You must reserve your place on the overnight train between Bucharest and Budapest, and there are several options. There are seats, a money-saving 6 berth cabin, or 1, 2 and 3 bed compartments. Out of these I’d definitely say don’t get a seat (you’ll get little to no sleep) and recommend the bed compartments. These are more secure, and they have access to more facilities, compared to the 6 berth cabins.
3 bed compartment facilities:
- Three beds (that can fold to make a sofa)
- Three night lights by the beds
- One overhead central light
- One ceiling light for top bunk
- One blackout blind
- Carriage temperature control
- Three separate door locks
- One sink (with a folding lid to make a table)
- One tiny bin
- One cabinet with light up mirror
- A travel pack each (toothbrush, mini soap, refreshing wipe, small towel)
- A bottle of water each
- A few coat hangers
- A small overhead luggage rack
- One shaving socket that you’ll be able to charge your phone from (slowly)
- One pillow
- One blanket
There are also one to two bathrooms at the end of each carriage, one shower at the end of the carriage, and a restaurant that accepts multiple currencies (though beware of their self-calculated exchange rate).
The cost of the three berth ticket was the equivilent of £28, which I bought online. You can get a seat for as little as £12, and a six berth for roughly £20. For a private room you are looking at a cost of at least £50. There are a lot of websites that say tickets can only be bought at the station, however there are ways around this. There are a few websites that offer a local ticket pick-up-and-post service. I do think this is a good, cheap and useful option, however I would certainly recommend you shop around to make sure you find a trustworthy source. Doing this also allows you to find the best deals as well, as I found some websites that tried to charge me well over £60 for my 3 berth ticket.
Three quick final notes to be aware of: firstly, you will be woken up in the middle of the night (for me it was roughly 4 and 5am) to complete passport checks. Secondly, although direct there are multiple stops made on the way, so your roommates (if you have any) could arrive at any time. Finally, if you’re using an interrail or eurorail pass, this counts as two days because of the timing of the train. The only way to get around this whilst using the same route is to take the 17 hour daytime version of this journey, which only counts as one day.