My husband and I are traveling to Eastern Europe this summer. Starting in Prauge and ending in Istanbul. I know the summer is a busy time and wanted to buy overnight trains in advance to guarantee having a place to sleep. Is it better to wait to arrive in Prague to purchase them? Or do it before to make sure we get a sleeper in case they book up?? If so does anyone recommend any websites?? raileurope is exspensive and is not able to make reservations for eastern europe countries. Any help or advice would help. Thanks and happy travels.
What routes are you taking? I've done plenty of train travel in the east, including overnight trains and had intended to end up in Istanbul though plans changed on the last trip. But definitely do NOT buy tickets in advance before you leave the US. You will pay far too much. In Prague's main / Hlavni Nadrazi station, find the Westeels office. It's around / behind the international ticket windows. They'll speak English and can book your entire journey there. Double sleepers are far cheaper when booked in Europe! I can also suggest where to buy tickets in Budapest, Brasov, Bucharest and other places.
We do not buy reservations until we are in Europe except for sleepers that might book up (popular routes - like to Prague in the summer). We use Euraide to purchase our tickets/reservations as they book them for you in Europe. We saved a lot of money when we used them for our sleeper from Venice to Paris. Raileurope was charging $170pp for a sleeper seat and we got a private 2 person sleeper for half that through Euraide. Euraide charged a small fee but we still saved alot of money using them.
Look at the routes on bahn.de and when you figure out your itinerary, call Euraide - 941 480-1555.
Frankly, unless you seriously feel the need to have tickets in hand before you leave the US, you should not waste money with RailEurope. Just buy your train tix the first day you arrive, at a travel agent or station. Euraide is an option but I prefer the flexibility to just buy at a station or at a travel agent. Almost always commission free, and can buy tix / reservations for any route in Europe, not just to and from the city you are currently in.
Thanks so much for all the helpful tips. The night journeys are Budapest to Bucharest, Bucharest to Sofia, and Sofia to Istanbul. Do you think the sleepers will book up on these??? I would think they're not popular routes but July is a busy month. Thanks
The sleepers? No. The cheap couchettes will book up, and the sleepers will have plenty of a bit more affluent types. If you know the days you intend to travel, book them all at once when you go to book the first trip. By the way - Bucharest is low on my list of excitement. Brasov or Sinaia (on the line from Budapest-Bucharest) is far more interesting. Here's an additional suggestion. That train actually starts in Vienna. So day trip to Vienna and leave for Bucharest from there around 8pm. Worked well for me!