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Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Travel plans, routes and timetables  |  Eastern Europe itinerary
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Author Topic: Eastern Europe itinerary  (Read 5607 times)
Kevin.J.
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« on: July 04, 2011, 12:10:54 am »

This site is so helpful! I’d love to draw on your expertise further if you don’t mind taking the time.

My girlfriend and I plan to take off in October and see Eastern Europe, we came close to deciding upon a RailEurope pass but having read the advice on this site and elsewhere it seems the best option is to book individual train tickets online, in advance.

Rather than having specific cities we’d like to visit, the aim is to get as thorough an exploration of Eastern Europe as possible – doesn’t matter to us what order but we’re thinking of going North-South-North loop, as follows:
Fly from London – Moscow, then fly to St Petersburg, fly or train to Tallinn, then trains to Riga, Vilnius, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest, Zagreb, Split, Ljubjana, Vienna, fly back to London.
We've already been to Prague and Istanbul hence their omission.

I plan to look through the individual country guides on this site and follow the tips to book the cheapest available tickets but if you could give your thoughts on the order of cities listed here so I can structure the itinerary as a first step and then offer any other tips I’d be very appreciative.
Many thanks,
Kevin
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tUt
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« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2011, 12:00:45 pm »

My girlfriend and I plan to take off in October and see Eastern Europe, we came close to deciding upon a RailEurope pass but having read the advice on this site and elsewhere it seems the best option is to book individual train tickets online, in advance.
Besides the obvious expensiveness of the pass, it's also not valid for neither Russia or any Baltic states. While for rest of your Central-Eastern Europe itinerary point-to-point tickets will almost always bit pass price.
But let's look more specifically at each leg:
Moscow-St.Petersburg: most foreign visitors here would usually choose train (like famous "Red Arrow"), but if purchased in advance ticket for the flight will cost you considerably cheaper than "kupe" on one of the fancy trains.
St.Petersburg-Tallinn: there are no direct rail connection already for a few years, thus it's either pretty expensive direct flight or buses (frequent and cheap). Also possible to fly St.Petersburg-Riga-Tallinn with AirBaltic, usually they bit Estonian air direct flight fare.
Tallinn-Riga: most people here use buses since they are faster, but it is also possible to travel fully by train via Tartu-Valga-Cesis: you need to catch morning train Tallinn-Valga (6:46-11:35, 8.95 EUR), then in Valga there are connected change to train Valga-Riga (11:44-15:03, 3.75 LVL). Train to Riga waits for the one arriving from Tallinn, thus no need to worry about short timing between the two.
Riga-Vilnius: unfortunately, but no direct rail connection here, thus bus (or flight) is the only options. For crazy rail fans it is possible to go fully by rail from Riga to Vilnius via Rezekne, but that a bit illogical, will take a lot of time and cost more.
Vilnius-Warsaw-Krakow: from Vilnius there are everyday connection to Warsaw (11:40-20:10), due to gauge difference it requires train change in Sestokai. You will need to leave Lithuanian train and board polish ones on the same platform. Ticket will cost roughly 20 EUR. No need to book anything in advance, tickets are always available. From Warsawa there are already plenty of train options. Cheaper to use either TLK or InterRegio trains. Tickets for TLK train (including sleeper reservations) can be booked online - https://bilet.intercity.pl/irez/
Krakow-Bratislava: Polish Railways doesn't offer online sale of tickets for international route, thus you will have to buy this one already in Poland. One way ticket will cost around 50 EUR (+sleeper reservation). Also possible to purchase discounted international ticket here, but since those are in limited number, your chances to get one few day in advance aren't that good.
Bratislava-Budapest: relatively easy segment, direct ticket will cost 16 EUR, no need to buy in advance. Also possible to go via Sturovo-Ezstergom, will save you money and allow to take a look at nice town - Esztergom.
Budapest-Bucuresti: it's possible to purchase special discounted ticket online from MAV website. Those are called Fortuna ticket and start from 29 EUR. While full one-way ticket fare is 50 EUR, while return - 77 EUR
Bucuresti-Zagreb: here you actually have two major options: a) just do a side trip Budapest-Bucuresti-Budapest, so then you can go to Zagreb from Budapest (3 trains per day, app. 6 hours trip and 30 EUR ticket with no need to prepurchase anything); b) go via Serbia, thus catch overnight train Bucuresti-Belgrade (around 30 EUR for one-way ticket), while then daytime Belgrade-Zagreb (a bit more than 20 EUR).
Zagreb-Split: no problem at all, you can use train (http://www.hznet.hr/timetable), bus or even fly.
Split-Ljubljana: here you again have two major options: a) from Split go back to Zagreb and catch direct train to Ljubljana from there; b) catch bus or ferry to Rijeka, catch train (twice a day) to Ljubljana from there.
Ljubljana-Vienna: there are discounted 29 EUR ticket available for this route (or 19 EUR from Maribor to Vienna), but you can also travel cheaply by using 28 EUR Einfach-Raus-Ticket from Slovenia-Austria border, while domestic ticket Ljubljana-border etc.

All of the above a kind of general notes concerning your itinerary, but if you have any further question - we are ready to give more detailed advice.
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Kevin.J.
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2011, 10:10:59 pm »

thank you so much for your detailed reply - there is a lot to think about and digest so we will certainly be back with further questions on this thread, but for now you have been most helpful.
Many thanks,
Kevin
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Kevin.J.
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2011, 07:26:22 pm »

Hi tUt, just a quick message to offer my gratitude for your assistance in this forum. We are now in Ljubljana, having completed the majority of the trip outlined in this thread.

Your comments gave us the confidence we needed for the trip and saved us a great deal of money on unnecessary rail passes.

A million thanks,
Kevin
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tUt
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2011, 07:58:10 pm »

Glad you having a good time and succeeded with your plans. Ljubljana (and then, afair, Vienna) nice place to finish such rather extraordinary Eastern Europe trip. Also good luck with your future travels  ;) 
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Sereko
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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 05:01:27 pm »

Quote
from Vilnius there are everyday connection to Warsaw (11:40-20:10), due to gauge difference it requires train change in Sestokai. You will need to leave Lithuanian train and board polish ones on the same platform. Ticket will cost roughly 20 EUR. No need to book anything in advance, tickets are always available.

Hello!
Is this still true? Somehow i have trouble getting information from Lithaunian railway homepage...
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tUt
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« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2012, 06:55:15 pm »

Is this still true?
Almost, since not that long ago Lithuanian train to Sestokai (#393) departs not from Vilnius, but from Kaunas instead. Schedule is 13:00 dep. and arrival to Sestokai at 14:40 (15,2 LTL for the full ticket, also student ISIC discount of 50% applies for EU students on any domestic journeys with LG). While PKP train (#10012) departs Sestokai at 15:02 (arr. to Warsaw-Centr. 20:20)
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Sereko
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 11:11:37 pm »

Thanks!
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DJK
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« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2013, 05:50:48 pm »

Bucuresti-Zagreb: b) go via Serbia, thus catch overnight train Bucuresti-Belgrade (around 30 EUR for one-way ticket),
Is this still correct? Someone told me that one of the trains like this is canceled. Not sure is it this train or not though...
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tUt
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« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2013, 06:26:22 pm »

Is this still correct? Someone told me that one of the trains like this is canceled. Not sure is it this train or not though...
Yes, direct overnight train from Bucharest to Belgrade is not running at the moment and it doesn't look like will be back any time soon, however it is still possible to travel from Bucharest to Belgrade in a sort of overnight way. Passengers can catch overnight train from Bucharest to Timisoara (21:46-7:07), while from Timisoara at 8:20 departs local train to Serbian town Vršac (arr. at 8:52, mind the time difference) and finally another train will get you from Vršac to Belgrade Dunav station 9:40-11:29. Obviously it is not very convenient to make 3 train changes, but unfortunately currently it's the only rail option
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