Krakow to Lviv & Lviv to Krakow Transport Guide – What’s Better This Year?
The route from Krakow to Lviv and then back from Lviv to Krakow has always been a popular one. Many people crossed the Ukrainian Polish border every day for tourism or business. Of course, everything changed on February 24th of 2022.
As the war for Ukraine’s sovereignty has been raging in the country, obviously, it started to affect logistics. But as things started also to stabilize (somewhat), going out from Ukraine or going in became simple. In some ways, it actually became easier than before.
So by today, Ukraine is open although I would not expect many tourists to go there at this time (we all understand why). Yet, there are still many foreigners who come and go for their reasons. Few people from the west still cross the border every day.
In fact, some foreigners come to Ukraine to volunteer and help with different needs during this difficult time. If you are one of them, I sincerely want to say ‘thank you’ for your bravery and generous heart.
No matter what reason you may have to come to Ukraine and if you need to enter the country on the route from Krakow to Lviv, I am going to explain below all the options for transportation that are available now.
During the last five years, since the moment Anya and I left the U.S., we made Ukraine our home and were entering and exiting the country on multiple occasions before the war and during the war as well. For the most part, we were using a route from Lviv to Krakow and returning back to Ukraine from Krakow to Lviv as it was closest to Anya’s hometown.
So this information is all up to date and I try to update it regularly. For the time being, all airports will remain closed, probably for a while. No direct flights to Kyiv or Lviv only ground transportation. And I share it all below. If you have any questions, drop them in the comment section and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Getting From Lviv to Krakow By Bus – What is it Like in 2022 During the War?
Krakow to Lviv & Lviv to Krakow Bus – Everything to Know
Buses are still the most popular ways of transportation to travel between Ukraine and Poland. They are frequent, cheap, and comfortable enough.
There are about a dozen companies that operate between Krakow and Lviv. The most known are Sindbud, Infobusand and Flixbus.
Buses run multiple times during the day every day of the week. So, even if you need to make a spontaneous decision to go, you can always find a carrier. The average price ranges from €20 to €40 per person. East West Eurolines and Ecolines companies often have cheaper fares.
If you want to travel by bus, the best way is to look for bus tickets through aggregators such as Omio and GetByBus. And if you prefer to travel by Flixbus, then it’s better to book through them directly.
Omio is a large European aggregator for buses and train routes. It is easy to navigate on their website and buy tickets. However, when booking a ticket, check if you need to print one or if a digital copy on your phone is enough.
Another good aggregator which works well for Lviv Krakow direction is GetByBus. I personally used them in other countries but never for this route. Although I see they aggregate the largest number of companies and therefore you might be able to find the lowest prices.
However, the majority of these companies are small and little known. So do not expect the same level of comfort from each of them. And again, check if you are supposed to print off your ticket. Most of them don’t require a printed copy, just ask for the name or digital copy, although some still do.
Personally, we traveled with Sindbud and a smaller lesser-known carrier that we booked on Omio. But we also considered traveling with Flixbus because it is a large company that operates all over Europe and even in North America now. It is reliable and from time to time has good offers and we used it many times in other countries.
How Long is the Bus Ride From Lviv to Krakow?
One thing to remember through. If you check Flixbus routes, you might see travel time being as long as 11 hours or even more. When checking rides on Omio, you might see the travel time as low as five and a half hours.
All these timeframes you see are not accurate. The problem is when traveling between Krakow and Lviv, you have to cross two borders, where it is not just your passport that gets checked but usually luggage and vehicles too.
The whole process normally should not take longer than an hour and a half but depending on the number of people at the border this process may take hours.
Flixbus, for example, estimates the typical maximum waiting time. So in reality, you are probably going to arrive ahead of schedule. Luckily, buses take their own lane at the border crossing, and this helps regulate the waiting time. But five and a half hours would only be possible if there was nobody at the border but you, and that never happens unless you travel at night.
On average, from our experience and the experience of many friends and relatives, the Ukraine-Poland border crossing these days usually takes 3-4 hours. That includes standing in line and waiting for your turn as well as all inspections and passport control. That’s on average.
At some point, people need to get off the bus and go through border control with all their luggage out for inspection. And then you’re back on the bus.
How Much Does the Ride from Krakow to Lviv Cost?
The price range is €18-€40 per person. But the price may differ depending on the time of the day and the type of vehicle. Smaller private vans that go faster cost a bit more.
Buses operate throughout the day and going by night bus is not always cheaper. Some companies charge more for night routes, as I guess the travel time is expected to be shorter.
Buses are not planes, so the luggage policies are a low softer. Generally, there is no extra charge for additional luggage. End even if there is one, bus drivers often overlook it as they don’t want to deal with it. But speaking officially, if additional luggage is in question, as high as I have seen the price for it was €6.
Getting From Krakow to Lviv By Train – What is it Like?
Everything has changed in 2022. So any information you might have had on train routes is no longer relevant, as this is a new route now.
The train is probably the most comfortable way to travel between Krakow and Lviv. And also the most reliable too.
Trains are far more strict on schedules, which also applies to border crossings. So if you need to be in Krakow or Lviv by a certain time, better take the train. Although the absence of delays is never guaranteed.
The only problem with trains between Lviv and Krakow is that there is no direct route connecting these two cities. At this time all trains from Ukraine go to Przemyśl. Not a very big but cute little town in Poland about 13 km from the border with Ukraine.
There are two daily modern Intercity trains with sitting placements that run at 9:45 am and 11:30 pm. Both go under 2 hours with a regular ticket price of around €7.3 for the second class and €12.15 for the first class.
You can see an example of a timetable below:
There are two more sleeping trains that go at 1:45 pm and 8:28 pm but they travel almost as twice as long, cost €14 per person or more, and for some reason, it is harder to buy the tickets.
My advice would be to take the InterCity train (marked “IC+”), as it is pretty comfortable, faster, has better bathrooms and service on board. And what is most important, they always have available seats.
All tickets you can now buy online on Booking.uz.gov.ua – The Official Ukraine Railway Website.
Przemyśl to Kyiv by Train
If by any chance you need to travel further, let’s say to Kyiv, you can do so on the same train as it goes from Przemysl to Kyiv and makes stops in Lviv, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, and some towns. But for Kyiv, it may be more convenient to take a sleeper train as you are able to lie down and have a proper sleep overnight.
I recommend taking train number 054K which leaves Przemysl at 8:28 pm and arrives at Kyiv central station at 9:03 am, with a total travel time of 11 hours and 35 minutes.
Sleeper cars are not too popular in the European Union, but in Ukraine, they are in use a lot. It is so much better to get some snacks, be able to lie down, read a book or watch a movie on your phone and finally fall asleep under the sound of wheels clicking on rail joints.
By the way, they sell hot tea on those too. It is kind of an old tradition and it is very cheap. People always get a cup of hot black tea with their food. If you want some too and the train attendant doesn’t speak English, just say “Chai please”.
How to Get to Przemyśl from Krakow
As I mentioned above, the biggest inconvenience with riding a train to Lviv from Krakow is that there is no direct connection, and you have to get to Przemyśl first. And the fact that the most convenient train leaves at 9:45 am makes this whole layover even more complicated.
A bus ride to Przemyśl from Krakow is around 4 hours. There is one bus on Flixbus that leaves Krakow at 3:35 am and arrives in Przemyśl at 7:35 am. It costs €8, and you still have to wander around for a couple of hours before you board your train.
Your best bet, in this case, is to catch a speed train at 5:58 am, which arrives at Przemyśl at 9:08 am. This gives you enough time to find the 9:45 am train to Lviv. The price for this Polish train is around €9.30 for a basic ticket. You can buy it online at pkp.pl
If this is too early, then it is just the evening trains with very late arrivals.
How to Get to Krakow from Przemyśl
If you travel back to Krakow from Lviv by night train and have to transfer in Przemyśl, then I would advise just taking one of the InterCity trains to Krakow from the same station. They go frequently, every 2 -3 hours.
The problem is the last train to Krakow leaves at 18:51 pm. So if you come by the evening train from Lviv, you won’t be able to board another train to Krakow until 4:02 in the morning.
Your only other option is to take a bus instead. There is a bus on Omio at 11:50 pm and a bus on FlixBus at 22:20 pm on some days. Either way, prepare for a late journey.
Lviv Krakow Train – Costs, Pros & Cons
The price of the ticket from Lviv to Przemyśl is around €9, but you have to add about the same for another train or bus from Przemyśl to Krakow.
The advantage is the level of comfort you get on a train. Even in a sitter train, it is still much more comfortable to be in than in a bus. There is more legroom, more space to walk around if you want to stretch a little. There is usually a way to purchase snacks or soft drinks, or a cup of hot tea and coffee. There are also much better bathrooms, at least on the InterCity trains.
Another advantage is the actual time of travel and border crossing. Trains go with a schedule and try not to stray outside of this timeframe, so border officers usually check passengers quickly.
Another great thing is that you don’t need to go outside or stand in a line somewhere in the cold. All passengers stay in comfort during the wait time on the border. Border Control officers come on board to check passports.
Taking into consideration how much time you can spend traveling by bus or car, traveling by train doesn’t seem to be that long anymore.
If you take the sleeping car, then you may lie down and even get a proper sleep with a pillow and a blanket. And when traveling at night, that feels super nice. Trains are also very warm in winter.
The disadvantage is a compartment where you get to sleep. It’s very small. The shelves are wide but climbing on the second shelf (and getting down) is not very comfortable. If you are traveling with huge suitcases and other people in the compartment have their bags, the luggage may take up a lot of space.
But the biggest disadvantage is of course the lack of direct connections between Krakow and Lviv. And I am pretty sure that we will have those in the future and I hope it will happen soon. We need to be able to board a train in one city and get off in another. Right now you have to rely on another transportation between Krakow and Przemyśl.
Ukraine Poland Border Crossing on Foot
There is another option for how to travel from Krakow to Lviv – to take two separate buses and walk across the border in Shehyni/Medyka.
Despite the fact that walking across the border seems tedious and difficult, in practice it is often not so difficult and not so long.
Ukraine Poland Crossing on Foot Time & Step-by-Step Guide
Before you get to the Ukraine border crossing, your route should look like this: Rzeszow-Przemysl-Medyka-Shehyni–Lviv or the opposite direction if you travel from Lviv to Krakow.
Another option is to take a direct bus from Krakow to Medyka (Polish border), cross it on foot to Shehyni (Ukrainian border) and then take a bus from Shehyni to Lviv.
In Lviv, on the way back, if you want to cross a border back on foot again, you need to go to the Zakhidna bus station (359 Gorodotska St.) to catch a bus. Buses to Shehyni go from there, not from the train station.
Traveling from the Shehyni border to Lviv (or back) will cost you around 4-5 euros. The first bus leaves around 6 am in the morning and travels 1-1.5 hours.
Usually, buses arrive at a small station near the border. You can just follow people along the road to the right of the station.
Crossing the border on foot is much faster and easier than by bus or car. If there is no line, then going through all the formalities takes 20 – 30 minutes.
There are practically no long lines on the Ukrainian side, officers just look at your passport and move on. But the Polish side is usually busier.
TIP: If you have a flight or another connecting train, show the officer your ticket. With it, he/she will let you go to another window and speed up the procedure.
Catching a Bus From Polish Border to Go to Krakow
Once you crossed the border you are in Medyka. From there, the easiest way to leave is to take a bus to Przemysl. Buses depart on the opposite side from the wooden log cabins which are exchangers and the Biedronka supermarket. They leave often and will take you to Przemysl in 20 minutes.
By the way, if you need to change money, it’s better to do it at the border. Surprisingly, the rate at the border is better than in Przemysl.
In Przemysl, the bus stops opposite the railway station, which is connected to the bus station by an underground passage.
From there you can reach any city in Poland: Krakow, Warsaw, Katowice, Wroclaw, Zakopane, or any other city by either bus or train. So it’s not only Krakow.
TIP: use the Polish railway website Neobus to check the availability of tickets and prices directly from Przemysl.
Another way is FlixBus which leaves from Medyka, Granica bus stop. Costs a bit more, but seems easier to use and their buses go a little bit more frequently.
Traveling From Lviv to Krakow By BlaBlaCar
Another way how to travel from Krakow to Lviv and from Lviv to Krakow is by BlaBlaCar Ukraine which for now is on pause.
BlaBlaCar was very popular before the start of the war and you could easily find a ride almost every day, sometimes even a few rides a day. But that changed on February 24. The majority of BlaBlaCar drivers were men who were restricted to leave the country. So finding this type of ride these days is challenging.
However, I still want to keep BlaBlaCar in this post, because I am sure this service will come back to life when the war is over. In the future, this will be a viable option because it is often faster and more comfortable.
Also, as drivers try to cross a border as fast as they can, they may take a detour and cross it in a different area, not in a busy Shehyni-Medyka point. So you can travel between Krakow and Lviv much faster.
They try to create comfortable conditions by providing TVs, AC when it’s hot or heat when it’s cold, free smoking environment, etc. They also make stops for lunch and bathroom breaks, their vehicles are clean and overall drivers are nice, accommodating people.
We used BlablaCar in the past on a few occasions during different seasons and each time it was great.
Traveling From Krakow to Lviv in Your Own Car
If you plan to travel from Krakow to Lviv by your own vehicle, then one of the best routes is a border crossing Korczowa – Krakovets. It is the same one which buses use and is the most popular one in general.
If lines there are long (check online in advance), it may be a better idea to go to the border crossing Budomezh-Hrushiv. It is about 14 km north and is a smaller checkpoint. The last time I was there, the road was not very good as I got closer to the border. But there are usually a lot fewer people and waiting times are shorter.
When crossing a border, if you see a line for Polish citizens (which is usually faster), but you don’t have a Polish passport, that’s ok. You can still go through this line with any foreign passport.
By the way, there is a website from the State Customs Service of Ukraine that is supposed to tell you the current waiting times at the borders. I don’t know how reliable it is but it’s still worth checking.
So, What is the Best Way of Transportation Between Ukraine And Poland If Traveling By Land?
Usually, the train is the most comfortable type of transportation and is the fastest to go through the border crossing process. But an additional transfer in Przemyśl and late timing make the whole travel experience far less convenient.
I am sure though that in the future we will have more trains during daytime hours and they will finally make a direct connection from Krakow to Lviv.
At this time, the bus is the easiest option in terms of transportation. It may take longer, than the train, to go through the border but you get on a bus in one city and get off in another. There is no extra hassle moving around, no problem with luggage storage, and lots of buses go every day.
Just be aware of the arrival times, in case you need to make a connection for another transportation.
More Ukraine Travel Resources
Need more tips for travel to Ukraine? Check out my Ukraine travel blog page or one of these posts:
- Ukraine travel tips – know what to expect and how to prepare for a trip
- Unique places to see in Lviv – for any visit
- Best coffee spots in Lviv – all worth a visit shops
- Finding an apartment for rent in Lviv – for a long or short stay
- Lviv breakfast guide – where to find amazing breakfast and brunch in Lviv
- Where to eat in Lviv – more cool cafes & restaurants
- Day trips from Lviv – my favorite getaways on a short-term visit
I’ve traveled many times by overnight train in a 2nd class sleeper car/wagon, called in Ukrainian kupe v spalniy vagon, from L’viv to Poland & L’viv to Kiev. Maybe the 3-person compartment you describe is something new, I’ve not seen one. The compartments they always gave me were 4-person, 2 bunk beds on either side. This is called kupe, pronounced koopay. There was always plenty of room in the middle, for standing or for legroom while sitting before the bunks were pulled down from the walls. (4 seats during the day). & there was plenty of room above the top bunk. It was all very comfortable. In Ukrainian this compartment for 4 is called kupe, sleeper car is called spalney vagon. Use all 3 words when buying tickets.
I guess you just had bad luck with the other person in your compartment. I never had any problems or complaints about the many strangers I shared kupe, spalney vagon compartments with.
Some of them were quite sociable, quite interesting people. It’s a great way for a traveler to learn about a geographic area; many locals are proud to tell you all about their cities. That way you’ll know something about a place before you arrive, maybe some very good tips (advices). Inside information, as they say!
Lots of people end up having very fun parties in their compartments. On the fold-down table appear sausages, cheese, boiled eggs, dark bread, local dark beer, dried fish… The conductor sells beer, and the snack car/bar sells other foods, but most Ukrainians bring food from home. Younger partiers sometimes make the mistake of keeping the party going all night, and arrive in Kiev, Warsaw, or Prague the next morning without any sleep. Not good!
Very dried, salted fish is popular in Ukraine with beer. Try it!
The worst way to travel in the former USSR (or anywhere in Europe) is by car. Roads are in disrepair in Ukraine, but more importantly, you miss the fun of the train. You are travelling to Ukraine not just to see things but to meet the people. Train compartments with 3 people facing 3 people (day) or 2 facing 2 (night) is the best way to meet people. There is what they call “captive audience” in a train compartment. Also captive speaker. Neither can go anywhere, they are there for some hours. You won’t get this good an opportunity to meet real Ukrainians in a cafe, a shop, or a hotel.
VIP — Make sure you don’t buy 1st class train tickets on the spalney vagon (sleeper wagon). These can be isolation chambers (like they are on all US trains), with only one person or one double bed per compartment.
Also make sure you get Kupe, an Ukrainian word which means a compartment. Kupe can be for 6 people, or for 4 with beds, so you have to ask for a kupe on a spalney vagon (sleeper car). Many a traveler doesn’t know this and gets stuck sitting all night in a wagon with airplane style seating, all the seats facing forward. Not only is it boring, but the seats only recline one inch, so no sleep.
Even if the train trip is during the day, choose compartment seating by asking for kupe. Day kupe is 3 seats facing 3 seats. And don’t forget the boiled eggs!
And again, thank you for your input, James!
Trains must stop in Premysl, just inside the Polish border, but only for about 3 hours to change all the wagons wheels from the larger width apart former USSR wheels. Stalin switched all USSR train wheels to this size so that Germany could never again invade the USSR using trains to transport troops, tanks, and supplies. I’ve always enjoyed this 3 hour stop over because I like strolling thru Premysl and going to its cafes. It has a nice castle. So for me, I wouldn’t say that “there is no direct train service between Ukraine and Krakow.” As I recall, the compartments are locked and people don’t take their luggage off in Premysl, and when the train is ready again they get back on board in their same compartments.
Cars and buses have to wait in long lines to cross borders, but the border guards just board trains a couple stations before their border and check everyone’s passports as the train is moving, so the train never has to stop at the border.
Thanks for the picture of the new wagons that have airplane style seating instead of compartments. I really don’t like those. We have a saying in America: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” They are not right to change passenger train wagons to this new style of seating.