a VirtualTourist member from Auckland
We'll be in Vilnius mid June. Has anyone taken the train from Vilnius to Minsk? What are they like? On time? Safe? What are the border regulations like? I've heard one can hire a sleeper compartment as well for an additional price. Is this correct, and has anyone had any experience they'd like to share?
I've not taken the train from Vilnius to Minsk, but Lithuanian trains are clean and safe from my experience. From what I know the trains in Belarus are similar, if a little older. You won't need a sleeper to Minsk as the journey only takes 3-4 hours.
What you will need is a visa, which can be quite difficult to get. You can probably get one in Vilnius, but it will likely involve a lot of legwork, paperwork and some money depending on your nationality.
I would have loved to have taken a side trip to Belarus when I was in Lithuania, but the visa process is just too much of a headache right now.
Thanks Antistar. Yes, I agree, visas are a hassle. We hope to sort that out before our trip.
Better to take direct trains from Vilnius to Minsk (one in the morning and one in the evening), they are faster and cost less (cheapest ticket only 30 LTL or so), while transit trains from Kaliningrad to Russia (they pass Vilnius, Minsk etc.) more expensive, because have only couchettes and sleepers. Trains usually on time, delays are rare
Border checks are relatively easy - you just wait till border control & customs people show up, look at you passport and maybe ask to open you bag/suitcase, but no big hassle, everything is very civil
I went to Belarus by train in August last year. The train was really crowded but normal and clean. It cost about 42 Lt (12 EUR) - you have to buy ticket at train station. There were no free sits and none spoke English. Thanks that my friends knew Russian quite well cause the customs officer asked me about alcohol and my travel purpose...:)
Also you can go to Minsk by bus. The travel lasts about 4 hours - like in the train (the prices are similar) and I think the stewardess should know English. You can go with
Ecolines http://ecolines.net - about 45 Lt (13 EUR) you can buy online ticket
Eurolines http://www.eurolines.com/ - don't know how much
Make sure you get a visa before coming to Vilnius cause it takes a time.