgrade station.  Although Belgrade's Wasteels office has closed, Mr Popovic can still be contacted and you can still buy tickets through him, he'll either meet you at the station to deliver your tickets or leave them for collection at the Western Union kiosk at the old Belgrade station.  He takes credit card payment by email, you'll be asked to sign the credit card slip when you collect tickets. 

Tip:  Please don't bother emailing him until booking opens 60 days before departure, he can't do anything until booking opens, obviously.  Mr Popovic may also be able to arrange tickets starting in Sofia, if given sufficient notice, for collection in Belgrade.  His contact details are:

Putovanja Wasteels
E-mail: wasteels@eunet.rs

Phone: +381 11 265 8868

Mr Popovic speaks excellent English and comes highly recommended, indeed I have met him personally, twice now.  He will be glad to make train reservations for you and book tickets, and even give you advice on visiting Belgrade.

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large bullet pointEuropean 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 for £9.67 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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large bullet pointGuidebooks

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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large bullet pointHotels in Belgrade & Balkans

Recommended hotel in Belgrade:  Hotel Moskva...

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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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

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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 use an annual policy 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 flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct.

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

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  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 balance 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 app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending 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, too.

 

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 means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it 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, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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