Sleeper Train from Budapest to Bucharest

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
6
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
3
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
6
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
5
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
4
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
6
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
57 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Hungary / Romania
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 100
Time of year visited
September
Primary Tags
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
223rd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 70% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing

Summary

One of the best things about making your way through Eastern Europe is being able to do so on the extensive train network rather than relying on flying or buses, and one of the longest routes is the Budapest-Bucharest
I’ve listed some tips / things to be aware of for the trip below but, in summary, whilst its not the most comfortable of sleeps because of the number of stops, I’d say it’s overall worth it based on the scenery you see in Transylvania (in particular crossing the Transylvanian Alps), the savings on hotel costs for the night and the lessened environmental impact from flying.  But more than anything else, it’s just quite good fun.  Again, detailed tips below

highlights

#1 Seeing the breathtaking scenery as you pass through the Transylvanian Alps

#2 Train Stations - love them. Especially big Eastern European Grand ones. Way better than airports!

#3 Just the general old-school adventure of travelling this way

Travel Tips

  • You’ve actually got 4 options for the train between Bucharest and Budapest. #1 A non sleeper train leaving 0645 and taking the route through the south / east of Romania; #2, #3 and #4 are sleeper trains leaving 1510, 1851 and 2310 and which go through the centre (Transylvania) of Romania and the most impressive mountains
  • The route takes 17 hours but expect it to be late (mine was around an hour late)
  • The highlights from a view perspective are once you enter Romania and in particular the section towards the end between Brasov and Ploiesti, which is where the train passes the Transylvanian Alps.  So, from a choice of trains perspective, it makes sense to get one of the evening trains as you’ll maximise the time the most impressive section in Romania
  • They don’t seem to advertise for it, but you can easily get off at the various stations in Transylvania.  Brasov being the obvious one, and only 2 hours or so from the final stop of Bucharest.  Whether you only pay to Brasov or simply just jump off, you’d need to check but 100% you can get off.  In fact, the route has 16 stops each of which has people coming and going
  • Keleti Station – the train in Budapest leaves from the Keleti train station which has a bunch of sandwich and fruit stops to stock up on for the journey
  • You can buy tickets at the train station (easiest) or can do online but it was quite fiddly
  • Cabin – I decided to be a princess and go for a private cabin (€150), but all the cabins looked to be roughly the same at 4 ft by 6 feet. Some things to be aware of for the journey:
    • There will be one plug socket which is for the electric razor but seems to work fine
    • Anyone over 6ft 1 or 2ish / 185cm may struggle to stretch out fully and the duvets can be a bit short
    • Chances are you won’t have that good a night’s sleep because the train stops quite a lot and there are no blinds for the windows (so bring eye mask and ear plugs)
    • Bring extra toilet paper because the stuff they provide in the bathroom is more serviette style and seems to run out very quickly!
    • There is no food provided on the train so bring some
    • You can lock the door from the inside but not from the outside (i.e. if you go to the bathroom you’ll leave the door unlocked unless you have someone else in the cabin)

Give it a go.  Good fun

Experiences nearby

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Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone