Budapest to Brasov on the Night Train

Budapest to Brasov on the Night train

Lissette has always dreamed of the luxury and romance of the Orient Express. Since that doesn’t operate anymore she got the next best thing: Budapest to Brasov on the night train ;) . I was looking forward to it, there’s something exciting about crossing East European borders at night on a train. It’s the closest I’ll ever feel to being Jason Bourne.

This post is for anyone thinking of doing the Budapest – Brasov – Bucharest route by train. We didn’t know what to expect. It’s actually quite simple as I will detail below.

There are several trains every day making the route from Budapest’s Keleti station to Brasov (which continues on to Bucharest). Have a look at Seat 61 for info and complete schedules. But the most comfortable option is the night train with the sleeper carriage – it leaves Budapest every evening at 7:10 pm and arrives in Brasov the next morning at 9:30 am. I reserved a deluxe sleeper cabin which is a private cabin for two with bathroom, even a shower. The cost for two of us: 80,000 Forints (or approx $300 US). A splurge but the way we look at it still cheaper than a plane ride and overnight hotel stay. Recommendation: reserve ahead for a private sleeper cabin, they seem to go fast. Best done in person a few days in advance at Keleti train station in Budapest.
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The photo at the top shows the train before the coupling with the engine and sleeper cabin. About 30 minutes before departure the engine and sleeper cabin come down the track and are attached to the rest of the train. It’s then time to board. Each car has an attendant who’ll check your ticket and help you lift your luggage up the stairs.

Below: Our private cabin with bathroom and shower

sleeper cabin, Budapest to Bucharest

The train was quiet. Unlike most trains where people are rushing on and fighting for seats, there were few passengers and the ambiance was subdued. At 7:10, seemingly without warning, the train lurched and starting out of the station. Goodbye Budapest.
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The Restaurant Carriage

The restaurant was 3 carriages down from the Sleeper car. Tell the attendant that you’re going to the restaurant and he’ll lock up your cabin.

We expected a full restaurant carriage full of people. It was totally empty. Only at this point did we come to the realization that this was a Romanian train (see the flags below).

restaurant carriage, budapest to brasov

Above: Simple, but the food on the train was actually pretty good.

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Customs

It takes 3 ½ to arrive at Hungarian customs. That made it around 10:40 pm. Hungarian border guards come on board the train and check and stamp your passport. It was a simple process and 15 minutes later the train was rolling again. Another 15 minutes later (ie. around 11:15 pm by then) we stopped at Romanian customs. There again, Romanian guards come on and check and stamp you passport. Very simple. By 11:30 we had cleared the border and were rolling through Romania.

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Sleeping

We put on our pyjamas and got in bed, Lissette the bottom bunk, me on the top. There’s not much room on those bunks and if you’re a roller I suggest sleeping on the lower bunk. I had about two inches to spare on the side and there is no barrier protecting you from falling the 6 feet to the floor.

There’s something about the movement of the train and the clack-clack-clacking sounds of the rails that puts you to sleep. We woke up once somewhere in Romania where we heard a carriage being decoupled from the train. Then we continued on.

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Morning

We woke up around 8:45 to dreary skies and views of green hills and farms split by dirt roads and wooden fences. Rural Romania looks like a place forgotten in time.

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Arrival

The attendant came knocking on our door at 9:05, announcing that we would be arriving in Brasov in about 10 minutes.  We brought our luggage to the door of the car. Upon arriving, he helped us bring the luggage down.

train in Brasov, Romania

Above: Welcome to Brasov! Our train with the sleeping carriage behind the engine. 

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The Station in Brasov and how to get downtown.

There is an ATM at the train station. Note there are roughly 4 Leis to the USD (or 3 to the CAD).

Outside the station, on your right, you’ll see a taxi stand. Have no doubts that they’ll try to screw you over. The most reputable taxis in Brasov are Bratax and Martax and their offical rates during the day are 1.53 Lei/km. But even taxi drivers from these companies will be offering you a fixed fare. Tell them you want the meter on. Depending on where you’re going it shouldn’t cost you more than 10 – 15 Leis to get anywhere in the downtown area.

Amendment:  After a 2nd trip through Brasov train station I can tell you that the taxi drivers there are a bunch of no-neck thugs that collude to overcharge anyone. After 3 weeks in Brasov, we now know better. After approaching them and getting quotes of 20 or 30 Lei, we ended up walking to the old town, a 30 minute walk. We weren’t going to be screwed over, it was a matter of principal. If you’ve got baggage you may have no choice but to pay 20 to 30 Lei (just to give you an idea: we did the route from town to the train station and it cost 9 Lei). 

 

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So that’s it.  Taking the night train from Budapest to Brasov was a pleasant, easy, and relaxing experience. I’d recommend it to anyone coming to Romania by way of Budapest.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Wonderful! As usual.

  2. Oh wow that looks really nice, the only thing “bad” is the price – 150 USD per person for one way journey – that’s quite a lot (especially in Eastern Europe). I took an overnight train once in Ukraine, it was much less luxurious but still comfortable and not long ago in Kazakhstan which was good too. But I’d love to have a shower and a private cabin :) My worst experience was the train from Georgia to Armenia – the train was OK but passengers smoked in it – and I can’t stand cigarette smoke.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Tom, agree its a bit expensive. But while we’re still working I don’t mind paying a bit more if it keeps Spanky happy – we were arriving on a Monday morning and she needed her rest.
      I can’t stand cigarette smoke either. I’ll cover this when I write about Brasov: Romanians love to smoke and most (99%) of restaurants and bars allow smoking. Even when they have a ‘non-smoking section’ there’s an imaginary line and you’ll see people smoking 5 feet away. The smoke hangs in the air and you come out of there smelling like an ashtray. Horrible.
      But there didn’t seem to be smoking on the train, so we were fine :)

  3. hmmmm Train Journeys???? :p :P :P

    looks like the perfect overnight ride!
    Andrew recently posted…Faces of IndiaMy Profile

  4. Nice!!! I would love to do that. Kind of cool that they attach the sleeper bed train, l had assumed it would be part of the regular trains, but this makes more sense. The price is not too bad either. Good thing you didn’t fall off the bed :-) . Thinking about doing a mega bus overnight sleeper between London and Glasgow, but not sure if we will have the luxury of time..
    Kemkem recently posted…My favorite Nigerian meals – Yum!My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      It seems to require a lot of coordination, different carriages being attached, then detached. I had mentioned that in Romania they had detached a carriage – I notice now from the photos that it was the one just behind us. It kind of hit me when on the train “what if they forget our carriage and leave us right here on the track?”.
      The idea for us had been to get to Turkey by rail: Budapest – Basov, then Brasov – Sofia, then Sofia – Istanbul. I find it interesting travelling overland vs by plane, lot less stressful for sure and you don’t get charged for heavy baggage. I think I want to do more train travel in the future.

  5. Beats the hell out of our overnight train from Porto to Madrid. No bells or whistles, but we used our Eurail Pass (plus a fee). We took a train from Porto at 8:00 p.m. and about 3 hours later (I have no idea where we were) we transferred trains with about 8 minutes to spare. We boarded the train and everyone in the car was sleeping. We had seats facing each other so we were able to put up our feet, but that’s all we got. I think we arrived in Madrid the next morning around 8:00 a.m. It was one night, we survived and now we have a story about taking a train overnight.

    You win! :)
    Patti recently posted…The Covered Bridges of Frederick County ~My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Sounds a bit stressful Patti! The whole idea for us was to take the stress out of the trip. It was really easy and kind of fun. Kind of like camping when you’re a kid :).
      Thanks for sharing your train story (Porto a place we’d like to go to).

  6. Why is your wife called Spanky?

  7. Never been on an overnight train. Do you get woken up by the train whistle as it approaches crossings?
    Michael recently posted…Communist Statues at Memento Park in BudapestMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Actually no. The window was sealed shut so I guess that helped. Really, just heard that clank clank of the rails and it was rythmic so helped with the sleep ;)

  8. Hi Frank,
    Thanks a lot for your words about your trip – extremely useful!
    I’m feeling much more comfortable now booking my trip on the same train for Christmas.
    Cheers!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Glad it was of use Oana.
      Note one thing however: a few months later we took a daytrain from Bucharest to Budapest. We even bought first class tickets. It was horrible: the toilets were the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, they were overflowing already when we got on the train.
      So I recommend the nightime train as well when coming back.
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  9. Hello!
    This is a very helpful blog. I checked the website you provided about the train schedule. We, too, want to go from Budapest to Brasov. However, neither Brasov or Bucharest is showing up as an arrival station when I try to type it in. Am I missing something?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Jameson,
      You’re right, they made changes to the website.
      Here’s what to consult: http://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Budapest.htm Seat 61 (the name of the site) is our bible to train travel. Browse down towards the bottom, you’ll see info on getting from Budapest to Brasov. I see the schedule still the same (ie. leaving Budapest at 19:10, arriving in Brasov 9:32 the next morning). They even have info on how to pre-order tickets. I’m told by the way that it’s better to order them from outside Hungary than at the ticket office in Budapest itself. We were actually surprised how expensive it was so you should look into that. Also, try to book at least a week before as cabins seem to go fast.

      Hope that helps!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      One other thing Jameson as you’ve refreshed my memory. Take the night train. If the day train is anything like the one we took going the opposite direction (Brasov-Budapest) it will be a long train ride in a shitty carriage with no facilities. I wrote about it here. Yeah, I don’t know why the day trains would be so different than the night trains (or if was just on this one occasion) but I wouldn’t want to chance it. Take the night train. It’s actually kind of a fun experience.

Thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated!

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