Eurostar train from London to Paris
  Kiev, Ukraine.  Easy to get there by train!

Take the train from the UK to Ukraine...

It's easy to travel by train from London to Ukraine, an adventurous journey that's also safe, comfortable & affordable, far superior to any soulless flight.  Eurostar and German Railways link London with Warsaw, then there is the comfortable and safe daily sleeper train Kyiv Express from Warsaw to Kyiv.  Change in Kyiv for Odessa.  Or use the direct sleeper from Vienna or Budapest to Lviv & Kyiv.  This page explains train times, fares and how to buy tickets.

Update 2023 Trains to Ukraine are running in spite of the war, although for obvious reasons, non-essential travel to Ukraine is not advisable, www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ukraine.

Train times, fares & information

small bullet point  London to Kyiv & Odessa - times, fares & tickets.

small bullet point  London to Lviv - train times, fares & tickets.

small bullet point  Train travel in Ukraine, a beginner's guide

small bullet point  How to buy Ukrainian train tickets online

small bullet point  Trains from Kyiv & Lviv to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains from other European cities to Kyiv & Lviv

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

small bullet point  Starting from other UK towns & cities

small bullet point  Kyiv station

small bullet point  Hotels in Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa & Ukraine

small bullet point  Odessa-Istanbul by ferry


Useful country information

Train operator:

Ukrzaliznytsya (UZ), www.uz.gov.ua (now also in English).  To buy train tickets in Ukraine online see booking.uz.gov.ua/en/All-Europe online train times

 

Time zone:

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

Dialling code:

 

+380

Currency:

1 = 42 Hryvnia

Tourist information

 

Tripadvisor Ukraine page    Find hotels    Recommended guidebooks

Visas:

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

With the current situation in parts of Ukraine such as the Crimea, check Foreign Office travel advice at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

Page last updated: 

13 February 2023. Train times valid 11 Dec 2022 to 9 Dec 2021.


Which route to choose?

It's easy to travel from London to Lviv or Kyv by train.  It takes just 2 nights, taking Eurostar & luxurious German ICE trains from London to Berlin on day 1, a EuroCity train from Berlin to Warsaw on day 2, then the safe & comfortable Kyiv Express sleeper train from Warsaw to Kyv overnight arriving on the morning of day 3.  Or you can now travel by fast & comfortable daytime trains with overnight stops in Berlin & Krakow.  The journey is an adventure in itself.  Why not spend some time in Berlin, Warsaw or Krakow on the way?  All these routes are still operating in 2023.

small bullet point  Option 1, London to Kyiv & Odessa via Warsaw - using the daily Warsaw-Kyiv sleeper train, the most time-effective option, taking 2 nights...

small bullet point  Option 2, London to Lviv & Kyiv via Krakow - by comfortable daytime trains with overnight hotel stops in Berlin & Krakow...

small bullet point  Option 3, London to Lviv & Kyiv via Vienna - using the daily direct sleeping-car from Vienna to Lviv & Kyiv.

Option 1, London to Kyiv & Odessa via Warsaw

This is the most time-effective option.  Departures are daily all year round except Christmas Day.  You get some time to see a bit of Warsaw, too!

London ► Kyv & Odessa

Odessa & Kyv ► 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 Berlin

     by ICE

 From 27.90 each way 2nd class or 69.90 in 1st class.

 Fares vary like air fares, so book early for the cheapest rates.

  

 3. Berlin to Warsaw 

      by EuroCity train

 From 27.90 in 2nd class or 39.90 in 1st class with a Sparpreis fare.

 Fares vary like air fares, so book early for the cheapest rates.

  

 4. Warsaw to Kyiv

     by Kyiv Express...

 Ordered online through booking.polrail.com:

 243 zlotys (51 or 57) in a 3-bed sleeper.  Children under 12, 176 zlotys (37).

 280 zlotys (59 or 66) in a 2-bed sleeper.

 465 zlotys (97 or 110) in a single-bed sleeper.

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

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, 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 Brussels Midi station guide & short cut for changing trains in Brussels.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 train.  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. Brussels to Cologne by ICE3...

Germany's superb ICEs have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  50 minutes after leaving Brussels the ICE calls at Lige, where you can admire the impressive station designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava.  As you approach Cologne Hbf you'll see the twin towers of Cologne Cathedral on the right, next to the station.  More information about ICE3 Brussels Midi station guideCologne Hbf station guide.

ICE3M to Cologne & Frankfurt, boarding at Brussels Midi

An ICE3M to Cologne at Brussels Midi.  More information about ICE Advice on changing trains in Brussels.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china, metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant area on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

3. Cologne to Berlin by ICE2...

ICE2 trains have a restaurant car, bar car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi. In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  Immediately after leaving Cologne Hbf, the train crosses the Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine.  It passes through the industrial Ruhr via Wuppertal & Hamm.  After leaving Hannover, the train passes non-stop through Wolfsburg - look out for the original Volkswagen factory on the left, built in 1938.  The train then travels at up to 280 km/h (174 mph) on the high-speed line to Berlin Hbf, where it arrives at the low-level platforms.  More information about ICE2Cologne Hbf station guide Berlin Hbf station guide.

ICE second class   High-speed ICE train from Cologne to Berlin

2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

 

An ICE2 at Berlin Hbf...

ICE2 restaurant car   ICE2 bar car

Restaurant car.  Larger photo.

 

Bar car.  Larger photo.

ICE2 at Berlin   ICE first class

Boarding an ICE2 at Berlin Hbf...

 

1st class seats.  Larger photo.

4. Berlin to Warsaw by EuroCity train...

These comfortable air-conditioned trains have a restaurant car.  See the Berlin-Warsaw EuroCity page for more photos, tips & information.

Berlin to Warsaw train at Berlin

A Berlin-Warsaw EuroCity train at Berlin Hbf...

1st class compartment on a Berlin to Warsaw train.   2nd class car on the Berlin to Warsaw train

1st class compartment...

 

2nd class, some like this, some in compartments.

Restaurant car on the Berlin to Warsaw train

Restaurant car...

Bar counter on the Berlin to Warsaw train   Food on the Berlin to Warsaw train

The bar...

 

Decent food, served on proper china...

5. Warsaw to Kyiv by Kyiv Express...

The Kyiv Express has modernised Ukrainian sleeping-cars with 2-berth & 3-berth compartments.  All bedding is supplied, and washrooms and toilets are at the end of the corridor.  Berths convert to seats for daytime use.  A smartly-uniformed Ukrainian railways sleeper attendant travels with each car.  There's no dining-car, so take a picnic and your own supplies of wine or beer.  Photos courtesy of www.andybtravels.com See Tim Richards excellent blog entry about of the Kyiv Express.

The Warsaw to Kiev train at Warsaw Centralna

A Ukrainian sleeping-car on the Kyiv Express...

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

1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper...

 

Washbasin...

 

Kyiv Express...

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Option 2, London to Lviv & Kyiv via Krakow

It's possible to reach Kyiv using comfortable air-conditioned daytime trains with an overnight hotel stop in Berlin and Krakow, using the modern air-conditioned Przemysl-Lviv-Kyiv fast train introduced in December 2016.  Because there are lots of seats, route usually has capacity when the more limited sleeper options are sold out weeks ahead.

London ► Lviv & Kyiv

Kyiv & Lviv ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

06:50 Intercity train from Kiev to Lviv   1st class seats on the 06:50 train from Kiev to Lviv

Intercity train, Przemysl-Lviv-Kyiv.

 

1st class. Larger photo. Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

2nd class seats on the 06:50 train from Kiev to Lviv   Cafe countrer on the 06:50 Intercity train Kiev to Lviv

2nd class. Larger photo. Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.

 

Cafe counter. Larger photo. Courtesy DiscoverByRail.

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Option 3, London to Lviv & Kyiv via Vienna

This is a convenient and comfortable option which can easily be booked online.  It takes 2 nights.  See Ukrainian news report showing the new Vienna-Kyiv sleeping-car service.  This route is very comfortable, but there are just two or three sleeping-cars and under current circumstances they usually leave fully-booked - so book early!

London ► Lviv & Kyiv

Kyiv & Lviv ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

What's the journey like?

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

Boarding the Vienna to Kyiv sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf.  The Ukrainian sleeping-car to Lviv & Kyiv is attached to the back of a Hungarian EuroCity train to Zahony.

Sleeper to Kiev about to leave Vienna   Ukrainian sleeper corridor   1, 2 or 3 bed Ukrainian sleeper compartment

The Vienna-Kyiv sleeper about to leave Vienna Hbf... Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

The sleeper corridor.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

A comfortable 1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car has its wheels changed at Chop

The Vienna-Kyiv sleeper is jacked up to have its bogies changed at Chop on the Ukrainian border.  Photo Helmut Uttenthaler.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

The Vienna-Kyiv sleeping-car arrived Kyiv Pass.  Photos courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

The Vienna-Kyiv sleeping-car arrived at Lviv.  Photo courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Inside Lviv station   Lviv station

Lviv's magnificent and recently-renovated station.  Photos courtesy DiscoverByRail.

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Train travel in Ukraine

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Whichever class of travel you choose, each coach is looked after by a pair of attendants called a provodnik (male) or provodnitsa (female).  The provodnik will check your ticket at the door to the sleeper when you board.  Shortly after departure, the provodnik will come round to take your ticket.  You may be asked if you would like a glass of black Ukrainian tea ('chai') - this costs about 10 Hyrvnia, about 30p/0.35.  Bedding (two sheets, pillowcase and towel) is then handed out in sealed packs - blankets and mattresses will already be stacked in your compartment.  After a few journeys, you will become quite proficient at making up your bed!

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Fast InterCity+ trains

Fast air-conditioned day trains branded InterCity+ (IC+) now link a number of Ukrainian cities, in addition to the traditional overnight sleeper trains.  These InterCity+ trains have 1st & 2nd class and a bar counter.  For example:

To check train times use Omio.com (easy to use, small booking fee) which connects to UZ's ticketing system, or Ukrainian Railways website booking.uz.gov.ua/en.

06:50 Intercity train from Kiev to Lviv   1st class seats on the 06:50 train from Kiev to Lviv

The 06:50 IC+ train from Kyiv to Lviv.

 

1st class. Larger photo. Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

2nd class seats on the 06:50 train from Kiev to Lviv   Cafe countrer on the 06:50 Intercity train Kiev to Lviv

2nd class. Larger photo. Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

 

Cafe counter. Larger photo. Courtesy DiscoverByRail.com.

How to buy tickets

  The internet train ticket collection window at Kiev ticket office
 

The internet ticket collection window at Kyiv station.  Note the break times, so don't leave it till the last minute to collect tickets & find them closed!  Though for many front-rank trains you'll now get a print-at-home e-ticket, so no need to collect.  Courtesy of David Aspa.

Option 1, buy at Omio.com

Option 2, buy at booking.uz.gov.ua/en


Kyiv station

Kyiv has one main central station, usually known as plain Kyiv, officially Kyiv Passazhyrsky, often abbreviated to Kyiv-Pas, see map showing location.  It's one big central station but it has two terminal buildings, one each side of the tracks.  The classic station building on the northern side of the tracks was built in 1949.  The terminal on the southern side (sometimes misleadingly referred to as Kyiv southern station) is a striking glass-and-steel building dating from 2002.  You'll find all the usual main station facilities at Kyiv-Pas.  The metro station for Kyiv-Pas is called Kyiv Vokzalna.

Kiev station   Kiev station, main hall, north side

Kyiv station, northern side.  This is the magnificent 1949 building on the northern side of the tracks.  The sign on the facade reads vokzal, which is simple Ukrainian - and Russian - for station.  But yes, it really does come from the English place name Vauxhall, see here for an explanationPhotos courtesy of www.andybtravels.com.

Kiev station, south side   Kiev station

Kyiv station, southern side.  This is the modern building on the southern side of the tracks, dating from 2002.  An overbridge connects southern and northern buildings, with escalators down to each platform.  Courtesy of www.andybtravels.com.

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Ferries from Ukraine

Various ferries used to run between Istanbul and Odessa, appearing and disappearing.  Further feedback always appreciated!

Istanbul - Odessa ferry:  www.ukrferry.com

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Guidebooks

Lonely Planet India - Click to buy onlineDefinitely invest in a good guidebook. For the serious independent traveller the best guidebook is probably the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.

Buy Lonely Planet Ukraine online at Amazon.co.uk

 

 

 

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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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Hotels in Kyiv & Ukraine...

In Lviv:  The George Hotel...

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 Copenhagen and most other European 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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