Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest.  It's easy to reach Budapest by train..!

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest...

 

   
 

small bullet point  Holidays to Budapest by train

London to Hungary in 24 hours...

The train journey from London to Budapest is safe, comfortable & affordable and takes less than 24 hours.  Take an afternoon Eurostar to Brussels, the excellent Nightjet sleeper train overnight to Vienna and an onward EuroCity train to the heart of Budapest.  Or take Eurostar to Paris and a high-speed TGV to Munich, then a Hungarian sleeper train to Budapest.  Or travel by daytime trains with an overnight stop in Munich or Zurich.  Timetables, prices and how to buy tickets for all these options are explained below in a step-by-step guide.

COVID-19 updateSee COVID-19 updates & travel information.  Trains are running between the UK & Hungary.  Eurostar is running a reduced service, beyond Paris & Brussels trains are running almost normally.  The Munich to Budapest overnight train currently only has seats & couchettes, not sleepers.

Train times, fares & tickets...

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Which route to choose?

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London to Budapest by Eurostar to Brussels, sleeper to Vienna, train to Budapest

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London to Budapest by Eurostar to Paris, sleeper to Vienna, railjet to Budapest

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London to Budapest by Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Munich, sleeper to Budapest

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London to Budapest by daytime trains with overnight stop in Munich

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London to Budapest by daytime trains with overnight stop in Zurich - the scenic route!

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London to Budapest via Brussels & Prague - the cheapest route!

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London & Cambridge to Budapest via ferry from Harwich

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UK to Budapest via ferry from Newcastle or Hull

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Starting from other UK towns & cities

International trains to & from Budapest...

small bullet point  Trains to Budapest from other European cities

small bullet point  Trains from Budapest to other European cities

Useful train travel information...

small bullet point  Budapest Keleti railway station facilities

small bullet point  Hotels in Budapest - suggested places to stay

small bullet point  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  Holidays & tours to Budapest by train

small bullet point  General European train travel information

small bullet point  Taking a bike    Taking a dog

small bullet point  Luggage   Left luggage at stations

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN

Route map:  London to Budapest by train...

Route map:  London to Budapest by train

large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operator

in Hungary:

MAV (Magyar Allamvasutak) www.mavcsoport.hu, www.elvira.hu for times & fares

All-Europe online train times    Eurostar times & fares.

 

Railpasses:

 

Beginner's guide to European railpasses   Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+36

Currency:

£1 = 390 Forint,  €1 = 350 Forint, approx.    Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.hungarytourism.hu   Hotels in Budapest   Budapest metro map

Hotels:

Find a hotel in Budapest   Hotel reviews: www.tripadvisor.com     Backpacker hostels

Page last updated:

4 June 2022.  Train times valid 12 Dec 2021 to 10 Dec 2022.


large bullet pointLondon to Budapest

Which route to choose?


Option 1:  London to Budapest using the Brussels-Vienna sleeper...

This is the easiest, most comfortable and most time-effective option, along with option 2.  The excellent Austrian Nightjet sleeper train from Brussels to Vienna runs 3 times a week.  If these days of the week don't suit you, look at option 2.

London ► Budapest Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays

Budapest  ► London Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Brussels by Eurostar

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Brussels to Vienna

 by Nightjet train (per person, each way)

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

1-berth

3-berth

+ shower

2-berth

+ shower

1-berth

+ shower

 One way fares from:

€29.90

€49.90

€59.90

€89.90

€109.90

€159.90

€99.90

€139.90

€179.90

 

 3. Vienna to Budapest

From €19 each way in 2nd class, €29 each way in 1st class.

How to buy tickets...

Another way to buy tickets...

How to use an Interrail pass for this journey...

Have your trip arranged as a package...

  • Railbookers are a train travel specialist who can put together a UK-Hungary trip for you as a package, including rail travel, hotels & transfers.  You'll find a range of suggested tours & holidays on their website which can be varied or customised to your requirements.  As you're booking a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens to one part of the itinerary such as a strike or delay.  One of their most popular trips is Ultimate Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest with train travel from the UK - it can be customised to include train travel both ways, just ask.  Another top seller is their holiday to Berlin & Prague with travel to & from London by train.

    UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

    US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

    Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

    Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

    New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

  • Byway (Byway.travel) is a UK-based eco-holiday firm with a 5-star TrustPilot rating.  If you're nervous about booking train travel yourself, book a UK-Budapest train trip through Byway as a package, including hotels and starting from any British station you like.  Byway includes package protection, a 100% Covid refund guarantee, free disruption and re-planning and on-demand WhatsApp support while you're away.  They can build a trip to your requirements if you email them or use this contact form.  When you book, please say you heard about them from Seat 61.

  • Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, the operators to check are Great Rail Journeys (www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120) and Rail Discoveries, www.raildiscoveries.com, 01904 730 727.  Both have various escorted tours from the UK to Prague by train, with departures on a variety of dates.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • It's better to book online to avoid additional phone booking fees and so you can see for yourself which departures are cheapest for each stage of the journey.  Most ticketing agencies only work office hours on weekdays, but online booking is possible 24/7.  However, if you want to book by phone, see my list of UK ticketing agencies with phone numbers & opening hours.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar: 

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guideIn Brussels, I recommend using the Pullman Hotel bar as your VIP waiting room.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Vienna by Nightjet See the Nightjet guide... 

This is an Austrian Railways (ΦBB) Nightjet train, with sleeping-car, couchettes & seats.  The sleeping-car has 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, plus three deluxe compartments with 1, 2 or 3 beds with private shower & toilet.  The sleeper berths come fully made up with sheets and duvets, all sleeper passengers get mineral water in the evening and a light breakfast served in their compartment next morning.  Towels & toiletries are provided, including shampoo and shower gel in the deluxe sleepers.  In the more economical couchettes, you can book a couchette in a cheaper 6-berth compartment or a less-crowded 4-berth compartment, each provided with sheet, blanket, pillow & small bottle of water, and couchette passengers get a tea or coffee in the morning.  When waiting for the northbound sleeper train in Vienna, if you have booked a sleeper you can use the ΦBB first class lounge with complimentary drinks.  More pictures & information about Nightjet trains.

The Nightjet sleeper from Brussels to Vienna at Brussels

On 20 January 2020, the inaugural Nightjet left Brussels for Vienna, the first scheduled sleeper train to leave Brussels in 16 years.  Above, that inaugural train is seen ready to leave Brussels Midi on 20 January - naturally, the Man in Seat 61 was on board!

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet...

3. Vienna to Budapest by EuroCity or railjet trainSee the railjet guide...

Railjet trains have 1st & 2nd class plus a small Business Class area where seats cost €15 more than regular 1st class and a complimentary welcome drink of tea, coffee or wine is included.  All seats have power sockets.  There's a bistro-restaurant car and a cafe-bar, an attendant will take food orders at your seat in 1st & Business classes.  EuroCity trains use older but still comfortable air-conditioned Hungarian carriages, usually with a restaurant car.  See the Vienna to Budapest page for more information, photos & travel tips.

EuroCity train from Vienna to Budapest, at Budapest Keleti

A EuroCity train from Vienna to Budapest in MAV's latest colour scheme at Budapest Keleti.

1st class seats on a Hungarian EuroCity train   2nd class seats on a Hungarian EuroCity train

1st class is usually in 6-seat compartments.  Larger photo.

 

2nd class, open-plan saloon type, modernised.  Larger photo.

Back to top


Option 2: London to Budapest using the Paris-Vienna sleeper...

Also a comfortable and time-effective option, very similar to option 1 above:  Take a mid-afternoon Eurostar to Paris, make an easy 7-minute walk between Paris Nord and Paris Est, then take the comfortable Austrian Nightjet sleeper from Paris to Vienna overnight - this is a new train which runs 3 days a week starting 12 December 2021.  Then hop on a swish modern railjet train from Vienna to Budapest with restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

London ► Budapest Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays

Budapest ► London Mondays, Thursdays & Saturdays

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris by Eurostar

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Vienna by

 Nightjet sleeper train

 one-way per person per bed

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

1-berth

3-berth

+ shower

2-berth

+ shower

1-berth

+ shower

 Fares start at...

€29.90

€49.90

€59.90

€89.90

€109.90

€159.90

€99.90

€139.90

€189.90

 

 3. Vienna to Budapest by railjet

 From €19.90 each way in 2nd class, €29.90 each way in 1st class.

Fares vary like air fares, book early for the cheapest prices.

On the sleeper train, berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed, the other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette and so on.

Return fares are twice the one-way fare.

How to buy tickets...

  • Step 2, now use www.thetrainline.com again to book the London-Paris Eurostar connection, add to basket.

    You print your own tickets or can show them on your smartphone.

    Tip:  After booking you can use the Manage booking facility at www.eurostar.com to choose an exact seat from a seating plan, see tips on choosing a seat on Eurostar.

  • Step 3, now use www.thetrainline.com again to book the Vienna-Budapest railjet connection, add to basket & check out.

    You print your own tickets or can show them on your smartphone.

  • Tip:  If you're travelling from a town or city north of London, see advice about buying domestic tickets to London to connect with Eurostar.

  • Alternatively, you can book the Nightjet sleeper train at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, in €, has been known to reject some international cards, but no booking fee) and then the Eurostar at www.eurostar.com.  This means more work on multiple websites, prices should be exactly the same, but no booking fee.

How to use an Interrail pass for this journey...

  • Let's be clear:  If you book well in advance, cheap advance-purchase fares are cheaper than using a rail pass.  But at short notice when the cheap fares have sold out, or if you want flexibility to change your route or return date on the hoof, using a pass might be good idea for a round trip between the UK & Hungary.  It also covers the domestic part of your journey within the UK between your home town & London, and if you have kids under 12 they get a free pass so this can swing it on price.  Read up on Interrail passes and how they work here.

  • Cost?

    A 4-days-in-1-month Interrail pass costs £209 adult, £157 youth under 28, £187 senior over 60.  Children get a free pass when accompanied by an adult, but still need to pay any relevant reservation fees in full.

    You must then add a Eurostar passholder fare, €30 each way in Standard class or (with a 1st class pass) €38 each way in Standard Premier.

    You must then add the couchette or sleeper supplement for the Paris-Vienna Nightjet, each way, per person:  Seat €14, couchette in 6-berth €34, couchette in 4-berth €44, bed in 3-berth sleeper €54, bed in 2-berth sleeper €74, bed in single-berth sleeper €114, berth in 2-berth deluxe sleeper €94, berth in single-berth deluxe sleeper €134.  Only a 2nd class ticket or pass is needed for all Nightjet accommodation types.

  • How to arrange your trip...

    Step 1, buy a 4-days-in-1-months pass from www.interrail.eu.

    Step 2, book the Eurostar following the instructions here.  Check availability before buying the pass!  Eurostar passholder fares are in the 3rd from top price bucket, which means good availability at short notice, but can sell out on popular days or departures, even if seats remain for normal passengers paying top prices.  You print your own ticket.

    Step 3, book the sleeper at www.oebb.at following the instructions here.  You print out the reservation.

    If you want a reserved seat between Vienna & Budapest (recommended), make it at www.oebb.at following the instructions here.

Have your trip arranged as a package...

  • Railbookers are a train tour & holiday specialist who can put a trip together as a package, with rail travel, hotels & transfers to your specifications.  As you're booking a package, they'll also take care of you if anything happens such as a strike or delay.  One of their most popular trips is Ultimate Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest with train travel from the UK - it can be customised to include train travel back to the UK as well, just ask them.  Also a top seller is their holiday to Berlin & Prague with travel to & from London by train.

    UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

    US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com.

    Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com.

    Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

    New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

  • Byway (Byway.travel) is a UK-based eco-holiday firm with a 5-star TrustPilot rating.  If you're nervous about booking train travel yourself, book a UK-Budapest train trip through Byway as a package, including hotels and starting from any British station you like.  Byway includes package protection, a 100% Covid refund guarantee, free disruption and re-planning and on-demand WhatsApp support while you're away.  They can build a trip to your requirements if you email them or use this contact form.  When you book, please say you heard about them from Seat 61.

  • Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, the operators to check are Great Rail Journeys (www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120) and Rail Discoveries, www.raildiscoveries.com, 01904 730 727.  Both have various escorted tours from the UK to Prague by train, with departures on a variety of dates.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • It's better to book online to avoid additional phone booking fees and so you can see for yourself which departures are cheapest for each stage of the journey.  Most ticketing agencies only work office hours on weekdays, but online booking is possible 24/7.  However, if you want to book by phone, see my list of UK ticketing agencies with phone numbers & opening hours.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar: 

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in just 2 hours 20 minutes, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Vienna by Nightjet See the Nightjet guide... 

This is an Austrian Railways (ΦBB) Nightjet train, with sleeping-car, couchettes & seats.  The two sleeping-cars each have nine 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3 bed deluxe compartments with private shower & toilet.  The sleeper berths come fully made up with sheets and duvets, all sleeper passengers get mineral water in the evening and a light breakfast served in their compartment next morning.  Towels & toiletries are provided, including shampoo and shower gel in the deluxe sleepers.  In the more economical couchettes, you can book a couchette in a cheaper 6-berth compartment or a less-crowded 4-berth compartment, each provided with sheet, blanket, pillow & small bottle of water, and couchette passengers get a tea or coffee in the morning.  When waiting for the northbound sleeper train in Vienna, if you have booked a sleeper you can use the ΦBB first class lounge with complimentary drinks.  More pictures & information about Nightjet trains Paris Gare de l'Est station guide Vienna Hbf station guide.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

A comfortline sleeping-car on a Nightjet sleeper train.  More information about Nightjets.

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on a Nightjet...

3. Vienna to Budapest by Railjet...

Railjets are ΦBB's (Austrian Railways) premier trains, with economy & 1st class, plus a premium 1st class called business class.  There's a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st & business class, restaurant car orders are taken and served at your seat.  More information about railjets Budapest Keleti station guide.

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

A railjet about to leave Vienna.  More information about railjets...

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

A Railjet train at Budapest

The railjet has landed...  A railjet has arrived spot on time in Budapest's historic Keleti station, built 1881-1884

Back to top


Option 3:  By Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Munich, sleeper to Budapest...

Another good way to reach Budapest, with daily departures, a convenient mid-morning departure from London, cosy sleeper berth at night on a comfortable Hungarian sleeper train with a morning arrival in Budapest with a full day's sightseeing ahead of you...

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

  • Step 1, travel from Budapest to Munich by EuroNight sleeper Kalman Imre, leaving Budapest Keleti station 20:40 & arriving Munich Hbf 06:29.

    The Kalman Imre has a modern air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, an air-conditioned Hungarian couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A restaurant car is available from departure until after midnight.  See more information about this sleeper train.

    If you have a first class ticket, you can use the business lounge in Budapest on platform 9, open 06:00-21:30 daily open for anyone with a 1st class international ticket to, from or via Budapest.

  • Step 2, travel from Munich to Stuttgart by InterCity train, leaving Munich Hbf at 07:46 & arriving Stuttgart at 09:59.

    On some Sundays you'll need to leave earlier, at 07:28 by ICE train arriving Stuttgart at 09:45.  Always allow at least 30 minutes for connection in Stuttgart.

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so add up the price for each leg of the journey.  On the sleeper train, berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed, the other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a single-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

     by TGV...

 From €39 each way in 2nd class

 From €69 each way in 1st class.

 The price varies, book in advance to get these fares, full-price €139.

 If you book at www.bahn.de, accompanied children under 15 go free.

 

 3. Munich to Budapest

 on the Kalman Imre

In a  

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 One-way per person from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€79

€139

Saver fare = advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans. 

Full price = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

How to buy tickets...

  • The best place to buy tickets is www.thetrainline.com as you can book all your tickets together in one place, in plain English, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem.  There's a small booking fee.  Who are Thetrainline.com?

    Booking opens up to 6 months ahead for Eurostar, the Paris-Munich TGV, and the Munich-Budapest sleeper.  You can book hotels & accommodation before booking the trains risk-free using www.booking.com as they offer free cancellation.

  • Step 1, go to www.thetrainline.com and using the train times on this page as a guide, book the Eurostar from London to Paris & add to basket.

    If you're returning, book the Eurostar as a round trip because Eurostar return fares are significantly cheaper than two one-ways.  With the TGV & sleeper train it doesn't matter, a round trip is simply two one-ways and it can be easier to book one way at a time & add to basket.

    By all means book an earlier Eurostar out, or a later Eurostar coming back, if this has a cheaper fare available or if you'd like to stop off in Paris.  Remember that your return date from Paris is the day after you leave Budapest.

Another way to book tickets...

  • Alternatively, you can buy tickets for each train direct from the relevant train operator with no booking fee, but this means using 3 different websites and the fares should be the same.  Do a dry run on all 3 sites to confirm train times, prices & availability before booking non-refundable tickets.  If you're new to European train travel, I'd stick with www.thetrainline.com.

  • Step 1, go to German Railways www.bahn.de and using the train times on this page as a guide, book the TGV from Paris to Munich & back.  You print your own ticket.  Easy!  I recommend registering when prompted so you can log in and check your bookings or re-print tickets at any time.

  • Step 2, now book the sleeper from Munich to Budapest at the Austrian Railways site www.oebb.at.  Bookings usually open up to 90 days ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Step 3, now add the connecting Eurostar from London to Paris at www.eurostar.com.  Remember that your return date will be the day after leaving Budapest.  Use the recommended Eurostar times above as a guide, but by all means book an earlier Eurostar outwards, or a later Eurostar on the way back, if this has cheaper seats available of if you'd like to stop off in Paris for a while.  You print your own ticket.

Have your trip arranged as a package...

  • Railbookers are a train travel specialist who can put together a tour or holiday for you as a package, including rail travel, hotels & transfers.  Their website has a range of suggested tours & holidays which can be varied or customised to your requirements.  As you're booking a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens to one part of the itinerary such as a strike or delay.  One of their most popular trips is their Ultimate Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest which starts by train from the UK.  It can be customised to include train travel back to the UK as well, just ask.

    UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

    US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, www.railbookers.com

    Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, www.railbookers.com

    Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au 

    New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

  • Byway (Byway.travel) is a UK-based eco-holiday firm with a 5-star TrustPilot rating.  If you're nervous about booking train travel yourself, book a one-way or return UK-Denmark trip through Byway as a package, including hotels and starting from any British station you like.  Byway includes package protection, a 100% Covid refund guarantee, free disruption and re-planning and on-demand WhatsApp support while you're away.  They can build a trip to your requirements if you email them or use this contact form.  When you book, please say you heard about them from Seat 61.

  • Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, contact Great Rail Journeys at www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120.  They have regular escorted tours from the UK to Prague, Budapest & Vienna by train.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • It's better to book online to avoid additional phone booking fees and so you can see for yourself which departures are cheapest for each stage of the journey.  Most ticketing agencies only work office hours on weekdays, but online booking is possible 24/7.  However, if you want to book by phone, see my list of UK ticketing agencies with phone numbers & opening hours.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...   See the video guide

In Paris it's an easy 7 minute 500m walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 320 km/h (199 mph), past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart & Munich.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guideMunich Hbf station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine.  Book an upstairs seat for the best views...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Est.

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Budapest by sleeper train Kalman Imre...  More information.

Cosy & inviting, the photo below shows the modern air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car of the Kalman Imre at Munich Hauptbahnhof...  The sleeping-car has 11 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  The fare includes a light breakfast of coffee, juice & croissant There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, for a Bavarian meal and a beer or two, I recommend the Augustiner Keller (www.augustinerkeller.de) at Arnulfstrasse 52, to the north side of Munich Hbf, see walking map See more information about the sleeper train Kalman Imre.

The sleeper train Kalman Imre from Munich to  Budapest

Sleeper train Kalman Imre, boarding on platform 12 at Munich Hbf.  More information about this train.

The sleeper train from Zurich to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

2 bed sleeper, can also be set up as 1 or 3 bed.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

Good morning Budapest!

City of Budapest & the Danube

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Option 4:  London to Budapest with overnight stop in Munich...

If you prefer to travel on daytime trains rather than sleepers, you can travel very affordably from London to Budapest with an overnight hotel stop in Munich.

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Paris to Munich by TGV starts at €39 each way in 2nd class or €69 in 1st class.

  • Munich to Budapest starts at €37.90 each way in 2nd class or €56.90 in 1st class.

How to buy tickets...

  • Booking opens up to 6 months ahead for all these trains.  More about when booking opens.

  • Buy your Eurostar ticket at www.eurostar.com.  You print your own ticket or can load it into the Eurostar app to show on your smartphone.

  • Buy your Paris-Munich ticket at www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted, so you can log in at any time and check or re-print tickets.

  • Buy your Munich-Budapest ticket as a second transaction at www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your smartphone.

Variation via Brussels instead of Paris...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex.   See video guide

In Paris it's an easy 7 minute 500m walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 320 km/h (199 mph), past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart & Munich.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guideMunich Hbf station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris with Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Budapest by railjet...

Railjet trains have 1st & 2nd class plus a small Business Class area where seats cost €15 more than regular 1st class and a complimentary welcome drink of tea, coffee or wine is included.  All seats have power sockets.  There's a bistro-restaurant car and a cafe-bar, an attendant will take food orders at your seat in 1st & Business classes.  See the Railjet page for more information about Railjet.

A railjet train about to leave Munich Hbf

A railjet to Budapest about to leave Munich Hbf...

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

Bavarian scenery between Munich & Salzburg...

View of Salzburg as the train crosses the River Salzach

The view of Salzburg's Fortress Hohensalzburg on your right hand side as the railjet crosses the River Salzach & approaches Salzburg station....

Pleasant farmland scenery in Austria, between Salzburg & Vienna...

Between Vienna & Budapest it's largely flat, with more wind turbines than you can shake a stick at - allegedly over 200.  This photo sums up this part of the route!

A Railjet train at Budapest

The railjet has landed...  A railjet has arrived spot on time in Budapest's historic Keleti station, built 1881-1884

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Option 5:  London to Budapest with overnight stop in Zurich.  The scenic route!

This option not only keeps you on daytime trains with an overnight hotel in Zurich, rather than using a sleeper, it's the scenic option as it takes you through the Alps via the fabulous Arlberg Pass between Switzerland and Austria, hugging the valley wall with the mountaintops high above and the valley floor way below.  You then travel on right across the Austrian Tirol.  This option uses a direct railjet train between Zurich & Budapest - although the way cheap tickets work you're better off having a lunch stop in Austria!

London ► Budapest

  • Day 1, travel from Paris to Switzerland by TGV-Lyria, leaving Paris Gare de Lyon at 18:22 arriving Zurich HB at 22:26.

    This double-deck high-speed train travels at up to 320 km/h (199 mph), with cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Book an upper deck seat for the best views, and seat number >60 is upper deck.

  • Stay overnight in Zurich.  For something really special, the 5-star Hotel Schweizerhof is one of my favourite hotels anywhere, just across the road from the station.  They'll even send a uniformed commissionaire to meet you & carry your bags from the train.  For something cheaper, also next to the station with great reviews, try the 4-star Hotel St Gotthard or the excellent 3-star Hotel St. Josef, 7 minutes walk from the station, see walking map.  If you're on a tight budget you can book private rooms in a one-star hotel or backpacker hostel near the station at www.hostelworld.com.

  • Day 2, travel from Zurich to Budapest by smart modern railjet train, leaving Zurich HB at 10:40 and arriving Budapest Keleti 21:19.

    The railjet has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Treat yourself to lunch - in first & business class, a steward takes food & drink orders and serves you at your seat.  More pictures & information about railjet trainsMap of Budapest showing Keleti station.

    This is a lovely scenic ride, taking you along the Zόrichsee & Walensee lakes, then snaking at low speed through the mountains of the Arlberg Pass in the Alps and across the Austrian Tirol, watch this video.  You get great views of the citadel at Salzburg as the train crosses the river Salzach, then it travels through Vienna and on to Budapest.  For the best views, find a seat on the left hand side of the train leaving Zurich, that way you'll be on the lake side of the train out of Zurich, the train reverses at Buchs, they you'll be on the right-hand (valley) side of the train through most of the Arlberg Pass, and on the side for views of Salzburg.

Budapest ► London

  • Day 1, travel from Budapest to Zurich by air-conditioned railjet train, leaving Budapest Keleti at 06:40 and arriving Zurich HB at 17:20.

    The railjet has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Treat yourself to lunch - in first & business class, a steward takes food & drink orders and serves you at your seat.  More pictures & information about railjet trains.

    The train travels over the flatlands to Vienna, then past Salzburg's impressive citadel, through the Austrian Tirol, it snakes through the scenic Arlberg Pass in the Alps (watch the video!), then along the Walensee and Zόrichsee lakes to Zurich.  For views of Salzburg castle, the Zόrichsee lake and most of the Arlberg valley, find a seat on the left-hand side of the train leaving Budapest (this advice allows for the train changing direction at Buchs).

    Tip:  If you have a first class ticket, you can use the business lounge in Budapest near platform 9, open 06:00-21:30 daily with complimentary tea, coffee & soft drinks.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria starts at €29 each way in 2nd class or from €79 in 1st class.  See the Switzerland page for full details.

  • Zurich to Budapest starts at €49.80 each way in 2nd class, €79.80 in 1st class - that's a combination of Zurich-Innsbruck from €19.90 & Innsbruck-Budapest from €29.90.

How to buy tickets...

  • Booking at www.raileurope.com allows you to buy all your tickets together in one place, easily in plain English, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem. There's a small booking fee.

    Booking for Eurostar opens up to 6 months ahead, booking for TGV-Lyria opens up to 4 months ahead, booking for the Zurich-Austria-Budapest train up to 6 months ahead.  I recommend waiting until all trains are open for sale, so you can confirm times before buying a non-refundable Eurostar ticket.  More about when bookings open.

    I suggest booking in stages like this, first doing a dry run to check times & prices.  Read the detailed booking tips here.

  • Step 1, go to www.raileurope.com and book from London to Paris and add to your basket.

    If returning, you should book London to Paris as a round trip, because Eurostar return fares are significantly cheaper than two one-ways.  All the other trains are one-way ticketed where a round trip is simply two one ways, so it doesn't matter, and it can be easier to book one way at a time.  On Eurostar, a reserved seat is automatically included.

    Always allow at least 60 minutes between trains outbound, 90 minutes inbound (as inbound you have to allow for the 30 minute Eurostar check-in).

  • Step 2, still on www.raileurope.com, book from Paris to Zurich and add to basket.  On TGV-Lyria, a reserved seat is automatically included.

  • Step 3, still on www.raileurope.com, book from Zurich to Budapest for the following day, add to basket & check out.  Seat reservation on the railjet is optional, I recommend adding a seat reservation when prompted, for an extra €3 or so.

    Tip:  If you like, you can break up the journey by taking the 08:40 departure from Zurich and spending 2 hours having lunch in Innsbruck.  Just book Zurich-Innsbruck and Innsbruck-Budapest as two tickets.

  • You print your own tickets or can show them on your smartphone.

Another way to buy tickets...

  • Alternatively, you can book direct with each train operator.  This is more work with separate bookings on different websites.  The prices should be exactly the same, but there's no booking fee.  First buy the London-Paris Eurostar ticket at www.eurostar.com.  Then buy the Paris-Zurich ticket at the French Railways website www.sncf-connect.com.  Then buy your Zurich-Budapest ticket at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.  You print your own tickets or can show them on your smartphone.

Have your trip arranged as a package...

  • Railbookers are a train travel specialist who can put together a tour or short break for you as a package, including rail travel, hotels & transfers.  On their website you'll find a range of suggested tours & holidays by rail which can be customised to your own requirements.  And as you're booking a package, they'll take care of you if anything happens to one part of the itinerary such as a strike or delay.

    UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

    US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

    Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

    Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

    New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

  • Byway (Byway.travel) is a UK-based eco-holiday firm with a 5-star TrustPilot rating.  If you're nervous about booking train travel yourself, book a one-way or return UK-Denmark trip through Byway as a package, including hotels and starting from any British station you like.  Byway includes package protection, a 100% Covid refund guarantee, free disruption and re-planning and on-demand WhatsApp support while you're away.  They can build a trip to your requirements if you email them or use this contact form.  When you book, please say you heard about them from Seat 61.

  • Escorted tours:  If you'd like to travel with a convivial group of travellers escorted by a professional tour guide, contact Great Rail Journeys at www.greatrail.com, in the UK call 01904 527 120.  They have regular escorted tours from the UK to Prague, Budapest & Vienna by train.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • It's better to book online to avoid additional phone booking fees and so you can see for yourself which departures are cheapest for each stage of the journey.  Most ticketing agencies only work office hours on weekdays, but online booking is possible 24/7.  However, if you want to book by phone, see my list of UK ticketing agencies with phone numbers & opening hours.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 train at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria...

All TGV-Lyria trains are now 320km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex like the one shown below.  TGV-Lyria trains have 3 classes:  Standard class (2nd), standard premiere (1st class) and business premiere (1st class with hot meal & drinks included in the fare).  There's a cafe-bar car selling drinks & snacks.  There are power points for mobiles & laptops at all seats in all classes.  Lyria is a consortium of the French and Swiss national railways.  More information about TGV-Lyria.

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV-Lyria TGV Duplex train at Paris Gare de Lyon. More information about TGV-Lyria

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes...

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right. 360Ί photo.

 

A TGV-Lyria for Geneva, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

3. Zurich to Budapest by Railjet.  More information about railjet trains...

A railjet train about to leave Zurich Hbf for Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna

A railjet about to leave Zurich HB...

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

Restaurant car.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

Scenery from Zurich through the Arlberg Pass...   Watch the Arlberg Pass video

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

Soon after leaving Zurich, the Railjet is running alongside the Zόrichsee, then along the Walensee...

Train into Austria: Mountain scenery   Mountain scenery near Buchs

Watch out for hilltop castles - this is Sargans castle, seen from the train...

 

The train cuts across Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through Schaan-Vaduz station...

Scenery from the train in the Arlberg Pass

The mountains keep on coming...

Train into Austria, more scenery   Snowy peaks!

Mountain scenery and snowy peaks all the way, as the air-conditioned Railjet crosses into Austria...

Taking the train through the Arlberg pass...   Lunch is served at your seat in first & business classes

In the Arlberg pass itself, the railway hugs the valley side, past fir forests and meadows...

 

In first & business class, orders are taken & served at your seat...

View of Salzburg as the train crosses the River Salzach

The view of the Fortress Hohensalzburg as the Railjet crosses the River Salzach & approaches Salzburg station....

Watch the Video:  By Railjet through the Arlberg Pass...

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Option 6:  Via Brussels & Prague

OK, so this isn't the fastest route or the simplest route with fewest changes.  But it's a useful route which can sometimes have the cheapest fares.  There is nothing second-rate about the quality of the trains (see the photos below), and a night-day-night journey taking up just one day is quite time-effective.  Why not stop off in Prague?  So worth considering!

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

How much does it cost?

  • London to Brussels by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Brussels to Prague starts at €46.90 each way 2nd class or €61.90 in 1st class.

  • Prague to Budapest by sleeper starts at €35 each way with a couchette, €46 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €71 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.  Prague to Budapest by daytime EuroCity train starts at €20 in 2nd class or €35 in 1st class.

  • All these fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

How to buy tickets...

  • Step 1, book from London to Brussels at www.eurostar.com.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the Eurostar app on your phone.

  • Step 2, book from Brussels to Prague at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.

    You'll see journeys via various routes, to specify this route click Stopover and enter Cheb as a via station, leaving duration zero.

    You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.  I recommend registering when prompted, so you can log on at any time and check or reprint tickets.

    You can also book at the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz, in this case booking only opens up to 90 days ahead.  If you are booking well in advance, I find www.bahn.de is often cheaper.  Booked close to departure date, www.cd.cz is often cheaper.

  • Step 3, book from Prague to Budapest at the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz, looking for the direct sleeper train marked No transfers (EN).  You print your own ticket or can show it on your phone.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guide & short cut for changing trains in Brussels.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Frankfurt & Frankfurt to Nuremberg by ICE...

Germany's superb ICEs have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  The Brussels to Frankfurt train calls at Liθge, where you can admire the impressive station designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava, and at Cologne Hbf, where you'll see Cologne Cathedral to the right as you approach, right next to the station.  Immediately after leaving Cologne Hbf, the train crosses the long Hohenzollern bridge over the Rhine before joining the 300km/h high-speed line to Frankfurt.  More information about ICE3Brussels Midi station guideFrankfurt (Main) Hbf station guide.

ICE3M to Cologne & Brussels, boarding at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf

An ICE3M from Brussels at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf.  More information about ICEAdvice on changing trains in Brussels.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china, metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant area on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

3. Nuremberg to Cheb by regional train, Cheb to Prague by express train...

You'll find tips and more scenery & train photos on the Brussels to Prague via Cheb page

Cheb station, en route from Brussels to Prague

The easy & relaxed interchange at Cheb station...  The red train on the right is the German regional train arrived from Nuremberg.  You cross to the blue Czech train on the left about to leave for Prague - although always check the departure boards as sometimes a faster train to Prague goes from an adjacent platform.  More information on the Brussels to Prague via Cheb page.

Scenery between Nuremberg & Cheb   Scenery from the train between Cheb & Prague

Scenery between Nuremberg & Cheb, courtesy Arnaud Loneux

 

Hills & forest between Cheb & Prague.  Courtesy of Arnaud Loneux.

4. Prague to Budapest by sleeper train:  More information about the sleepers & couchettes on this train.

The sleeper train from Budapest to Prague

The Czech sleeping-car from Budapest to Prague, boarding at Budapest Nyugati on a summer evening.

Washbasin in Prague-Budapest sleeper   Czech Railways sleeper from Budapest to Prague   Czech Railways sleeper from Budapest to Prague

Washstand, soap & towels provided.  Larger photo.

 

Czech Railways 2-bed 'double' sleeper on the Prague-Budapest route.  Each room can be used with 1, 2 or 3 beds.  Larger photo.

 

The corridor.  Each compartment locks securely.  Larger photo.

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Option 7:  Via the Harwich - Hoek van Holland ferry

This is the ferry alternative, a great option if you live in East Anglia.  It's the route to use if Eurostar fares are expensive or if you want to avoid the Channel Tunnel, for example if you suffer from claustrophobia.  I don't recommend the Dover-Calais route because of poor train/ferry connections, the Stena Line rail & sail service via Harwich & Hoek van Holland is the one to use as it has co-ordinated timetables and integrated ticketing, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail page & watch the video.

London, Cambridge & Harwich ► Budapest

  • Day 1, travel from London to Amsterdam overnight by Stena Line Rail & Sail.

    You leave London Liverpool Street at 18:45 Mondays-Fridays, 19:36 Saturdays or 20:00 Sundays by direct train to Harwich International.

    You leave Cambridge at 19:47 Mondays-Saturdays or 19:45 on Sundays by direct train to Harwich International.

    At Harwich, the station is right next to the ferry terminal and you walk off the train into the terminal, check in at the Stena Line desk and walk onto Stena Line's luxurious overnight superferry Stena Britannica to Hoek van Holland.  All passengers travel in cosy private cabins with en suite toilet & shower & satellite TV.  Deluxe Comfort class & Captains class cabins are also available, and there's free WiFi in the lounges, restaurants & bars on 9 deck.  You can get on board the ferry around 9pm, have a late dinner in the restaurant and settle into your cabin.

    The ferry sails at 23:00 and arrives at Hoek van Holland at 08:00 Dutch time next morning.

    This London-Netherlands train & ferry service is a fully-integrated service with special fares from London to Any Dutch Station which cover the train to Harwich, the ferry and onward train to anywhere in the Netherlands, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail page for full details.  The same special fare from London is valid from any Abellio Greater Anglia station, for example Norwich, Cambridge, Romford, Ilford, Ipswich.  

    Next morning, take the frequent metro train from Hoek van Holland Haven to Schiedam Centrum and a Dutch Intercity train from Schiedam Centrum to Amsterdam Centraal arriving 10:25.  See the Stena Line Rail & Sail page for full details.

    At Amsterdam Centraal, have a coffee at the delightfully retro Cafe 1e Klas.

Budapest  ► Harwich, Cambridge & London

  • Alternatively, you could travel from Budapest to Vienna by railjet train leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:40 arriving Vienna Hbf at 18:21, then take the Nightjet sleeper train leaving Vienna Hbf at 20:13 arriving Amsterdam Centraal at 09:59.  The Vienna to Amsterdam Nightjet train has a Comfortline sleeping-car with 1 & 2 bed compartments with washbasin, 1, 2 & 3 bed deluxe compartments with shower & toilet, and 4 & 6 berth couchettes.  The sleeper & couchette fare includes breakfast.  You then have a day free in Amsterdam.

  • Day 2, travel from Amsterdam to London overnight by Stena Line Rail & Sail.

    You leave Amsterdam Centraal at 18:35 by Dutch intercity train to Schiedam Centrum and change onto the frequent metro to Hoek van Holland Haven.  At Hoek, the metro station is next to the ferry terminal.  Check in at the Stena Line desk at least 45 minutes before sailing time, then walk up the gangway onto the luxurious Stena Line superferry Stena Hollandica and sail overnight to Harwich in a cosy private cabin with shower, toilet & satellite TV.

    The ferry sails from Hoek van Holland at 22:00 and arrives at Harwich International at 06:30 next morning (day 3), UK time.  Day 3, take a train from Harwich to London Liverpool Street arriving around 08:54, or from Harwich to Cambridge arriving 09:41 (10:39 on Sundays).  See the Stena Line Rail & Sail page for full details.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Amsterdam by Rail & Sail starts at £55 per person each way, plus the cost of a cabin.

    Cabins start at £34 for a single berth cabin or £45 per cabin for a 2-berth, and are compulsory on the night sailing.  The fare covers the train from London to Harwich, the ferry, and onward Dutch metro & trains from Hoek van Holland Haven to any station in the Netherlands, for full details of fares and cabin types and costs, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail page.

  • Amsterdam to Munich starts at €37.90 each way in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class. 

  • Munich to Budapest by sleeper train starts at €49.90 with a couchette in 6-berth, €59.90 with a couchette in 4-berth, €69.90 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129.90 with a bed in a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.

How to buy tickets...

  • Step 1, buy a Stena Line Rail & Sail ticket from London to Any Dutch Station online as shown on the Stena Line Rail & Sail page.  This covers the train from London to Harwich, the Harwich-Hoek ferry, and the metro/train from Hoek to Amsterdam.  You print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, book the train from Amsterdam to Munich at www.bahn.de,  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

  • Step 3, book the sleeper from Munich to Budapest at www.thetrainline.com or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

  • If you want to use the Amsterdam-Vienna Nightjet sleeper, use www.thetrainline.com to book from Amsterdam to Vienna, then from Vienna to Budapest.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Amsterdam by train & ferry...

A train takes you from London's Liverpool Street station directly to the ferry terminal at Harwich.  You walk off the train, into the terminal, get your boarding card & cabin key at the Stena Line check-in desk and walk straight onto the overnight ferry to Hoek van Holland.  The superferry Stena Britannica is the largest ferry of its kind in the world.  All passengers travel in private cabins with shower, toilet & satellite TV.  There's free WiFi in the public areas on 9 deck.  The journey from London to Holland is explained in detail on the Stena Line Rail & Sail pageSee the video...

Captain's class cabin on ferry   Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland

Captain's Class cabin on the Harwich-Hoek ferry with double bed, complimentary minibar with sparkling wine, tea & coffee making facilities, hairdryer.  Larger photo.

 

Boarding the Stena Britannica at Harwich.  She's a floating hotel to Hoek van Holland, with easy rail connections on either side of the Channel.  Restaurants, bars, shop, kennels, cinema...

Metropolitan restaurant on Stena Line ferry   Standard outside cabin on ferry

Dinner before bed?  Metropolitan ΰ la carte restaurant.

 

Standard outside cabin.  Larger photo.  360Ί photo.

2. Amsterdam to Duisburg & Duisburg to Munich by ICE...

ICEs are German Railways' premier trains, with 1st & 2nd class, a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

ICE3 at Amsterdam Centraal

An ICE3M to Frankfurt at Amsterdam.  More information about ICE...

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Proper china, metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant area on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

3. Munich to Budapest by sleeper train Kalman Imre...  More information

Cosy & inviting, the photo below shows the modern air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car of the Kalman Imre at Munich Hbf...  The sleeping-car has 11 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  The fare includes a light breakfast of coffee, juice & croissantThere's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, for a Bavarian meal and a beer or two, I recommend the Augustiner Keller (www.augustinerkeller.de) at Arnulfstrasse 52, to the north side of Munich Hbf, see walking mapSee more information about the sleeper train Kalman Imre.

The sleeper train Kalman Imre from Munich to  Budapest

Sleeper train Kalman Imre, boarding on platform 12 at Munich HbfMore information about this train.

The sleeper train from Zurich to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest

2 bed sleeper, can also be set up as 1 or 3 bed.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

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 large bullet pointScotland & North to Budapest   

Naturally, one option is to take a train up to London, then travel to Hungary as described above.  You can buy special connecting train tickets from most UK stations to London International, see advice on buying connecting train tickets to London.  But DFDS Seaways (www.dfds.co.uk) run an excellent daily cruise ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam overnight, and P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com) sail overnight from Hull to Rotterdam.  So why not by-pass London, with lunch in Amsterdam into the bargain?

Scotland & the North ► Budapest

Budapest ► Scotland & the North

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

What's the journey like?

Step 1, take the overnight cruise ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam with DFDS or Hull to Rotterdam with P&O, with private en suite cabins, restaurants, bars, cinema.  If travelling with DFDS from Newcastle, a transfer bus takes you from IJmuiden ferry terminal to Amsterdam Centraal station next morning.  If travelling with P&O from Hull, a transfer bus takes you from Rotterdam Europoort ferry terminal to Rotterdam Centraal, from where frequent Dutch trains run to Utrecht.

Princess of Norway (now Princess Seaways) at Newcastle   A standard cabin on DFDS Seaways Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry.

DFDS Seaways Princess of Norway (now Princess Seaways) about to sail overnight from Newcastle to Amsterdam.  The ferry also has deluxe Commodore class cabins with minibar, satellite TV, shower & toilet.  See the video...

 

A standard Seaways class cabin with shower & toilet on DFDS Princess of Norway from Newcastle to Amsterdam.

P&O Ferries Pride of Rotterdam   Cabin on P&O Ferries Pride of Rotterdam

P&O Ferries Pride of Rotterdam at Rotterdam Europoort.  The ferry also has deluxe class cabins with minibar, satellite TV, shower & toilet.

 

A standard outside cabin with shower & toilet on P&O's Pride of Rotterdam from Hull to Rotterdam.

Step 2, take the daily Nightjet sleeper train from Amsterdam to Linz, Vienna or Innsbruck.

Nightjet sleeper train at Amsterdam Centraal

The Nightjet sleeper train to Vienna, boarding at Amsterdam Centraal...

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photo Video of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchette on Nightjet train   Couchette car on Amsterdam-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car...

Step 3, take a railjet or EuroCity train from Vienna to Budapest:  See the Vienna to Budapest page for details.

A Railjet train at Budapest

The railjet has landed...  A railjet has arrived spot on time in Budapest's historic Keleti station, built 1881-1884

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large bullet pointHolidays & tours by train

 

Railbookers logo

0207 864 4600 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1-855-882-2910 (Canada)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

 

Great Rail Journeys logo

01904 527120

If you want a holiday to Hungary by train not plane, but want someone else to organise all the train tickets & hotels for you, two specialist companies can do just that.  Railbookers offer tailor-made individual holidays with departure on any date you like, whereas Great Rail Journeys offer escorted tours with specific departure dates.

Railbookers custom-made train holidays & breaks to Budapest...

Railbookers can custom-make a flight-free holiday to Budapest for you, with train travel & hotels, for however long you like, leaving on any date you like.  Why not combine a visit to Budapest with Prague and Vienna, 6 nights from around £689 per person.  Indeed, they can arrange any tour of Eastern Europe you like to your own specification, with trains reserved, hotels booked and transfers arranged...

UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

Great Rail Journeys, www.greatrail.com, 01904 527120...

GRJ offers a 13-day escorted tour to Vienna, Budapest & Prague from £1,750, with 1st class train travel and 5* or 4* hotels.  Great Rail Journeys also offer holidays by train to other European countries.  Check the tour details online, then call 01904 527120 to book or use their online booking form.

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large bullet pointEuropean Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or for £9.67 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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large bullet pointGuidebooks

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukLonely Planet to Hungary - buy online at Amazon.co.ukPaying for a guidebook may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.  For independent travel, the best guide is either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both are excellent.  The Lonely Planet range offers an in-depth guide for Hungary or a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.  You won't regret buying one! 

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk...

My own book, an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", was published in June 2008, and is available from Amazon.co.uk with shipping worldwide.

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large bullet pointHotels in Budapest

Suggested hotels in Budapest...

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth a try...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Hostelworld logoBackpacker hostels: www.hostelworld.com...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Budapest and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I use an annual policy myself.  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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