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.

COVID-19 update See COVID-19 travel information.

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

Railpasses:

 

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:

 

+421

Currency:

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

Tourist information:

slovakia.travel.   Recommended guidebooks.    

Bratislava bus & tram information:  www.imhd.sk

Hotels:

Find a hotel in Slovakia.

Visas:

UK citizens no longer need a visa to visit Slovakia.

Page last updated:

2 July 2020.  Train times valid 15 Dec 2019 to 12 Dec 2020.


London to Bratislava

Option 1, London to Bratislava via Nightjet sleeper to Vienna...

This option runs daily all year round, and it's the most time-effective option.  If you'd prefer daytime trains with an overnight hotel, see option 2 below or the Other options section.

London Bratislava

Bratislava London

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Brussels by Eurostar

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

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

 

 2. Brussels to Cologne by Thalys/ICE

     (for when the nightjet starts in Cologne)

 From €19 each way 2nd class, €49 each way 1st class.

 

 3. Brussels or Cologne to Vienna

 by Nightjet sleeper train

 one-way per person per bed...

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

2-berth

1-berth

3-berth

+ shower

2-berth

+ shower

1-berth

+ shower

 Fares start at...

€39

€59

€69

€99

€139

€89

€129

€169

 

 4. Vienna to Bratislava

 by regional train...

 €11.20 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...

Alternative way to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

Brussels to Vienna by Nightjet sleeper train:  More info...

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...

Vienna to Bratislava by Regional Express train:  More info...

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!

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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 €29 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 757 Czech Koruna (€29) 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 right is the German regional train arrived from Nuremberg.  You cross to the blue Czech train on the left about to leave for Prague.

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...

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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.

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Guidebooks

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...

 

 

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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 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.

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Hotels in Bratislava

My 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 & 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.

 

Curve card

Get a free Curve card to save on exchange rates & foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion 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 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 have a Curve Blue card myself and it's great - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I only recommend such things when I've read up on reviews and tried it myself.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card. Use code MAN61 to get £5 cashback after signing up and using your Curve card the first time.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  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 them myself.

 


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