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Prague to Krakow by train (and back)

Prague Main Station’s original ticket hall

Updated February 2014

If you’re making the trip to Europe from the U.S. you might want to divide your time between a number of cities. Here at JayWay we’ve got you covered on all the top destinations in Central & Eastern Europe so why not combine them into a mini Grand Tour with a multi-city itinerary.

We’re often asked how to get between Prague and Krakow. Up until 2009 ago there was a direct daytime train service between the Czech capital and Poland’s former capital. Sadly that is no more, though there’s still a non-stop night train. if you want to travel in daytime, you’ll need to change, twice and the journey time is a minimum of 7 hours and 6 minutes. You’ll first take a train from Prague to Ostrava (plenty of choice as this route has been privatised, but if you take one of the alternate operator’s trains, you’ll need to buy separate tickets for this part), change there for a Eurocity train bound for Warsaw, get off in Katowice and take a local express train to Krakow. Some connection times are a little tight, so there’s always a risk that you might not make it the next train.
The night train is just over 8 hours, but you’ll be asleep for most of that right? (read on for why that’s not necessarily true) The only straight through option (you don’t want to be changing trains at 2am!) departs Prague at 22:26, getting in to Krakow at 06:30 the following morning.
If you’re looking for more train times, use this bus & trains timetable website. It’s available in Czech, English and German.

What does it cost?

If you’re going one-way the basic price is around €40. A return ticket is around €70. There are group discounts available too, so tickets for six or more people will work out cheaper, as long as you ask for a group ticket – but remember you’ll have to travel together.
International train fares and sleeper supplements are priced in Euros but charged in Czech crowns, so the price fluctuates according to the prevailing exchange rate applied by the Czech Railways company. Tickets can be purchased from the international desks of the ticket hall on the lower level of Prague’s main station. Unfortunately no online options are available for anything other than the night train, and even those are very limited in availability online, but for guests who are also having us make their accommodation arrangements, our local representative in Prague will buy the tickets in person. Please note we can’t make any exception to this, it is part of the overall package we provide. Get in touch and we’ll help plan the perfect Prague, Krakow (and other cities) itinerary for you,

On the Night Train

A lesson we’ve learnt from bitter experience are that of the two types of sleeping car, if you can get it, the sleeper as opposed to the couchette is worth the extra. With the sleeper you can choose between a single, double or triple – you can only get the single if you’ve also got a first class ticket. Whilst it’s not the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have, the beds are more comfortable than the six or four to a compartment cots of the couchette. In Czech, the sleeper carriage is referred to as lůžkový and the couchette is lehátkový. In the past there have been concerns over safety, both personal, and of possessions. If you take a sleeper, you’ve got a lock and chain on the door that can only be opened from the inside (so you only have to worry about the people you’re sharing with!) Below are the supplemental costs (on top of the ticket price) for the various types of sleeper compartment.
  • 1 berth in a 6 person Couchette: €9.40
  • 1 berth in a 4 person Couchette: €14
  • 1 berth in a 3 person sleeper: €14
  • 1 berth in a 2 person sleeper: €21
  • 1 berth in a 1 person sleeper: €49
From this you’ll note that the 4 person couchette and the 3 person sleeper cost the same. For this reason the 3 person sleeper berths get sold out often. Buy your ticket as early as you can!
Some general tips for the journey – bring water, large bottles of water can be bought cheaply at the Billa supermarket in Prague Main Station, and are more expensive at other shops in the station. Snacks are a good move too, if you’re likely to get hungry. This will work out cheaper than buying drinks and food on the train. If you’re taking the night train and have a problem with light and noise, pack a blindfold and some ear plugs too. Also bear in mind one big disadvantage of the night train – even if you did manage to sleep, you’re arriving hours before you’re able to check in to your accommodation, so you might not be feeling your best not being able to shower until the afternoon.

Couldn’t I just fly?

If you can’t stand the idea of 8 or 9 hours train travel (and we wouldn’t blame you) then flying is an option. Unfortunately you’re at the mercy of the flag carriers, and since 2013 Czech Airlines have dropped their excessively expensive direct flight, so the only realistic option is LOT (Polish Airlines) but LOT don’t offer direct flights so with the hassle of getting to the airport, changing planes (the quickest routing is around 3 hours), then getting into Krakow from the airport most of the time saved is eroded and given the expense, it becomes not worthwhile..

And getting back?

Trains back are the same situation in reverse, the westbound night train leaves Krakow at 22:03, arriving in Prague at 7:37 the following morning. The best daytime option is the 10:51 train from Krakow to Katowice, where you’ll have around an hour (not long enough to see any of Katowice but believe me there’s not much worth seeing) to wait for the 12:56 Eurocity bound for Budapest, then changing at Ostrava for a train bound for Prague, getting you into the Czech capital a few minutes before 6:30pm. Make sure, if you’re going to Krakow and returning to Prague, to buy a return ticket, and ask for the MOST (pronounced with a short ‘o’, most is the Czech word for bridge) discount, as it offers a significant saving.

Our tip

If you’re totally set on train travel, then take the day train and enjoy a good book or two, or travel through the night if you can manage to sleep given all the problems, and maximise your time in one of Poland’s most beautiful cities. Whilst you’re at Prague’s main station (Hlavni Nadrazi) take a moment to head up to the street-level original ticket hall, now a cafe and marvel at the early 20th century architecture (pictured top right). If you’re open to traveling by road, we can arrange a private car or van, as part of an Eastern Europe vacation package, to take you between these two cities, this way you get to leave when you want and make additional stops along the way.

Image credit: Luisvilla via Creative Commons on Flickr.

Charlie
Charlie takes care of the marketing side of things at JayWay Travel. A long-term Prague resident, his interests are cooking, eating out, cycling, skiing and travel.

42 Responses to Prague to Krakow by train (and back)

  1. I am looking to take a overnight train from Prague to Budapest – does this type of train exist? I’m having problems up with the exact route/times/prices…can you lead me in the right direction?

    Cheers!
    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley, there is a night train from Prague to Budapest (two in fact). It can’t be booked online however. If you’d like to arrange that for you, head over to our contact page and get in touch.

  2. this looks like best advice for me so far. Is it all still up to date?
    I arrive Prague from USA Feb 10 or 11, 2011. Can I go by day train to Oswiecim on Sat, Feb 12? Can I return Sunday Feb 13 on late night train Oswiecim to Prague? I think the Krakow trains stop at Oswiecim.
    Thanks for your help. Ruth

    • Hi Ruth, thanks for the prompt, I’ve just now gone through the details of the article and updated it. Oswiecim is in the direction of Krakow, but none of the daytime routes to Krakow go through there – they mostly involve changing in Katowice. To get there on the Saturday, take the same 10:17 departure from Prague, the EC111, as far as Zebrzydowice (the stop before Katowice) and switch to the RR1034, 14:56 departure, to Oswiecim. From the timetable that looks like a slow/stopping service. Total journey time is decent though, at 5hrs 56 minutes. On the way back, the night train from Krakow to Prague does go through Oswiecim, departing at 23:28.

      • Thank you, very helpful. Just a couple other details. I read that we should buy tickets the day before we go to assure there will be room. Is that true in February on a weekend?
        Also, the night train – can we sit in seats the whole way, or must we buy a sleeper for 2? Do you recommend it anyway?
        Thank you very much

        • There’s usually a small number of seating carriages too, for those travelling shorter distances mostly. Would I recommend that for 8 hours overnight? Definitely not.

          The sleeper cars frequently sell out, at all times of year, so I’d advise getting a ticket early.

  3. one last question about train from Prague to Poland – is there luggage space? Is it safe to use like in France? We will have one bag each that is larger than carry on. Do the trains have the same arrangement as the French and are they safe? Thanks very much

    • There’s usually a luggage car on these services, yes. You pay the train guard per piece (travelling from the Czech Republic, it’s 20Kc per piece, so just over $1). As for safety, I’ve travelled on trains in and from the Czech Republic for years and used the luggage car for skis, suitcases and bikes with no problems at all. The luggage area is locked from both sides unless it’s being loaded/unloaded and the guard asks to see your receipt when giving your items back.

  4. Travelling from Prague to Krakow via train Tuesday October 11th. Taking 10:17 am out of Prague, but confused if there is one change of train or two? Per Rail Europe site it looks like only one in Katowice, assuming we can make the 21 minute or so connection.
    Also which would be best rate, one regular and one senior or two using the group discount?
    Thanks for any guidance.
    Carol Gasho Yellow Springs Ohio USA

    • There’s one change, in Katowice and the 23 minutes between the arrival of the EuroCity train and the train to Krakow departing should be plenty to make the connection. It looks like group tickets are now only available for six people or more, so it will be cheaper to use the senior discount for one person. Let us know if we can help with finding accommodation or some suggestions for day trips and tours in either Prague or Krakow.

  5. For a 2-pax sleeper, can it be mixed gender, i.e. me and my husband share?

    Is passport required for border check?

    • Hi JT, yes, if you book a 2 person compartment, then you can share it, it’s only solo reservations that are placed in designated single-sex compartments. Although Poland and the Czech Republic are in the Schengen area, meaning there aren’t always passport checks carried out, you’ll need to have your passport with you anyway.

  6. Thanks for your reply.
    Some forums say that the inspector or conductor will request for the passport and keep it until he returns the next morning. Do they have the right? It makes
    Me feel insecure.

    • You could refuse to hand it over but if you did, you may well get woken by the border police/customs officers if they do a spot check on your train. They take the documents for your convenience, not for any nefarious purpose. This page about night trains on the Czech Railways website explains in greater detail. The most important part is:

      For the duration of the journey, there is an attendant in each sleeper and couchette carriage, to whom you hand over your travel documents upon boarding. The carriage attendant presents the travel documents for inspection to the conductor, who will not wake you during the journey. For travel to countries within the Schengen area, you will not even be awakened by customs officers when crossing international borders. For travel to countries outside the Schengen area, customs and passport control officers will wake you to inspect your passport.

  7. Thanks for the great information! The link for the trains is fantastic but I’m having trouble figuring out purchasing tickets. Is there a way to buy tickets for Krakow to Prague online that you know of? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!

  8. What about if you want to travel from Krakow to Prague overnight? how do I buy the ticket? would I be able to buy it at the station? can it be bought ahead of time?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Gisselina, you can buy tickets for the night train in advance at the station in Krakow (and at busy times we highly recommend booking ahead!). For guests who are buying tour packages from us, a standard part of our service is making all these kind of arrangements for transfers and train/bus reservations.

    • Hi Jo, if you’re referring to the overnight trains, it depends on the carriage you’re in, the sleeper car’s bathrooms are usually nicer/cleaner than the couchette, mostly because they have less people using them, but don’t expect 4 star hotel standards. The bathrooms have just a lavatory and hand basin, no other washing facilities. It also depends on the age of the carriage and which company is running it.

  9. Hello,

    Thanks for the tips – they were helpful. I will be travelling with my wife and children, aged 13 and 15, from Prague to Krakow, in July. I was thinking that 2 sleepers for 2 on the overnight would be best. Ideally they would be next to one another. How would I book this from America now as you suggest to do – that is, as early as possible. It seems quite pricey; would it be much cheaper to book when in Prague or is that too risky, time wise. Thanks for your help

    Larry

    • Hi Lawrence, anyone selling tickets for these trains online will likely charge a significant markup – they can’t be bought without going to a station so there’s a fair amount of labour involved in getting them. For guests who book accommodation with us we usually include train tickets (along with train station transfers) in our custom vacation packages.

      We don’t recommend waiting till you get to Prague, it’s a certainty there’d be no neighbouring compartments available and quite likely no 2-berth compartments left either. The earlier the better is always the rule with train tickets.

  10. Hi Charlie,

    Thanks for the detailed post. It’s extremely useful.

    I am planning to travel in a day train on Saturday in the month of July from Krakow to Prague.
    Is it ok to wait till I reach Krakow to buy the train ticket? Or is there a way I can buy it online?

    Thanks in advance.

    Best,

    • Hi Mahe, the day trains are usually less of an issue than night trains. For a few Euros extra you can get a seat reservation, just in case, for the Katowice to Prague train. If you buy the ticket at least a couple of days before you’ll be ahead of 90% of other passengers.

  11. Hi, thanks for this very informative post! I am travelling to Krakow in July, and was wondering if you can help me arrange the night train (and quote how much it will cost me) from Krakow-Prague, roundtrip trip, July 12-13 (needing only the whole day of 13 in Prague, with a return at the night of the 13th)

    Thanks in advance!

    Tad

    • Hi Tad, we only book train tickets as part of a larger package including accommodation and day trips. Have a great time on your trip!
      Charlie

  12. Hi Charlie,
    Thanks for all the great info. Can I confirm there is no way I can make my own booking online for the first-class sleeper, double bed on the night train from Prague to Krakow? Or is there a way to book a basic seat and then try to get sleeper reservations when I get to Prague?
    Thanks much!
    Cheers, Celine

    • That’s correct, there is no way to book the sleeper (or any other kind of train from Prague to Krakow) online – the only Czech-Polish routes that can be booked online are to Wroclaw and Warsaw. The only way to buy these tickets is in person. We do this for guests who take a vacation package with us. Also there’s no ‘first-class’ sleeper – you buy a standard class ticket then just pay extra for the berth in the sleeper or couchette cabin – most expensive is a 1 person cabin, then a 2 person, then 3, then it’s a couchette – a cabin with 6 rather uncomfortable cots.

  13. Hi,
    I would like to travel from Olomouc to Krakow on the night train. Is that possible and how much would it cost? May I know the timing and similarly for my journey back from Krakow to Olomouc. I would like to purchase the 3 person sleeper cabin.

    • Hi, these tickets can’t be bought online, so you would need to buy them in person. I’m not sure of the one way prices (a 2nd class return ticket is €35 from Olomouc to Krakow, but that’s a special reduction for return tickets) on top of that you need to factor in the cost per berth in the 3 person cabin (€14). Because of the time involved in going to the train station to buy tickets this is an extra service we only offer to clients who book a complete package with us.

  14. hiya,

    going to prague on friday, will be hoping to visit auchwitz and use the overnight train from prague.

    there will be 3 of us, can you advise is it safe? ive heard that people get robbed on these night trains.

    any advice would be greatly appreciated

    many thanks

    warren

    • If there’s three of you, and you can get a 3 person cabin then that should minimise your safety concerns – the door locks from the inside. The couchette compartments (for 6 people) aren’t as secure. I’d still advise sleeping on top of your valuables though. It’s not possible to buy tickets online so you have to rely on being able to get tickets and the sleeping compartment reservation when you get to Prague.

      A couple of things to remember about the night train are: firstly it’s a train – it’s noisy and not very smooth, so you may not get a lot of sleep, secondly you’ll arrive in Krakow very early in the morning tired, unwashed and most probably unable to check into your accommodation until 2pm.

      How long were you planning to spend in each of Prague and Krakow?

  15. What about hiring a personal driver to get from Prague to Krakow? Besides cost (we are 5-6 people), what are the pros and cons to this mode of travel? it seems that we can get much more out of the trip with a driver. I do not relish the thought of a night train and arriving in Krakow feeling hung over with no place to rest or wash. Can y’all arrange an English speaking driver who doesn’t mind stopping for bathrooms, snacks and photos?

    • Hi Lena, we certainly could. I’ve passed your details on to our sales team, they will email you separately.

  16. Hi there,
    You forgot about the cheapest connection ever.
    If you go through Cesky Tesin/Cieszyn (A border city divided betweeen poland and czech rep.) you can save a LOT.
    Train from Prague to Cesky Tesin (around 15 Euros – 4,5h),
    then 15 min. walk through the city – to the polish bus station,
    and then bus from Cieszyn to Krakow (around 4 Euros – 3h).
    It makes 20 Euros (instead of paying 72 Euros for a direct train), and almost the same time of travel. The inconvenience? Changing from train to bus – but for the real budget backpackers it’s just a piece of cake.
    I hope I could help, take care!

    • Thanks for the tip Marko, definitely some savings to be had there if you’re on a tight budget. Our guests tend not to be of the backpacker variety so a trek through Cesky Tesin town center with bulky suitcases doesn’t appeal so much but for those willing to suffer the inconvenience and work out the timings, it’s an option.

  17. Charlie,

    Lots of great info here. I am planning a trip to Prague and night train it to Krakow and then night train it to Budapest. Online it seems easy enough to book from Czech Transport but this whole separate gender sleeping thing is wonky. If I am traveling with my wife and son, does one simply purchase a 3-birth sleeper and they ignore gender because we use up the whole compartment as a family?

    cheer,
    Arthur

    • Yes, a 3 berth sleeper compartment makes it irrelevant which gender carriage you’re in – you have the compartment to yourselves.

  18. Hi,

    We are planning on taking the sleeper train (bed for two) from Prague to Wroclaw on July 5, returning to Prague via sleeper train again July 6. Can you help us with this? Thank you.

    • Hi Rambi, there is no sleeper train on that route – it’s too short I think, journey time for day trains, with changes, is just under 6 hours. There’s a direct bus service that’s quicker, run by a Latvian company called Ecolines that leaves Prague at 7:20 PM and arrives to Wroclaw just after midnight. You should be able to book that bus online.

  19. We are a group of 6 traveling from Prague to Krakow in March. I see the connection in Katowice might be tight. what is the cost for a driver?

    • Hi Janet. We only arrange private transfers as part of a tour package. If you’d like us to provide you with a complete package including accommodation, transfers and day trips as well as the support of our local team, get in touch.

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