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Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Train fares and tariffs  |  Krakow-Bratislava-Budapest-Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul
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Author Topic: Krakow-Bratislava-Budapest-Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul  (Read 5226 times)
Xero Xenith
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« on: April 17, 2013, 10:14:37 pm »

Hello :) This is my first post and my first plan for a proper train trip! We're 3 friends, all from Britain and all under 25 if that makes a difference. Our current plan is this:

Jul 3: Krakow-Bratislava sleeper
Jul 5: Bratislava-Budapest evening train
Jul 8: Budapest-Belgrade sleeper
Jul 11: Belgrade-Sofia sleeper
Jul 13: Sofia-Istanbul (bus? not keen on switching from train to replacement bus service.)

We're considering skipping Bratislava if it makes the trip a lot less expensive, but we'd rather keep it.

Does anyone have an idea of how much this would cost, or some discounts we could use for each trip? We've had some mixed estimates, from €150 up to £250 (almost €300), so any ideas would be fantastic.

Especially - any ideas what exactly we should do for each journey? (should we prebook? Or which discounts to ask for at the counter?) I've read that SparNight should save a huge amount for Krakow-Bratislava (€45 down from £73=€90) but I can't find a way to book those tickets.

At the moment we're just planning to walk up to the counter in each place we arrive at and ask for our next planned train ticket, but we're not sure if there's a cheaper way to get tickets for some of our journeys. We're also slightly worried about trains selling out - is this likely to be an issue?

Many thanks for any replies! :)
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 03:04:06 pm »

compared to walk in fares in the UK this is much, much cheaper- even at the local full fare.
But you can do it even for less-use these main principles-obvious to continental Europeans, often not that much to UKers.
Decide first what ''sleeper'' you want- best insight is in Basic choice is between the couchette and the real sleeper=vagon dormit/spalny vagon. Most nighttrains also have plain, normal seats.
the idea that trains are ''full'' is plain silly ignorance. trains are not planes.
IF online booking at all is possible (by no means take that for granted!) then you must use the railway operation of the country you start from. Just think of them as mails-you cannot use a Brit stamp in Spain, nah? not even to send a postcard back to UK.
Again seat61 often has the way to do-but also realise (again trains are not planes) that booking-if at all possible-ionly from 60-or often oevr there just 30 days advance.
Yes-the train into IST is cut back-there are many more, cheaper, faster, bsues for SOF-IST. Currently only cut back to outer suburban IST- but this can change by the day, without warning.
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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2013, 01:51:46 pm »

Hi Zero Xenith,
First of all sorry about delayed reply from us, sometimes we also travel and during such travel not always we have a chance to access internet in order to answer questions right away, we apologize

Regarding your itinerary, then just let's have a look at each leg and see what we end up with:

Krakow to Bratislava: for a full fare ticket you'll pay roughly 60 euro per person + another 9,4 euro (6 berth couchette) or 14 euro (3 bed sleeper). And yes, on route from Krakow to Bratislava/Budapest Polish Railways (PKP) offer special discounted SparNight offer (ticket+reservation for 6 berth couchette is 39 euro, for 4 berth - 43 euro and for 3 bed sleeper is 45 euro). However, as you already noticed yourself, PKP doesn't sell such tickets online via their website (although promised to do so long time ago, so shame on PKP). Now the only chance to buy SparNight tickets is either buy it directly via PKP ticket counter in Poland or use an agency, which obviously will charge some commission, but at the end the sum will be cheaper than full fare price mentioned above. Also if you not particularly in to a night train, ready for train changes/some ticket tricks or just can substitute train by bus, then obviously it won't be a problem to travel from Krakow to Bratislava much cheaper than 60 euro + sleeper reservation fare (9,4-14 euro)
Bratislava to Budapest: here everything is easy, relatively cheap and totally doesn't require any booking in advance, since you can just show up at the station and buy you ticket, will be 17,5 euro per person
Budapest to Belgrade: same as above, no need to book anything in advance (however you can do that), since one-way ticket bought in Budapest at the Hungarian Railways (MAV) ticket counter will cost you just 15 euro (or 23 euro with reservation in 6 berth couchette, 25 in 4 berth couchette or 27 euro for the ticket+ 3 bed sleeper reservation)
Belgrade to Sofia: again it doesn't really make sense to book anything in advance (and anyway it's not possible with Serbian Railways and such trip), so buy the ticket (roughly 20 euro) and reservation (6 euro for 6 berth couchette or 10 euro for 3 bed sleeper)  already in Belgrade
Sofia to Istanbul: if you don't want to have a hassle with train to bus change at night, then obviously direct bus is your choice. Buses are numerous, run often and cost just like 50 BGN (app. 25 euro)

As you can see, even with all the tickets bought at the stations before departures you will end up spending (just tickets) roughly 140 euro per person for the whole trip Krakow-Bratislava-Budapest-Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul or plus extra 15 to 25 euro with sleeper reservations for two overnight journeys

We're also slightly worried about trains selling out - is this likely to be an issue?
Well, tickets won't sold out, however some problems might await you with sleeper reservations, especially since it's kind of high-season. So there is a chance to expect that 3 or 2 bed sleepers for Krakow-Bratislava-Budapest carriages can be sold out a few days in advance. However if such situation does happen, then you can always go with couchette or, as final measure, just travel in a seating carriage, at the end you hardly will be stuck in Krakow even if some reservations aren't available
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