One of the things that I use travel blogs for the most is for transportation advice—and especially overnight transportation. I recently took the night train from Warsaw, Poland to Lviv, Ukraine, and wanted to do a full write-up of the journey. To save time and make the most of a short trip, I took the 18:55 night train from Warsaw to Lviv. We left on time from Warsaw right at 18:55, and arrived to Lviv about an hour late, between 8:00 and 8:30am in the morning.
Considering that my last night train from Budapest, Hungary to Belgrade, Serbia didn’t have toilet paper, running water, soap, a working lock on the bathroom, or a real toilet seat, my expectations for this journey were pretty low.
I was pretty surprised to find out that I would be absolutely BALLIN’ on the way to Ukraine!
I got my very own “hygiene packet” (which included a small towel and hand soap), a bottle of water, and a very tasty muffin! And the bathroom had toilet paper, soap, running water, a real toilet, a door that locked, and plenty of paper towels! Talk about luxury!!!
I traveled with my partner, and we had booked out the compartment as a two-berth compartment, so it would just be the two of us. I definitely recommend this for the safety, privacy, and stress relief in general if traveling with another person.
There was storage space for bags at the top of the compartment, a ladder for climbing up a bunk, and even our very own sink!!!
Our beds had very nice, large, and warm blankets, a pillow, and individual reading lights (which could be turned on when the main lights were off).
In terms of the actual journey, our night train compartment was tacked onto the end of a regular Warsaw-Krakow train. Our conductor showed us to our compartment, took our tickets, and we set off to Krakow. The journey to Krakow was a little less than 2.5 hours, and we arrived at 21:20. We then spent about an hour going around the tracks in Krakow, eventually joining up with sleeper train cars from Wrocław.
We arrived at the border around 3:00am, but for some reason didn’t get our passport checked (for leaving Poland and the Schengen zone) until about 5:00am. I’m not sure what exactly was the hold up, but it sounded like some sort of maintenance work because it was very loud and not easy to sleep through. It sounded like they were taking the whole train apart.
There is a 1-hour time difference between Warsaw and Lviv, which changes at the Polish-Ukrainian border. Border control officials came around for passports at about 5:45am Poland time or 6:45am Ukraine time. They took everyone’s passports away, but gave them back after 15-20 minutes of waiting.
We arrived to Lviv late, with something at the border holding us up according to our conductor. The journey should have been 11 hours (with the time difference) and arrived at 7:00 or 7:15am, but ended up being a little over 12 hours with the delay. We had a wake-up call about 30 minutes before we arrived to Lviv, and got free tea/coffee as part of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep at all on the train and so I was extremely tired the following day.
We purchased 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 very expensive (~80€ each) for our 2-bed compartment, and I feel like they could have been bought another way for much cheaper. But because we were going to be in Warsaw over a holiday (Christmas), we didn’t want to risk having ticket offices closed and not being able to get a ticket reservation for this specific train (since there’s only one per day). 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 very safe being in my own compartment. As with all night trains, be extra vigilant with your belongings—your valuables should be locked or kept on your body, your luggage stored securely, and the door locked at all times (border control will knock very loudly and you will wake up). You should have your passport in an accessible place to make border checks easier, and an eyemask and earplugs will go a long way if you’re a light sleeper. Also, there’s no dining car or food available to buy on this train, so I recommend bringing some snacks (and extra drinking water, even though they give you a bottle).
Have you ever taken a night train? What were your thoughts?
Read about the Lviv-Krakow night train here!