Here are a few hints when you travel by train from the Czech Republic to Poland and especially from Praha to Warszawa.
You can either take the eurocivilized train during the day or you go at night. The train zig-zags through the Czech territory, it takes some time before you get to the border. After that the train goes straight through the Polish steppes after the Katowice area (especially nice when covered with snow).
Then there is Warszawa-Zachodnia (there is one of the cheapest beer places in W.: ask for DRINK BAR). Warszawa-Centralna is an underground station and you don´t really know what to expect when you get out. You walk up the stairs and see the Palace of Science and Culture. This means you arrived to Warsaw.
There are two night trains, one via Ostrava and Katowice (Petrovice/Zebrzydowice border crossing) and one which takes longer – via Wroclaw (Miedzylesie border crossing). The night trains used to be a little dangerous; the best story I heard was of the train disconnected by thiefs in Přerov. However, I haven´t had any bad experience in the last half a year and the train conductors seem to have forgotten about the reputation this train had.
The cheapest way is to travel by night. You need to have Czech crowns and Polish zloty. For the night train via Petrovice/Zebrzydowice I recommend to get a Czech discount card “karta Z” (you can get it at every station, even at night in Petrovice, it costs 100 CZK/ 3 euros and you need a photo) or “junior pas” (even more advantageous for the lucky ones under 26 who have an ISIC card, costs also 100 CZK) and buy a ticket until the Czech border station Petrovice. When you´re reaching the border you ask the train conductor for a special train ticket across the border from Petrovice to Zebrzydowice (it functions the same for the other night train) “przejsciowka” (in Polish); it costs only 15 CZK or 2 zloty and sometimes you don´t have to pay it (however, be careful so that you don´t get from the conductor a normal international ticket across the border). Then you can buy a ticket from Zebrzydowice to Warszawa in the train from the Polish conductor. It costs 44 zloty plus 5 for buying the ticket on the train. If you don´t want to make it so complicated, you can just get the discount card for the Czech territory; this means that you´d get a domestic train ticket for the Czech territory and then get an international train ticket.
As concerns the international train tickets, the best deal is when you buy a return ticket (you can also ask for one via Krakow for almost the same price as via Katowice while you can travel for example one way directly to Warsaw and on the way back you go via Krakow and nobody cares); for a return ticket Prague – Warsaw, Ostrava – Warsaw and Brno – Warsaw there´s a 40 per cent discount, for a return ticket for other places in between Poland and the Czech Republic the discount is I guess 30 per cent. These discounts apply when you buy the ticket in both the Czech Republic and Poland.
If you travel during the day and want a return ticket, the best deal is to get an international return ticket as described. When you have an intl. ticket you don´t need an EC supplement for the EC trains on the territory of Czech Republic nor a reservation in Poland. However, for the day train you need a reservation when you travel the direction from Poland to the Czech Republic if you don’t want to argue with the conductors.
Normally when you travel a little more in Czech Republic it´s useful to have the “karta Z” or “junior pas”, you can also think of a group ticket – “skupinová jízdenka” (from 2 to 15 people, you can buy it also in the train). In Poland there are practically no discounts.
www.idos.cz (a centralized information system on domestic and international bus and train connections in the Czech Republic; in Czech, English, and German)
www.cdrail.cz (Czech Railways)
www.pkp.com.pl (Polish Railways)
www.bahn.de (German Railways, there you find all train connections throughout Europe – this site is very fast!)
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