Take the train to Slovakia - Bratislava cathedral and castle

The Bratislava skyline, with castle and cathedral...

UK to Slovakia in comfort by train...

How else?  It's no problem to reach Bratislava by train from the UK.  Take Eurostar & a connecting Thalys train to Cologne, then the overnight sleeper to Vienna and an onward train to Bratislava.  This page explains how to plan, book & make such a trip.

Train times, fares & information...

  London to Bratislava via Cologne-Vienna sleeper - most time-effective

  London to Bratislava via Brussels & Prague - cheapest option

  London to Bratislava by train, other options

  Vienna to Bratislava by Danube river boat

  Trains to Bratislava from other European cities

  Trains from Bratislava to other European cities

  Useful country information - currency, dial code, etc

  Recommended guidebooks

  Hotels & accommodation in Slovakia

  General European train travel information

  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking dogs

Route map:  London to Bratislava by train...

Route map:  London to Bratislava & Slovakia by train

Useful country information

Train operator in Slovakia:

ZSSK (Železničnα spoločnosť Slovensko), www.slovakrail.sk.

Free train travel in Slovakia for EU citizens over 62 and children of any nationality under 15, see www.slovakrail.sk/en/zero-fare.html.


Eurostar times & fares.  All European train times: All-Europe online train times



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:




£1 = €1.11  Slovakia switched to the euro in Jan 2009.  Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.sacr.sk.   Recommended guidebooks.    

Bratislava bus & tram information:  www.imhd.sk


Find a hotel in Slovakia.


UK citizens no longer need a visa to visit Slovakia.

Page last updated:

22 November 2018. Train times valid 9 Dec 2018 to 14 Dec 2019.

London to Bratislava

Option 1, London to Bratislava via the Cologne-Vienna sleeper...

This option runs daily all year round, and it's arguably the most time-effective option.  If you'd prefer daytime trains with an overnight hotel stop, see the Other options section below.

London Bratislava

Bratislava London

Cologne to Vienna by Austrian Railways Nightjet sleeper train...

The sleeping-car has compact 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, it also has three deluxe compartments with 1, 2 or 3 beds and 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.  There's a shower for regular sleeper passengers at the end of the corridor.  In the more economical couchettes, you can book a couchette in a cheaper 6-berth compartment or a less-crowded 4-berth compartment.  Each couchette is provided with sheet, blanket and pillow, and couchette passengers get a small bottle of mineral water and a light breakfast in the morning with tea or coffee.  When waiting for the northbound sleeper train at Vienna Hauptbahnhof, 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.  More pictures & information about Nightjet trains.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train to Vienna   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand...


The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...


A Comfortline sleeping-car, as now used on the Austrian Nightjet train from Vienna to Cologne.  More information about Nightjets.


Austrian couchette car or liegewagen...


6-berth couchettes...


4-berth couchettes...

From Vienna to Bratislava by Regional Express train...

The train from Vienna to Bratislava, at Vienna Huaptbahnhof...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

The hourly regional express train from Vienna to Bratislava Hlavna, seen about to leave from Vienna's new Hauptbahnhof.  Behind the locomotive is a smart Slovakian air-conditioned intercity coach, whilst the rest of the train consists of more basic non-air-con Austrian City Shuttle carriages, with interiors as shown in the photo above right.  Find a seat in the more comfortable Slovakian car if you can!

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Cologne

 by Eurostar + Thalys

 Fares for Eurostar+ICE start at €59.90 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 Nightjet sleeper train

 one-way per person per bed...

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car






+ shower


+ shower


+ shower

 Fares start at...










 3. Vienna to Bratislava

 by regional train...

 €10.50 each way in 2nd class.

On the sleeper train, 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, 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper, 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can book a London-Bratislava journey in either direction using the Belgian Railways website www.b-europe.com plus either the German Railways site www.bahn.de or www.trainline.eu.  Bookings open 92 days before departure, you can't book before reservations open.  As this method involves two websites, do a dry run on both sites to check prices and availability before booking for real.  Before starting to book, I recommend noting down each specific train you want to book using the train times recommended above, and the date of departure.

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

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Option 2, via Brussels & Prague - the cheapest route!

OK, so this isn't the fastest route or the simplest route with fewest changes.  But it's the cheapest, thanks to an unbelievably cheap €21 Brussels-Prague fare offered by Czech Railways, added to a cheap €15 fare from Prague to Bratislava also bought from Czech Railways.  There is nothing second-rate about the quality of the trains, see the photos below.

London ► Bratislava

Bratislava ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Brussels to Prague for €21 booking

Incredible, Brussels to Prague for only 546 Czech Koruna (€21) even booking as little as a week or so ahead.  Remember you must enter Cheb in the via box!

What's the journey like?

e300 power car   1st class seats

A Eurostar e300 about to leave St Pancras...


1st class (Standard Premier or Business Premier)

High-speed ICE3 train at Frankfurt   ICE2 train, 2nd class

ICE3 from Brussels to Frankfurt, seen at Frankfurt...


ICE3 2nd class seats...

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats & power sockets...


Lunch in an ICE3 bistro car...

Cheb station, en route from Brussels to Prague

The easy & relaxed interchange at Cheb station...  The red train on the left is the German regional train just arrived from Nuremberg.  You cross to the blue Czech train on the right about to leave for Prague.  Photo courtesy of Lennart Verbraeken.

Scenery between Nuremberg & Cheb   Scenery from the train between Cheb & Prague

Scenery between Nuremberg & Cheb.  Courtesy of Arnaud Loneux.


Hills & forest between Cheb & Prague.  Courtesy of Arnaud Loneux.

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London to Bratislava, other options...

London to Bratislava via Berlin...

London to Bratislava via Vienna...

Vienna to Bratislava by fast ferry

Along the Danube by boat...

As well as the hourly Vienna-Bratislava train service for around €14.40, you can also travel between Vienna and Bratislava by fast Twin City Liner river boat, from city centre to city centre along the scenic Danube.

Traveller Andrew Clayton reports:  "We chose the Danube fast ferry option rather than the train and paid €30 each one-way for unreserved seats on a weekday midday Vienna-Bratislava sailing with TwinCity Liner.  We bought the tickets in person the day before travelling at the booking office at the quayside at Schwedenplatz.  It's a leisurely 10 minute walk with wheelie bag from Stephansplatz.  Only the front five rows in the main cabin can be reserved.  Seats upstairs outside are only bookable on the day and if the weather is fine.  It's worth remembering that the boat travels at up to 70km/h so it can get a bit breezy on the upper deck!  There is generous space to stow luggage at the rear of the main cabin on the starboard side.  On the first part of the trip on the Danube canal, you must remain seated. Once on the Danube itself, you can walk about freely, either to the bar or to the stern deck and upper stern deck.  On our trip, almost all seats were taken at the start but for most of the voyage, the main cabin was nearly empty. The scenery along the way is pleasant rather than spectacular.  At Bratislava, the boat docks about five minutes walk from the southern edge of the old town; nearer to many of the amenities than the railway station which is some way to the north."

Twin City Liner river boat from Bratislava to Vienna   Scenery on the Danube from the Vienna-Bratislava twin City Liner

The Twin City Liner fast boat speeds between Vienna and Bratislava along the scenic Danube river.  Photo courtesy of Andy Brabin of www.discoverbyrail.com.


Lonely Planet Czech & Slovak Republics - click to buy at AmazonLonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at AmazonYou should take a good guidebook.  I think that the Lonely Planets and the Rough Guides are about the best out there for the independent traveller.  Both guides have everything you need - plenty of background historical and cultural information, and lots of practical information.  You won't regret buying one of these guides..!

Click the images to buy at Amazon...



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 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-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

Find hotels in Bratislava


Favourite hotel search & price comparison: hotelscombined.com

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

Favourite hotel booking site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings 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.

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 www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

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

        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 ww.nhs.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for 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.


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