Taking a train from Warsaw to Krakow wasn't part of our original plan but after our flight from Chicago arrived late and LOT didn't hold our connecting flight for us or the other dozen or so passengers on our flight, our options were to take a train and get into Krakow at 9pm or wait for the next available flight and get in around midnight, missing night one of the VT meeting. We arrived at Warsaw's Central Station with about 7 minutes to spare, we knew we'd never get through the ticket line so we headed to the train where we confirmed with station staff that we could purchase a ticket on board. We also didn't have any Polish currency so a helpful American passenger traded us some USD for some Polish zloty and we hopped on the train. Turns out we didn't need it as the ticket agent carries around a portable credit card machine. For the two of us it was 227zl one way for a fast IC train.
Be sure to check the travel time, trains from Warsaw to Krakow take anywhere from 2 1/2 hours to about 5 hours, we almost got on the wrong train as two trains to Krakow were arriving on the same platform at the same time.
The IC trains are comfortable, the 2nd class compartment we were in didn't appear to have any required reservations and sat 6 to a compartment
May 31, 2010
Night Train to Lviv:
Matt (Matcrazy01) reserved and booked train tickets to Lviv and back to Krakow for us. Hans and I requested 2nd class in sleeping compartment for 3 people. It was 249.80 zl each for Hans and I - so altogether 500 zl or about $160.00 CDN.
We were scheduled to depart at 10:32 p.m. About ten of us boarded the night train. Our passports and group tickets were checked before we were allowed onto the train. We were allocated a sleeping compartment for three. Ove (OH_DK) shared the compartment with Hans and I. It was already late so we made up our beds (sheets & pillows provided) and tried to get some sleep, even with "party central" next door to us. At the end of the Polish border, we were awakened as we had to produce our passports and then again at the Ukraine border (it was now about 4:00 a.m. We finally arrived in Lviv about 6:15 a.m.
Day Train back to Krakow:
Departure 7:19 a.m. Lviv Train Station
The Day Train was fun, as we were all awake, walking around and visiting each other. We enjoyed looking out the windows, taking in the countryside and little towns.
Also actually got to see how they changed the wheels on the train - fascinating and time consuming - two hours.
My first departure from Krakow was not to fly home but to travel to Lviv for the post-Euromeeting there. Most of us travelled by train, and it was quite an adventure – an adventure that some of us enjoyed more than others! I have to say that I fell into the first group. I have always loved travelling by train. There is a definite romance to it, and however scruffy the train and slow the journey, something in me responds to that – maybe my inner Michael Palin coming out!
Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed this journey, but I don’t want to ignore the drawbacks. The main one of these is time – you need a lot of it! We left Krakow at about 1.20 pm (should have been 1.01 pm) and didn’t arrive in Lviv until midnight. As the Ukraine is one hour ahead of Poland that’s a journey time of nine and a half hours. The return trip was similar, leaving Lviv at about 7.20 am and arriving in Krakow at 3.30 pm = just over 9 hours. These are quite elderly trains and consequently move slowly, but the main causes of the long journey times are the border formalities (especially clearing Ukrainian immigration) and the need to change the whole undercarriage (the bogey) to accommodate the different gauges used in Poland and the Ukraine. This is a major operation. A few carriages at a time are shunted into a siding where huge jacks raise them to a height which allows the engineers to get underneath, detach and slide out one set of wheels, and slide in and make secure the others. You can stay on the train throughout (indeed the doors are locked I think) and watch from the windows, which is entertaining for a while, but unless you’re a real train enthusiast you may find the novelty has worn off long before the operation is complete.
All of the above also means lots of interruptions to your journey, which are welcome mini-events when travelling by day but (I gather from those who travelled overnight) a major irritation if trying to sleep. Talking of sleep, travel by day and night is in compartments which can be converted from seating to bunks, so having a lie down is possible at any time. We travelled in a second class compartment, which meant three people sharing, and managed to arrange things so we shared only with VTers. However the corridor was a great meeting place for everyone from the carriage, and on the outward journey we had fun chatting (as far as language limitations would allow) to some of our neighbours – a mining engineer returning from a conference to his home near Kiev, and a young Russian guy who had just said goodbye to his new Polish wife as they had to wait several months for her to get permission to come to live in Russia with him.
We also found the carriage attendants to be friendly and helpful. They will brew up a coffee or tea (the first cup is free), sell small snacks such as chocolate bars or peanuts (and dish out free, and tasty, croissants as “souvenirs”) and help you on and off the train with your bags. A bottle of water was also provided for each passenger, but you may want to supplement the on-board catering with your own supplies – a bottle of wine will help the journey go faster for sure!
Finally, there are toilets at each end of the corridor, but some less salubrious than others, although the smelliest one ws cleaned by the attendant part way through the journey. Smoking isn’t allowed in the carriage but is possible in the spaces between.
I understand from Matt that it isn’t possible to book tickets in advance from outside the country – and from his accounts it’s also pretty difficult to book them from within!
When I left Krakow I travelled to the airport on the special airport train. This leaves from the main station (Kraków Glówny) every half hour (on the hour and at half past) and takes just 16 minutes to reach its destination. However when you get off the train you have either to walk about 200 metres to the international terminal or to cross the platform and board a free shuttle bus to take you there or to the domestic one (the bus goes first to the domestic terminal even though the international one is nearer). So the whole trip from city to centre to airport will probably take you about 25 minutes.
The fare is 7 PLN and you can buy your ticket from a machine on the platform (always Platform One, it seems). The machine has instructions in several languages, including English, gives change and is easy to use. Keep your ticket as an inspector will check it while on board. My only criticism of this excellent and efficient service is the high climb up to the train from the platform at Krakow which was a challenge for me with my suitcase. But at the airport the platform is almost level with the carriage floor, presumably having been designed just for these trains, so at least I only had to do it once!
Getting to and from Krakow Airport is easy with the BALICE EXPRESS.
Balice to Krakow Glowny.
Krakow Glowny to Balice.
At the Balice Train Stop, I bought a ticket on the train at the ticket machine and paid 7 zl each. Fortunately I had a 20 zl note and the machine made change. Some folks on the train only had 50 zl notes, so they had to buy from the conductor. The conductor charges 8 zl if you buy it from him.
On our return journey to the Airport, I bought tickets at the ticket counter and paid 8 zl each.
The journey takes about 20 minutes and there is plenty of room for your luggage.
For Krakow train information, check the website below.
From central train station, take train to airport. Then there is a free bus waiting and it takes you to the terminal. Otherwise, its a 15-20 minute walk. Bus is free , so best just just to take the bus that takes you to terminal. You basically go to same place for bus or train. train tracks are easily visible on top and bus is underground where you catch bus.
There is a direct train between Krakow and Lviv, but it takes a long time and arrives in the middle of the night.
The option I took was a train from Krakow to Przemysl (about 40zloty) . Outside the station in Przemysl there are minibuses which go to Medyka (the border) for a couple of zloty. After crossing by foot there is another minibus on the other side that goes all the way to Lviv train station.
Since I was already close to Prague (or not too far), I decided to hop on a train and visit that gorgeous city. There are both night and day trains from Krakow to Prague and you can choose to either travel directly from one city to the other or switch trains in the middle of the way: this latter option is cheaper of course.
I rode the direct train during the daytime because, even though I read in VT forums that this was not the cheapest option, it was faster and also safer as per the locals' advice. I booked my ticket only 2 days before my trip (during the summer) at a local travel agency, got my seat assigned by the window as I requested and everything ran smoothly. The train wasn't crowded so I guess I would have found vacant seats even if I had waited till that very day to buy the ticket, but I didn't want to take the risk. My local VT friend told me that the tickets can also be purchased directly at the train station, but the agency was closer and she said that the price was the same regardless of where I bought it....
I first considered traveling on the night train but there were no "couchettes" (sleepers) available for the day I was travelling, so I guess you DO need to book these far in advance because they're on high demand. This along with my concerns in regards to safety made me choose the day trip and I guess it was a good decision.
For further details please refer to my tip on my Prague page.
Krakow is a provincial city, so it doesn't have many international routes. It does, however, have a regular express train to Warsaw, which takes just under three hours. You can also be in the mountains of Zakopane in about the same amount of time. There are a couple of international express trains, one going to Budapest via Kosice in Slovakia, the other going to Prague.
Unlike Katowice and Warsaw, the station at Krakow is very nice, and has a fantastic shopping centre attached to it. The front entrance has been revamped, but the back way looks a bit dodgy and gives a negative impression of the city if you leave by that route.
Trains are standard Eastern European fare. The express train to Warsaw was clean and punctual, but I was surprised to find that smoking was allowed in the cabins. Travel is quite cheap, with a ticket to Prague (7-8 hours) costing only about 25-30 euros.
Poland has a good and improving train service. You pass many lines under improvment. Krakow has good services to Warsaw, Wroclaw,Poznan, Gdansk. Train times can be got from PKP website, even bahn.de. Next to Krakow train station is the Bus station, i travelled by bus to Zakopane because in this case the bus is quicker.
We departed Krakow by overnight train. The train left the station at 23h00 approx, but I must tell you the conducter on the train was absolutely fantastic. He assisted us with our luggage and made sure that we were quite comfortable in our cabin
We thought this station was quite confusing. ( if you don't speak Polish). You enter through a shopping mall...very modern but only nice when you know where you're going .
When you arrive you take the stairs ( or beat up elevator) above the tracks for a taxi. If you are getting the trolley you take a set of stairs down.
You can get money here with a bank card or with a money changer. The rate was slightly better in the Town Square.
They take credit cards for rail tickets.
I have find very useful information about the train schedules that connect Krakow and other cities, like Bratislava, Prague, Berlin, Kosice, Budapest etc. I was travelling from Kosice to Krakow and all the information was very accurate. You can see it in this page: http://www.krakow.gr/index_trains.htm
the krakow train station is located in the center of town near most of the attractions of krakow. in front of the station is a tram stop were you can get to most any where in the city. behind the station is a bus station were you can go to attractions outside of the city. next to the train station is the modern galeria krakowska shopping center. like most european train stations watch your luggage and beware of pickpockets.
It's the best way to travel from Balice train station to Krakow's train station, it's a modern and comfortable train and it's always on time.
There is a free bus from the airport to Balice Train station