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!
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.
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!
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.
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!