I am taking an overnight train from Krakow to Vienna. The train is scheduled to leave at 11PM. How early should I arrive before the scheduled leaving time? How long before departure can you board?
If I’m reading the schedule correctly, the night train, Chopin, originates in Warsaw, arrives at Krakow at 22:24 and departs at 22:41. If you get to the train station a few minutes before 22:24 you should be able to board as soon as any passengers disembark in Krakow. Enjoy your trip.
EDIT: https://rail.cc/night-train/warsaw-vienna-en-407/68 Scroll down to schedule.
I think Mona answered your first question, but just to clarify, you can board once the train pulls into the station and the passengers on board disembark. Occasionally you might have to wait for some service issue, but those are rare. Just make sure you're getting on the right train! Check the boards for the track number and keep in mind that sometimes these change at the last minute.
And I am sure you know to allow a bit of extra time to find your way around the station, if riding trains is somewhat new for you (or if you are like me and can get turned around….).
Also the seat61.com has this tip (below) about your night train. Hopefully your ticket will clearly have your compartment number on it. If anything is unclear just ask your attendant when you board. The departure boards will tell you which track to stand by to await your train.
Tip: In Krakow, look on the departure boards for a train shown as going to Bohumin, as that's where the various portions of this night train for Vienna, Budapest & Prague split up. For dinner in Krakow before you board the sleeper, see suggested restaurants here.
Good point, TexasTravelmom!
And in that same vein, there are usually maps available of the larger train stations. One great resource, the Man in Seat 61, has photos and descriptions of many train stations including Krakow on his website. https://www.seat61.com/stations/krakow-glowny.htm
As a rule I don't like cutting it close so arriving early is no problem, likewise with night trains.
If I were taking this night train solo, (a very likely option in future trips), I would be at Krakow central station about 10:15, if not that, then no later than 30 mins prior to the scheduled departure at 11 PM. Interesting also to watch who the other fellow night passengers are.
You get there early to have a cup of coffee or wait in the waiting room. You won't be the only one.
If the train is already there, you can certainly board 20 mins prior to departure, if not earlier.....all depends.
One other thing: The train station in Krakow is outside the center (beyond the Planty) to the NE. After arriving by train, I found getting into the center of the city somewhat confusing. If you arrive by train, scope out the approach when you get into town. If you do not arrive by train, either take a taxi to the station or allow plenty of time for the walk, lest you get lost along the way. An electronic map on your smartphone will be helpful, but I don't know that even that is a guarantee of finding the right path easily.
No direct experience with Poland, my on my other trips in Europe the track number for my train hasn't shown on the number board until about 20 minutes prior to departure, 30 minutes max. So getting there 45 minutes prior give you plenty of time to get oriented, gab coffee/snack/last minute googies, etc.
all EXCELLENT advice. I thank everyone who replied!
Of course you know your way around that train station, where the platforms are by number, where platform displays are, and you are use to riding trains so you know about carriage numbers, etc. So 5 min early should work.
Of course if you are a solid 30 min early get a cup of coffee and relax as it all sinks in.