Trains from London to Lebanon

What would be your recommended route to get to Lebanon overland? I have plenty of time to get there and the cheaper the better too!

2 years, 2 months ago
ikbottoms
71 1 1

9 answers (answer)

1

The most straightforward way to get to Lebanon is to go overland to Istanbul in Turkey by train and then onto Damascus and eventually Beirut by train and the odd bus.

To reach Istanbul by train the itinerary goes a little something like this:

London > Paris > Zurich > Budapest > Belgrade > Istanbul

You take the Eurostar from London to Paris and then the TGV high speed train onto Zurich. Alternatively a night train leaves Paris and arrives in Munich in the morning. From there, it's a Railjet (Austrian high speed train) to Budapest. From the Hungarian capital onto the Serbian capital it's an overnight sleeper train and then the final leg (vBelgrade to Istanbul) is another sleeper train that departs 7.50am and arrives 7.50am the next day into Istanbul.

There are other routes through Europe to Istanbul (e.g. via Brussels and Cologne for the first but and then via Bucharest for the latter part) and it makes sense to break up the journey by stopping over in cities that are of interest to you.

We'd recommend booking this part of your journey ahead of time as all these tickets can be purchased up to 3 months in advance. I have split the journey up into two sections because the following trains cannot be booked online:

The next part of the journey will be:

Istanbul > Adana > Aleppo > Damascus

From Istanbul to Adana there is a sleeper train that departs at 23.50hrs and arrives at 18.40hrs the next day. From Adana to Aleppo you need to take a bus (several daily - around 3hrs) onto Aleppo for a connecting train to Damascus (around 4hrs).

From Damascus to Beirut there is no current train service, but rather a bus that takes around 5hrs. Of course this is more of an adventure than a means to an end, but realistically this all equates to about 8/9 days travel. While you can save time and money going by sleeper train you do not want to be constantly on the move so I would try and work out where you'd like to make pit-stops en route so you can really take in the journey.

Hope that helps!

2 years, 2 months ago
Anila
286 2 6
0

that's amazing! thank you and just to check, do you know how you can get hold of tickets for the second part of the journey?

2 years, 2 months ago
ikbottoms
71 1 1
0

Hi there,

Ah yes, just to make clear, with the sleeper train you can book this in advance using the Turkish railways website. as they now have their site available in English. If you know the exact date that you want to get a sleeper train then you can book your overnight reservation this way. However, you can only book up to 2 weeks in advance and you need to collect your ticket at the station, at least an hour prior to departure.

If you are planning to spend a few days in Istanbul, you can book your sleeper train a few days ahead of time at the ticket window when you arrive. There are also day trains if in the worst case scenario the sleeper were sold out (unlikely if you spend a couple of days in the city).

You can book buses to Aleppo once you reach Adana - at the moment there are 2 or 3 buses daily so you should not experience problems getting this connection, it's not something you can book online in advance. Again there are several day trains from Aleppo on to Damascus so you can buy this ticket at the station on the day.

What I would do is sketch out an itinerary and work out how much time is required with connections (given the times I gave in the initial post) and where you plan to stop off so that you're not constantly travelling. Once you know that of course, if you need further help in any of these areas, we're here to help.

2 years, 2 months ago
Anila
286 2 6
0

I'd also really recommend reading some of the blogs on Unplaned.com. These lads went all the way from London to Cairo overland so you might get some tips.

2 years, 2 months ago
Kate
1006 2 2 7
0

This isn't relevant now, but I just found this http://www.marmaray.com/. It's a proposal to build a tunnel under the sea to connect eastern Europe with Turkey. I get the feeling it may never happen - the last recorded official statements are ancient - but maybe it will happen one day!

2 years ago
Kate
1006 2 2 7
0

Funny, I was looking at this route the other night. I've been to Istanbul by train before, but I went through Italy and Greece and then back through Bulgaria. I've never been to Belgrade (only Novi Sad) and I've not been to Budapest for years, despite it being one of my favourite cities in Europe.

I think after Lebanon I'd like to continue on through Syria to Georgia and loop back around through Ukraine (taking a ferry to avoid crossing Russia) and come back via Chisinau (Moldova) and Krakow. I'd probably spend at least 3 months doing it, maybe longer, so it might need to wait until next year.

Train info seems to be pretty hard to find about the part through Syria to Georgia, so if you know anything, please share! Otherwise I'll probably just go and see what happens I guess :)

2 years ago
orangejon
1
0

Wow I thought London to Istanbul was exciting but why stop there eh? Now you have an alternative route to get there...

What you need to know is that Istanbul's Haydarpasa station is now closed until 2015 (!) for engineering works, due to the Bosphorous tunnel that Kate mentioned. The so-called Marmay tunnel was slated to be finished by 2012/13 but now the earliest opening is predicted for June 2015. It has seen several delays since building started back in 2004.

So given you can't get trains from Istanbul for the moment, you'd have to get to Ankara first to make the journey through to Erzurum in eastern Turkey for further destinations east into Georgia and beyond. There are buses that go from Istanbul's mammoth bus terminal to Erzurum that take 24hrs. What I would do however is take a bus to Ankara (5/6hrs) and then get a night train from there on to Erzurum. The Doğu Express leaves Ankara daily at 6.30pm and reaches Erzurum just before 5pm the following day.

If you want to go on to the Georgian capital Tbilisi then that is possible with a combination of bus and train from Erzurum. There are buses between Erzurum and Batumi and then a sleeper train departing 11.05pm and arriving into Tbilisi at 7.25am the next morning. Even though you can book these on the national Georgia railways website up to 2 weeks in advance I would just PAYG because these trains are unlikely to be full.

It seems you already know about the ferry which you could take from The Port of Batumi in Georgia to Illichivsk Port in Ukraine, for more information see UkrFerry . Thank goodness for auto-translate! Then from there you could take a detour to Kiev or plough on to Moldova… there is a suburban train that leaves Odessa at 5.11pm daily and reaches Chisinau at 10.14pm that same day…

It sounds like you know your way around Europe, but if you need any further help once you've firmed up plans, you know where to come!

2 years ago
Anila
286 2 6
0

Hi orangejon,

No worries, before we post we always look at the FCO's advice and even though some Loco2 friends live in the region, we'll usually advise on the safest route...

Perhaps I misunderstand your question. Getting to Lebanon involves an overland journey through Turkey... If you went via Spain/North Africa then you'd have to come through Iran/Iraq which I wouldn't advise. So if you go down to Lebanon/Syria (see reply to OP, above) via eastern Turkey, getting back to Georgia may involve a little back-tracking.

Assuming you're in Beirut there is no railway station in Beirut, due to political instabilities. There have been proposals to revive it, but nothing is under way as yet:

Beirut Station 2007

So you could do Beirut > Damascus > Aleppo > Adana (i.e. the reverse of the OP's journey) and then get a bus connection between Adana and Malatya and then again onto Erzurum which connects you to Georgia.

Hope that helps!

2 years ago
Anila
286 2 6
0

Thanks. That ferry site is useful (and does have an english version!). Yeah, I'd definitely go to Tbilisi, I have a friend who lives there now. I think I'd probably just take the ferry Poti -> Kerch and then go by train from there, via Simferopol to Odessa and Chisinau. Even that ferry takes 30 hours so I think I'd rather be on dry land by that point :)

The tricky question (which perhaps I didn't pose clearly) is how I could go to Georgia via Lebanon and Syria.

2 years ago
orangejon
1

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Feb. 10, 2012

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