Lunch in the restaurant car between Berlin & Prague

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This page explains how to travel by train from Bratislava to other European cities and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Information current for 2022.

Bratislava Hlavna is Bratislava's main station, often abbreviated to Bratislava hl.st, see Bratislava station information

Pictured right:  The civilised way to go...  Lunch and a beer in the restaurant car of a Bratislava to Berlin express...

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a €35 point-to-point ticket online?".  Click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Top tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to Interrail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...


How to buy tickets for journeys within Slovakia...

Bratislava to Kosice...

Bratislava to Poprad-Tatry...

Slovakian InterCity & fast trains...

On the Bratislava - Poprad Tatry - Kosice main line, ZSSK's best trains are classified IC (InterCity) or R (Rychlik, meaning fast).  They both use similar high-quality air-conditioned cars like the ones shown below.  All IC trains and most R trains have a restaurant car which also has a bar area.  Treat yourself to a meal in the restaurant car, it's not expensive and ZSSK's restaurants are very good.  There's usually one 1st class car, but various 2nd class cars, in 2nd class you can usually choose between a seat in an open-plan car or seats in a car with classic side corridor and 6-seat compartments.

Intercity train from Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice, at Bratislava

Bratislava-Poprad Tatry-Kosice R train...

Bar on Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice train   2nd class open-plan seats on Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice train

Bar area at the other end of the restaurant car.

 

2nd class open-plan on a Bratislava-Kosice train.

1st class on Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice train   2nd class compartment on a train from Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice

1st class on a Bratislava-Poprad Tatry-Kosice train.

 

2nd class compartment on a Bratislava-Kosice train.

Intercity train from Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice, at Bratislava   Restaurant car on a train from Bratislava to Poprad Tatry & Kosice

IC (Intercity) or R (Rychlik, fast) train...

 

Restaurant car...

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Bratislava to London...

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Bratislava to Paris...

Option 1, Bratislava to Paris in a single day - a scenic option via the Arlberg Railway...

Railjet train from Bratislava to Zurich

Step 1, Bratislava to Zurich by railjet train, seen here at Bratislava Hlavna.  Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About business class.

 

Restaurant.  In 1st & business you're served at your seat.

First class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy (2nd) class.

The mountains of Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, a steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.  Once in Switzerland, the railjet runs alongside the Walensee, then the Zόrichsee...

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

2. Zurich to Paris by TGV-Lyria... These 320 km/h double-deck trains now operate all TGV-Lyria services.

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

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes...

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  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 seats on the upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right. 360Ί photo.

 

TGV-Lyria.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

Option 2, Bratislava to Paris using the Vienna-Paris Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - the time-effective option...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Nightjet sleeper train boarding at Vienna Hbf

Step 2, Vienna to Paris by Nightjet sleeper trainMore information about Nightjets.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Nightjet sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

Option 3, Bratislava to Paris using the Vienna-Zurich sleeper - another time-effective option...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

Step 2, Vienna to Zurich by Nightjet sleeper...  This is a double-deck sleeping-car arrived at Zurich HB. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on the lower deck...

 

Stairs down to pair of lower compartments...

 

1 or 2-bed sleeper on lower deck with washbasin, viewed through window.  Set up as 1-bed.  Note how compact the compartment is...

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

Step 3, Zurich to Paris by TGV-Lyria. These 320 km/h double-deck trains now operate all TGV-Lyria services.

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

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes...

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  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 seats on the upper deck, club duo on the left, club quatre on the right. 360Ί photo.

 

TGV-Lyria.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

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Bratislava to Nice & the South of France...

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Bratislava to Lyon...

Option 1, Bratislava to Lyon using the Vienna-Zurich sleeper - most time-effective...

Option 2, Bratislava to Lyon using the Bratislava-Zurich railjet - in a day...

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Bratislava to Strasbourg...

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Bratislava to Brussels or Bruges...

Option 1, Bratislava to Brussels in a single day from €46.90...

Option 2, Bratislava to Brussels using the Vienna-Brussels Nightjet sleeper on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays - the most comfortable & time-effective option...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

The Nightjet sleeper from Brussels to Vienna at Brussels

Step 2, Vienna to Brussels by Nightjet sleeper train...  The inaugural Nightjet left Vienna for Brussels on 19 January 2020.  Above, the inaugural southbound train is ready to leave Brussels the following night, the first scheduled sleeper train to leave Brussels in 16 years - naturally, the Man in Seat 61 was on board!  More information about Nightjet trains.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet...

Option 3, Bratislava to Brussels using the Vienna-Cologne Nightjet sleeper - on days when the direct Vienna-Brussels Nightjet isn't running...

Option 4, Bratislava to Brussels with an overnight stop in Prague - potentially the cheapest option from €44...

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Bratislava to Amsterdam from €46.90...

Option 1, Bratislava to Amsterdam using the Vienna-Amsterdam Nightjet sleeper train - the most comfortable & time-effective option...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Nightjet sleeper train boarding at Vienna Hbf

Step 2, Vienna to Amsterdam by Nightjet sleeper train, seen here at Vienna Hbf More information about Nightjets.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on Nightjet sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

Option 2, Bratislava to Amsterdam in a single day from €46.90...

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Bratislava to Luxembourg from €37.90...

Option 1, Bratislava to Luxembourg in a single day...

Option 2, Bratislava to Luxembourg overnight using the Vienna-Koblenz Nightjet sleeper train - the time-effective option...

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Bratislava to Zurich & Switzerland...

Option 1, Bratislava to Zurich by direct railjet train - the best option if the timing suits you...

Railjet train from Bratislava to Zurich

The Bratislava-Zurich railjet train at Bratislava Hlavna.  More information about railjetsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

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.

The mountains of Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In railjet first & business class, a steward takes your order & serves lunch at your seat.

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.  Once in Switzerland, the railjet runs alongside the Walensee, then the Zόrichsee...

Option 2, Bratislava to Switzerland by daytime trains with one easy change in Vienna - if the timing of the direct train doesn't suit you...

Option 3, Bratislava to Switzerland using the Vienna-Zurich Nightjet sleeper - the time-effective option...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Double-deck sleeping-car on a Nightjet at Zurich

Step 2, Vienna to Zurich by Nightjet sleeper train...  This is a double-deck sleeping-car arrived at Zurich HB. Courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

   

2-berth sleeper on the lower deck...

 

Stairs down to pair of lower compartments...

 

1 or 2-bed sleeper on lower deck with washbasin, viewed through window.  Set up as 1-bed.  Note how compact the compartment is...

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Bratislava to Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome & Italy from €44...

Option 1, Bratislava to Venice in a day...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

Step 2, Vienna to Venice by railjet, seen here about to leave Vienna HbfMore information about Vienna-Venice railjets.

Railjet restaurant car   Business class seats on a railjet train

Restaurant car.

 

Business class.  About.

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

First class.

 

Economy class.

The railjet travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Option 2, Bratislava to Italy by sleeper train - the most comfortable & time-effective option...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Nightjet sleeper train boarding at Vienna Hbf

Step 2, Vienna to Venice, Florence or Rome by Nightjet sleeper train More information about Nightjets.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

Same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode, beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on Nightjet sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

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Bratislava to Barcelona, Madrid & Spain...

Bratislava to Barcelona & Spain with overnight stop in Zurich or Geneva...

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  Seen from the train and one of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline all the way from Girona to Perpignan...

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Bratislava to Lisbon & Portugal...

Bratislava to Lisbon via Paris, Barcelona & Madrid...

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Bratislava to Andorra...

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Bratislava to Berlin & Hamburg from €46.90

Option 1, Bratislava to Berlin & Hamburg by EuroCity train Hungaria - the direct daytime option...

The EuroCity train Hungaria about to leave Berlin Hbf for Budapest

The EuroCity train Hungaria calls at Berlin Hbf...

1st classopen-plan seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   1st class compartment on a Hungarian EuroCity train

1st class.  You can choose to sit in a 1st class open plan (saloon) car like this...  Larger photo.

 

...or in a 1st class car with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments like this.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest

2nd class.  You can choose to sit in a 2nd class open plan (saloon) car like this...  Larger photo.

 

...or in a 2nd class car with side corridor & classic 6-seat compartments like this.   Larger photo.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   The restaurant car of the Hungaria from Berlin to Budapest

Lunch on the Hungaria.  There are no table reservations, just go along & sit down.  Courtesy of @_DiningCar...

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria Larger photo.  Photo courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

Scenery along the river Elbe

Between Prague & Dresden the train runs along the pretty river Elbe, or Labe in Czech.  One of Europe's major rivers, the Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven near Hamburg.  Watch for river boats, even the occasional paddle steamer.  See the photos & video of this part of the journey here.

Option 1, Bratislava to Berlin & Hamburg by day trains - alternative daytime options...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train. More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Step 2, Vienna to Berlin & Hamburg by ICE Berolina.  This is the Berolina at Vienna Hbf.  More information about ICE-T trainsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler .

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the restaurant car.  I highly recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Option 2, Bratislava to Berlin by sleeper train - the time-effective option, saves a hotel bill too...

EuroNight sleeper train from Berlin to Budapest

Bratislava to Berlin by sleeper.  This is the southbound sleeper at Berlin Hbf.  More information about this train.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Berlin   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper, set up as a 2 bed.  Larger photo.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Option 3, Bratislava to Hamburg using the Vienna-Hamburg sleeper train - the time-effective option...

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Bratislava to Munich from €34.90...

Option 1, Bratislava to Munich by daytime trains...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train. More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

Step 2, Vienna to Munich by railjet.  Above, a railjet about to leave Vienna 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.

Option 2, Bratislava to Munich by sleeper train...

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Bratislava to Frankfurt, Cologne, Dόsseldorf & other cities in Germany from €39.90

Option 1, Bratislava to Germany by daytime trains...

Option 2, Bratislava to Cologne or Dusseldorf by Nightjet sleeper train - the time-effective option...

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Bratislava to Vienna for €10.80...
The train from Vienna to Bratislava, at Vienna Huaptbahnhof...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

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Bratislava to Linz, Salzburg or Innsbruck

Option 1, Bratislava to Linz, Salzburg & Innsbruck by direct railjet train...

Railjet train at Bratislava

The railjet train at Bratislava Hlavna...  Courtesy of Helmut Uttentahler.

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.

Option 2, other departures with a change of train in Vienna - if the direct early morning train doesn't suit you...

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Bratislava to Copenhagen, Malmφ, Gothenburg & Stockholm...

Option 1, Bratislava to Stockholm using the Hamburg-Stockholm sleeper train, starting 1 September 2022 - the time-effective option...

Hamburg-StockholmSJ EuroNight at Hamburg Altona   6-berth couchette on the Hamburg-Stockholm SJ night train

The inaugural Hamburg to Stockholm SJ EuroNight train at Hamburg Altona, 1 September 2022.  The author rode this first departure...

6-berth couchettes.

Larger photo

Couchettes in day mode on the Hamburg-Stockholm train   Hamburg-StockholmSJ EuroNight at Padborg

Couchettes in day mode, en route to Stockholm.  Larger photo.

The inaugural train from Hamburg to Stockholm calls at Padborg, just after entering Denmark.

Scenery from the Hamburg to Stockholm train

Typical Swedish scenery on the morning run into Stockholm...

Option 2, Bratislava to Copenhagen & Scandinavia using the Vienna-Hamburg Nightjet sleeper...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train. More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

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

2-berth regular sleeper with washstand.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

Step 2, Vienna to Hamburg by Nightjet...  This is a Comfortline sleeping-car as used on the Vienna-Hamburg Nightjet.  More pictures & information about nightjets.

    4-berth couchette on Nightjet train

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families.  Larger photo.

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Copenhagen station

Step 3, Hamburg to Copenhagen by Intercity train seen here at Copenhagen.  More about Hamburg to Copenhagen trains.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

2nd class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

An X2000 train at Stockholm Central

Step 4, Copenhagen to Stockholm by tilting 200km/h X2000, seen at Stockholm CentralMore about X2000 trains.

1st class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train 2nd class seats on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

1st class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

 

2nd class on an X2000.  Larger photo.

Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train   Bistro seating area on a Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train

Bistro seating on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

 

Bistro on an X2000 train. Larger photo.

On the Oresund link!

Crossing the impressive Φresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden...

Option 3, Bratislava to Copenhagen & Scandinavia by day trains with an overnight stop in Hamburg...

The EuroCity train Hungaria between Berlin & Budapest

Step 1, Bratislava to Hamburg on the EuroCity train HungariaPhotos courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   The restaurant car of the Hungaria from Berlin to Budapest

2nd class seats on the HungariaLarger photo.

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria.  Larger photo.

Scenery along the river Elbe

Between Prague & Dresden the train runs along the pretty river Elbe, or Labe in Czech.  One of Europe's major rivers, the Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven near Hamburg.  Watch for river boats, even the occasional paddle steamer.  See the photos & video of this part of the journey here.

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

Step 2, Hamburg to Copenhagen by Danish IC3...  This is the late afternoon Hamburg-Copenhagen IC3 leaving platform 5 at Hamburg Hbf on a busy summer day.  The yellow stripe above the windows indicates first class, located at one end of both 3-car units.  More information about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

Boarding a Danish IC3 train at Hamburg Hbf...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

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Bratislava to Oslo & Norway...

Option 1, Bratislava to Oslo via Hamburg & Copenhagen - by train all the way...

Option 2, Bratislava to Oslo via the Kiel-Oslo cruise ferry - the most comfortable way to Oslo...

Germany to Oslo Color Line ferry at Kiel

This photo is taken from the exit of Kiel station, so you can see how close the ferry is.  It's a 5-6 minute walk across the harbour, with a street lift up to a connecting walkway which takes you to the ferry terminal. If you have reserved one of what Color Line call their "5 star suites", check in at the desk rather than the machines and you'll be directed to a special lounge to wait with free tea, coffee, juice, snacks & WiFi.  You'll also have priority boarding of the ship.  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

Boarding the ferry in Kiel

Boarding the Color Line ferry to Oslo in Kiel...

Kiel to Oslo ferry, Color Class suite   Kiel to Oslo ferry, restaurant

A 5 Star Suite on the ferry...

 

More cruise liner than ferry!  The restaurant.

View from Color Line ferry to Oslo

Wake up to this....

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Bratislava to Helsinki & Finland...

Option 1, Bratislava to Helsinki using a Finnlines ferry from Germany - the easiest option...

Finnlines Star class ferry to Helsinki   Cabin on the Finnlines ferry to Helsinki

One of Finnlines 3 star class ferries to Helsinki.  Courtesy of Finnlines.

 

Cabin on the ferry...

Option 2, Bratislava to Helsinki by train to Stockholm then ferry...

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Bratislava to Prague for €17...

Option 1, Bratislava to Prague by EuroCity train every 2h - the most frequent option...

EuroCity train to Budapest about to leave Prague

A EuroCity train from Prague to Budapest about to leave Prague Hlavni.  More photos & information.

First class on Prague to Budapest traiin   2nd class compartment on Prague to Budapest traiin

1st class...

 

2nd class compartment seating...

Restaurant car on Prague to Budapest traiin   Lunch on a Prague to Budapest EuroCity traiin

Restaurant car...

 

Lunch & a beer...

Option 2, Bratislava to Prague by private operator Regiojet - 4 departures a day, can be cheaper, with great on-board service...

A RegioJet train to Prague at Vienna Hbf

A RegioJet train in its distinctive yellow & grey colours.  More information about Regiojet trains & their 4 classes

Business class on a RegioJet train from Vienna to Prague   Relax class on a Vienna-Prague RegioJet train

Business class .  Larger photo 360° photo.

 

Relax class.  Larger photo 360° photo..

Standard class astra car on a Vienna to Prague RegioJet train   Regiojet train at Prague

Standard class Astra car.  Larger photo360° photo.

Regiojet Astra car at Vienna...

Option 3, Bratislava to Prague by sleeper train - the time-effective option...

The sleeper train from Budapest to Prague

The Czech sleeping-car from Budapest & Bratislava to Prague, boarding at Budapest Nyugati on a summer evening.

Washbasin in Prague-Budapest sleeper   Czech Railways sleeper from Budapest to Prague   Czech Railways sleeper from Budapest to Prague

Washstand, soap & towels provided.  Larger photo.

 

2-bed 'double' sleeper.  Each compartment can be sold as a single, double or triple sleeper.  Larger photo.

 

The corridor.  Each compartment locks securely.  Larger photo.

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Bratislava to Brno from €6...

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Bratislava to Ostrava from €11...

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Bratislava to Budapest for €17.50...
EuroCity train to Budapest about to leave Prague

A Prague-Bratislava-Budapest EuroCity train at Prague Hlavni.  More photos & information.

First class on Prague to Budapest traiin   2nd class compartment on Prague to Budapest traiin

1st class...

 

2nd class compartment seating...

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Bratislava to Brasov, Sighisoara & Bucharest from €57...

Option 1, Bratislava to Romania using the sleeper train Ister from Budapest to Brasov & Bucharest...

2-berth sleeper on the Ister   The Ister at Bucharest Nord

A 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper with washbasin.  Larger photo.

 

The sleeping-car (vagon de dormit) on the westbound Ister at Bucharest.  Sleepers convert from beds to private sitting rooms for day use.  Courtesy of DiscoverByRail.

Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The vagon cuseta (couchette car) on the westbound Ister, boarding at Bucharest.  Couchettes convert from bunks at night to seats by day.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com .

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Option 2, Bratislava to Romania using the Dacia Express sleeper train from Vienna to Sighisoara, Brasov & Bucharest...

Dacia Express sleeper at Vienna   Dacia Express sleeper at Vienna

The Dacia Express sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf.  Sleeper photo courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom.  Larger photo.

Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest   Dacia Express couchette car

The Dacia Express couchette car, boarding at Vienna Hbf.  Larger photo.

Scenery in Transylvania

Transylvania:  The Dacia Express passes villages in rural Transylvania. Courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom.

  Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest

Enjoy dinner and a beer in the bar car, as a bar-bistro is attached to the Dacia Express in Romania between Bucharest & Simeria.  Larger photoPhotos courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom & @_DiningCar.

Dacia Express Carpathian mountains

Carpathians:  Alpine scenery as the Dacia Express passes through the Carpathian mountains. Courtesy @PaliparanDotCom.

Option 3, Bratislava to Romania with overnight stop in Budapest - if you prefer day trains & hotel to sleepers...

The daytime train from Budapest to Bucharest

The daytime train from Budapest to Bucharest has modern air-conditioned Romanian carriages.  Three cars travel all the way, additional cars are attached whilst in Hungary, and additional cars and a bar car are attached between Drobeta Turnu Severin & Bucharest.

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   2nd class on the Budapest to Bucharest train

On the left, the daytime train to Bucharest is about to leave Budapest Keleti...

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the Budapest to Bucharest train.  There are power outlets under the tables.  Larger photo.

Bar stools on the Budapest to Bucharest train   Bar car on the Budapest to Bucharest train

A bar car is attached between Drobeta Turnu Severin & Bucharest.  Photos courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com.

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Bratislava to Ljubljana & Rijeka...

Option 1, Bratislava to Ljubljana via Vienna...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train. More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

The Vienna to Triese EuroCity train Emona, about to leave Vienna

Step 2, Vienna to Ljubljana by EuroCity train Emona, seen about to leave Vienna Hbf, with its Slovenian restaurant car in the foreground and two Slovenian cars in rear.  The Austrian cars are ahead of the restaurant car.

Lunch in Slovenian restaurant car   Slovenian restaurant car

The Emona has a Slovenian restaurant car with inexpensive freshly-cooked scrambled eggs or omelette.  How about a glass of fizz to go with that?

2nd class seats in an open-plan car   1st class seats in an open-plan car

2nd class open-plan seating as used on the Emona.  Seats in classic 6-seat  compartments are also available...

 

1st class seating in an Austrian car as used on the Emona.  There are also seats in classic 6-seat compartments.

Between Vienna & Graz the Emona travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Scenery from the train between Zagreb and Vienna

Scenery in Slovenia, between Maribor & Zidani Most....

Option 2, Bratislava to Ljubljana via Budapest...

Option 3, Bratislava to Rijeka by Regiojet sleeper train, summer-only, 3 times a week, daily at peak times...

Regiojet overnight train   Regiojet couchette compartment

The holiday train...  Above left, Regiojet overnight train at Prague Hlavni.  Above right, a 4-berth couchette compartment on this train, in daytime mode.  The seat back hinges up to form the upper berths.  See video of this overnight journey, taken during the 2020 season.

Regiojet arrived in Croatia   Berth on the Regiojet train to Croatia

Arrived in Croatia...

 

Couchette...

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Bratislava to Zagreb, Split & Dubrovnik...

Option 1, Bratislava to Zagreb via Vienna...

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

Step 1, Bratislava to Vienna by regional express train seen here at Vienna Hbf.  More about Vienna-Bratislava trains.

EuroCity train Croatia from Vienna to Zagreb

Step 2, Vienna to Zagreb on the Croatia:  This is the EuroCity train Croatia about to leave Vienna Hbf.

 

1st class open-plan seating as used on the Croatia.  1st class seats in classic 6-seat  compartments are also available...

 

2nd class compartment seating as used on the Croatia.  Seats in open plan saloon cars also available

Between Vienna & Villach the Croatia travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Scenery from the train between Zagreb and Vienna

Scenery in Slovenia, between Maribor & Zidani Most....

Scenery from the train between Zagreb and Vienna

Sevnica Castle, seen from the train between Zidani Most & Zagreb....

Option 2, Bratislava to Zagreb by daytime trains via Budapest...

Option 3, Bratislava to Zagreb & Split by Regiojet sleeper train & bus to Dubrovnik - summer only, 3 times a week (daily in July & August), recommended!

Regiojet overnight train   Regiojet couchette compartment

The holiday train...  Above left, Regiojet overnight train at Prague Hlavni.  Above right, a 4-berth couchette compartment on this train, in daytime mode.  The seat back hinges up to form the upper berths.  See video of this overnight journey, taken during the 2020 season.

Regiojet en route between Zagreb & Split

What a journey!  Scenery between Zagreb & Split seen from the Regiojet train.  Courtesy of Marcus Jowitt.

Regiojet arrived in Croatia   Berth on the Regiojet train to Croatia

Arrived in Croatia...

 

Couchette...

Option 4, Bratislava to Split by direct sleeper train (for bus to Dubrovnik), runs Tuesdays & Fridays in summer - with a proper sleeping-car, also recommended.

Scenery from the Vienna-Split train

What a journey!  Scenery between Zagreb & Split seen from the sleeper train.  Photos courtesy of Rob Romans.

Sleeping-car on the train from Bratislava & Vienna to Split   Sleeper compartment on the train from Bratislava & Vienna to Split

The comfortable air-conditioned Slovakian sleeping-cars on the train from Bratislava & Vienna to Split, arrived at Split station.  Each compartment can be sold as a single, double or triple, and comes with soap, towel, fully-made up beds and a washbasin.  A light breakfast is included. Larger photo. Photo of 2-berth, courtesy of Michael Allsop.

Couchette compartment, of sort used on the train from Bratislava & Vienna to Split   Couchette car on the train from Bratislava & Vienna to Split

A couchette car on the train from Bratislava & Vienna, arrived at Split. Larger photo.

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Bratislava to Belgrade, Sofia, Montenegro...

Option 1, Bratislava to Belgrade & beyond via Zagreb...

  • Step 2, travel from Vienna to Zagreb on the EuroCity train Croatia leaving Vienna Hbf at 15:58 and arriving Zagreb at 22:30.

    The Croatia uses comfortable and spacious air-conditioned Austrian carriages, with power sockets at all seats with a choice of sitting in an open-plan saloon car (my own preference) or in classic 6-seater compartments with side corridor.  There's an elegant Austrian restaurant car, treat yourself to dinner, and at least in summer enjoy the fabulous scenery along the beautiful UNESCO-listed Semmering route through the mountains between Vienna & Graz.

    Fares start at €29.90 in 2nd class or €39.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a bit more fiddly, same prices).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

    If you like you can check the train formation & see what the carriages are like at www.vagonweb.cz.  Change cs to English upper left, then click Train formations, scroll down to Austria, click EC then look for the Croatia.

Option 2, Bratislava to Sofia via Bucharest - currently the easiest option between Prague & Sofia...

  • Day 1, travel from Bratislava to Budapest by EuroCity train, leaving Bratislava Hlavna at 09:57 and arriving Budapest Nyugati at 12:20.

    The swish Czech EuroCity train has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Transfer from Nyugati to Keleti station and have lunch in Budapest.

    Fares start at €20 in 2nd class or €37 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Buy tickets at the Czech Railways website www.cd.czBooking opens up to 3 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the CD app on your smartphone.

  • Day 1, travel from Budapest to Bucharest on the sleeper train Muntenia, leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:10 and arriving Bucharest Nord at 08:06.

    The Muntenia has 4 & 6-berth couchettes and ordinary seats.  A Romanian sleeping-car is attached from Timişoara Nord (depart 22:00) to Bucharest.  There's no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.

    Fares start at €40 with a couchette in 6-berth or €47 with a couchette in 4-berth.  These are limited-availability advance-purchase fares.

    Book this at the Romanian Railways international website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.

    If you want the comfort & privacy of a proper sleeper from Timisoara to Bucharest, (1) book a 2nd class seat from Budapest to Timisoara from €17 using bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.  (2) Now book berths in a 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper from Timisoara Nord to Bucharest Nord at the Romanian domestic website bilete.cfrcalatori.ro and print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, travel from Bucharest to Sofia by daytime train as shown on the train from Bucharest page.  You leave Bucharest Nord at 10:55 and arrive Sofia Central at 20:10 after a pleasant day meandering across the Danube and through the river valleys of Bulgaria.  In summer it's direct, in winter you have to switch trains at Ruse.  There's no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.

    The fare is around €34.

    Book this at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.

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Bratislava to Warsaw from €27...

Option 1, Bratislava to Warsaw by sleeper train - the safe, comfortable, time-effective option...

  • A safe & comfortable EuroNight sleeper train leaves Bratislava Hlavna at 22:06 and arrives Warsaw Gdanska at 08:52.

    It has a modern, safe & cosy Polish sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments, plus two 1 or 2 berth deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower, see the photos below.  It also has a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments.  The train comes from Budapest.

  • This international train cannot be booked online, although it's reported that Slovakian Railways (www.zssk.sk) may start online booking of international tickets at some point.  So buy at the station or book by phone.

  • You can check train times (but not fares) at www.bahn.de.

The  Polish sleeping-car from Budapest to Warsaw

Modern Polish sleeping-car on the Budapest-Bratislava-Warsaw sleeper train.

Modern Polish sleeper in day mode   Modern Polish sleeper in day mode, set up as a triple   Deluxe 2-bed sleeper in modern Polish sleeping-car   Deluxe sleepers have a private shower & toilet

Standard sleeper in evening/morning mode with seats folded out.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 3-berth, can also be set up as a single or double.

 

Deluxe sleeper, set up as a 2-berth, showing TV & wardrobe.

 

Deluxe sleeper:  En suite shower & toilet...

Couchettes on the Budapest to Warsaw sleeper train   Couchettes on the Budapest to Warsaw sleeper train

Polish couchette car on the Budapest to Warsaw night train with 4 & 6 berth compartments.

 

6-berth couchettes. Larger photo

Option 2, Bratislava to Warsaw by daytime train - the leisurely daytime option...

  • A comfortable air-conditioned EuroCity train called the Bαthory leaves Bratislava Hlavna at 10:57 and arrives Warsaw Centralna at 19:15. 

    The train has Hungarian seating cars (a 1st class car, 2nd class compartment cars & a 2nd class open-plan car) and a Hungarian restaurant car.  Take a good book, enjoy an inexpensive meal in the restaurant car with a beer or two, and chill out.

  • Fares start at €27 in 2nd class or €41 in 1st class if you book using my advice below.

  • This international train cannot be booked online, except by using my tip below (although it's thought that Slovakian Railways (www.zssk.sk) may start online booking of international tickets at some point).  You can easily check train times (but not fares) at www.bahn.de.

    Tip for booking this train online:  This train starts in Budapest.  The easiest way to buy a ticket online to do is to use the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu (see my advice on using it) to book the 08:28 from Budapest to Warsaw, as this is the 10:57 from Bratislava.  Then simply get on in Bratislava, which is perfectly legitimate.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the MAV app.  It may only offer 2nd class tickets if going to Krakow, but 2nd is fine, stick with that.  This way you get cheap advance-purchase fares from €20/€27, cheaper than buying on the day at the station, and much cheaper than any western agency can offer.

The EuroCity train Bathory from Budapest to Warsaw

EuroCity train Bathory from Budapest & Bratislava to Warsaw at Budapest Nyugati.  Click the photos below for larger images.

Restaurant car on the Budapest-Warsaw EuroCity train   Restaurant car on the Budapest-Warsaw EuroCity train

1st class seats on the EuroCity Bathory.

 

Restaurant car on the EuroCity Bathory.

1st class compartment on a Hungarian EuroCity train   2nd class seats on the Budapest to Ljubljana train Drava

2nd class compartment on the EuroCity Bathory.

 

2nd class open plan car as used on the Bathory.

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Bratislava to Krakow from €20...

Option 1, Bratislava to Krakow by daytime train - the leisurely daytime option...

  • A comfortable air-conditioned EuroCity train called the Bαthory leaves Bratislava Hlavna at 10:57 and arrives Krakow Glowny 17:07.

    The Bαthory runs from Budapest through Bratislava to Warsaw, but two 2nd class cars run from Budapest & Bratislava to Krakow.  The through cars are comfortable, modern & air-conditioned, one car with 2nd class classic 6-seat compartments, one car with 2nd class open-plan seating.

    If you insist on travelling 1st class you'll have to switch trains at Bohumin just after 14:00, where the through cars are detached from the Bαthory  and attached to the Prague-Krakow Cracovia.  I recommend sticking with 2nd class which is absolutely fine in these comfortable modern Hungarian  cars.

  • Fares start at €20 if you book using my tip below.

  • This international train cannot be booked online, except by using my tip below (although it's thought that Slovakian Railways (www.zssk.sk) may start online booking of international tickets at some point).  You can easily check train times (but not fares) at www.bahn.de.

    Tip for booking this train online:  These trains start in Budapest.  The easiest way to get a ticket online to do is to use the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu (see my advice on using it) to book the 08:28 from Budapest to Krakow or Warsaw (as this is the 10:57 from Bratislava) then simply get on in Bratislava.  This is perfectly legitimate.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the MAV app.  It may only offer 2nd class tickets if going to Krakow, but 2nd is fine, stick with that.  This way you get cheap advance-purchase fares from €20/€27, much cheaper than buying on the day at the station, and much cheaper than any western agency can offer.

The Budapest to Krakow train

The Budapest-Bratislava-Krakow cars are at Katowice, attached to the rear of the Prague-Krakow Cracovia Photo courtesy of Discoverbyrail.com.

1st class compartment on a Hungarian EuroCity train   One of the Budapest to Krakow through cars

One Budapest-Krakow car has 6-seat compartments like this.  Click the images for larger photos.

 

...the other Budapest-Krakow car has open-plan seats, wheelchair space, bike compartment.

Option 2, Bratislava to Krakow by sleeper train - the time-effective option...

  • A safe & comfortable EuroNight sleeper train leaves Bratislava Hlavna at 22:06 and arrives Krakow Glowny at 05:46.

    It has a modern, safe & cosy Polish sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments, plus two 1 or 2 berth deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower, see the photos below.  It also has a couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments.  The train comes from Budapest and is heading for Warsaw Centralna.

  • This international train cannot be booked online, although it's reported that Slovakian Railways (www.zssk.sk) may start online booking of international tickets at some point.  So buy at the station or book by phone.

  • You can check train times (but not fares) at www.bahn.de.

The  Polish sleeping-car from Budapest to Warsaw

Modern Polish sleeping-car of the type used Prague-Warsaw.

Modern Polish sleeper in day mode   Modern Polish sleeper in day mode, set up as a triple   Deluxe 2-bed sleeper in modern Polish sleeping-car   Deluxe sleepers have a private shower & toilet

Standard sleeper in evening/morning mode with seats folded out.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 3-berth, can also be set up as a single or double.

 

Deluxe sleeper, set up as a 2-berth, showing TV & wardrobe.

 

Deluxe sleeper:  En suite shower & toilet...

Couchettes on the Budapest to Warsaw sleeper train   Couchettes on the Budapest to Warsaw sleeper train

Polish couchette car on the Budapest to Warsaw night train with 4 & 6 berth compartments.

 

6-berth couchettes. Larger photo

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Bratislava to Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn...
  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Kaunas & Vilnius, leaving Warsaw at lunchtime, changing at Bialystok and arriving Kaunas in Lithuania in the evening, with connections to Vilnius, see the Warsaw to Vilnius page for details.

    Warsaw-Vilnius costs around €24, buy a ticket at the station in Warsaw.

  • Day 3, for onward travel from Vilnius to Riga, see here.

  • Day 4, for onward travel from Riga to Tallinn, see here.

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Bratislava to Lviv & Kiev...
  • Step 2, travel from Vienna to Lviv or Kiev by direct sleeping-car leaving Vienna Hbf at 16:42 every day, going via Budapest & Chop arriving next day at Lviv 10:14 & Kiev 17:21.

    Introduced in 2017, this train consists of one, or at peak times two Ukrainian sleeping-cars with comfortable 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin, see the photos below.  At Chop on the other side of the border the through sleeping-car is jacked up to have its wheelsets changed from European standard gauge (4'8½") to Russian gauge used in Ukraine (5').

    A restaurant car operates between Vienna and Zahony (on the Ukrainian border just before Chop), treat yourself to dinner.

    Book the train from Vienna to Lviv or Kiev online at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.  This will only book one-way or round trip starting in Vienna because tickets need to be collected from an ΦBB station in Austria.  They cannot be collected in Ukraine.  Booking this way you pay no fee or mark-up, just the official fare.  The sleeper has become popular, it can sell out.  Booked through oebb.at:

    Vienna to Kiev costs €80.50 in a 3-berth sleeper, €90.50 in a 2-berth sleeper or €152.90 in a single sleeper.

    Vienna to Lviv costs €62.10 in a 3-berth sleeper, €70.10 in a 2-berth sleeper or €119.30 in a single sleeper.

    If you have any problems or want a one-way ticket starting in Ukraine, you can also book the Vienna-Kiev train via reliable agency www.polrail.com, with tickets posted or couriered to you for a small fee.

    You could also travel to Budapest and pick this train up there, but there is as yet no online booking of Budapest-Ukraine tickets, so it's easier and cheaper to go via Vienna.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf

Boarding the Vienna to Kiev sleeping-car at Vienna Hbf.

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

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

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Bratislava to Moscow & St Petersburg...

Option 1, Bratislava to Moscow via Warsaw - goes via Belarus...

  • Day 1, take the overnight sleeper from Bratislava to Warsaw, leaving Bratislava Hlavna at 22:06 and arriving Warsaw Gdanska at 08:52.

    This has couchettes (4 & 6 berth) and a sleeping-car (1, 2 & 3 bed).  Book this by phone or at the station, it cannot be booked online.

    Enjoy a day in Warsaw, the historic old town is worth a wander.  If you fancy a modest splurge, the celebrated Ufukiera restaurant (www.ufukiera.pl) is excellent and right on the square in the heart of Warsaw's old town.  The Palace of Culture (a wedding cake style Soviet skyscraper and distinctive Warsaw landmark, www.pkin.pl) has a viewing terrace on the 30th floor.

  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Moscow by Russian sleeper train, leaving Warsaw Centralna at 19:15 every day and arriving Moscow Belorussky at 16:58 next day.  You can check times at the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru.

    This train was suspended due to Covid-19 and remains suspended due to sanctions.

    This train uses impressive Austrian-built sleeping-cars with 4-berth compartments built in 2014, see photos of this type of sleeper here & see panorama photo inside one of these modern sleepers.  Each compartment can be sold as 1st class 1-berth, 1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth.  The train consist of two or three sleeping-car which start their journey in Prague.  There's a bistro car in Poland and a Russian restaurant car is attached between Brest (on the Polish/Belarus border) & Moscow.

    You can book this train by contacting reliable Polish train ticketing agency www.polrail.com - their booking system is at booking.polrail.com.  Tickets can be collected in Warsaw or (at extra charge) shipped to any address worldwide.

  • Alternatively, you can book with Russian Railways at www.rzd.ru although it's a little quirky and may not accept some overseas credit cards.

    Don't forget to arrange both your Russian visa & Belarus transit visa as the train runs via Belarus. See my important update about travel to Russia through Belarus.

One of Russian Railways new international sleeping-cars   A 2-berth or 4-berth compartment in daytime mode

The sleeping-cars from Warsaw to Moscow are brand new Austrian-built ones owned by Russian Railways.  Each compartment converts from comfortable sofas to equally comfortable beds and can be used as either 1st class 2-berth with two lower berths or as 2nd class 4-berth with all four berths in use.  There are a shower and toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartments have electronic key-card locks, and the cars are very smooth-riding.  The sleeper attendant can serve lovely Russian tea for around €0.50 a glass.  Highly recommended!

Option 2, Bratislava to Moscow via Kiev - avoids Belarus...

  • Step 1, travel from Bratislava to Vienna by regional train and take the overnight sleeper from Vienna to Kiev as shown in the section above.

  • Step 2, take an overnight sleeper train from Kiev to Moscow.  There are several night trains, but there's usually one leaving Kiev at 19:36 and arriving in Moscow Kievskaya station next morning at 10:13 (day 3 from Berlin).  2-berth & 4-berth sleepers are available.  No problems have been reported by westerners travelling from Kiev to Moscow on these trains. 

    Kiev-Moscow trains were suspended due to Covid-19 and remain suspended due to the war in Ukraine...

  • Book the Vienna to Kiev train as shown in the section above.  Book the Kiev to Moscow train at the Ukrainian Railways website booking.uz.gov.ua or contact reliable agency www.polrail.com.

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bullet pointFind hotels in Bratislava & other cities

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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bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

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

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  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 at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

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 - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because 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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