Europe, Poland, Transportation, Travel Tips, Ukraine

The Lviv-Krakow Night Train

My trip to Lviv was short but sweet—I had just a few days in the country before heading back to Poland, this time to Krakow. I’ve already written about taking the Warsaw-Lviv night train, but wanted to do another post on the Lviv-Krakow night train, in case anyone is traveling that direction and is wondering what the journey is like.

The Lviv-Krakow night train is more or less identical to the Warsaw-Lviv night train (since the Warsaw-Lviv night train stops in Krakow before going to Lviv)—both the route and the train carriages and compartments are the exact same. But for anyone traveling on the 23:15 Lviv-Krakow night train, here’s what my experience was like!

Again, my expectations for night trains were pretty low after the Budapest-Belgrade night train (and its lack of toilet paper, soap, etc.). But the train was straight baller (identical to the Warsaw-Lviv night train)—decent sized beds, big blankets, a small sink inside the table, and came with a muffin, bottle of water, and a hygiene pack (complete with personal soap and hand towel). Talk about luxury! The bathrooms were also modern and had toilet seats, a lock on the door that worked, toilet paper, running water, soap, and paper towels for hand washing. I was quite pleased.

The main difference on this journey was that I was traveling in a 3-person compartment, as opposed to a 2-person compartment. After traveling with my partner in our own (2-person) compartment, I have to say I seriously recommend getting your own compartment, just for the general privacy, safety, and stress relief that comes with it. It’s well worth the extra cost on this journey. Although the Ukrainian man on the bottom bunk was no problem at all, it does give you more peace of mind when in your own compartment!

View of the Old Town // Lviv, Ukraine

In terms of the logistics of the train journey itself, we left pretty much on time with our 23:15 departure. We arrived to the Ukrainian border at 12:30am (Ukraine time), and left about an hour later at 1:30am (Ukraine time). There is a one-hour time difference between Lviv and Krakow, with the Ukraine-Poland border being the changeover.

Lviv // Ukraine

This train journey was also my first ever experience with drug-sniffing dogs on a train! Apparently cigarette smuggling is really common on this route (as cigarettes are much cheaper in Ukraine than in Poland) and I’m pretty sure that’s why they brought dogs in to check the compartments. But it wasn’t scary—we handed our passports over, a dog walked into our compartment and walked right out again in less than 10 seconds. But it says a lot about how cheap Ukraine is!

Krakow // Poland

My memory is a bit hazy, but the train arrived to the Polish border at roughly 3:00am Poland time (2:00am Ukraine time). Poland is a member of the Schengen zone so the border crossing is also the entry point for the Schengen zone. We were here for what seemed like forever (I actually fell asleep), and delayed with some kind of maintenance work. Just like on the Warsaw-Lviv night train, whatever they were doing was loud and maintenance-like and sounded like they were taking the whole train apart.

We were scheduled to arrive in Krakow at about 5:30am, but didn’t get there until about 7:00am (Poland time). Our journey should have been a little over 7 hours (with the 1-hour time difference), but ended up being about 8.5 hours because of the delay.

Sunrise in Krakow

Like the Warsaw-Lviv night train, I booked our tickets online from polrail.com, who shipped them to our hostel in Warsaw and were waiting for us when we arrived. However, our tickets were expensive (~70€ each) for our 3-bed compartment, and I feel like they could have been bought another way for much cheaper. But because we were going to be in Poland over the holiday and didn’t want to spend our limited time in Lviv trying to buy tickets at the station, we booked our tickets in advance. If anyone has any advice on a cheaper way to get tickets in advance, or if this is just the standard price for the journey, please let me know!

Overall, this was a very comfortable journey and I felt pretty safe. Again, if you’re traveling with another person, I really recommend splurging and getting your own compartment. As always, be extra vigilant with your belongings: bags should be stored (and possibly locked) in a secure place, your valuables should be on your person at all times, and keep your compartment door locked at all times (besides for border officials). And I recommend bringing some extra snacks and drinking water just in case you want some, as there’s no dining car on board.

 

Check out my post on the Warsaw-Lviv night train here!

8 thoughts on “The Lviv-Krakow Night Train

  1. Hey, Maja. Lviv, Lvov, or Wodz, is one of the places treated most harshly by the 20th Century. Might have been Austro-Hungarian until 1918 (part of Galicia?), but certainly Polish from 1921 to 1939. Wodz ghetto comparable to Warsaw ghetto in WW II, then taken by Soviet Union (actually conquered by Stalin in 1939 as part of Hitler-Stalin Pact–Stalin made sure he kept all that turf after the war). Soviet until ca. 1991, then Ukraine. I have a driver, Jewish fellow, whose family emigrated from the region when it was still Austrian–like my immigrant great-grandparents from Leipzig, leaving in the 19th Century meant avoiding the horrors of the first half of the 20th. Good travelogue!

    P.S.–I know your dad!

    1. Thanks for reading! Lviv (Lvov/Lwow) is quite a bit farther away from Łódź (pronounced Wodzh), the city in central Poland. So much of Central-Eastern Europe changed hands so many times in the last few centuries and suffered immensely, it’s so interesting to see these cities today. I have a few other posts about Lviv on the blog if you’re interested!

  2. Hi Maja,

    Thanks for your info: came across your blog while googling this very topic.. well almost.. the cost is my main concern, of the o’night train from Lviv to Krakow Have you received any feedback about cheaper prices? 70 Euro is expensive.
    I’m from Oz & have already purchased my long haul flight to London where I’ll catch up with friends for a few days before flying to Ukraine (Kiev) – first time – for a couple of weeks or so. As NW Ukraine doesn’t seem exciting I’m considering finishing up in Lviv and then taking train to Krakow so I can see that gorgeous city & fly back to London from there.

    Took a quick look at your budget tips. As a well seasoned budget traveller, agree with you given I share your priorities. Another one that doesn’t suit everyone but… carry rolled oats or similar & fruit for breakfast (far more energizing than ubiquitous white bread & jam) & snacks for the day, when you just need something to keep going & the alternatives are expensive etc.
    Julie PS How did you find travelling in Ukraine in their freezing winter?

    1. Hi Julie,
      I haven’t heard from anyone else about the prices. It is quite expensive, especially considering how cheap Poland/Ukraine are, but the train was very comfortable (and came with a few free amenities). Maybe you could try booking through another website that isn’t polrail.com ?

      Sounds like you have a great trip planned! I live in the UK (in York) and London is one of my favorite cities in the world. Krakow certainly is beautiful, and after two trips I’d still like to go back! Where I’m from in the United States (Minnesota) has very very cold and snowy winters, so the Ukrainian winter wasn’t too bad–I did wear my warm winter coat everyday though, and leggings under my jeans. Let me know if you have any other questions as you keep planning! 🙂

      1. Thanks Maja. Today I was told that you can get that …still expensive.. overnight train trip for 40 euro with the positive side that this means it doesn’t book out quickly. I imagine that when you did the trip the carriages weren’t very full? Yep, I figured you’d be used to the cold coming from there. But such weather does lend itself to proportionally more indoor sightseeing and /or of course snow pursuits.

        1. That’s a much better price then! I can’t totally remember since it was a few months ago, but there were a fair amount of people on the night train. It was the busy time between Christmas and New Year’s though. Happy travels! 🙂

  3. Hi Maja! Thanks a LOT for this article, I’ve been looking for updated information and it’s been hard to find. I’m travelling next February from Krakow to Lwow by train and I was not sure if taking the night train because of the safety (I travel alone). Would you recommend it? I have a few questions if you remember a bit more about this journey:
    -Was there a good heating? It’s the middle of the winter..
    -Did the bed included bed linen?
    -Inside the compartments, there is some place to keep your luggage secured? (of the other persons in the same compartment?)

    Kind regards!

    1. Hi Danii, glad you found this article useful! I took this night train with my husband so can’t really comment on the safety issue, besides that I felt quite safe. The doors to the compartments were easy to lock, and on this train journey we were in a 3-berth compartment with a random man on the bottom bunk and didn’t have any problems. I have taken a night train by myself before (from Krakow to Prague), and felt reasonably safe on that one too.

      In terms of your questions, the train was heated and I was comfortable throughout the journey and not cold at all. The bed linen was included for each bunk in the compartment, including a blanket. There isn’t anywhere to keep luggage secure in the compartment itself. When I’ve taken night trains before, I’ve either put my backpack on the top rack (if I was on the top bunk), or used it as a pillow–so no one can get to my stuff without me noticing!

      Hope this helps in your planning, and let me know if you have any other questions!

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