The Train from Bucharest to Chisinau

The Train from Bucharest to Chisinau

Everything you need to know about the train

If you are travelling around Eastern Europe, you may be tempted to take the train from Bucharest, the capital of Romania, to Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. If you are, you’re in for one helluva good ride.

As many travellers will know, there is something quite romantic about travelling on an overnight train from one country to another, and travelling by train from Bucharest to Chisinau is no different, so here’s everything you need to know about the train.

The train from Bucharest to Chisinau

Where to catch the train from:

You catch the train from Bucharest to Chisinau from the main international station; Gara du Nord.

Gara du Nord can be accessed from the metro stations (either line M1 or M3 will take you directly to Gara du Nord). A metro ticket costs 4 lei, so around about €1.

Once at Gara du Nord, you will need to walk to the international ticket office (this is on the far left as you face the station). Alternatively, ask someone where it is when you are there.

The ticket booth you want to buy a ticket from Bucharest to Chisinau is booth number one.

This is what the station at Chisinau looks like

How much does it cost?

A train ticket from Bucharest to Chisinau costs 155 lei (approximately €36).

The train leaves at 19:35 and arrives in Chisinau at 08:55. The trains are like German clockwork; they are always on time.

To find which platform it leaves from, check your train number with the main Gara du Nord departure board; it is very hard to mess this up.

I thought the train was quite luxurious. Certainly well worth the money

How long does the train take?

The train from Bucharest to Chisinau takes approximately 13 and a half hours, so make sure you’ve got plenty of food and water before you board the train.

The train takes approximately 13 and a half hours

What’s the room like?

As I am sure you can imagine, the train from Bucharest to Chisinau isn’t exactly the most popular, so it’s rare to share your room with more than one other person (there are four beds per room).

If you really want to be on your own, often there are spare, empty rooms.

Speak to the conductor, offer him a tip and ask if you can change rooms. This is almost guarenteed to work.

This is what a room looks like

Crossing the border:

Your passport will be checked twice; once when you leave Romania, and once when you enter Moldova.

Now, this border crossing can take quite a bit of time (on my return it took around three hours). This is because they need to change the wheels on the train (yes, you read that right – they need to change the wheels).

It was Stalin’s great idea that certain countries should have different thickness railroad tracks (they are slightly thicker in Moldova so the trains from Bucharest quite literally stop on these tracks).

Stalin’s reasoning was this – he wanted to prevent smuggling of drugs, guns, money you name it, into his borders. Also, he wanted to stall the Germans should they ever invade Russia, hence the difference in track size. These days it is just a major inconvenience.

To change the wheels, they have to hoist the train up and physically pull the wheels out from underneath it; as I am sure you can imagine, this can take some time.

At the border between Romania and Moldova they have to change the wheels on the train

As this usually happens around 1 or 2am, the best thing you can do is keep your passport in your pocket and drift off to sleep; a border patrol guard will wake you if they need anything.

Once you’ve got through the border, it is straight to the capital city, Chisinau.

Once in Chisinau, save yourself the time and hassle by getting a taxi to the city centre. It’ll only cost 30 lei (approximately €2 – Warning: the Moldovan lei is different to the Romanian lei).  Otherwise, there are trams outside the station, but goodluck finding the right one!

This is outside the train station at Chisinau

Dangers and annoyances:

Beware of people speaking surprisingly good English wanting to help you out – more often than not it is a scam.

Either they will want money for giving you the information (as if you couldn’t work it out for yourself), or they might try this:

If it is obvious you’ve never been to Gara du Nord before or that you’ve just come from another country, they will offer to pay for your ticket for you knowing you won’t have any Romanian lei.

Obviously feeling bad some “kind” stranger has just paid for your ticket, you immediately go to an ATM machine to repay them back.

Once they see how much money you have taken out, they will ask for a fee for “helping you out”. If you get to this stage, just give them 10 lei (approximately €2) and walk away.

This happened to a couple of friends of mine, so it does actually happen!

Watch out for some dangers and annoyances. Just make sure you are careful

So there you go. That’s everything you need to know about catching the train from Bucharest to Chisinau. If you think I’ve forgotten anything then ask away!

  • mediabrainwash

    I am curious if there is heating on the train. I want to take it in Jan but can not stand to be freezing for 13 hours? Is there a meal cart? I took a 13 hours night train in Ukraine and there was not. It was fine as it is summer. However if the train wrecks in mid winter, it would be dangerous to have no heating.

    • Good question! I think there is heating, yes. I do remember there being a radiator in the cabin. There’s also plenty of bedding too. However, there wasn’t a meal cart, so it’s best to get all the food and drink you need before your trip. Good luck with it!

  • Виталий Смирнов

    hello everyone, is it possible to buy that ticket online?
    what is the source?

  • Barciur

    Thanks for the very interesting post. I am looking at doing this trip in the summer. Will I be able to use English in Bucharest to buy a ticket for this train or is that a problem in Romania?

    • That won’t be a problem at all! I can assure you I don’t speak any Romanian (despite trying to learn it) and I managed to book a ticket fine. There’s a tourist booking office and they speak English there. I hope that helps and good luck with your trip!

  • traprunner

    Hi. Great blog! I think we would take the train for the experience rather than the bus. If we wanted to move cabin to an unused one how much would you suggest tipping the conductor?

    • Thank you! We’re glad you like it!

      Taking the overnight train is such an amazing experience and I would really recommend it. It’s hard to say how much you need to tip though. Often the train’s not full, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem anyway, but I wouldn’t say more than €5-10. Good luck with it!

  • Ercan Erdem

    155 Lei is a lot of money. Buses leaves from Filaret Bus from 65 to 85 lei and much faster. For informaton autogari.ro

    • Awesome! Thanks for the update and information – I really appreciate it!

  • Manon Elis

    Hi! Do you know how can I book for the train? Because I will be travelling with 16 other people and we need to book in advance. Many thanks!

    • Hi there! Best to use a travel company / travel agent in Bucharest to help you out with that many people I would say. Good luck with it!

  • Greg Mcneish

    So can I just book a ticket on the day ? No need to book in advance ?

    • That’s right Greg! I bought my ticket on the day no problems at all. However, if you’re in Bucharest the day before, then go and get your ticket just to be on the safe side. Happy travels!

  • Carrie

    Thank you! I can’t find booking information to book from Chisinau to Bucharest. I’m also traveling with my family and our cats. Do you know any of those rules?

    • Hi Carrie,

      Thanks for your comment. If you’re booking a ticket, you need to do so in person or via a travel agent when you’re in Romania or Moldova. A travel agent (much like any travel agency) can call ahead and book a ticket, but this will cost you a little bit more.

      If regards to travelling with your family, that’s all fine. With your cats, I honestly don’t know, but I can’t see why it would be a problem if you all had your own cabin. I saw lots of people travelling with weird and wonderful things; I can’t see why cats would be any different.

      Good luck with it and let me know how you get on.

      Cheers,

      Macca