UK to Lithuania overland by train...Vilnius cathedral, Lithuania

The closest of the three historic Baltic capitals, Vilnius can be reached overland from London via Berlin and Warsaw.  Pictured right:  The cathedral and bell tower in Vilnius.

Train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

  London to Vilnius by train via Warsaw

  London to Vilnius via the Kiel to Klaipeda ferry

  Warsaw to Vilnius by train

  Train travel within Lithuania

  Trains from Vilnius to Riga, Moscow & St Petersburg

  Useful country information - currency, visas, time zone

  Hotels & accommodation in Vilnius & Lithuania

Sponsored links...

 

 


Useful country information

Train operators:

Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (LG, www.litrail.lt

Train times in Europe: http://bahn.hafas.de

Train times in all ex-Soviet states:  www.poezda.net

Train times for any journey in Europe

 

Time zone:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+370

Currency:

£1 = approx 4.0 Litas.    Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.inyourpocket.com.  Recommended guidebooks

Hotels in Lithuania:

Find a hotel in Vilnius.  Hostels:  www.hostelbookers.com

Visas:

UK citizens don't need a visa for Lithuania.  Warsaw-Vilnius trains do not pass through Belarus, so a Belarus visa is not required.

Page last updated:

24 July 2014


London to Vilnius

Option 1, overland by train via Warsaw...

This is the fastest way, with daily departures - although while rebuilding work is affecting the Warsaw-Vilnius train service you'll need to use a bus for this section.  If you dislike long-distance buses and speed isn't critical, you may prefer the train+ferry option using a Germany-Lithuania ferry, described in Option 2 below.

London ► Vilnius

Vilnius ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Option 2, by train to Germany then ferry to Lithuania...

This is a leisurely way to reach Lithuania, using comfortable trains from the UK to Germany then a civilised & comfortable DFDS Seaways ferry from Germany to Lithuania, avoiding any long distance buses.

London ► Klaipeda & Vilnius

Vilnius & Klaipeda ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...


Warsaw-Vilnius by train...

Until 2005 there was a direct overnight sleeper train from Warsaw to Vilnius called the Balti 3 times a week, but Polish Railways sadly withdrew this train.  Instead, there remains a comfortable daily daytime train linking Warsaw with Kaunas & Vilnius, with a simple change of trains at Sestokai on the Polish/Lithuanian frontier, plus another easy change at Kaunas as follows:

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2014:  All Warsaw-Vilnius train service is temporarily cancelled from 3 September 2013, probably until mid-2015.  This is due to track work in Lithuania, probably in connection with the Rail Baltica project which eventually aims to link Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga & Tallinn with an effective standard-gauge railway.  More info will be posted here when known. 

In the meantime, you'll have to take a 9-hour bus all the way from Warsaw to Lithuania, see www.luxexpress.eu/en/vilnius-warsaw or http://ecolines.net/en.

Or you can minimise the bus journey by taking a comfortable train from Warsaw to Bialystok, see www.intercity.pl, staying overnight, then taking the morning Ecolines bus from Bialystok to Kaunas in 4h40, see http://ecolines.net/en, then a train in 1h05 from Kaunas to Vilnius.

 Warsaw ► Kaunas, Vilnius   

 

 

 Vilnius, Kaunas ► Warsaw

 

Cancelled

 

Cancelled

 Warsaw Centralna depart:

07:20

 Vilnius depart:

11:20

 Sestokai arrive (change trains):

14:57

 Kaunas arrive (change trains)

12:36

 Sestokai depart:

15:10

 Kaunas depart:

13:15

 Kaunas arrive (change trains)

16:45

 Sestokai arrive (change trains):

14:52

 Kaunas depart:

17:00

 Sestokai depart:

15:12

 Vilnius arrive:

18:16

 Warsaw Centralna arrive:

20:50

At Sestokai, the connecting train will wait if the first train runs late, as they are designed to connect with each other.  The Warsaw-Sestokai Polish train has 1st & 2nd class seats, but the Sestokai-Kaunas Lithuanian train is 2nd class only, there is no 1st class.  There is no buffet or restaurant car, so bring your own food, wine or beer and enjoy the ride!

The connection at Sestokai is a simple same-platform interchange, as you can see from the photo on the right.  This shows the standard-gauge Polish train just arrived from Warsaw on the right, and the onward Russian-gauge Lithuanian train on the left.

This service does not pass through any part of Belarus, it passes directly from Poland into Lithuania.

Please check train times for your date of travel at http://bahn.hafas.de (the English language button is at upper right).

Are you in the right coach?  Check the destination boards on the side of the coach you board in Warsaw, to make sure it's one of the through cars to Sestokai at the back of the train - coaches at the front of the train may terminate at Suwalki, the stop before the frontier.

  Warsaw to Vilnius by train:  Changing trains at Sestokai

Changing trains at Sestokai...  Taking the train from Warsaw to Vilnius is the civilised alternative to a very long bus journey or an avoidable flight.  Photo courtesy of Paul Markham.

 How much does it cost?

 Warsaw to Vilnius   

About 140 zlotys (£32 or €38) one-way.  Return tickets are available, costing less than the price of two one-way tickets. 

It's easy to buy a ticket at Warsaw Centralna station, advance reservation is not necessary.

 Vilnius to Warsaw    

About 84 Litas one-way (£22 or €25).  Return tickets are available, costing less than the price of two one-way tickets. 

It's easy to buy a ticket at Vilnius station, at the friendly & English-speaking international ticket office.  Advance reservation is not necessary.

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Russell Goddard reports (summer 2010):  "At Warsaw, buying the ticket to Vilnius was simple; the international desks in the main booking hall are clearly marked in English, and at least some of the clerks there speak English as well.  I was charged 105 zlotys (about €27 or £22), with no reservations or other complications needed.  At Suwalki, the whole train reversed and went on to Sestokai, not just a couple of coaches;  the train was virtually empty by this point and I had a carriage entirely to myself.  It is an extremely enjoyable journey, taken at a relaxed pace; though the trains are not especially modern, they are by no means uncomfortable either.  There are, of course, no catering facilities on either train, so taking your own food is essential.  Also, all the times shown in timetables are local; Lithuania is an hour ahead of Poland, so arrival at Sestokai, just inside Lithuania, is at 1450 local time (2hrs ahead of UK time) but 1350 Polish time, about an hour's journey from Suwalki."

Train travel within Lithuania...

Trains are a good way to travel between Vilnius, Kaunas & Klaipeda:

Moving on from Lithuania...

Vilnius ► Riga

Sadly, there are now no direct Vilnius-Riga trains at all.  At least the Communists knew how to run a railway!  The Riga to Vilnius journey is now faster and more frequent by long-distance bus, see the section below.  However, if you prefer to travel by train, no problem:  You can use a daily local train from Vilnius to Daugavpils in the evening, stop overnight in a hotel at Daugavpils, then travel by local train Daugavpils to Riga next morning.  Being an evening train-hotel-morning train arrangement, it's quite time-effective even if slower than the bus.

Traveller Russell Goddard went from Vilnius to Riga by train as above, then used an onward Eurolines coach to Tallinn:  "While not unpleasant, the coach was a distinctly soulless experience, lacking the character of the trains. The coaches are a way of getting people from A to B with a minimum of bother, which I'm sure is a plus in many people's books, but as someone who travels as much for the sake of the journey itself, I was glad I'd gone by train from Vilnius to Riga via Daugavpils rather than taking the coach all the way from Vilnius to Tallinn! In Tallinn itself, the bus station is inconveniently located some distance from the city centre, while the rail station is right on the edge of the old town - if only it had a decent international service!"

By bus:  If you'd rather travel by bus, as in this case it is certainly more frequent and faster, there is a regular Eurolines bus service from Vilnius to Riga, with a number of departures daily, fare €17-€23, journey time 4½ hours, see www.luxexpress.eu.

Vilnius ► Moscow

There are several daily sleeper trains from Vilnius to Moscow with 2-berth sleepers & 4-berth sleepers.  These trains do pass through Belarus, so a Belarus transit visa is required.  The fare is around €50 in a 4-bed sleeper if you buy at the ticket office.  To check train times and book online in either direction, use the Real Russia booking system here.  Real Russia charge a 15-23% mark-up over ticket office prices, included in the prices they show.  For journeys starting in Vilnius you'll need to have tickets sent to you (at a small extra charge) as the e-ticket option doesn't work for departure from Vilnius, only for departure from Moscow.

Vilnius ► St Petersburg

There is a daily overnight sleeper train from Vilnius to St Petersburg with 2-berth & 4-berth sleepers.  This train does not go through Belarus.  The fare is around 216 Litas (£56 or €65) in a 4-bed 'kupι' sleeper if you buy tickets at the station.  To check train times and book online in either direction, use the Real Russia booking system here.  Real Russia charge a 15-23% mark-up over ticket office prices, included in the prices they show.


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 


Recommended guidebooks

Make sure you take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both books provide a similarly excellent level of cultural and historical background and practical information.  You won't regret buying one of these guides..!

Click the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk...

 

 


Find hotels in Vilnius & Lithuania...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from www.Go-Sim.com, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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