Couchette reservation for family Bucharest to Istanbul

  • 14 July 2023
  • 4 replies


We are a family of 4 inter-railing from London to Istanbul this summer. 

We want to book a private couchette from Bucharest to Istanbul using our interrail pass.

I see now that you cannot do this online, and that we need to do this in person at a station. I had this confirmed by the Romanian CFR customer services folk. This feels very risky for us with a young family and being quite fixed on dates as we travel through Romania.

I’ve looked on the interrail booking site and the OBB booking site and neither lets me book this train.

Has anyone done this and can advise me if there is any way to book these tickets in advance? Could we do it using an agent of some kind? I’ve seen Andy recommended on Seat61, for instance.

I think the only other option is to take the full cost of the seats on the chin and just book online without the interrail pass. Cost difference for the 4 of us seems to be around £100.

I’d love some positive suggestions if anyone can help!



Best answer by MartinM 14 July 2023, 18:05

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4 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +6

Usually this carriage is not so busy and it shouldn’t be a problem to get it on the spot. But there is never a guarantee… if a big group booked for it, then you might stay there and don’t get a reservation. As an alternative there would be also several buses each day but for a family probably not as nice as the train.

yeah, I think Andy could do it. You can find him also on Twitter as andybtravels.

Userlevel 7
Badge +5

An alternative if the couchette carriage is full (unlikely but possible) : you follow it during the day on regular seating carriages up to Dimitrovgrad. That's where the couchette carriage is attached to the Sofia - Istanbul night train. From 10-11pm you have beds.

There's always space from Sofia or Dimitrovgrad to Halkali/Istanbul (really long train).

This is a good solution if the direct one is not available imho. You leave and arrive at the same time

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Avoid Friday and Sunday evenings because those are busiest.

If you'll be in Romania before your departure to Istanbul, the you could also book a regular ticket (this is actually a ticket plus a reservation) and then cancel the ticket when you get there. According to the CFR website, a regular ticket can be cancelled before the departure date.

I haven't tried this myself though. You may want to check with CFR first whether this is a possible way to book in advance, and also how you should cancel the ticket but not the couchette reservation, and if there are any costs involved with such a cancellation.

Hi! Has anyone tried to book the ticket on CFR and then cancelled it on the spot to switch to a interrail ticket? Thanks!