This page explains how to travel comfortably by train from Bucharest to other key European cities, and how to buy the cheapest tickets.  Click here if your journey starts in another cityUpdating for 2022 in progress COVID-19 update.

I want to go from Bucharest to...

small bullet point  Brasov, Sighisoara, Constanta & other destinations within Romania

small bullet point  Budapest & Hungary

small bullet point  Vienna & Austria

small bullet point  Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo & Bulgaria

small bullet point  Belgrade & Serbia

small bullet point  Thessaloniki, Athens & Greece

small bullet point  Istanbul & Turkey

small bullet point  Chişinău & Moldova

small bullet point  All other destinations:  London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Spain

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.

At Bucharest Gara de Nord, international tickets are bought from ticket window 1 in a room marked Case de Bilete with a large blue sign, not far from the information kiosk in the centre of the station, see the photos here so you know what to look for.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel


Senior fares (over 60)


Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important 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 trains within Romania...

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Bucharest to Budapest & Hungary...

Option 1, by sleeper train - the time-effective option...

2-berth sleeper on the Ister   Dacia Express at Sighisoara

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


The sleeping-car (vagon de dormit) of the Ister at Budapest Keleti.  Sleepers convert from beds to private sitting rooms for day use. 

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 Ister, at Budapest.  Always book a couchette, not just a seat.  Couchettes convert from bunks at night to seats for day use.


4 & 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Option 2, by daytime train from €29...

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest

The morning train from Budapest to Bucharest at Budapest Keleti, with modern air-conditioned Romanian carriages...

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   2nd class Romanian InterCity coach

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


Comfortable 2nd class seats in an air-conditioned Romanian carriage.  Larger photo.

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Bucharest to Vienna & Austria...
Dacia Express sleeping-car

The sleeping-car of the Dacia Express at Bucharest Nord.  The Dacia Express has one, or at peak times two, air-conditioned Romanian sleeping-cars of the most modern type.  Photo courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom

Washbasin   Dacia Express sleeper compartment   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

Sleepers:  Each compartment can be sold as single, double (as here) or triple.  Most compartments have a washbasin as shown, two compartments have a shower & toilet.  Beds fold away to form a private sitting room for day use.  Larger photo.


Couchettes:  4 & 6-berth, bedding is provided.  Larger photo.

Dacia Express couchette car

The Dacia Express has one Romanian couchette car, seen here at Bucharest.  Courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom

Dacia Express Carpathian mountains

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

Dacia Express bar-bistro car

The Dacia Express en route to Bucharest...  Photo 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 photo.  Photos courtesy of @PaliparanDotCom & @_DiningCar.

Scenery in Transylvania

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

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Bucharest to Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo & Bulgaria...

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Bucharest to Thessaloniki, Athens & Greece

Option 1, via Sofia...

Option 2, direct sleeping-car, once a week in summer...

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Bucharest to Istanbul..

Summer season 5 June to 5 October 2021...

Off-season, until 4 June & from 6 October 2021...

The Istanbul to Sofia Express   4-berth couchettes in seats mode

Bucharest-Istanbul couchette car:  Between June & September there is a direct air-conditioned Turkish couchette car between Istanbul Halkali and Bucharest with 4-berth compartments, as shown above.  The seats convert to flat bunks with rug, sheet and pillow.

Scenery in the Shipka Pass, Bulgaria

Across Bulgaria...  Lush green scenery as the train descends the Shipka Pass...

Sunrise over Turkey

Good morning Turkey!  Dawn breaks as the train speeds east towards Istanbul...

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Bucharest to Belgrade & Serbia...

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The incompetent Romanian & Serbian Railway managers have had a disagreement, and since August 2017 the Timisoara-Vrsac trains have been terminating one station short of Vrsac, meaning there are currently no trains at all across the Serbian/Romanian border, completely destroying this international route.  Until or unless this incompetence is resolved, you are advised to travel from Bucharest to Budapest then Budapest to Belgrade.  I'll keep the original advice below in case the situation is resolved:

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Bucharest to Chişinău & Moldova
Chisinau-Bucharest train about to leave

The Prietenia from Chişinău to Bucharest about to leave Chişinău.  Photos courtesy of Malcolm B & Peter Brogdale.

A 2-berth 1st class sleeper on the train to Chisinau (Kishinev)   Destination board of the Prietenia

1st class 2-berth compartment.  Larger photo.

Destination board in car 4.

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Bucharest to all other destinations...

Option 1, using the Bucharest to Budapest sleeper train Ister...

Option 2, using the Bucharest to Vienna sleeper train Dacia Express...

Option 3, using a daytime train from Bucharest to Budapest, overnight stop in Budapest, then onward train...

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bullet pointHotels in Bucharest & other cities

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: 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: is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on,, 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

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN


Columbus direct travel insurance 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 - 10% discount with code seat61.

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

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

  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 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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