Train to Istanbul?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Train to Istanbul?

Postby nirakaro » 24 Aug 2016, 11:21am

My current armchair-travelling fantasy – which may, or may not, actually happen next year, or possibly the year after - is to take my bike by train to Istanbul and then ride it home. (I’m aware that trains aren’t currently running into actual Istanbul, but I can work around that.)
Deutsche Bahn’s excellent website lets me select only trains that will take bikes, but that only works as far as Budapest: the rest of the way (probably Belgrad-Sofia-Kapikule) it just says that bike tickets can’t be booked online.
Which obviously doesn’t mean that bikes can’t be taken on trains.
I’ve had a look at seat61, but not learned much there either. Anyone enlighten me about bikes on trains beyond Budapest?

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Joined: 8 Dec 2007, 10:26am

Re: Train to Istanbul?

Postby andymiller » 24 Aug 2016, 2:07pm

If you uncheck the bike carriage box, the website will also give you information about the trains - eg things like whether there are compulsory reservations. If it doesn't mention bike carriage then there's a fairly high probability that that means you can't take bikes on the train (but obviously it's not 100 per cent certain - isn't infallible). I can see one day train and a sleeper - and unfortunately it's common for sleeper trains not to carry bikes.

Try the Serbian Railways website?

Take your bike in bag and then send it home?

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Joined: 20 Oct 2009, 5:31pm

Re: Train to Istanbul?

Postby Barrenfluffit » 24 Aug 2016, 5:37pm

My experience was 7 years ago taking a sleeper from Belgrade to Istanbul but without a bike.

In practise the easiest way to book it was via an agency called "Wasteels" that had an office in the station. I understand that the national systems were quite basic and didn't really talk to each other. The agency is still about.

This was old fashioned railway travel. I heard of one traveller who made it work by bribing the guard/ticket collector; the train wasn't busy and there were spare compartments. the rolling stock was knackered.

It was a couple of coaches rather than a whole train, picked up relay style for the route. At the turkish border everyone had to get off and buy a visa while the train waited. It wasn't the slickest of services, arriving many hours late.

I think an adventurous traveller could make it work!