The night train to Transylvania
We arrived in Sighisoara at 4 something am on a cold (nay freezing) late autumn day. The reason for my arrival at this ungodly hour was that I took the night train which connects Budapest with Bucharest – leaving the former at a very civilized 19.10 and arriving into the latter at an equally civilised 11.38 the following morning dropping people of in Brasov a couple of hours earlier.
The last thing we expected from this train was that it would arrive on time and indeed we hoped it didn't. The scheduled arrival time was around 6 am. Well off course, it wasn’t on time, it was nearly two hours early!
The night train - the Ister (Latin for the River Danube) has reasonably modern air-conditioned sleeping cars (1, 2 or 3-bed standard sleepers with washbasin, 1, 2 or 3 bed deluxe sleepers with toilet & shower) and 4 & 6-berth couchettes. We took a 2 bed standard sleeper which was quite adequate. We had eaten at Keleti station in Budapest prior to leaving, albeit it in a smoked fill restaurant, and our early arrival precluded my partaking of the gastronomic offerings of the train – though I do know there was a dining car attached (apparently this is not always the case so come prepared). The train was clean and comfortable with attentive staff and certainly a great way to get to Sighisoara if you find yourself in Budapest – not as crazy as it sounds as this is a well frequented route from London to Istanbul.
Also this is actually a good train to arrive on if you plan to head on to Brazov or Bucharest later the same day - something I seriously recommend you don't do, though. Sighisioara warrants 2-3 days.
Given that the total trip was in the hours of darkness (the best time to arrive in Transylvania no doubt!) there was nothing to see outside though I do recall peeping out from behind the curtain while we passed through one station not far from Sighisoara and seeing a number of stray dogs on the platform – I knew I was in or getting close to Romania. Also be aware that you will be disturbed by border guards as you leave Hungary and then again when you enter Romania which prevents on uninterrupted nights sleep.
Note to self: When making ones way from a train station to ones hotel along deserted streets in the middle of the night in a town with cobbled streets, packs on wheels are not a good idea - I reckon we must have awakened half the town!
I have to admit that I do not recall how I got tickets for this train – It think it was via Deutsche Bahn's UK office as I certainly picked them up from my parents place there en-route. Anyway, getting (sleeper) tickets was not straight forward so the best I can do and the best thing to do in any event is start with www.seat61.com, an absolutely invaluable site for train travellers anywhere. http://www.mav-start.hu/english/index.php - Hungarian Railways may now also be an option.
Going by train.
Sighisoara is well connected to most other Romanian cities by train. The journey from Cluj-Napoca, for instance, takes about 3,5 h. The trains are of good standard and the tickets are very cheap, about 11 Euro from Cluj.
The railway station is situated in the northern part of town. The easiest way to get into centre is to follow the street you can see going between the red and green houses in the right end of the picture above. Take to the left at the crossing after ~250m and to the right passing the yard in front of the church. Cross the river and follow the smaller street on the other side of the main street. This shouldn't take more than 10-15 min on foot.
To Sighisoara by train
We left Sighisoara by direct IR train to Cluj Napoca. The 203 km trip took approximately 3,5 hours. As our train came from Bucharest, it was already almost 30 minutes late in Sighisoara.
We bought our tickets one day in advance at the train station and the single fare was 58,20 RON. It included a seat reservation.
Sighisoara has regular train connections to Sibiu, Brasov, Medias and Bucharest, just to name a few.
Sighisoara's train station is located at the Str. Libertatii 51, approximately 1,5 km south of the city centre. It can be found just next to the bus station.
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To Sighisoara by bus
We came to Sighisoara by bus from Targu Mures. Depending on the day, this route is served more than 10 times from several bus stations in Targu Mures.
In Targu Mures we took a minibus from the Autogara TAM on Bega Street to Sighisoara. The ticket cost 11,00 RON and the approximately 35 km trip took about 70 minutes.
We were quite lucky that we took the bus from its starting point at the bus station, as many people boarded the bus later on the route, so that the bus was finally packed with people.
Sighisoara's main bus station Autogara #1 is situated at the street Str. Libertatii 53, just next to the train station. A walk to the touristy city centre takes approximately 20 minutes.
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Explore Sighisoara on foot
With approximately 32.000 inhabitants, Sighisoara is a relatively small town, therefore it can conveniently be explored on foot.
Even the train and bus station, which are located about 1,5 km south of the touristy city centre, can easily be reached on a 20 minutes walk.
Especially most of the hilly and cobbled streets in the citadel aren't accessible to cars or buses anyway. So it is highly recommended to bring proper walking shoes.
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It's easy to get to Sighisoara by train! Nine daily trains connect Sighisoara and Bucharest (stopping in Brasov), and while my travel guide says one must change trains to reach Sibiu, I showed up at the station and almost immediately caught a direct train for Sibiu (maybe the schedule changed). It's also easy to connect to Cluj-Napoca, and some trains even go as far as Budapest. The train station is on the north side of the river. It has minimal facilities so grab a bottle of water and a snack on the way to the station. When I was waiting for the train I spotted a praying mantis... keep your eyes peeled!
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Sighisoara is about 5 hours from Bucharest and about 8 hours from Budapest in Hungary. The same trains to Budapest will sometimes take you as far as Vienna. But apart from that it's mostly local traffic, and a few express trains to major Romanian cities like Brasov and Timisoara. The nearest major city of Tirgu Mures doesn't have good rail connections with Sighisoara.
The station is a little out of town, and about a 10-15 minute walk from the citadel. The walk is pleasant and the station is clean and safe, despite some stories I'd heard about it. One story related a dodgy character hanging around and approaching arriving guests, another told of how there was no sign on the station and the almost missed it. I didn't have any problems at all and there were plenty of officious looking staff on hand to deal with problems.
Train from Bucharest
Trains from Bucharest take 4 to 5 hours to cover the 294 km journey to Sighisoara. A second class ticket costs around 38 lei each way, depending on which type of train you travel on. There are currently eight trains per day each way, with the earliest departing Bucharest's Gara de Nord at 06:08 and the last train leaving at 23:30.
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The regular train
We took the regular train to Sighasoara. At the time, the express train didn't go there. We met a Romanian man who had just returned from living in the USA for 10 years. In addition the vendors on the train added to the adventure. I really enjoyed the train ride.
To get into the walled city you have to climb stairs. Or you can hire a taxi (I prefer walking). But the walk from the train to the city was unexpected (with luggage).
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Trains to Sighisoara from Bucharest
All trains departing from Bucharest Gara de Nord arriving Sighisoara.
R374 6:08 - 10:42
A1748 7:08 - 12:09
IC525 12:30 - 16:51
IC531 13:30 - 17:47
IC533 16:30 - 20:43
R346 16:50 - 21:04
R370 18:30 - 23:06
R741 18:30 - 23:06
A1741 19:30 - 00:13
R633 22:30 - 02:56
this pic is the main avenue of the city or almost where the train station and bus station is... everywhere is at hand dont be worry about cabs or whatever... as much you can rent a bycicle i guess its a good point
if you see this pic there is a "bar" on the top where you can behold the whole city... look into my page for the view when we stayed there after a treeking across the mountain ..a beautiful and green one
There are several sort of trains some faster and other slowers but in Romania likr IC (intercity) the fastest, euronights both with a compulsory reservation in advance, and also Accelerat and Rapid.. the most usual trains and slowers at the same time where you meet locals easily (so friendly people) and easy as well to enjoy with landscapes ...slower cos stops in all stations in its route
Among Cluj and Sighisoara there is 203 kms and the fastest train takes 3hours the price is around 33 LEI so 11 or 12 euros...really expensive....
Transportation in eastern europe is the most expensive stuff once you want to travel there and waste money !! so use your mind
Train Tickets to Sighisoara
I took my ticket trains through Sighisoara at 14h after some troubles with cues and people not much polite, or maybe i was wrong lol
Well it was really weird to get tickets (cardboards) like those...3 in 1..i figured out that each one is a fare counted by Km and sort of train...
The journey was good and i could understand some of the speech of my romanian "companions" on the compartment cos romanian is quite similar to latin languages,,,actually is a roman heritage... and one of them (a moldavian guy) talk a good english and he was explaining me sth of Sighisoara and whatever you can talk in a train ...about cultural differences about or people, countires, money, style of life .....and so on...really amazing
You can see in this how many prejudices we (westerns) have against romanians and bulgarians and others!! wow such a beautifull people and normal lifes they get ...they dont look so different to us !!! at all !!
Sighisoara is on the main line that runs border to border across Romania, making it v. easy to get to. Other popular destinations like Brasov, Sinaia and Medias are on the same line (as is Bucharest) and trains are cheap, regular and reliable. There are 4 types of trains in service; the newest is the inter-city service, slightly faster than the accelerat and rapid and a bit more expensive. The cheapest option are the personal trains, but they are very slow and stop every few kilometres. In terms of journey times there isn't much difference between the accelerat, rapid and inter-city services. From Sighisoara you can also take overnight trains to Budapest and Sofia, or beyond to Vienna and Istanbul.
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