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

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest...

 

  Holidays to Budapest by train

London to Hungary in 24 hours...

The train journey from London to Budapest is safe, easy & affordable and takes just 24 hours, by Eurostar to Paris and high-speed TGV from Paris to Munich, then overnight sleeper to Budapest.  Or there are connections via Paris and Munich, or via Brussels, Cologne & Vienna.  Timetables, prices and how to buy tickets for all these options are explained below in a step-by-step guide.

COVID-19 update See COVID-19 travel information.

Train times, fares & tickets...

 

Which route to choose?

 

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

 

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

 

London to Budapest by daytime trains with overnight stop in Munich

 

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

 

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

 

London to Budapest via ferry from Harwich

 

UK to Budapest via ferry from Newcastle or Hull

 

Starting from other UK towns & cities

International trains to & from Budapest...

  Trains to Budapest from other European cities

  Trains from Budapest to other European cities

Useful train travel information...

  Budapest Keleti railway station facilities

  Hotels in Budapest - suggested places to stay

  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

  Holidays & tours to Budapest by train

  General European train travel information

  Taking a bike    Taking a dog

  Luggage   Left luggage at stations

  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN

Route map:  London to Budapest by train...

Route map:  London to Budapest by train

Useful 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 = 380 Forint,  1 = 335 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:

12 October 2020. Train times valid 15 Dec 2019 to 12 Dec 2020.


London to Budapest

Which route to choose?


Option 1:  By Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Munich, sleeper to Budapest...

This is probably the easiest & cheapest way to reach Budapest, with daily trains, a convenient mid-morning departure from London, cosy sleeper berth at night and a morning arrival in Budapest next day, with all that sightseeing ahead of you.  If you'd prefer a departure from London later in the day, see option 2.

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

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:

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...

Another way to book tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Have Railbookers arrange it for you as a package...

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 10 minute 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 200mph, 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 200 mph 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.  360 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.  360 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 & croissantThere's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, for a Bavarian meal and a beer or two, try www.augustinerkeller.de at Arnulfstrasse 52, to the north side of Munich Hbf.  See more information about the sleeper train Kalman Imre.

The sleeper train to Budapest   Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Munich to Budapest

The Kalman Imre, about to leave Munich...

 

2-bed sleeper. Larger photo

6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

Hungarian couchette car at Munich

Good morning Budapest!

City of Budapest & the Danube

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Option 2:  London to Budapest via the Brussels-Vienna sleeper...

This runs daily, and also avoids any walk between stations if that's important to you.

London ► Budapest

Budapest  ► London

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 Cologne by Thalys/ICE

     (for when the nightjet starts in Cologne)

 From 19 each way 2nd class, 49 each way 1st class.

 

 3. Cologne or 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

 Fares start at...

29.90

49.90

59.90

89.90

109.90

159.90

99.90

139.90

179.90

 

 4. Vienna to Budapest

 by Railjet

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

How to buy tickets...

Another way to book tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

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

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.

On days the sleeper starts in Cologne, take a Thalys from Brussels to Cologne:  See the Thalys guide...

Thalys trains have 3 classes, Standard (2nd class), Comfort (1st class seating) & Premium (1st class seating with at-seat food & drink included in the fare).  There's a cafe-bar selling drinks, snacks & hot dishes.  All seats have power sockets and there's free WiFi.  See the Thalys page for more photos & information.

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

This is an Austrian Railways (BB) 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 BB 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 sleepe 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.

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

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet...

As night falls, the train to Vienna crosses the Rhine at Mainz

As night falls, the sleeper train speeds along the Rhine Valley.  Above, crossing the Rhine at Mainz...

3. Vienna to Budapest by 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.  See the railjet page for more information, photos & travel tips.

The morning RailJet train has arrived in Vienna.   Premium class seats on the Munich-Budapest RailJet train   Economy class seats on the Munich-Budapest RailJet train

"The RailJet has landed..."  A Railjet train from Vienna has arrived spot on time at Budapest's historic Keleti station, built 1881-1884...

 

Business class costs 15 more than normal 1st class...

 

Economy class on RailJet, comfortable open saloons with large picture windows.  Some seats around tables, some unidirectional.

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Option 3:  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?

How to buy tickets...

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 10 minute 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 200mph, 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 200 mph 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.  360 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.  360 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...

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet boarding at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf.  More photos & information about railjet trains

 

Economy class, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

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 4:  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 right through the fabulous Arlberg Pass route through the Alps 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 new direct Railjet train between Zurich and Budapest - although the way cheap tickets work you're better off having a lunch stop in Austria!

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Holidays & tours to Budapest by train...

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.  360 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. 360 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 to Innsbruck, Salzburg & Vienna about to leave Zurich HB...

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

Railjet is Austrian Railways premier train...  More photos & information about railjet trains

 

Economy class, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

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 Zrichsee, 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...

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 5:  Via Brussels & Prague - the cheapest route!

OK, so this isn't the fastest route or the simplest route with fewest changes.  But it's the cheapest, thanks to an unbelievably cheap 29 Brussels-Prague fare offered by Czech Railways, added to a cheap 21 fare from Prague to Budapest.  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 well worth considering!

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Brussels to Prague for 21 booking

Incredible, Brussels to Prague for only 757 Czech Koruna (29) even booking as little as a week or so ahead.  Remember you must enter Cheb in the via box!

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 Lige, 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 ICE3 Brussels Midi station guide Frankfurt (Main) Hbf station guide.

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

An ICE3M from Brussels at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf.  More information about ICE Advice 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

Food is served on proper china with metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M.  ICE3 classes 403 & 407 have a larger restaurant area.  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 Prague to Budapest, boarding in Prague

The Prague-Budapest sleeper train boarding at Prague Hlavni... 

Czech Railways standard (economy) 2-berth sleeper   Standard (economy) sleeper in day mode   City Night Line deluxe sleeper, private toilet & shower   Comfortline sleeper corridor

Standard sleeper set up as a 2-berth, with blind down & washstand open.  Each room can be used with 1, 2 or 3 beds.  Larger photo.

 

The same sleeper with berths folded away & seats folded out, washstand closed.  Very similar to a deluxe, but without the shower & toilet.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe sleepers are almost identical to standard ones, but with a bit more floorspace & compact shower & toilet instead of washstand.  Larger photo.

 

Just like a hotel, the corridor in a Comfortline sleeping-car.  There's a shower at end of the corridor for standard sleeper passengers.

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Option 6:  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 & Harwich ► Budapest

Budapest  ► Harwich & London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Alternatively, stay in Munich & take a daytime train next day...

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 page See the video...

 

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...

 

Dinner before bed?  Metropolitan la carte restaurant.

 

Standard outside cabin.  Larger photo.  360 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

Food is served on proper china with metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M.  ICE3 classes 403 & 407 have a larger restaurant area.  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 & 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 more information about the sleeper train Kalman Imre.

The sleeper train to Budapest   Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Munich to Budapest

The Kalman Imre, about to leave Munich...

 

2-bed sleeper. Larger photo

6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

Hungarian couchette car at Munich

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 Scotland & 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, Newcastle to Amsterdam (DFDS) or Hull to Rotterdam (P&O) by overnight cruise ferry, with private en suite cabins, restaurants, bars, cinema, a floating hotel.  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 arrived at Rotterdam Europoort from Newcastle.  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 an ICE train from Amsterdam or Utrecht to Cologne Hbf and spend a pleasant afternoon in Cologne.

High-speed ICE3 train at Amsterdam Centraal   ICE2 train, 2nd class

An ICE3 at Amsterdam Centraal platform 2...

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

Step 3, after dinner (I recommend at the Sion Brauhaus 5 minutes walk from Cologne Hbf), take the daily Nightjet sleeper train to Linz, Vienna or Innsbruck.

1 or 2 bed sleeper on Nightjet train to Italy   en suite shower & toilet in deluxe sleeper   Comfortline sleeping-car as now used on Nightjet trains

2-berth sleeper with washbasin.  Larger photo.

 

The toilet & shower in a deluxe sleeper...

 

Nightjet train from Cologne to Vienna.  This is a sleeping-car on an Austrian Nightjet train...

   

Austrian couchette car or liegewagen.  Couchettes are the economical option, flat bunks with rug & pillow.

 

6-berth couchettes, the cheapest option...

 

4-berth couchettes, ideal for families.  Larger photo.

Step 4, 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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Holidays & tours by train

 

0207 864 4600 (UK)

1-888-829-4775 (USA)

1-855-882-2910 (Canada)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 000 554 (NZ)

 

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

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

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

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

  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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European 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 with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for 14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses 2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for 13 + 5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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Guidebooks

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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Hotels in Budapest

Suggested hotels in Budapest...

My 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.

Backpacker 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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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  However, 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, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback is always welcome.

In the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

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

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

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  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. Use code MAN61 to get 5 cashback after signing up and using your Curve card the first time.

 

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 them myself.

 


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