Ukraine Night Train: Over the Mountains to Mukachevo

This review details my night train journey from Kiev to Mukachevo on a highly scenic railway line across the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine.

By train across the Carpathians

The next leg on my long journey home from Mariupol was a train that would take me from Kiev across the Carpathian Mountains to Mukachevo, a city in the south-west of Ukraine.

After the Mariupol to Kiev night train this would be the second consecutive night I would spend on the railway tracks.

Before you board the train do make sure you admire the beautiful surroundings of Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi (Kyiv Pass), the historic central train station of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

If you are travelling in a first class sleeper (Spalny Vagon) you are entitled to use the first class lounge before your departure.

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The main entrance of Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station. ©Paliparan
kiev railway station
The main station hall. ©Paliparan
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The first class lounge at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station. ©Paliparan

Trains to the south-west

There are multiple trains a day from Kiev to cities in south-western Ukraine such as Mukachevo.

I had booked a ticket on Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways) train 17, a fast sleeper train known as the Skovoroda Express.

This night train starts Kharkiv in the north-east of Ukraine and terminates after 1,363 kilometres (847 miles) in Uzhhorod, a city in the far south-west of the country just a stone throw away from the border with Slovakia.

On its long journey from Kharkiv to Uzhhorod, the night train stops at cities like Poltava, Kiev, Lviv and Mukachevo, where I would disembark.

The reason why I opted for this particular train and not for any of the three earlier departures this evening was simple.

Only train 17 would allow me to see the most beautiful stretch of this railway line in daylight hours.

The stretch between Lviv and Mukachevo is one of the most scenic railway lines in all of Ukraine and you really want to make sure that your night train traverses it when the sun is up.

Ukrzaliznytsia Train Kiev to Mukachevo
Train 17 OА – Departure: 10.10pm – Arrival: 09.07am (+1 day)
Duration: 10h57m – Distance: 793 kilometres
First class (Spalny Vagon), Wagon 4, Seat 15 – Costs: 114 EUR

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The route of the Kharkiv to Uzhhorod night train, which I would take between Kyiv and Mukachevo. ©OpenStreetMap/Paliparan

On the platform

I easily managed to book my train ticket online at the Ukrzaliznytsia website.

Just like my journey on the Rakhiv to Mariupol train I would travel in Spalny Vagon (SV), which denotes a first class,  2-berth sleeper compartment.

A Spalny Vagon ticket between Kiev to Mukachevo costs 57 euro.

However, if you want to be assured of private occupancy, you need to book both berths in the compartment, which was exactly what I had done.

Apart from first class Spalny Vagon compartments, night trains in Ukraine typically feature ‘kupé’ (2nd class, 4-berth compartments) and ‘platzkart‘ (an open-plan carriage with 54 bunk beds).

Some 20 minutes before departure, the train arrived at platform 3 of Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station.

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The overhead board shows my Kharkiv to Uzhhorod train departing at platform 3. ©Paliparan
platform stairs
Walking down to the stairs to the platform. ©Paliparan
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Another Ukrainian Railways night train at Kyiv-Pass. ©Paliparan

Boarding the train

Once the train had come to a standstill, I made my way to the wagon in which I was booked.

After a cursory check of my ticket and passport, the friendly ‘provodnitsa’ (female train attendant) allowed me to board the carriage.

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The train to Mukachevo and Uzhhorod arrives at the platform. ©Paliparan
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Train 17 at Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station. ©Paliparan
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Train 17 links Kharkiv with Uzhhorod via Kiev and Mukachevo. On the return journey from Uzhhorod to Kharkiv, it runs as train number 18. ©Paliparan

Spalny Vagon compartment

I was pleasantly surprised to see another renovated and modernised sleeper compartment on this Ukrainian night train.

In the video and on the pictures below, you can get a good impression of the comfort and facilities of a night train compartment in Ukraine.

Each Spalny Vagon compartment has two beds – one at each side of a table.

The beds were already made, with large, comfortable pillows and extra blankets being provided in case you might need them.

These modernised compartments are fitted with climate control – in summer you will find them having good-working air-conditioning and on winter days like today the temperature is pleasant and warm.

There is a power socket at each bed as well as above the compartment door, although you shouldn’t expect Wi-Fi internet on night trains.

Above the door you can also find an electronic display by which you can arrange the brightness of the lights and turn them on or off.

You can store your bags in an enclosed compartment underneath your bed or in a large recess above the door.

As each compartment door can be locked from the inside, travelling on a night train in Ukraine is perfectly safe.

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Aisle of the sleeper carriage. ©Paliparan
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My Spalny Vagon compartment on the Kiev-Mukachevo train. ©Paliparan
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One of the beds in the 2-berth compartment. ©Paliparan
coat hanger compartment
Coat hanger in the compartment. ©Paliparan
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Electronic display with buttons to put the compartment lights on and off. ©Paliparan


You will find a toilet with washbasin at either side of each carriage on the train.

On the electronic display inside your compartment you can actually see whether the toilet is occupied or not, as the lights will alternate between green and red colours.

Although the toilet is basic, it was kept perfectly clean throughout the journey.

Apart from a small towel which was already placed in my compartment, no further toilet amenities were provided on this train.

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Toilet on the Kharkiv-Uzhhorod train. ©Paliparan

Time to sleep

With a 10.10pm departure and my alarm clock being set for 7am, I went to sleep almost immediately.

I listened to a couple of Verka Serduchka songs on my phone while I slowly dozed off.


I managed to have a great night of sleep in the comfort of my private train compartment.

When I was woken up by my alarm clock at 7am, I certainly felt fully rested.

Although the train would only arrive at Mukachevo two hours later and could have easily slept longer, I wanted to make sure I was up in time to see the views from the window.

As I already wrote before, the Lviv to Mukachevo railway line is one of the most scenic in Ukraine as it crosses the Carpathian Mountains.

There is however no need to wake up already at 5am when the train calls at Lviv, as the most scenic parts of the railway line are south of the town of Slavske.

At 7.32am – 10 minutes behind schedule – the train pulled into the station of Slavske as I readied myself in my compartment.

kharkiv kiev mukachevo uzhhorod train view
Early morning view from the Kharkiv-Uzhhorod train. ©Paliparan
slavske station ukraine
The station of Slavske. ©Paliparan

Carpathian views

After the stop at Slavske, the train climbs up higher up the valley towards the Volovets Pass.

Although the rising sun was still behind the snow-covered hills and mountains, there were already some stunning pastel sunrise colours in the sky.

It was truly a wonderful way to wake up!

sunrise ukraine night train carpathians scenic railway
Purple and orange sunrise colours above the Ukrainian Carpathians. ©Paliparan
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View over a sleepy Carpathian mountain town in the early morning. ©Paliparan
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Pastel sunrise colours in the sky above the Carpathian Mountains in south-western Ukraine. ©Paliparan

Morning tea

As there are no dining cars on night trains in Ukraine, you better come prepared and bring your own supply of food and drinks on board.

I had brought two bottles of water, some ice tea and a couple of breakfast pastries with me.

In each wagon you can find a samovar from which you can get hot water, so feel free to bring your cup and a supply of tea bags, instant coffee or noodles along.

The provodnitsa in each wagon will also be happy to serve you some tea for a minor fee of around 0.50 euro in Ukrainian hryvnia.

With a cup of hot tea in my hands, I watched the wonderful snowy scenery of the Ukrainian Carpathians from the window.

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View from the Kiev-Mukachevo train. ©Paliparan
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Sunrise view over the snowy Carpathian Mountains of south-west Ukraine. ©Paliparan

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As the railway line is built high up the slope, you have a wonderful view of the valley below. ©Paliparan
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Climbing higher up the Volovets Pass. ©Paliparan
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The train rides non-stop through the small station of Beskid. ©Paliparan

Beskid Tunnel

The Beskid Tunnel marks the highest point of the Volovets Pass, which is also known as the Beskid or Beskydy Pass.

At 1,765 metres (1920 yards) in length, the Beskid Tunnel is the second-largest railway tunnel in Ukraine.

It is also the watershed between the northern and southern side of the Carpathian Mountains and marks the border between the ‘oblasts’ (regions) of Lviv and Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia).

beskyd tunnel
Approaching the Beskyd Tunnel. ©Paliparan

Tunnels and bridges

Although the views so far have been beautiful, the railway line gets even more scenic south of the Beskid Tunnel.

This is where the most spectacular part of the line begins as the railway runs high above a remote mountain valley over a couple of impressive arched bridges.

As the railway viaducts are slightly curved, you have some amazing views back over the last couple of wagons of the train if you find yourself in one of the first carriages.

You will notice that almost every bridge and tunnel has a guard house at either end with a soldier inside – a security measure that predates the current Russian invasion.

At the southern side of the Volovets Pass, the railway line descends into the valley via a number of large horseshoe curves.

If you look down towards the other side of the valley, you can see already see the lower parts of the railway line!

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The Lviv-Mukachevo Railway is famous for its many tunnels and bridges. ©Paliparan
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My night train as it crosses a particularly scenic stretch of railway line in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Crossing one of the many mountain bridges. ©Paliparan
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At some points, you can already see the railway line down in the valley. ©Paliparan
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Exiting another tunnel. ©Paliparan

Mountain views

Although I was still quite a long way from home, I didn’t mind the long train journey at all.

With such scenic mountain views, I really was enjoying my railway journey through Ukraine.

Even though the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine might not be as high as the Swiss Alps, the scenic Lviv-Mukachevo railway line would not look out of place in Switzerland.

Moreover, the pink-and-purple winter sunrise colours were absolutely gorgeous and formed a stunning contrast with the snowy hills and mountains.

kiev mukachevo night train view
Wonderful mountain view from the Kiev-Mukachevo night train. ©Paliparan
winter sunrise
The sunrise colours were absolutely stunning today. ©Paliparan
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Crossing another railway viaduct on the scenic Lviv to Mukachevo railway line in Ukraine. ©Paliparan
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Ukrainian winter landscape. ©Paliparan
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Gorgeous views as my night train descends down the southern end of the Volovets Pass. ©Paliparan

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Old stone railway viaduct in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. ©Paliparan

Volovets station

After a number of viaducts and tunnels, the railway line descends further down the valley as the high mountains give way to the Carpathian foothills.

Volovets is the first station on the southern side of the Ukrainian Carpathians where the Kharkiv-Uzhhorod night train makes a stop.

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View between Skotarske and Volovets. ©Paliparan
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Cute little village and church. ©Paliparan
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Riding through the southern foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. ©Paliparan
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Approaching the town of Volovets. ©Paliparan
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Volovets railway station. ©Paliparan

River valley

After the stop at Volovets, the train rides parallel to the Vecha River in a beautiful narrow valley.

There is quite some life in the Carpathian foothills here and the train will pass a couple of peaceful villages.

The Vecha River eventually flows into the Latorica River, which is part of the great Danube watershed.

At this point, the river valley widens out as the foothills of the Carpathians slowly give way to the Great Pannonian Plain.

It doesn’t take long before the train arrives at the station of Svalyava, the last stop before Mukachevo.

river vecha ukraine
Riding along the River Vecha. ©Paliparan
river vecha scenic railway ukraine kiev mukachevo night train
Beautiful view over the River Vecha. ©Paliparan
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The night train traverses a narrow river valley. ©Paliparan

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The sleepy village of Sasivka. ©Paliparan
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View between Sasivka and Nelipyno. ©Paliparan
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Nelipyno village. ©Paliparan
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Villager pushing his child on a sleigh alongside the railway track. ©Paliparan
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Nelipyno station. ©Paliparan
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The Latorica River valley. ©Paliparan
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Approaching the town of Svalyava. ©Paliparan
Houses on the outskirts of Svalyava. ©Paliparan
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Svalyava station. ©Paliparan

Towards Mukachevo

Once the train hit the straight railway line on the plain, it immediately picked up speed.

As we were approaching Mukachevo, I started to pack my belongings inside the compartment and got ready to brave the cold winter temperatures outside the train.

We eventually arrived ten minutes late at the station of Mukachevo, where I disembarked the train after a fabulous ride across the Carpathians.

From Mukachevo – a city with a sizeable Hungarian minority – I would take the next train on my long journey home, heading across the Ukrainian-Hungarian border towards Budapest.

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Scenery between Svalyava and Mukachevo. ©Paliparan
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Looking back towards the Carpathian foothills. ©Paliparan
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Approaching Mukachevo. ©Paliparan
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Disembarking the night train at the station of Mukachevo. ©Paliparan
Mukachevo railway station
Mukachevo railway station. ©Paliparan
railway station kharkiv kiev mukachevo uzhhorod night train ukraine
The Kharkiv-Kiev-Uzhhorod night train at the railway station of Mukachevo. ©Paliparan
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The front entrance of Mukachevo station. ©Paliparan


My journey on the night train from Kiev to Mukachevo was not only highly comfortable, but also enormously beautiful.

This train traverses one of the most scenic railway lines in all of Ukraine, crossing the Carpathian Mountains between Lviv and Mukachevo over a series of impressive viaducts.

You can choose between several daily departures when taking the train between the capital of Kiev and Mukachevo.

I ended up taking the Kharkiv-Uzhhorod night train, which calls at both Kiev and Mukachevo on its long journey across Ukraine.

This Ukrainian Railways train uses modernised sleeper wagons and traverses the most scenic part of the railway line in the morning daylight hours, making it a better option than most other trains on this route.

However, in the end it doesn’t matter much which train you choose and what travel class you select.

Travelling by night train in Ukraine is not only safe and comfortable, but also the best way to see more of the country and to learn more about the culture and people.

Trip report index

This article is part of the ‘Mail From Mariupol: A Pre-War Trip to Ukraine by Train‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: Night Train Bucharest to Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania
2. At the Sighet-Solotvyno Border: From Romania Into Ukraine
3. Review: Solotvyno to Rakhiv by Bus
4. Review: Hotel Europa, Rakhiv, Ukraine
5. In the Land of the Hutsuls: A Visit to the Town of Rakhiv
6. Rakhiv to Mariupol: Riding Ukraine’s Longest Train Route
7. A Tribute to Mariupol: Memories of a Pre-War Visit
8. Ukrainian Railways Mariupol to Kiev Train in Platzkart
9. Review: Ibis Kyiv Railway Station Hotel
10. Review: Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi Station First Class Lounge
11. Ukraine Night Train: Over the Mountains to Mukachevo (current chapter)
12. Review: Latorca InterCity Train Mukachevo to Budapest
13. A Short Stopover in Szolnok, Hungary
14. Review: Ister Night Train Budapest to Bucharest
15. Epilogue: Witnessing the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis at the Border

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Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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