Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Train frequency/schedule for Eastern Europe

Train frequency/schedule for Eastern Europe

Old May 13th, 2015, 06:20 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Train frequency/schedule for Eastern Europe

My friend and I are wanting to travel around the southern Eastern European states and we intend to fly to our first destination, travel by train to several countries, then fly back to our home from our final destination, so it would be an open jaw. We are flexible on figuring out our final destination but would like to decide on our arriving city ASAP so we can get those tickets while prices are down.

We are willing to travel through all of the lower countries - Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia. We are looking at flying into Budapest, Bucharest, and Sofia. We only have 4-5 days to make this trip so we understand we might be limited to only 3-4 cities (if we take sleeper trains).

It appears to me that there are only 1-3 trains per day between most cities. Our current tentative itinerary is: Bucharest-Sofia-Skopje-Belgrade. Is there an logical timeline of trains between those cities? Could someone help me figure out an ideal schedule?

Thank you very much!!
undergrace is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 06:28 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,268
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
For schedules see bahn.de

For info on buying tickets, which trains go where, see seat61.com

For a visual on what trains go where, buy a copy of the Thomas Cook Rail Map of Europe.

If you only have 4-5 days you don't have time for the trip you are envisaging. You can very easily spend all four days in Budapest.

I have ridden trains in that part of the world - e.g. Belgrade (actually Nis) to Sofia. They are infrequent, often uncomfortable (especially in summer) and often behind schedule, most especially if crossing borders. Some routes, e.g. Sofia to Skopje, are better done by bus.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 07:18 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
>

These are also called the Balkans. And doing 4+ cities in 5 days seems daft - you'll see very little except your trains and the stations at which they stop.
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 07:43 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
thursdaysd - Thank you for that advice. Looking at the train times it appears I was correct in thinking only 1-3 trains per day was offered, and the commute is much longer than I anticipated. Looks like I'll be re-thinking our strategy and simplifying. I know it would be possible to spend all my time in Bucharest but I'd really like to see at least one other country. Any advice on what you'd suggest would be appreciated. Looks like maybe a better option would be fly into Budapest and proceed to Belgrade, and then possibly Belgrade to Sofia. Both of those legs are non-stop and at reasonable times which is much more attractive.

BigRuss - I never said 4+ cities - I said 3-4 and I understood that was only possible if we did sleeper trains. My past experience with European trains has been that they are very quick and efficient - I traveled from Amsterdam to Berlin in 6 hours and then around several other countries with many time options and reasonable travel times. I am asking for help because I understand this is not the same experience as Western Europe so I wanted to get advice and opinions from others. Thanks for the unnecessary criticism.
undergrace is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,268
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Any special reason you are picking Bucharest? It would not be my choice when put against Budapest.

There are a few trains in the east that match western European standards, but they are mostly intercity trains. Hungary is pretty good. The further south and east you get the fewer trains, and get into the Balkans proper and you'll be traveling by bus.

You might find some of my trip reports useful, you could start with https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...sofia-via-nis/

I don't have time to look at schedules right now. Does the train from Belgrade to Sarajevo still run?
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 11:02 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No special reason, I just assumed Bucharest would be better since Romania is alongside several other Balkan countries whereas Hungary is quite a bit north. I have never been to Budapest either so I do not mind changing it to there.

Looking on the DB Bahn site it appears it is possible to take nonstop trains for both Budapest-Belgrade-Sofia and also Budapest-Zagreb-Belgrade. I think I'd limit our trip to something like that since it gives us about 1 1/2 days in each location. I know it's not much, but it's what we have.

It does appear that there is still a Belgrade to Sarajevo train but it's only one per day with a 5 hour stop in Zagreb. It is almost a 21 hour commute total though so I do not think that is feasible for us. I did read through your blog though and I appreciate seeing how sometimes crossing the borders by train can be much longer than expected. My main train travel has been within the Schengen so they'd check your ticket for validity but didn't really do any real passport control or contraband checks.

What do you think of the 2 suggestions I made? The B/B/S trip would be with sleeper trains so it would save us time/money (since lodging won't be needed those nights). The B/Z/B trip would all be day trains taking up the afternoons so we'd sleep in hotels. Thanks again
undergrace is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 12:20 PM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Okay I think we've settled on an itinerary. We're looking at doing Bucharest-Timisoara-Belgrade-Sofia. The train times all look perfect (and relatively short, all nonstop except one which has a one hour stop) so it looks like it will be a really busy week but we're okay with that. If you have any suggestions of things to do in any of those cities that would be appreciated!
undergrace is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 12:21 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
CRAP I meant Budapest, not Bucharest.
undergrace is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 12:32 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,268
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
That sounds good. Posts on all those cities are on my blog, linked above - use the search function.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 01:25 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 38,671
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I cannot believe some stranger actually talked out out of seeing "Little Paris"
Dukey1 is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 01:37 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,268
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
If you mean Bucharest, I was there last fall, and it no way reminded me of Paris. Interesting, plenty of potential, but I'd take Budapest first every time. Or are you being sarcastic?
thursdaysd is offline  
Old May 13th, 2015, 01:57 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It wasn't so much she talked me out of it, it was mainly realizing that the train schedule for our original plan turned out to be a bust. My friend originally proposed we start in Budapest but I was worried that it was so far north that it would make most of our intended cities more difficult to reach. Turns out I was wrong and it really could be a great jumping off point - and hearing someone agree with that choice helped seal the deal. And since Timisoara is considered "Little Vienna" and I'll be traveling with a friend that I made when visiting Vienna, I find our new itinerary quite fitting
undergrace is offline  
Old May 28th, 2015, 01:18 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 34
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We have just travelled through most Balkan states and there capitals. You don't have a lot of time so it's difficult.

The capitals we visited were Budapest, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Podgorica, Skopje, Sofia.

The best places: Budapest, Belgrade, Sarajevo - all very different and close knit for a short stay city hop. Don't waste your time with Skopje or Podgorica. Sofia is ok.

Rome2rio.com is also good for working out travel connections
theecoquest is offline  
Old May 28th, 2015, 03:51 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bucharest-Sofia-Skopje-Belgrade. Is there an logical timeline of trains between those cities? Could someone help me figure out an ideal schedule?>

Go to www.bahn.de/en - German Railways pan-European schedule site that has schedules for all trains or nearly all that roll in Europe - easy to use. Great sites for learning abut European trains: www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

And yes trains in the Balkans are slow moving and not so frequent.
PalenQ is offline  
Old May 28th, 2015, 05:40 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 26,268
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
"Don't waste your time with Skopje"

I, on the other hand, found Skopje quite interesting. And Lake Matka, nearby, is definitely worth seeing. Of course, so is Lake Ohrid, but not on the OP's trip.

But the OP has already sorted her itinerary.
thursdaysd is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
sadclown
Europe
9
Apr 9th, 2018 08:27 AM
KKLisa
Europe
5
Dec 4th, 2017 10:00 PM
hoopjammer524
Europe
18
Jul 17th, 2014 04:03 AM
kbg3511
Europe
17
Aug 9th, 2013 05:03 AM
twig1206
Europe
4
Apr 6th, 2011 05:47 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:14 AM.