Night Sleeper Train to Budapest from Krakow

17 July, 2009

Night Train to Budapest from Krakow

From some online forum posts, we expected that tickets for the night train from Krakow to Budapest will cost more than 90 Euros.  However, when we purchased the tickets, there were some SparDay/SparNight promotion – reducing the price to just 43 Euros per pax for a private 4-bed couchette.  Look for the International Train Line counter when you purchase your tickets – they usually speak English; the other counters don’t.

Krakow Glowny Train Station

Krakow to Budapest Night Train Ticket

Waiting for the train to depart from Krakow to Budapest. Note that the train starts the trip with number “D200” from Krakow station, then at Bohumin station it changes to “D203”,and finally in Breclav it changes to “EN 477”.

This is known as “train splitting.”  Certain cars are moved from one train to another at stops.  This happens very quickly and sometimes there’s hardly even a noticable “bump” when the cars are switched.  If you buy a ticket for the whole trip it will be for a car that goes all the way to your destination.  However, to avoid problems where you might end up in another city instead of the one you are planning to go – there are some pointers to note:

  • Stay in your car, or print out the whole route (with times) and pay enough attention to return to your car just before the city where a split occurs.
  • Ask the conductor if you are on the right car for your final destination (in our case – Budapest).

Krakow to Budapest Night Train

Our 4-bed couchette was actually a 6-bed couchette converted to a 4-bed one (the middle beds were removed).  As such there is a huge gap between the lowest and the highest bed.  The upper deck is so high that Caroline decided to just sleep sitting up on the lower deck instead.  We were provided with pillows and blankets for the journey to Budapest.

Krakow to Budapest Night Train Couchette Cabin Bed

Krakow to Budapest Sleeper Train Pillow and Blanket

The toilet facilities (shared by occupants in this train car) are not in the best shape.  Whatever you flushed goes straight down to the tracks – that’s why the toilets are out of bounds when the train stops at a station; or else the train station tracks will stink!

Krakow to Budapest Sleeper Train Toilet

The corridor shared by many couchettes.  Our cabin bed numbers (note that this cabin was configured for a triple decker bed layout – 61 – 63 – 65 (but bed 63 was removed)

Night Train Corridor and Cabin Number

Thieves Gassing and Robbing Sleeper Train Passengers – Myth or Fact?

There were some stories of thieves gassing the entire cabin/couchette on night trains and then robbing the occupants of their belongings while they were knocked out by the sleeping gas.  I think at least in our couchette for the Krakow to Budapest train – that can remain an urban legend.  Let me explain why:

Safety Measures for Sleeper Train

  1. First they have to somehow cut the chain that locked the cabin doors (possible considering that the train is quite noisy when it moves)
  2. Next the robbers would have been shocked (when they expected everyone to be sleeping) by the sight of Caroline who sat up (sleeping) by the door throughout the entire journey.
  3. If they get over their shock and Caroline is still sleeping, they will have to navigate their way through the barriers of luggage in between the double-deckers – barely any place for me to stand, let alone 1-2 robbers.
  4. Not forgetting our super heavy luggage (average of 18kg) they have to move under such cramped conditions.
  5. To get to the real good stuff (me! – actually my valuables e.g. money and passport), they have to climb a treacherous unstable ladder which I only dared to use twice in the entire journey (getting up to sleep and getting down to leave the train).

I think due to the rythmic motion of the train, I slept very soundly throughout the journey.  I can’t say that for the rest especially Caroline (our door guardian) though. 🙂

Krakow to Budapest Night Train Top Deck

A short video of the sleeper train cabin interior.

Booking Tickets for Krakow to Budapest Train Ride

To book your tickets for the Krakow to Budapest train ride, go to http://www.polrail.com/sections/store/quoteprice.html

They will reply with a link (what they call a “custom price quote”), you click on it, review the item and proceed to pay if it’s correct.

When you “check out” the item in their cart, choose an appropriate shipping option for your ticket, i.e. shipping cost is not included in the price they quote you.

Choose the normal (and therefore cheapest) shipping option and it will cost an extra 30 PLN.

They can only generate the tickets 60 days before your travel, so if you ‘purchase’ the tickets any earlier, they’ll just give you an estimate of when they’ll mail it out. E.g.

“Polish Rail tickets can be issued starting 60 days before travel. Therefore the estimated shipping date for your order is 22 April. You will receive an e-mail update when you order has shipped.”

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

Comments (34)

  • Alex TokReply

    22 July, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    I am amazed by this blog. Great work!

  • ZhiqiangReply

    23 July, 2009 at 12:57 am

    @Alex, thanks for your comment. Do check back this blog regularly, i got tonnes more post to share. 🙂

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  • KurtReply

    13 August, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for this post and the info. We’re planning to take the night train from Krakow to Budapest in October.

    • ZhiqiangReply

      15 August, 2009 at 10:06 am

      @Kurt, glad that you find this post useful. Do check back here for our Budapest posts too 🙂

  • Jeff RothenbergReply

    18 September, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    I found your blog posts sensational to say the least. I look forward to reading more and sharing the info with all my friends. This will be very useful for my 10 week backpacking trip! I thank you from my heart!

    • ZhiqiangReply

      18 September, 2009 at 5:31 pm

      @Jeff, Thanks for your kind comments. Feel free to check back for other tips and guides that might help you during your trip. 🙂

  • Joao RafaelReply

    20 January, 2010 at 6:39 am

    Dear Zhiqiang,

    My name is Joao Rafael, and I write from Brazil.
    I will take the same train that you took, from Krakow to Budapest.
    I tried to book and buy the tickets from several websites, but unfortunately I couldn’t do it.
    How did you get your tickets?
    Do you think is possible buying that for a not so expensive value at the same of a few days before departure?
    Thank you!

    • ZhiqiangReply

      20 January, 2010 at 7:22 am

      Hi Joao

      I bought it at the train station a few days before departure. I suggest buying the ticket on the 1st day you arrived at Krakow (few days before you are scheduled to depart Krakow).

  • GingerReply

    31 January, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Zhiqiang,
    I was wondering how long the train ride took?
    Thanks! 🙂

  • SimonReply

    17 March, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Zhiqiang,

    Thanks for the brilliant post. My wife and I took the night train recently from Krakow to Budapest and your post was really helpful. We took the sleeper berth and it was really comfy and safe (the door can be locked from inside) and there’s a peep hole on the door as well.

    We even got a wake up call from the conductor half hour before arrival in Budapest. There was no border checks whatsover, I slept like a baby and didn’t even realise when the ‘train’ split happened. (I believe the original train head goes to Prague).

    Since we had rail passes, we bought the sleeper reservation for EUR21 per person a few days before we travelled.

    Thanks again for your wonderful post.

    Cheers,
    Simon.

    • ZhiqiangReply

      17 March, 2010 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks Simon – glad you find the info here useful; do share with us your experience too 🙂

  • CamReply

    21 April, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Zhiqiang,

    I am traveling on the train from Budapest to Krakow tonight. Could you tell me if there was outlets available to power a laptop? And is there Wifi? Thanks,

    Cam

    • ZhiqiangReply

      21 April, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Dont think there is power outlet and Wi-Fi; at least when we took the train

  • Lester ChanReply

    20 July, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Hi,

    I’m a Singaporean and see a lot of useful info in your blog. Im going to take this route coming september. You mentioned International Train Line counter, is it inside the train station and easy to locate? I read from some wesites that this route only operate for certain period, do you happen to know if it will still be running in September?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      20 July, 2010 at 10:20 pm

      It is inside the train station ticketing area – its easy to locate and well-marked ‘international tickets” Sorry I am not sure if its operational in Sept.

  • RajReply

    7 August, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Hi Zhiqiang,

    I am planning to make this same trip with my wife in the first week of November. My first concern is of course safety in the overnight train. I would probably get a first class bed compartment for two people which I believe would be safer. My concern is being in the low season the trains might be empty. Should that be a concern based on your experience?

    Also, I would be in Krakow for 2 days, so the earliest I can buy this train ticket while I am there is a day before. Would that be sufficient time or should I look for some other way to get them?

    Thanks,
    Raj

  • SonnyReply

    20 August, 2010 at 10:54 am

    I’ve been looking for some explanation about this. It surely helped! Thanks for taking the time to post! One question though. I am going from Budapest to Krakow, so I wonder if it is the same train ?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      20 August, 2010 at 6:08 pm

      I am not sure if it will be the same train (but most likely since the train have to make its way back to Krakow somehow :-)) but I don’t think the sleeping facilities will differ much.

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  • EmelineReply

    28 March, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Am planning a trip to central europe in May, and I came across this blog by accident when doing research. Great site! Will follow your itinerary, some of your posts are very useful. =) am just wondering what camera you use for your pictures?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      28 March, 2011 at 11:52 pm

      Thanks Emeline – i used a Lumix point & shoot camera back then during my europe trip – not very good quality pictures; now I am using an Olympus EP-1 camera.

      • EmelineReply

        29 March, 2011 at 11:09 pm

        the lumix really took good pictures…am looking forward to reading more posts from you and wife to be! btw I’m also singaporean =)

  • WEI'AN CHENReply

    20 May, 2011 at 3:08 am

    hello! I wanted to ask, is it possible to buy tickets for this train online? or must i get it from the station? also, i am also planning to travel Budapest/Krakow and Bratislavia. Is it possible to cover these 3 places in 3 days or so? and do u have any recommendations on sequence of cities?

    thanks!

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      20 May, 2011 at 6:04 am

      According to one of our readers, you can order your tickets online:
      You can follow the exact steps they laid out in this website: http://www.polrail.com/sections/store/quoteprice.html

      They will reply with a link (what they call a “custom price quote”), you click on it, review the item and proceed to pay if it’s correct. When you “check out” the item in their cart, you should choose an appropriate shipping option for their ticket, i.e. shipping cost is not included in the price they quote you. Can consider the normal (and therefore cheapest) shipping option which cost you an extra 30 PLN.

      They can only generate the tickets 60 days before your travel, so if you ‘purchase’ the tickets any earlier, they’ll just give you an estimate of when they’ll mail it out. E.g. “Polish Rail tickets can be issued starting 60 days before travel. Therefore the estimated shipping date for your order is 22 April. You will receive an e-mail update when you order has shipped.”

      You can cover these 3 places in 3 days but i wouldnt recommend it as you wont get to see anything with just 1 day in each. Instead i suggest skipping Slovakia and maybe set aside an extra day for Budapest (if you only have 3 days to play with).

  • Rich DaviesReply

    29 September, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    My first sleeper train was actually from Berlin to Kiev, a totally unforgettable experience. Bumpy and wobbly but exciting and just amazing – something I truly will never forget.

  • rosnitaReply

    23 December, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    hi there… nice blog.
    Im wondering, when you mentioned “split”, do we have to get down from our train and transfer to another train? please help.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      24 December, 2011 at 8:43 am

      Hi rosnita, no you dont have to get down the train. The train will disconnects its cabins and these cabins will be link up with other trains that go to different destinations so make sure you are in the right cabin when this happens or you could end up somewhere else.

  • ClaytonReply

    5 March, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Hi! Thanks for the post, I just discovered it searching for how a sleeper train from krakow looks, very helpful! We are planning to take the same train from krakow to Budapest next May. At first we wanted to buy the 2person sleeper rooms (we will be 4 people, so 2 rooms) but the prices seen online were amazingly high, and from czech-transport.com (I read some bad reviews on them also, good and bad) were quoted at 400eur (100eur each) including DHL shipping (31eur to Malta). The price on Polrail was much higher (close to 500eur!) and I sent them an email and received a special custom price as you described. The price for the 2p sleeper was 450eur still more expensive than czech-transport. They mentioned that they cannot guarantee lower prices and that;s why they don’t quote them, they would refund me if they manage to get both sleeper cars at Spar night, but I don’t think!

    They also quoted the price for a 4p couchette room which came up to short of 250eur + need to add shipping! which is an enormous gap! I know it’s a bit more expensive around 55eur per person vs the 43EUR that you paid but I think it would be worthit to pay 12EUR more to be sure to have a seat at the Sparnight price! What do you think? How was the overall trip, long? hehe

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      5 March, 2014 at 9:54 pm

      Hi Clayton – we took this train 5 years ago and it cost 43 Euros then; with currency fluctuations and inflation, I am not surprised if the price had increased to 55 Euros now (I am not sure if it did increase in price) 🙂 You buy yourselves a peace of mind too knowing you have the tickets at hand instead of having to queue at the counter on the day itself wondering if there are still tickets. So I say go for it 🙂

      The train journey was long – if i am not wrong about 8-10 hours overnight but I slept very well. Not everyone can sleep under such conditions though. 🙂

  • DavidReply

    8 July, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you for a terrific insight with pic’s into this overnight trip,I have recently booked this trip and another thru polrail and found them to be extremely helpful and efficient just as you have indicated. I booked online from Australia and received the paper tickets about 6 days after booking.

  • salizarReply

    9 August, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I very much appreciated, being able to read, what you had to say in this article and, I’m keen to see what other readers have to say. Really interesting items here, enjoyed it! Well you’ve given me some good insights here.

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