Take the train to Slovakia - Bratislava cathedral and castle
 

The Bratislava skyline, with castle and cathedral...

UK to Slovakia in comfort by train...

How else?  It's no problem to reach Bratislava by train from the UK.  Take Eurostar & a connecting Thalys train to Cologne, then the overnight sleeper to Vienna and an onward train to Bratislava.  This page explains how to plan, book & make such a trip.

Train times, fares & information...

  London to Bratislava by train via the Cologne-Vienna sleeper.

  London to Bratislava, other options

  Vienna to Bratislava by Danube river boat

  Trains to Bratislava from other European cities

  Trains from Bratislava to other European cities

  Useful country information, currency, dialling code time zone...

  Recommended guidebooks

  Hotels & accommodation in Slovakia

  General European train travel information

  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking dogs

Route map:  London to Bratislava by train...

Route map:  London to Bratislava & Slovakia by train

Sponsored links...

    


Useful country information

Train operator in Slovakia:

ZSR (Zeleznice Slovenskej Republiky), www.slovakrail.sk.

 

 

Eurostar times & fares.  All European train times: All-Europe online train times

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

 

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+421

Currency:

£1 = €1.15 (Slovakia switched to the euros in Jan 2009).  Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.sacr.sk.   Recommended guidebooks.    

Bratislava bus & tram information:  www.imhd.sk

Hotels:

Find a hotel in Slovakia.

Visas:

UK citizens no longer need a visa to visit Slovakia.

Page last updated:

13 December 2014.  Train times valid 14 Dec 2014 to 13 June 2015.


London to Bratislava

London to Bratislava via the Cologne-Vienna sleeper...

This option runs daily all year round, and it's arguably the most time-effective option.  If you'd prefer daytime trains with an overnight hotel stop, see the Other options section below.

London Bratislava

Bratislava London

Cologne to Vienna by Austrian Railways EuroNight sleeper train...    Watch the video

This was originally a German Railways City Night Line train, but in December 2009 it became an Austrian Railways (ÖBB) EuroNight sleeper train, with sleeping-car, couchettes & seats.  The sleeping-car has compact 1 & 2 bed compartments with washbasin, plus two deluxe compartments with 1, 2 or 3 beds plus private shower & toilet.  The sleeper berths come fully made up with sheets and duvets, and all sleeper passengers get mineral water in the evening and a light breakfast served in their compartment next morning.  Towels & toiletries are provided, including shampoo and shower gel in the deluxe sleepers.  In the more economical couchettes, you can book a couchette in a cheaper 6-berth compartment or a less-crowded 4-berth compartment.  Each couchette is provided with sheet, blanket and pillow, and couchette passengers get a small bottle of mineral water and a light breakfast in the morning with tea or coffee.  When waiting for the northbound sleeper train at Vienna Westbahnhof, if you have a sleeper ticket (as opposed to couchette or seat ticket), you can use the first class ÖBB Club Lounge, with complimentary drinks.  More pictures & information about this EuroNight train.

1 & 2 berth standard sleeper on the Austrian EuroNight train.   EuroNight sleeper train to Vienna:  6-berth couchettes   The Cologne-Vienna sleeper train is an Austrian Railways (OBB) EuroNight train

1 or 2 bed sleeper: The most comfortable option. Standard sleepers have a washbasin, deluxe sleepers a private shower & toilet.

 

4 & 6-berth couchettes:  The economy option, ideal for families.  Couchettes are basic padded bunks with rug & pillow.  This is a 6-berth couchette.

 

The Austrian sleeping-car or schlafwagen.

Sleeper & couchette passengers receive a complimentary light breakfast with tea or coffee in the morning.

More pictures & information about this EuroNight train

From Vienna to Bratislava by Regional Express train...

The train from Vienna to Bratislava, at Vienna Huaptbahnhof...   Inside the hourly train from Vienna to Bratislava...

The hourly regional express train from Vienna to Bratislava Hlavna, seen about to leave from Vienna's new Hauptbahnhof.  Behind the locomotive is a smart Czech air-conditioned intercity coach, whilst the rest of the train consists of more basic non-air-con Austrian City Shuttle carriages, with interiors as shown in the photo above right.  Find a seat in the more comfortable Czech car if you can!

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Cologne

 by Eurostar + Thalys

 Fares for Eurostar+ICE start at €59 (£49) each way.

 Fares for Eurostar+Thalys start at £56 one-way or £103 return

 Fares vary like air fares, so book in advance to get the cheapest prices.

 Child, youth, senior Eurostar fares

 

 2. Cologne to Bratislava

 by EuroNight train (per person)

 & connecting regional train

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

2-berth

1-berth

2-berth

+ shower

1-berth

+ shower

 Savings fare one-way from:

€43 (£36)

€59 (£49)

€69 (£58)

€104 (£87)

€144 (£120)

€134 (£112)

€174 (£145)

 Savings fare return from:

€86 (£72)

€118 (£98)

€138 (£116)

€208 (£174)

€288 (£240)

€268 (£224)

€348 (£290)

 Children under 15**

€4

€20

€30

€65

€105

€65

€105

 Child under 6 without own berth:

Child under 6 sharing a berth travels free

* This is the supplement you pay if you have a railpass, a 1st class pass is required for deluxe sleepers.

** Children under 15 travel free if accompanied by a fare-paying adult booked at www.bahn.de, but must pay the berth supplement shown here.

On the sleeper train, berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed, the other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper, 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper, 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

Savings fare = cheap fare, price varies, limited availability so book early for the cheapest prices, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Full price = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can book a London-Bratislava journey in either direction using a combination of the Belgian Railways website www.b-europe.com and either the German Railways website www.bahn.de or the Austrian Railways site www.oebb.at.  Bookings open 92 days before departure, you can't book before reservations open.  As this method involves two websites, do a dry run on both sites to check prices and availability before booking for real.  Before starting to book, I recommend noting down each specific train you want to book using the train times recommended above, and the date of departure.

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have your trip professionally arranged...


London to Bratislava, other options...

London to Bratislava via Berlin...

London to Bratislava via Vienna...


Vienna to Bratislava by Danube express boat

As well as the hourly Vienna-Bratislava train service for around €15.80, you can also travel between Vienna and Bratislava by fast Twin City Liner river boat, from city centre to city centre along the scenic Danube.

Traveller Andrew Clayton reports:  "We chose the Danube fast ferry option rather than the train and paid €30 each one-way for unreserved seats on a weekday midday Vienna-Bratislava sailing with TwinCity Liner.  We bought the tickets in person the day before travelling at the booking office at the quayside at Schwedenplatz.  It's a leisurely 10 minute walk with wheelie bag from Stephansplatz.  Only the front five rows in the main cabin can be reserved.  Seats upstairs outside are only bookable on the day and if the weather is fine.  It's worth remembering that the boat travels at up to 70km/h so it can get a bit breezy on the upper deck!  There is generous space to stow luggage at the rear of the main cabin on the starboard side.  On the first part of the trip on the Danube canal, you must remain seated. Once on the Danube itself, you can walk about freely, either to the bar or to the stern deck and upper stern deck.  On our trip, almost all seats were taken at the start but for most of the voyage, the main cabin was nearly empty. The scenery along the way is pleasant rather than spectacular.  At Bratislava, the boat docks about five minutes walk from the southern edge of the old town; nearer to many of the amenities than the railway station which is some way to the north."

Twin City Liner river boat from Bratislava to Vienna   Scenery on the Danube from the Vienna-Bratislava twin City Liner

The Twin City Liner fast boat speeds between Vienna and Bratislava along the scenic Danube river.  Photo courtesy of Andy Brabin of www.railbookers.com.


Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Czech & Slovak Republics - click to buy at AmazonLonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at AmazonYou should take a good guidebook.  I think that the Lonely Planets and the Rough Guides are about the best out there for the independent traveller.  Both guides have everything you need - plenty of background historical and cultural information, and lots of practical information.  You won't regret buying one of these guides..!

Click the images to buy at Amazon...

 

 


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 either www.stanfords.co.uk or 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.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe/Maps--Atlases/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


Find hotels in Bratislava & Slovakia...

 

◄◄ 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

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, 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.

Carry 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 calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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