I need an advise on travelling from Budapest to Stryj, Ukraine (station on the train line Budapest - Kiev or Budapest - Moscow). I received a price quote from Hungarian rail service. They advised that there should not be a problem buying tickets for this destiantion two days before the trip (we are arriving in Budapest on June 13th and need to travel to Stryj on June 15th), however they could not guarantee that the two-bed sleeper will be available.
Can someone let me know if that is true? Do the sleeper cars sell out first or are they half empty because of higher price? Also, is there any way to buy tickets this far in advance on line? I can't seem to find anything even through rail europe. Thank you!
Sleeper cars normally sell out first. The reason for this is that a long trip such as this one is popular to complete at night so that people are not spending their day on the train. On top of that, if someone is going to take a night train, most people prefer to pay the extra money to have a sleeping accommodation instead of just a seat.
Unfortunately, I cannot comment on this exact route, but with my experience in making night-train reservations during that time of the year, it is best to reserve at least two weeks in advance... but remember too that you typically can only reserve trains 90 days in advance as schedules are only confirmed three months in advance.
As for your options, you have a few of them. First off, most trains can be reserved from any major train station in Europe. So if you are spending time in other parts of Europe before heading to Budapest, you can make a reservation from wherever you are in advance. Second, you have received a quote from the Hungarian rail service... can then not make a reservation for you, and then you will pick up the ticket once you arrive at the train station? You might have to wait until you are within three months of your departure date, but it seems worth asking.
Finally, you have the option of using a service like EurAide
, which will make the reservation for you and mail you the tickets... but they will do this for a US $50 surcharge. Obviously this will depend on how desperate you are to make that reservation.
Hi Phantek - thank you very much for your reply. Hungarian rail service sent me an email with the price quote and also confirmed that there is no way to purchase these tickets on line. They referred me to Rail Europe, however RE quoted me USD658 for two round trip tickets while buying them in person at the train station would cost me roughly USD185!! That is a huge difference! Unfortunately Budapest is our first stop, so we won't be anywhere else before then. I am also looking into an option of having my hotel in Budapest buy the tickets and hold them for me until I arrive. I will definitely check out EurAide but it looks like I have to call them as the site is mostly under construction. I have no problem paying them $50 for service, I just don't want to be ripped off by Rail Europe!
I don't think my advice will add much to what Steven has already said, but my experience of buying tickets from Budapest to Ukraine (Kyiv in my case) is that you should book as early as possible. I tried to buy a single ticket 2 days in advance from the kiosk at Budapest train station and there were already only first-class ones available.
Out of interest, where is Stryj?
Hi Jonathan - thanks for your advice. Stryj is located about an hour west of Lviv. There is really nothing much in this town, but it is closer to my home town, Truskavets, than Lviv. So it doesn't make sense for me to go all the way to Lviv just to return and go past Stryj on the way to Truskavets anyway. Strij is one of the stops on most train lines from Budapest to Kyiv or Moscow, so it's not a problem to get there. And then it's about another hour by elektrychka!
As far as the first class tickets, are those in a sleeper car? Looking at prices through Hungarian rail service it is still MUCH cheaper to even buy first class tickets than buy ANY tickets through Rail Europe. Thanks!
My first-class journey took me through Lviv; I think Chop was another station close to the border. The ticket cost about 100 pounds (for a large, clean kupe
in a vahon
with a useable toilet). It was a lot more than I budgeted for but it was so comfortable that I didn't mind too much. I'd really like to go back to western Ukraine, but I may have to wait 'til the spring holidays kick in to find the time!