Trains from Budapest
 

small bullet point  Budapest Keleti station information

small bullet point  Budapest Nyugati station information

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This page explains how to travel by train from Budapest to other cities all over Europe, and how to buy tickets the cheapest way.  Information current for 2022.  Suggested hotels in Budapest.

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets...

Take a moment to read these important tips for buying European train tickets.  They answer all the usual questions, such as "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just go online & buy a €35 point-to-point ticket?".  And most important, click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ...

Introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to Interrail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...


Budapest to other destinations in Hungary...

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Budapest to London...

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Budapest to Paris from €79...

Option 1, Budapest to Paris in a single chill-out day...

You can travel from Budapest to Paris in a single day, across Europe in a chill-out day with a good book, free WiFi and lunch in the restaurant car.  The scenery on this route across Austria & Germany is very pleasant, maybe not spectacular.  For a more time-effective journey using sleeper trains, see options 2, 3 or 4 below.  If it's scenery you want, see option 6 through the lovely Arlberg Pass with an overnight stop in Zurich.

Option 2, using the Vienna-Paris Nightjet sleeper train 3 times a week - the time-effective option...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet, seen on platform 9 at Budapest Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

The Nightjet sleeper from Munich to Amsterdam

Step 2, Vienna to Paris by Nightjet sleeper trainMore 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...

Option 3, Budapest to Paris using the Budapest-Zurich sleeper, a time-effective option that saves a hotel bill too...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

Step 1, travel from Budapest to Zurich by sleeper train.  The sleeper train from Budapest to Zurich & Munich is seen here boarding on platform 6 at Budapest KeletiMore information about this train.  Courtesy of David Frankal.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train from Budapest to Zurich   6-berth couchettes on train to Zurich

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

Step 2, take a TGV-Lyria from Zurich to Paris Gare de Lyon, a 320 km/h double-deck high-speed train.

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 seats on the upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right. 360Ί photo.

 

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

Option 4, Budapest to Paris using the Budapest-Munich sleeper.  Similar to option 3, but via Munich, taking a little longer.

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

Step 1, travel from Budapest to Munich by sleeper train Kalman Imre, seen here boarding on platform 6 at Budapest Keleti.  More information about this train.  Courtesy of David Frankal.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train from Budapest to Zurich   6-berth couchettes on train to Zurich

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

An ICE3 (class 407) at Paris Gare de l'Est

Step 2, take a high-speed ICE train to Paris, seen here at Paris Gare de l'Est...

Bistro-restaurant on a class 407 ICE3   Lunch in the bistro on an ICE train

Bistro-restaurant car...

Lunch in the restaurant car...

2nd class seats on a class 407 ICE3   Class 407 ICE3 1st class seats

2nd class seats...

 

1st class seats...

Option 5, Budapest to Paris with overnight stop in Munich....

Option 6, Budapest to Paris via the Arlberg route with overnight stop in Zurich.  The scenic route! 

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

A railjet train pauses at Vienna...

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

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business classAbout.

 

The restaurant...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet arrived at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf spot on time.  More photos & information about railjet trains

 

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

The mountains of 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 railjet first & business class, the stewardess takes your order & serves lunch at your seat...

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.  Once in Switzerland, the railjet runs alongside the Zόrichsee, then along the Walensee...

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Budapest to Nice, Cannes, Monaco...

Option 1, Budapest to Nice using the Vienna-Milan sleeper then a scenic coastal ride...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet, seen on platform 9 at Budapest's Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

Step 2, Vienna to Milan by Nightjet sleeper train, seen here at Vienna HbfMore information about Nightjet trains.

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   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet sleeper train...

Frecciabianca train at Milan Centrale

Step 3, Milan to Ventimiglia by Frecciabianca train in 3h45.  Here, a Frecciabianca is boarding at the magnificent Milan Centrale...

2nd class   1st class

2nd class.  Larger photo.

 

1st class.  Larger photo.

TER train at Juans-les-Pins station

Step 4, take a TER local train from Ventimiglia to Monaco, Nice & Cannes.  Ventimiglia to Nice takes an hour along the coast.  Here, a TER rolls into Juan les Pins station, between Nice & Cannes.

Coastal scenery between Nice & Ventimiglia

Coastal scenery from the upper deck of the TER from Ventimiglia to Nice & Cannes...

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Budapest to Brussels & Bruges from €56...

Option 1, Budapest to Brussels using the Vienna-Brussels Nightjet sleeper train on Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays - the most time-effective option...

Option 2, Budapest to Brussels using the Vienna-Cologne Nightjet sleeper - on days when the Vienna-Brussels Nightjet isn't running...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet, seen on platform 9 at Budapest's Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

The Nightjet sleeper from Brussels to Vienna at Brussels

Step 2, Vienna to Brussels by Nightjet sleeper train.  Above, the inaugural southbound train is ready to leave Brussels the following night, the first scheduled sleeper train to leave Brussels in 16 years - naturally, the Man in Seat 61 was on board!  More information about Nightjet trains.

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 the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet...

Option 3, Budapest to Brussels using the Budapest-Munich sleeper...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

Step 1, travel from Budapest to Munich by sleeper train Kalman Imre, seen here boarding on platform 6 at Budapest Keleti.  More information about this train.  Courtesy of David Frankal.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train from Budapest to Zurich   6-berth couchettes on train to Zurich

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

High-speed ICE3 train at Brussels Midi   ICE2 train, 2nd class

Step 2, Munich to Frankfurt & Brussels by ICE...

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro.  See this month's menu.

Option 4, Budapest to Brussels with overnight stop in Munich...

Option 5, Budapest to Brussels using the Budapest-Prague sleeper - potentially the cheapest option!

The sleeper train from Prague to Budapest, boarding in Prague

Budapest to Prague by sleeping-car.  This is the Prague-Budapest sleeper at Prague.

City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper   City Night Line 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.  Enlarge photo.

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Scenery between Nuremberg & Cheb.  Courtesy of Arnaud Loneux.

 

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

Cheb station, en route from Brussels to Prague

Easy & relaxed interchange at Cheb...  The blue train on the left is the Czech train to & from Prague, the red train on the right is the German regional train to & from Nuremberg.

High-speed ICE3 train at Brussels Midi   ICE2 train, 2nd class

ICE3 from Frankfurt to Brussels, at Brussels Midi.

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro.  See this month's menu.

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Budapest to Amsterdam from €69.80...

Option 1, Budapest to Amsterdam using the Vienna-Amsterdam Nightjet sleeper train - easy, comfortable & time-effective...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet, seen on platform 9 at Budapest Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

The Nightjet sleeper at Vienna

Step 2, Vienna to Amsterdam by Nightjet sleeper train seen here at Vienna Hbf More information about Nightjet trains.

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   Couchette car on sleeper train

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Nightjet train...

Option 2, Budapest to Amsterdam using the Budapest-Munich sleeper train...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

Step 1, travel from Budapest to Munich by sleeper train Kalman Imre, seen here boarding on platform 6 at Budapest Keleti.  More information about this train.  Courtesy of David Frankal.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train from Budapest to Zurich   6-berth couchettes on train to Zurich

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

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

Step 2, Munich to Amsterdam by ICE...

 

ICE3 2nd class seats.  Larger photo.

ICE3 train, 1st class   Lunch & beer on an ICE3 train

ICE3 1st class, with leather seats.  Larger photo.

 

ICE3 bistro.  See this month's menu.

Option 3, Budapest to Amsterdam with overnight stop in Munich - if you prefer daytime trains and hotel to sleepers...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Munich by railjet, seen here on platform 9 at Budapest Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

ICE3 at Amsterdam Centraal

Step 2, Munich to Amsterdam by ICE with 1 easy change in Frankfurt.  ICEs have a restaurant, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Above, an ICE3M at Amsterdam CentraalMore 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.

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Budapest to Luxembourg from €46.90...

Option 1, Budapest to Luxembourg in a single day...

  • Fares start at €46.90 in 2nd class or €59.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • Buy tickets at the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your laptop or smartphone.

    Tip:  To stop journeys involving rail replacement buses cluttering up the search results, click Add intermediate stops and enter Igel as a via station, leaving stopover duration zero.

    Tip:  In the search results, look for a journey with just 2 changes.

Option 2, Budapest to Luxembourg overnight using the Vienna-Koblenz Nightjet sleeper train - the time-effective option...

  • Step 2, travel from Vienna to Koblenz by Nightjet sleeper train leaving Vienna Hbf at 20:13 and arriving at Koblenz Hbf at 05:11 next morning. 

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There's a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has several couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €89.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €109.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €159.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or Austrian Railways www.oebb.at (a little more fiddly, in €, has been known to reject some international cards).  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead, but less than this when the mid-June or mid-December timetable changes intervene.  You print your own tickets.

  • Step 3, travel from Koblenz to Luxembourg by regional train leaving Koblenz Hbf at 06:03 Mondays-Saturdays arriving Luxembourg at 08:24. 

    On Sundays, leave Koblenz 07:06, change at Trier, arrive Luxembourg 09:24.

    The fare is €28 in 2nd class or €47.80 in 1st class, fixed-price.

    Book this at the German Railways website www.bahn.de and print your own ticket or show it on your laptop or smartphone.

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Budapest to Zurich & Switzerland from €39...

Option 1, Budapest to Zurich by sleeper train - the safe, comfortable & time-effective option...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

The sleeper train from Budapest to Zurich & Munich is seen here boarding on platform 6 at Budapest KeletiMore information about this train.  Courtesy of David Frankal.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train from Budapest to Zurich   6-berth couchettes on train to Zurich

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

Option 2, Budapest to Zurich by daytime train - the scenic option, through the wonderful Arlberg Pass...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

A railjet on platform 9 at Budapest's historic Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

The mountains of 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 railjet first & business class, the stewardess takes your order & serves lunch at your seat...

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

The railjet clips a corner of Liechtenstein, passing non-stop through the little station of Schaan-Vaduz.  Once in Switzerland, the railjet runs alongside the Zόrichsee, then along the Walensee...

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Budapest to Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome & Italy...

Option 1, Budapest to Italy using a Vienna-Italy Nightjet sleeper train - safe, comfortable, time-effective...

Budapest to Italy by train...

Simply hop on an afternoon railjet train from Budapest to Vienna, have dinner in Vienna, then board the sleeper to Italy.

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet, seen here on platform 9 at Budapest's historic Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

The Nightjet train from Vienna to Venice, arrived at Venice Santa Lucia

Step 2, take the nightjet sleeper train from Vienna to Italy.  This is the Vienna-Venice nightjet, arrived at Venice Santa Lucia.  See more nightjet information, photos & video.

Nightjet deluxe sleeper, 2-bed   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   4-berth couchette compartment from Cologne to Vienna

2-berth deluxe sleeper.  360° photo.

 

...en suite toilet & shower.

 

4-berth couchettes.  360° photo.

Sunrise as the sleeper train crosses the causeway into Venice

Sunrise as the Munich-Venice Nightjet crosses the causeway over the lagoon into Venice.  Courtesy of Andreas Wiedenhoff.

Option 2, Budapest to Venice in a single day from €42 - comfy & scenic...

A railjet train about to leave Vienna

The afternoon railjet to Venice, about to leave Vienna Hbf.  More photos & info about Vienna-Venice railjets.

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

A railjet boarding at the impressive modern Vienna Hbf.

 

Economy class on railjet...

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

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business classAbout.

 

The restaurant...

The railjet travels over the famous Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  See the Vienna to Venice by train page for more information, photos & video.

Option 3, Budapest to Italy with overnight stop in Vienna - as option 2, but an overnight stop breaks up the journey nicely...

Option 4, Budapest to Italy via Ljubljana - the cheapest option at short notice, with a chance to see Ljubljana & Trieste on the way...

  • Day 1, take the morning train Citadella from Budapest to Ljubljana, as shown in the Budapest-Ljubljana section above.  You arrive late afternoon, enjoy a pleasant evening in Ljubljana.

  • Stay overnight in Ljubljana.  Consider the Hotel Slon which I have used myself, 13 minutes walk from the station with good reviews, or the Petkovšek River View Hotel, 800m (10 minutes walk) from the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2, travel from Ljubljana to Venice, taking the early morning regional train to Trieste then the another regional train to Venice, arriving late morning, see the Venice to Ljubljana page for timetable, fares & how to buy tickets.  By all means take a  later train from Trieste to Venice to see something of Trieste (one of Italy's most under-rated cities).  You buy tickets at the station on the day, they cannot sell out.

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Budapest to Barcelona & Spain

Option 1, Budapest to Barcelona & Spain with overnight stop in Geneva ...

Mt Canigou in the Pyrenees

Mt Canigou & the Pyrenees...  One of the highest peaks in the mighty Pyrenees, the 2,784m (9,137 feet) high Mt Canigou dominates the skyline on the right of the train all the way from Perpignan to Girona, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CanigouMore photos of what to see on the Paris-Barcelona train journey.

Option 2, Budapest to Barcelona & Spain using the Budapest-Zurich sleeper + overnight stop in Marseille - a pleasant option...

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Budapest to Lisbon & Portugal

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Budapest to Munich from €37.90...

Option 1, Budapest to Munich by sleeper train - the time-effective option...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

Step 1, travel from Budapest to Munich by sleeper train Kalman Imre, seen here boarding on platform 6 at Budapest Keleti.  More information about this train.  Courtesy of David Frankal.

Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Budapest to Zurich   4-berth couchettes on train from Budapest to Zurich   6-berth couchettes on train to Zurich

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

4-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes.

Option 2, Budapest to Munich by daytime trains...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

A railjet on platform 9 at Budapest KeletiMore information about railjet trains.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

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Budapest to Berlin from €39.90...

Option 1, Budapest to Berlin by EuroCity train Hungaria - the leisurely daytime option, until 11 December 2021 & from 1 September 2022...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

The Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin, boarding at Budapest NyugatiPhoto courtesy of David Frankal.  Photos below courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   The restaurant car of the Hungaria from Berlin to Budapest

2nd class seats on the HungariaLarger photo.

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria Larger photo.

Scenery along the river Elbe

Between Prague & Dresden the train runs along the pretty river Elbe, or Labe in Czech.  One of Europe's major rivers, the Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven near Hamburg.  Watch for river boats, even the occasional paddle steamer.  See the photos & video of this part of the journey here.

Option 1, Budapest to Berlin by daytime trains - the leisurely daytime option, from 12 December 2021 to 31 August 2022...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet.  This is a railjet on platform 9 at Budapest's historic Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class.  Larger photo.

 

First class.  Larger photo.

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Step 2, Vienna to Berlin on the ICE Berolina.  Above, the ICE Berolina at Vienna Hbf.  More information about ICE-T trainsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the Bordrestaurant.  I highly recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Option 2, Budapest to Berlin by sleeper train - safe, comfortable, time-effective...

Berlin to Budapest sleeping-car   2-bed sleeper on Budapest to Berlin train

A 2-bed double sleeper (above right) in the air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car on the Metropol from Budapest to Berlin.

Each sleeper compartment is fitted with 3 beds so can be sold as a single, double or triple.  Sleeper compartments convert to comfortable private sitting room for evening use.  A light breakfast is included in the fare.  See larger photo.  See more photos of this type of sleeping-car. Interior photo courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

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Budapest to Hamburg from €39.90...

Option 1, Budapest to Hamburg by EuroCity train Hungaria - the leisurely daytime option, until 11 December 2021 & from 1 September 2022...

The EuroCity train Hungaria from Budapest to Berlin & Hamburg

The Hungaria from Budapest to Hamburg, boarding at Budapest NyugatiPhoto courtesy of David Frankal.  Photos below courtesy of Siddhartha Verma.

2nd class seats on the EuroCity train Hungaria Berlin-Budapest   The restaurant car of the Hungaria from Berlin to Budapest

2nd class seats on the HungariaLarger photo.

 

Restaurant car on the Hungaria Larger photo.

Scenery along the river Elbe

Between Prague & Dresden the train runs along the pretty river Elbe, or Labe in Czech.  One of Europe's major rivers, the Elbe eventually flows into the North Sea at Cuxhaven near Hamburg.  Watch for river boats, even the occasional paddle steamer.  See the photos & video of this part of the journey here.

Option 1, Budapest to Hamburg by daytime trains - the leisurely daytime option, from 12 December 2021 to 31 August 2022...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet.  This is a railjet on platform 9 at Budapest's historic Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class.  Larger photo.

 

First class.  Larger photo.

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Step 2, Vienna to Hamburg by ICE.  Above, an ICE-T at Vienna Hbf.  More information about ICE-T trainsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the Bordrestaurant.  I highly recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Option 2, Budapest to Hamburg using the Budapest-Berlin sleeper - the time-effective option that saves a hotel bill...

Berlin to Budapest sleeping-car   2-bed sleeper on Budapest to Berlin train

A 2-bed double sleeper (above right) in the air-conditioned Slovakian sleeping-car on the Metropol from Budapest to Berlin.

Each sleeper compartment is fitted with 3 beds so can be sold as a single, double or triple.  Sleeper compartments convert to comfortable private sitting room for evening use.  A light breakfast is included in the fare.  See larger photo.  See more photos of this type of sleeping-car. Interior photo courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

Option 3, Budapest to Hamburg using the Vienna-Hamburg sleeper...

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Budapest to Frankfurt, Cologne, Dόsseldorf & Germany from €29...
A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Budapest to Munich by railjet, seen on platform 9 at Budapest's Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

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Budapest to Vienna from €9...

Option 1, Budapest to Vienna by train with Austrian & Hungarian national railways...

Option 2, Budapest to Vienna by train with private operator Regiojet - 2 trains per day from €9...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Budapest to Vienna by railjet, on platform 9 at Budapest KeletiMore information about Budapest-Vienna trains.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

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Budapest to Salzburg...

Option 1, Budapest to Salzburg by direct railjet train - fastest & most frequent...

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Railjets link Budapest to Salzburg every 2 hours, seen here on platform 9 at Budapest KeletiMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

Option 2, Budapest to Salzburg by competing Regiojet train to Vienna & Westbahn train to Salzburg - often cheaper, with easy online booking...

A RegioJet train to Prague at Vienna Hbf

A RegioJet train in its distinctive yellow & grey colours, see interior photos of RegioJet trains here

Business class on a RegioJet train from Vienna to Prague   Relax class on a Vienna-Prague RegioJet train

Business class compartment.  Larger photo 360° photo.

 

Relax class seating.  Larger photo 360° photo..

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Budapest to Innsbruck...
A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Budapest to Munich by railjet, seen on platform 9 at Budapest's Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class...  Larger photo.

 

First class...  Larger photo.

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Budapest to Graz, Hallstatt & other destinations in Austria...

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Budapest to Copenhagen, Malmφ, Gothenburg & Stockholm...

Option 1, Budapest to Copenhagen, Gothenburg & Stockholm with overnight stop in Hamburg...

  • How much does it cost?

    Budapest to Copenhagen starts at €49.90 in 2nd class or €79.90 in 1st class.

    Budapest to Stockholm starts at €59.90 in 2nd class or €99.90 in 1st class.

    These are German Railways Sparpreis through fares.  Fares vary like air fares, book ahead for the cheapest prices.

  • To buy tickets...

    You can buy a through ticket from Budapest to Copenhagen, Stockholm, Malmo or Gothenburg from the German Railways website www.bahn.deBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.

    To get the overnight stop in Hamburg, click Add intermediate stops and enter Hamburg Hbf in the via box and 10:00 in the 'hh:mm' box.  Click here to open bahn.de all set up with the necessary parameters, just enter your date of travel and passenger details and if necessary change Copenhagen to Malmo, Gφteborg Central or Stockholm.

    In the search results, look for journeys with the fewest changes, for example just 1 change when going from Budapest to Copenhagen.  Adjust departure time & stopover time if necessary to get the trains you want either side of Hamburg.

    Tickets are posted to any address worldwide, in this case they can't be printed out.  You have to allow 1-2 weeks for tickets to arrive.

    Tip:  If you'd prefer a digital ticket than can be printed out or shown on your smartphone, here's how:  Instead of booking from Budapest to Copenhagen, book from Breclav to Copenhagen, Stockholm, etc.  Breclav is the Hungaria's first stop in the Czech Republic.  Add the overnight stop in Hamburg using the Add intermediate stops feature as normal, but this time set departure time to 11:00.  In the search results, look for the 11:07 departure from Breclav direct to Hamburg, train EC172.  You'll now get a digital ticket, as German Railways have the necessary agreement with the Czech Railways.  Now go to the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz and buy a ticket from Budapest to Breclav from €20 on the same train, the 07:40 departure, train EC172.  You can print this ticket out.

    Tip:  If you have any problems you can split the booking into stages:  Book from Budapest to Hamburg & Hamburg to Copenhagen using www.bahn.de.  Then book Copenhagen to Gothenburg or Stockholm at either www.sj.se (in Krona, can struggle with some overseas credit cards, no booking fee) or Omio.com (in Krona, €, £ or $, small booking fee, quick & easy to use and readily accepts overseas credit cards).

A railjet train from Vienna to Budapest, arrived at Budapest Keleti

Step 1, Budapest to Vienna by railjet.  This is a railjet on platform 9 at Budapest's historic Keleti stationMore information about railjets.

Business class on the Vienna to Venice train   Business class on the Vienna to Venice train

Economy (2nd) class.  Larger photo.

 

First class.  Larger photo.

Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Step 2, Vienna to Hamburg by ICE.  Above, an ICE-T at Vienna Hbf.  More information about ICE-T trainsCourtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

1st class table for two on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train   Lunch in the restaurant car on the Berlin to Vienna ICE train

Table for two in 1st class, my favourite configuration.  There are also tables for four in both classes.

 

Lunch in the Bordrestaurant.  I highly recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!

ICE-T train, driving cab   ICE-T train, 2nd class

You can see into the cab at each end of the train.

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the ICE-T to Vienna...

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

Step 2, Hamburg to Copenhagen by Danish IC3...  This is the late afternoon Hamburg-Copenhagen IC3 leaving platform 5 at Hamburg Hbf on a busy summer day.  The yellow stripe above the windows indicates first class, located at one end of both 3-car units.  More information about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

Boarding a Danish IC3 train at Hamburg Hbf...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

Option 2, Budapest to Copenhagen, Gothenburg & Stockholm using the Budapest-Berlin sleeper...

Option 3, Budapest to Copenhagen, Gothenburg & Stockholm with overnight stop in Berlin...

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Budapest to Oslo & Norway...

Option 1, Budapest to Oslo via Hamburg & Gothenburg - by train all the way...

  • Day 1, travel from Budapest to Vienna by smart modern railjet train leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:40 and arriving Vienna Hbf at 18:21.

    The Austrian railjet has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Don't risk any tight connections when catching a sleeper train.

    Fares start at €19.90 in 2nd class, €29.90 in 1st class or €44.90 in business class (= premium 1st).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easiest to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, Booking opens up to 6 months ahead, small booking fee) or Hungarian Railways www.mavcsoport.hu (more fiddly, in forints, booking opens 60 days ahead, see advice for using it).

    Tip:  If you have an onward sleeping-car ticket you can use the ΦBB Lounge at Vienna Hbf between trains, with complimentary wine & WiFi.

  • Day 1, travel from Vienna to Hamburg by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Vienna Hbf at 20:13 and arriving Hamburg Hbf at 08:47.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €89.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €109.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €159.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a little more fiddly, same prices). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, travel from Hamburg to Gothenburg, leaving Hamburg Hbf at 12:53, changing at Copenhagen and arriving Gothenburg Central at 22:20.

    Hamburg to Copenhagen is by Danish IC3 Intercity train with free WiFi when in Denmark.  There's no catering, so bring your own food & drink.  Copenhagen to Gothenburg is by Φresund train, via the impressive Φresund fixed link.

    From 18 June to 21 August 2022 you'll find an earlier 10:53 departure available from Hamburg Hbf.

    Fares start at €56.90 in 2nd class or €79.90 in 1st class.  Fare vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Buy a ticket for this journey at the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  Gothenburg is listed as Gφteborg CentralBooking opens up to 4 months ahead.  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.

  • Stay overnight in Gothenburg.

  • Day 3, travel from Gothenburg to Oslo, leaving Goteborg Central at 06:10 Mondays-Fridays arriving Oslo Central at 09:51, or at 07:55 on Saturdays arriving 11:52, or at 10:15 on Sundays arriving 13:51.  This is a comfortable air-conditioned Norwegian train.

    Book this at the Norwegian website www.vy.no.

Option 2, Budapest to Oslo via the Kiel-Oslo cruise ferry - the most comfortable way to Oslo...

  • Day 1, travel from Budapest to Vienna by smart modern railjet train leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:40 and arriving Vienna Hbf at 18:21.

    The Austrian railjet has a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Don't risk any tight connections when catching a sleeper train.

    Fares start at €19.90 in 2nd class, €29.90 in 1st class or €44.90 in business class (= premium 1st).  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easiest to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, booking opens up to 6 months ahead, small booking fee) or Hungarian Railways www.mavcsoport.hu (more fiddly, in forints, booking opens 60 days ahead, see advice for using it).

    Tip:  If you have an onward sleeping-car ticket you can use the ΦBB Lounge at Vienna Hbf between trains, with complimentary wine & WiFi.

  • Day 1, travel from Vienna to Hamburg by Nightjet sleeper train, leaving Vienna Hbf at 20:13 and arriving Hamburg Hbf at 08:47.

    This comfortable Austrian Nightjet train has an air-conditioned Comfortline sleeping-car with nine 1, 2 & 3-berth standard compartments with washbasin and three 1, 2 or 3-berth deluxe compartments with shower & toilet. There are toilets & a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in the regular sleepers.  The sleeping-car attendant can serve drinks, snacks & light meals from a room service menu.  The train has couchette cars with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats.  A light breakfast is included in sleepers & couchettes, served in your compartment.  See the Nightjet page for a guide to on-board accommodation, travel tips, photos & video.

    Fares start at €49.90 in 6-berth couchettes, €59.90 in 4-berth couchettes, €89.90 in a 3-bed sleeper, €109.90 in a 2-bed sleeper or €159.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    Book this train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at (in €, a little more fiddly, same prices). Booking opens up to 6 months ahead and you print your own ticket.

  • Day 2, travel from Hamburg Hbf to Kiel Hbf by regional train, these leave several times each hour taking 1h10, fixed-price fare around €23.

    In Kiel, the Color Line ferry terminal is only 5-6 minutes walk from Kiel Hbf, but allow several hours between train & ferry for the ferry check-in and in case of delay.

  • Day 2, sail from Kiel to Oslo by luxurious overnight Color Line ferry, with a full range of en suite cabins, suites, bars, restaurants and lounges.  The m/v Magic or m/v Fantasy normally sails at 14:00 arriving Oslo at 10:00 next morning (Day 3 from Budapest).

    Check times & buy tickets using the Direct Ferries website or www.colorline.com.

    Make sure you're on deck next morning as the ship sails through spectacular scenery up Oslo Fjord.  The ship docks at the modern Color Line terminal about 2 km from the city centre.  Color Line provide transfer buses to Oslo Sentral station costing 55 krone, or there are plenty of taxis.  If you have little luggage it's possible to walk.  See map of Oslo showing ferry terminal.

Germany to Oslo Color Line ferry at Kiel

This photo is taken from the exit of Kiel station, so you can see how close the ferry is.  It's a 5-6 minute walk across the harbour, with a street lift up to a connecting walkway which takes you to the ferry terminal. If you have reserved one of what Color Line call their "5 star suites", check in at the desk rather than the machines and you'll be directed to a special lounge to wait with free tea, coffee, juice, snacks & WiFi.  You'll also have priority boarding of the ship.  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

Boarding the ferry in Kiel

Boarding the Color Line ferry to Oslo in Kiel...

Kiel to Oslo ferry, Color Class suite   Kiel to Oslo ferry, restaurant

A 5 Star Suite on the ferry...

 

More cruise liner than ferry!  The restaurant.

View from Color Line ferry to Oslo

Wake up to this....

Option 3, Budapest to Oslo by train to Frederikshavn then DFDS ferry to Oslo...

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Budapest to Helsinki & Finland...

Option 1, Budapest to Helsinki using a Finnlines ferry from Germany - the easiest option...

Finnlines sail from Travemόnde in northern Germany to Helsinki every day, boarding from 22:30 to 24:00 and arriving Helsinki Vuosaari ferry terminal at 09:00 2 nights later.  First go to www.finnlines.com to check sailing dates, times & to book the ferry.  Then travel as follows:

Finnlines Star class ferry to Helsinki   Cabin on the Finnlines ferry to Helsinki

One of Finnlines 3 star class ferries to Helsinki.  Courtesy of Finnlines.

 

Cabin on the ferry...

Option 2, Budapest to Helsinki by train to Stockholm, then ferry...

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Budapest to Prague from €16...

Option 1, Budapest to Prague by air-conditioned EuroCity train from €19...

EuroCity train to Budapest boarding in Prague

A EuroCity train from Prague to Budapest about to leave Prague Hlavni...

Prague to Budapest EuroCity traiin   2nd class open seating on Prague-Budapest EuroCity traiin

Restaurant car...

 

2nd class open plan saloon seating...

Option 2, by competing Regiojet train...

  • In addition, starting 31 July 2020, private open-access operator Regiojet now operates 2 trains a day from Budapest to Prague with 4 classes (lo-cost, standard, relax & business) and fares from just €16, book at www.regiojet.com More details...

A RegioJet train to Prague at Vienna Hbf

A RegioJet train at Vienna Hbf.  More photos & information about Regiojet trains...

Option 3, Budapest to Prague by sleeper train - safe, comfortable, time-effective

The sleeper train from Prague to Budapest, boarding in Prague

The Budapest-Prague sleeper.  This is the southbound train, boarding at Prague Hlavni...

City Night Line standard (economy) sleeper   City Night Line 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.

 

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

 

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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Budapest to Českύ Krumlov...
  • Step 1, travel from Budapest to Linz by smart Austrian railjet train...

    There are departures at 06:40 then every two hours from 07:40 to 13:40, journey time around 4h04. 

    The railjets have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • Step 2, travel from Linz to Ceske Budejovice by comfortable air-conditioned Czech train...

    These leave every two hours or so, journey time 2h16.

    Incidentally, Ceske Budejovice might sound more familiar by its former Germanic name, Budweis. That's right, where the name of Budweiser beer comes from! The town is worth a look around in its own right. Why not take an earlier train and have a wander into the old town?

  • Step 3, take the little branch line train from Ceske Budejovice to Českύ Krumlov run by private operator GWTR...

    This runs every hour or two taking 44 minutes.

    You'll find  more information about Českύ Krumlov, the GWTR local train, taxis between Českύ Krumlov station and old town, and how to travel from Českύ Krumlov on to Prague, on the Cesky Krumlov page.

  • How to check train times...

    Run an enquiry from Budapest Keleti to Cesky Krumlov using the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  This is the quickest and easiest site to use, though it won't sell tickets.  Tip:  Click Add intermediate stops and enter Linz as a via station.  Look for journeys with just 2 changes.

    You'll probably notice there's a tight 10-minute connection at Linz.  Perfectly doable if the first train is only 5 minutes late, not doable if it's 10 minutes late.  If you re-run the enquiry with Duration of transfer changed from standard to at least 30 minutes, it'll give you a 2h10 connection in Linz, time for lunch and a wander.  Your call!

  • How much does it cost?

    Budapest to Linz starts at €19.90 in 2nd class or €29.90 in 1st class.  Fares work like air fares so book ahead.

    Linz to Cesky Krumlov starts at €9.90 in 2nd class or €22.90 in 1st class.  Fares work like air fares so book ahead.

  • How to buy tickets...

    When you have identified the trains you want to book:

    (1)  Book the Budapest to Linz train at www.thetrainline.com (easy to use, in €, £ or $, overseas credit cards no problem, small booking fee) or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.atBooking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

    (2)  Book the Linz to Cesky Krumlov trains at the Czech Railways website www.cd.czBooking opens up to 92 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it on your phone.

    Tip:  If you're happy with the 10-minute connection in Linz, I'd either buy the higher-priced International Ticket fare for around €22 as this is good for any train that day, or buy a €7 First Minute advance-purchase fare but accept that if there's a delay and you miss your specified train you may have to pay €22 for a new ticket.  Or simply buy two €7 First Minute fares, the second one for the later train as a back-up!

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Budapest to Brno...
  1. Budapest to Prague EuroCity trains link Budapest Nyugati with Brno every 2 hours or so, journey time 3h57.

  2. Advance-purchase First Minute fares start at €21.  The full-flex fare bought on the day is around €51.

  3. Book at the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz.  Booking normally opens 90 days ahead and you print your own ticket.

    The cheap fares have limited availability, specified train only, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

    You can also book at the Hungarian Railways site www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using it.

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Budapest to Ostrava...
  1. A direct EuroCity train leaves Budapest Nyugati for Ostrava at 08:28 every morning, journey time 5h20.  Later departures are possible every 2 hours or so with one easy change of train at Breclav.

  2. Advance-purchase First Minute fares start at €17.  The full-flex fare bought on the day is around €62.

  3. Book at the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz.  Booking normally opens 90 days ahead and you print your own ticket.

    The cheap fares have limited availability, specified train only, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

    You can also book at the Hungarian Railways site www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using it.

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Budapest to Bratislava from €9...
EuroCity train to Budapest boarding in Prague

A Budapest-Bratislava-Prague EuroCity train seen at Prague Hlavni.  Most trains on this route are Czech like this, a few use Hungarian and/or Slovakian carriages.  More photos & information.

Prague to Budapest EuroCity traiin   2nd class open seating on Prague-Budapest EuroCity traiin

Restaurant car...

 

2nd class open plan saloon seating...

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Budapest to Kosice & Poprad Tatry...
  • Intercity trains link Budapest Keleti with Kosice in Slovakia every 2 hours from 06:30 until 18:30, journey time 3h29.

    The trains use comfortable air-conditioned Slovakian carriages, with 1st & 2nd class compartments.  Seat reservation is required.

    Change in Kosice for a train to Poprad-Tatry, another 1h15.  Service was increased from just 2 per day in December 2021.

  • You can buy tickets from Budapest to Kosice at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu (see my advice for using it). 

    Online advance-purchase fares start at €13.20 in 2nd class or 19.80 in 1st class.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.

    Buy a Kosice-Poprad ticket at the station when you get to Kosice, or try the Slovakian Railways website www.zssk.sk.

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Budapest to Brasov & Bucharest from €29...

Option 1, Budapest to Romania by sleeper train...

  • The safe & comfortable sleeper train Ister leaves Budapest Keleti at 19:10 arriving Brasov 09:23 & Bucharest Gara de Nord at 11:59 next day.

    The Ister has a comfortable, safe & civilised air-conditioned sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, and a couchette car with 6-berth compartments.  Take a picnic and bottle of wine as there may not be a bar car until the train gets to Romania.  It's a really scenic journey in the morning, as the train passes through the Carpathian mountains between Brasov & Ploesti, have your camera to hand!

    There's also an earlier train, the Muntenia leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:05 arriving Bucharest Gara de Nord 08:30.  This has a couchette car and seats cars, but no sleeper.  You'll miss the scenery between Brasov & Ploesti through the Carpathians, but may prefer the earlier arrival!

    There's also a later train, the Dacia Express, leaving Budapest Keleti at 23:10 arriving Bucharest Gara de Nord at 16:04.  This train starts its journey in Vienna, and has seats, couchettes & a modern Romanian air-conditioned sleeping-car of the latest type.

  • Fares start at €39 with a couchette in 6-berth, €46 with a couchette in 4-berth, €69 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €84 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €162 with a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.  All prices per person per berth.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • Book at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro.  Click EN top right for English.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  For Bucharest type Bucuresti.  It can book seats, couchettes or sleepers.  For Hungary to Romania journeys you print your own ticket.

    You can also normally book at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu, see my advice on using it.  For Bucharest type Bucuresti.  You show your ticket in the MAV app on your smartphone.  However, since MAV revamped its website in 2020, it can't book couchettes or sleepers, only seats, though this should be fixed at some point.

    Tip   If the system won't offer tickets for a 2-bed or 1-bed sleeper, simply book three tickets in a 3-bed sleeper to get sole occupancy of a whole sleeper compartment.  Simples!

    Tip:  If you're going to Brasov and it says No offers available, that just means they have forgotten to program in any allocation for Brasov.  Try booking from Budapest to Bucuresti instead, you'll then often find places available, then you simply get off in Brasov.

2-berth sleeper on the Ister   The Ister at Bucharest Nord

A 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper with washbasin.  Larger photo.

 

The sleeping-car (vagon de dormit) on the westbound Ister at Bucharest.  Sleepers convert from beds to private sitting rooms for day use.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com.

Couchette car on the Ister EuroNight train from Budapest to Bucharest   Romanian couchette car from Vienna to Bucharest

The vagon cuseta (couchette car) on the westbound Ister, boarding at Bucharest.  Couchettes convert from bunks at night to seats by day.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com .

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes.  Larger photo.

Option 2, Budapest to Romania by daytime trains...

  • There are comfortable air-conditioned daytime trains between Budapest & Romania, an epic journey across Transylvania...

    The comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train Traianus leaves Budapest Keleti daily at 07:10 and arrives Arad 12:37, Timişoara Nord 13:27 & Bucharest Nord at 23:30.  1st & 2nd class.  A Romanian cafe-bar car is available for snacks & drinks.

    Another air-conditioned IC train leaves Budapest Keleti 09:10 via Simeria & Sibiu and arrives Brasov 23:23.  2nd class seats only.

  • Advance-purchase online fares start at €26.30 in 2nd class or (on trains which have 1st class) €40.50 in 1st class.

The daytime train from Budapest to Bucharest

The daytime train from Budapest to Bucharest has modern air-conditioned Romanian carriages.  Three cars travel all the way, additional cars are attached whilst in Hungary, and additional cars and a bar car are attached between Drobeta Turnu Sevrin & Bucharest.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com.

The 'Transylvania' train to Brasov about to leave Budapest   2nd class on the Budapest to Bucharest train

On the left, the daytime train to Bucharest is about to leave Budapest Keleti...

 

Comfortable 2nd class seats on the Budapest to Bucharest train.  There are power outlets under the tables.  Larger photo.

Bar stools on the Budapest to Bucharest train   Bar car on the Budapest to Bucharest train

A bar car is attached between Drobeta Turnu Sevrin & Bucharest.  Photos courtesy of @AndyBTravels, DiscoverByRail.com.

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Budapest to Cluj, Timisoara, Sibiu, Sighişoara....
  • The Dacia Express sleeper train leaves Budapest Keleti at 22:45 and arrives at Sighisoara 10:09.

  • Two daily air-conditioned trains link Budapest with Cluj, leaving Budapest Keleti at 07:40 & 13:40, journey time around 7h30, and there's a sleeper to Cluj leaving Budapest Keleti at 23:10 with a modern sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments.

  • The comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train Traianus leaves Budapest Keleti daily at 07:10 and arrives Timişoara Nord at 13:27.

  • Book at the Romanian Railways international website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  This can book seats, couchettes or sleepers.  You print your own ticket.

    You can also try using the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu to check train times & buy tickets.  Booking opens 60 days aheadSee my advice for using mavcsoport.hu.  However, the Hungarian site may or may not be able to do couchettes & sleepers.

  • Tip:  Sometimes mavcsoport.hu won't book to some smaller destinations, and it will say no offers available.  But if you can identify that the train you want continues to Brasov or Bucharest using the online timetable at www.bahn.de/en, you can use www.mavcsoport.hu to book from Budapest to (say) Brasov and simply get off when the train stops at your chosen station.  This is perfectly legitimate.  Better to buy a €29 ticket from Budapest to Brasov and get off at Sibiu than to buy an expensive full-price ticket from Budapest to Sibiu.

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Budapest to Ljubljana from €16...

Option 1, Budapest to Ljubljana by morning train all year round...

  • A comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train called the Citadella leaves Budapest Dιli at 09:00 & arrives Ljubljana at 16:35.

    The Citadella is 2nd class only, composed of several Slovenian cars with 6-seat compartments and one Hungarian car with open-plan seating.  There's no catering car so take your own picnic & beer or wine.  it's routed directly from Hungary into Slovenia.  Enjoy the scenic run along the Sava river into Ljubljana.

    Advance-purchase fares start at €16 in 2nd class.  Bought at the station on the day, expect to pay around €40.

    Book at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using itBooking opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the MAV app on your smartphone.  Suggested hotel in Ljubljana.

  • There are other journey options involving a change of train which you can find using the online timetable at www.bahn.de/en.

Option 2, Budapest to Ljubljana by afternoon train all year round - starting 12 December 2021...

  • A comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train called the Drava leaves Budapest Keleti at 16:15 and arrives Ljubljana at 00:56.

    This train is composed of excellent modernised Hungarian carriages with open-plan seating in both 1st & 2nd class.  There's no catering car so bring a picnic & some beer or wine.  It's routed across Austria via Graz.

    Advance-purchase fares start at €39.40 in 2nd class or €51.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

    First try booking at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using it.  At the time I wrote this, booking of this particular train had not been enabled, but it may be in the future.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the MAV app on your smartphone.

    If that doesn't work, use the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at which can definitely book this train as it is routed across Austria.  Booking opens up to 6 months ahead.  You print your own ticket.

Option 3, Budapest to Ljubljana by sleeper train, summer only...

  • In summer late June to mid-August there's also a sleeper train leaving Budapest Dιli around 20:30 arriving Ljubljana around 06:00 and continuing to Koper on the Adriatic coast.  The train has couchettes (4 & 6 bunk compartments) and a sleeping-car (1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin).  Book online at www.mavcsoport.hu.

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Budapest to Zagreb from €15...
  • There are one or two direct trains from Budapest to Zagreb every day.

    In the morning, the InterCity Gradec leaves Budapest Dιli at 06:35 arriving Zagreb 12:55. Runs 6 June - 11 September 2022.

    In the afternoon the InterCity Agram leaves Budapest Dιli at 15:35 arriving Zagreb 21:05.  Runs every day all year round.

    Both trains travel along the southern shore of Lake Balaton, a scenic section of line.  If you get any good photos, let me know!

  • Both trains have comfortable air-conditioned Hungarian coaches, the Gradec also has Croatian air-con and non-air-con cars.  There's no catering car so take your own picnic & wine.

  • You can buy a cheap ticket for either €15 or €29 online (depending on availability) at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using it.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the MAV app on your smartphone.  Suggested hotels in Zagreb & Split.

  • There are other journey options involving a change of train which you can find using the online timetable at www.bahn.de, but you'll need to book these at the station as these cannot be booked online.

EuroCity train Rippl Ronai from Zagreb to Budapest

The Intercity train at Budapest with comfortable & modern air-conditioned coaches, both Croatian (foreground) and Hungarian (background).  A great way to travel.  Courtesy of Jonathan Hounsome.

Lake Balaton seen from the Budapest to Zagreb train

The train runs along the southern shore of Lake Balaton, Hungary's largest lake.  Courtesy of Della Mcvay.

Sunflowers seen from the train from Budapest to Zagreb

The train passes fields of sunflowers...  Courtesy of Louise Donnelly.

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Budapest to Split & Dubrovnik...

Option 1, Budapest to Split & Dubrovnik via Zagreb - all year round, allows you to stop off in Zagreb.

An ICN train to Splt at Zagreb station   1st class seats on the fast tilting ICN train from Zagreb to Split

The daytime trains to Split:  These fast, tilting, air-conditioned ICN trains link Zagreb & Split once or twice a day through great scenery.  Above right, first class seats on the train to Split.  You can now buy tickets online at www.hzpp.hr.

Scenery seen from the Zagreb-Split train

Scenery between Zagreb and Split seen from the train...  Photo courtesy of Pαraic Maguire.

Option 2, Budapest to Split & Dubrovnik by sleeper train Adria, mid-June to early September, 2022 dates not confirmed...

  • A direct train called the Adria runs from mid-June to early September, leaving Budapest Keleti at 18:55 every evening arriving Split at 08:37 next morning.  It has a comfortable Hungarian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments and a couchette car with 4 & 6 bunk compartments.

  • The fare is around €79 with couchette or from €92 with a bed in a cosy 2-bed sleeper.

  • Check to see if it is bookable online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using it.  If not, you will need to book at the station or by phone with a ticketing agency in your home country.

  • For Dubrovnik, take a bus from Split.  There are buses every hour or even every half hour, run by several companies.  Journey time between 3h45 and 4h35, fare around €13-€17.  Buy a ticket at the bus station in Split.

Option 3, Budapest to Split & Dubrovnik by Regiojet sleeper - summer only, 3 times a week, recommended!

  • Open-access operator Regiojet introduced this overnight train from Prague to Rijeka last year and it was the surprise runaway success of 2020, with every 500-seat train averaging 90% occupancy and carrying tens of thousands of passengers on holiday.  It will be back for summer 2021, expanded to call at Budapest Kelenfold and serve Zagreb, Rijeka and Split, with bus connections to other resorts along the Adriatic coast.

  • It ran 3 times a week from 29 May until 27 September 2021, increased to daily in July & August.  2022 dates not yet released.

    It will leave Budapest Kelenfold at 00:05 on Saturday, Monday & Wednesday mornings (daily in July & August), arriving Zagreb 05:17 & Split 13:44.  The train is due to pull in from Prague at 23:40 (Fri, Sun, Tue nights), so you can board before midnight.

    This excellent Regiojet train has 4-berth couchettes & seats.  The couchette fare includes all necessary bedding and a light breakfast.   There's excellent on-board at-seat service from an extensive menu, with complimentary bottled water and excellent Illy coffee.  There's free WiFi.

    On most departures there's a bus connection from Split to Dubrovnik, arriving Dubrovnik bus station at 18:10.

  • The fare is €34.90 in a seat or €41.90 with a couchette in a shared 4-berth compartment, or €125.60 for sole occupancy of a whole couchette compartment for 1 to 4 people.

  • Buy an e-ticket online at www.regiojet.com.  Booking is a breeze, it even allows you to choose your exact place from a carriage plan.  Booking for summer 2021 opens 18 February.

Regiojet overnight train   Regiojet couchette compartment

The holiday train...  Above left, Regiojet overnight train at Prague Hlavni.  Above right, a 4-berth couchette compartment on this train, in daytime mode.  The seat back hinges up to form the upper berths.  See video of this overnight journey, taken during the 2020 season.

Regiojet arrived in Croatia   Berth on the Regiojet train to Croatia

Arrived in Croatia...

 

Couchette...

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Budapest to Sarajevo...

The direct Budapest to Sarajevo train was sadly discontinued in 2012, and the Zagreb-Sarajevo direct train is also currently suspended across the Croatian-Bosnian border.  But you can still travel from Budapest to Sarajevo by train with a short break in the middle by taxi, like this:

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Budapest to Belgrade for €15...  Or to Montenegro for €35...
  • The Budapest-Belgrade line is out of action since February 2019 for several years.  It's being rebuilt for 200 km/h operation which will eventually reduce Budapest-Belgrade journey time to 3½ hours.  See further details & read latest updates about this engineering work.

  • A train leaves Budapest Keleti at 11:57 every day arriving Novi Sad at 18:44.

    Novi Sad is about 90km from Belgrade, you make your own way from there to Belgrade, there are many local buses available.

  • You might consider going Budapest to Zagreb as shown here, staying overnight and/or visiting that city, then taking the daily Zagreb-Belgrade train as shown here.

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Budapest to Sofia...

The Budapest-Belgrade line is currently blocked by upgrading work, so the best route is now via Bucharest...

Option 1, Budapest to Sofia using a Budapest-Bucharest sleeper...

  • Day 1, travel from Budapest to Bucharest on the sleeper train Muntenia, leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:10 and arriving Bucharest Nord at 08:06.

    The Muntenia has 4 & 6-berth couchettes and ordinary seats.  A Romanian sleeping-car is attached from Timişoara Nord (depart 22:00) to Bucharest.  There's no catering car, so bring your own food & drink.

    Fares start at €40 with a couchette in 6-berth or €47 with a couchette in 4-berth.  These are limited-availability advance-purchase fares.

    Book this at the Romanian Railways international website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.

    If you want the comfort & privacy of a proper sleeper from Timisoara to Bucharest, (1) book a 2nd class seat from Budapest to Timisoara from €17 using bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en.  You print your own ticket.  (2) Now book berths in a 1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper from Timisoara Nord to Bucharest Nord at the Romanian domestic website bilete.cfrcalatori.ro and print your own ticket.

Option 2, Budapest to Sofia by daytime trains with overnight stop in Bucharest

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Budapest to Warsaw from €27...

Option 1, Budapest to Warsaw by sleeper train - safe, comfortable, time-effective...

  • A safe & comfortable EuroNight sleeper train leaves Budapest Nyugati at 19:40 every night, and arrives Warsaw Gdanska at 08:52.

    It has economical couchettes in 4 & 6 bunk compartments and a comfortable, safe & civilised sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin or 1 & 2 bed deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower.  A sleeper is the recommended option, you'll be safe and snug.  The sleeper is of Polish Railways latest air-conditioned type, see the photos below.

  • Fares start at €49.90 with a couchette in a 6-berth, €59.90 with a couchette in a 4-berth, €69.90 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €88.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

  • You can book this train at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, see my advice for using it.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  For single occupancy, book 2 tickets in a 2-bed sleeper.

  • If booking online at mavcsoport doesn't work - it sometimes says No offer available, either because the cheap fares are sold out or because MAV staff have forgotten to load the necessary data, or because they have decided to sell at full-price which their website doesn't sell - do one of the following:

    Option 1, pick up the phone and book that way, although you'll only get full-flex tickets this way, not cheap advance-purchase fares as those are only sold direct by MAV.  In the UK you can DB (German Railways) UK phone line on 00 49 (0)30 311 68 29 04.  Alternatively, anyone from any country can order tickets from reliable Polish agency www.polrail.com and pay extra for tickets to be sent to you, although again, this will cost a lot more than buying a cheap advance-purchase ticket from Hungarian Railways direct.  For cheapness, consider option 2 below...

    Option 2, consider catching the 18:40 EuroCity train from Budapest Keleti to Vienna Hbf, then using using the 22:10 Vienna-Warsaw sleeper train instead, see times & fares here.  Or by all means book an earlier train from Budapest and have dinner in Vienna.  You can easily buy a cheap Sparschiene fare in a couchette or sleeper from Vienna to Warsaw at www.thetrainline.com or the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at with tickets that can be printed out.  Then buy a ticket from Budapest to Vienna at www.thetrainline.com or the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, also with tickets that can be printed out.  Simples!

Modern Polish sleeping-car

Modern Polish sleeping-car of the type used Budapest-Warsaw.  Photo courtesy of WieselFahrer...

Modern Polish sleeper in day mode   Modern Polish sleeper in day mode, set up as a triple   Deluxe 2-bed sleeper in modern Polish sleeping-car   Deluxe sleepers have a private shower & toilet

Standard sleeper in evening/morning mode with seats folded out.

 

Standard sleeper set up as a 3-berth.  It can also be sold as a single or double.

 

Deluxe sleeper, set up as a 2-berth, showing TV & wardrobe.

 

Deluxe sleeper:  En suite shower & toilet.  Click the photos for larger images.

Option 2, Budapest to Warsaw by daytime train - the leisurely daytime option...

  • A smart air-conditioned EuroCity train called the Bαthory leaves Budapest Nyugati at 08:28 and arrives Warsaw Centralna at 19:15.

    The train has Hungarian seating cars (a 1st class compartment car, 2nd class compartment cars & a 2nd class open-plan car) and a Hungarian restaurant car.  Take a good book, enjoy an inexpensive meal in the restaurant car with a beer or two, and chill out.

  • Fares start at €27 in 2nd class or €41 in 1st class if booked in advance online, these cheap fares have limited availability.

  • Book online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  See tips for using mavcsoport.hu.  Booking opens 60 days ahead.  You print your own ticket or can show it in the MAV app on your smartphone.

Hungarian EuroCity train

Budapest to Warsaw by Hungarian EuroCity train...  Click the photos below for larger images.

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

1st class compartment on a EuroCity train.

 

2nd class compartment. This train also has one open-plan car.

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Budapest to Krakow from €19...

Option 1, Budapest to Krakow by daytime train...

  • Two modern air-conditioned through cars leave Budapest Nyugati every day at 08:28, arriving Krakow Glowny at 17:07.

    They run from Budapest to Bohumin attached to the Budapest-Warsaw EuroCity train Bαthory, they then run from Bohumin to Krakow attached to the Prague-Krakow Cracovia.

    The 2nd class through cars are comfortable, modern & air-conditioned with power sockets at all seats.  One car has classic 6-seat compartments, the other has open-plan seating.  If you insist on going 1st class you will have to switch trains at Bohumin just after 14:00, where the through car is switched between trains.  I recommend sticking with 2nd class which is absolutely fine in these modern cars.

    A Hungarian restaurant car is available from Budapest to Bohumin, reached around 14:00, and a Czech bistro car runs from Bohumin to Krakow, see the photos of the bistro on the Prague-Krakow page.

  • Fares start at €19 if you book online in advance.

The Budapest to Krakow train

Above, the Budapest-Krakow through cars, seen at Katowice attached to the rear of the Prague-Krakow Cracovia...

One of the Budapest to Krakow through cars   One of the Budapest to Krakow through cars

Hungarian Railways are starting to use their latest international cars on this route, with power sockets, wheelchair provision, bike spaces and an unusual interior layout with some open-plan seats with tables for four and several 5-seat semi-compartments like the one shown above right.  Click the images for larger photos Photos courtesy of Discoverbyrail.com.

Option 2, Budapest to Krakow by sleeper train - safe, comfortable, time-effective...

  • A direct EuroNight sleeper train leaves Budapest Nyugati at 19:40 every night, arriving Krakow Glowny at 05:46.

    The train has a comfortable, carpeted sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin or 1 & 2 bed deluxe compartments with en suite toilet & shower, it also has a couchette car with 4 & 6 bunk compartments.  A sleeper is the recommended option, you'll be safe & snug.  The sleeper is of Polish Railways latest air-conditioned type, see the photos below.

  • Fares start at €49.90 with a couchette in a 6-berth, €59.90 with a couchette in a 4-berth, €69.90 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €88.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129.90 in a single-bed sleeper, all per person per berth.

  • You can usually book this train online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, although it won't book deluxe sleepers so just stick with regular ones.  Booking opens 60 days aheadSee my advice for using mavcsoport.hu.

  • Tip:  If booking online at mavcsoport doesn't work - if it says No offer available, either because the cheap fares are sold out or because MAV staff have forgotten to load the necessary data, or because they have decided to sell at full-price which their website doesn't sell - try one of the following workarounds:

    Option 1, It's reported that the MAV website only sells berths in triple sleepers, not in doubles - and from online checks this seems to be the case.  So if you want to book 2 people in a 2-berth sleeper or 1 person in a single-berth sleeper, simply book 3 people in 3-berth instead, making sure you run the enquiry with 'own compartment' selected.  This gets you sole occupancy of one whole sleeper compartment from €49 x 3 (which is still cheaper than paying full-whack for a double or single) and you can simply fold one or two of the three beds away to convert it into a double or single.  Easy when you know!

    Option 2, pick up the phone and book that way, although you'll only get full-flex tickets this way, not cheap advance-purchase fares as those are only sold direct by MAV.  In the UK you can DB (German Railways) UK phone line on 00 49 (0)30 311 68 29 04.  Alternatively, anyone from any country can order tickets from reliable Polish agency www.polrail.com and pay extra for tickets to be sent to you, although again, this will cost a lot more than buying a cheap advance-purchase ticket from Hungarian Railways direct.  For cheapness, consider option 3 below...

    Option 3, consider catching the 18:40 EuroCity train from Budapest Keleti to Vienna Hbf, then using using the 22:10 Vienna-Krakow sleeper train instead, see times & fares here - the Vienna-Krakow(-Warsaw) sleeper arrives at Krakow coupled to the Budapest-Krakow(-Warsaw), they are two portions of the same train.  By all means book an earlier train from Budapest and have dinner in Vienna!  You can easily buy a cheap Sparschiene fare in a couchette or sleeper from Vienna to Krakow at the www.thetrainline.com or at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at with tickets that can be printed out.  Then buy a ticket from Budapest to Vienna at www.thetrainline.com or the Hungarian Railways website www.mavcsoport.hu, also with tickets that can be printed out.  Simples!

Modern Polish sleeping-car

Modern Polish sleeping-car of the type used Budapest-Krakow-Warsaw.  Photo courtesy of WieselFahrer...

Modern Polish sleeper in day mode   Modern Polish sleeper in day mode, set up as a triple   Deluxe 2-bed sleeper in modern Polish sleeping-car   Deluxe sleepers have a private shower & toilet

Standard sleeper in evening/morning mode with seats folded out.

 

Standard sleeper set up as a 3-berth.  It can also be sold as a single or double.

 

Deluxe sleeper, set up as a 2-berth, showing TV & wardrobe.

 

Deluxe sleeper:  En suite shower & toilet.  Click the photos for larger images.

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Budapest to Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn...
  • Day 2, travel from Warsaw to Kaunas & Vilnius, leaving Warsaw at lunchtime, changing at Bialystok and arriving Kaunas in Lithuania in the evening, with connections to Vilnius, see the Warsaw to Vilnius page for details.  Warsaw-Vilnius costs around €24, buy a ticket at the station in Warsaw.

  • Day 3, for onward travel from Vilnius to Riga, see here.

  • Day 4, for onward travel from Riga to Tallinn, see here.

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Budapest to Lviv, Kiev & Ukraine...

Option 1, Budapest to Lviv & Kiev by direct sleeping-car.  See Ukrainian news report on the introduction of the Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car service...

  • A Ukrainian sleeping-car leaves Budapest Keleti at 19:40 every evening and arrives next day at Lviv at 10:26 & Kiev at 16:21.

    Introduced in December 2017, this Ukrainian sleeping-car has comfortable 1, 2 & 3 berth compartments with washbasin, see the photos below.  It comes through from Vienna.

    Bought at the station in Budapest the fare is around €54 with a bed in a cosy 3-bed sleeper.  However, this direct sleeping-car is proving popular and can leave fully-booked, so it's best pre-booked.

    The best way to pre-book tickets for this train is via reliable agency www.polrail.com, with tickets posted or couriered to you for a small fee.  Polrail are based in Poland so charge in zlotys, but as they have access to Ukrainian ticketing system they are good for booking this train.  You cannot currently book online with ΦBB although you could try emailing or calling their telesales via their website www.oebb.atFeedback would be appreciated.

    Booked through Polrail (in zlotys, converted here into euros):

    Budapest to Kiev costs around €103 in a 3-berth sleeper €114 in a 2-berth sleeper, or €184 in a single-berth sleeper.

    Budapest to Lviv costs around €87 in a 3-berth sleeper €95 in a 2-berth sleeper, or €152 in a single-berth sleeper.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass

The Vienna-Budapest-Kiev sleeping-car at Kiev Pass.  Photos courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

The Vienna-Kiev sleeping-car has its wheels changed at Chop

The sleeper is jacked up to have its bogies changed at Chop on the Ukrainian border.  Photo Helmut Uttenthaler.

Sleeper to Kiev about to leave Vienna   Ukrainian sleeper corridor   1, 2 or 3 bed Ukrainian sleeper compartment

The Vienna-Kiev sleeper at Vienna Hbf... Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

The sleeper corridor.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

 

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper compartment.

Option 2, Budapest to Lviv by daytime trains for €26...  Also a useful alternative for Budapest-Kiev if the direct train is full...

  • Step 1, travel from Budapest to Mukachevo, leaving Budapest Nyugati at 07:23 every day arriving Mukacheve in Ukraine at 15:30.

    Just one or two through cars run direct to Mukachevo, with comfortable air-conditioned 2nd class open-plan seats.

    The fare is around €23 bought on the day.

    Tickets from Budapest to Mukachevo cannot be booked online, so buy at the station, there are always places even on the day.  You can check times for this train at www.bahn.de or www.mavcsoport.hu.

    At Mukachevo there's a supermarket across the road from the station and a pizza restaurant nearby.

  • Step 2, travel from Mukachevo to Lviv or Kiev on train 81, leaving Mukachevo at 18:02, arriving Lviv at 22:15 & Kiev at 07:25 next morning.

    Train 81 has 1st class 2-berth sleepers (spalny vagon), 2nd class 4-berth sleepers (kupι) & open-plan sleepers (platskartny).

    The fare from Mukachevo to Lviv is around €11 in kupι.

    The fare from Mukachevo to Kiev is around €49 in spalny vagon, or €21 in kupι.

    This train can be booked online at the Ukrainian Railways website www.uz.gov.ua.  Booking opens 30-60 days ahead.

  • Feedback and any photos of the Hungarian or Ukrainian trains inside or out would be most welcome, please email me if you travel this way!

The Budapest to Mukachevo train

The two Hungarian through cars from Budapest arrived at Mukachevo. Courtesy of www.discoverbyrail.com.

The Mukachevo to Kiev sleeper train

Ukrainian train 81 from Mukachevo to Lviv & Kiev, boarding at Mukachevo.  Courtesy of www.discoverbyrail.com.

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Budapest to Moscow & St Petersburg...

Option 1, Budapest to Moscow via Kiev - avoiding need for a Belarus visa, recommended...

  • Step 1, travel from Budapest to Kiev by direct sleeper train as shown above.  Leave Budapest evening day 1, arrive Kiev late afternoon day 2.

  • Step 2, travel from Kiev to Moscow by sleeper train...

    There are several trains every night, perfectly safe for westerners in spite of any tensions between Russia & Ukraine.  Train 6 leaves Kiev at 19:36 arriving Moscow Kievskaya station around 10:09 next morning, which would be day 3 from Budapest.  This route avoids Belarus and the need for an expensive Belarusian visa so it's the route I'd recommend.

    This route may be affected by Covid-19 border closures, please check.

    The fare is around €92 with a bed in 4-berth kupι or €180 with a bed in a 2-berth spalny vagon.

    You can ask www.polrail.com to book this for you too, or you can book tickets from Kiev to Moscow at the Ukrainian Railways site booking.uz.gov.ua/en/ booking from Kyiv to Moskva Kievskaya.  You collect tickets at the station in Kiev.  Feedback appreciated!

Option 2, Budapest to Moscow using the daily Prague-Moscow sleeper train...

  • Step 1, travel from Budapest to Bohumin on the EuroCity train Bathory, leaving Budapest Nyugati at 08:28 arriving Bohumin at 14:09.

    Book from Budapest to Bohumin at the Czech Railways website www.cd.cz with fares from €19. Booking normally opens 90 days ahead, you print your own ticket.

  • Step 2, travel from Bohumin to Moscow by Russian sleeper train, leaving Bohumin at 14:40 every day arriving Moscow Belorussky at 16:58 next day (the day after you leave Budapest).  You can check times at the Russian Railways website www.rzd.ru.

    This train may still be suspended due to Covid-19

    If this seems like a tight connection, don't worry.  The Prague-Moscow sleeping-cars get coupled up to the Budapest-Poland Bathory and run combined as one train between Bohumin, Warsaw & Terespol on the Poland/Belarus border.

    This train uses impressive Austrian-built sleeping-cars with 4-berth compartments built in 2014, see photos of this type of sleeper here & see panorama photo inside one of these modern sleepers.  Each compartment can be sold as 1st class 1-berth, 1st class 2-berth or 2nd class 4-berth.  The train consist of two or three sleeping-cars which start their journey in Prague.  There's a bistro car in Poland and a Russian restaurant car is attached between Brest (on the Polish/Belarus border) & Moscow.

    The fare is approximately €120 with a bed in a 4-berth sleeper. €180 in a 2-bed sleeper or €215 in a single-bed sleeper.

    You can book this train online at Czech Railways www.cd.cz and print your own ticket.  This is the recommended method.

    Alternatively, you can book with Russian Railways at www.rzd.ru although it's a little quirky and may not accept some overseas credit cards.

    Don't forget to arrange both your Russian visa and Belarus transit visa as the train runs via Belarus.  See my important update about travel to Russia through Belarus.

  • For St Petersburg it's best to travel via Moscow.  Moscow to St Petersburg takes as little as 3h50 by daytime Sapsan trains, or can be done an a number of traditional overnight sleepers.  See the train travel in Russia page to buy tickets within Russia.

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Budapest to Athens, Thessaloniki & Greece...

Option 1, Budapest to Athens overland by train via Belgrade - direct route...

  • Step 1, travel from Budapest to Belgrade using the once-a-day train from Budapest to Novi Sad & onward bus as shown above.

  • Step 2, travel from Belgrade to Thessaloniki overnight on the Hellas Express leaving Belgrade Topcider station at 18:21 June-September and arriving in Thessaloniki in Greece at 10:08 next morning, with both a seats car and a Macedonian couchette car with 6-berth compartments. 

    Following the migrant crisis, this train is temporarily (but indefinitely) replaced by a bus between Gevgelija on the Macedonian/Greek border and Thessaloniki.  Feedback appreciated.

    This train now only runs in summer, June-September.  See here for dates.  It will not run at all at other times of year.

    This train did not run in 2021 and may not run in 2022.

    The fare from Belgrade to Thessaloniki is €34 + around €8 couchette supplement if you buy at Belgrade station (there will always be places available on the day) or you can pre-arrange through the excellent Mr Popovic at the Wasteels office in Belgrade, see this advice on the Serbia page.  You can also book the Belgrade-Thessaloniki train (but not onward trains to Athens) using a western European ticketing agency such as Trainseurope or DB's English-speaking line on 00 49 (0)30 311 68 29 04, but they can only access full-price international tariffs, so the cost will be around €75 including couchette.

  • Step 3, travel from Thessaloniki to Athens by comfortable air-conditioned InterCity train.  Trains link Thessaloniki with Larissa and Athens every couple of hours, journey time now only 4h09 after a significant speed-up in 2019.  You should make the 12:15 arriving Athens at 16:24.  It's a wonderfully scenic ride, past Mount Olympus and the Aegean, then through the mountains south of Larissa, see the photos & information here.  You can buy train tickets from Thessaloniki to Athens online in advance at www.trainose.gr, with print-at-home tickets see the step-by-step advice on using trainose.gr here.

Option 2, Budapest to Athens overland by train via Sofia... 

Option 3, Budapest to Athens by ferry from Italy.  This is a somewhat round-about route but a viable option whilst trains from Belgrade to Greece remain cancelled.

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Budapest to Istanbul & Turkey for €65...

Option 1, via Bucharest....

  • Step 1, take overnight train Muntenia leaving Budapest Keleti at 15:05 and arriving Bucharest Gara de Nord at 08:30 next day.

    The train has a comfortable Romanian couchette car with 4 & 6 berth compartments, and ordinary seats (but no sleeping-car).  There's no dining-car so take a picnic and bottle of wine. The Muntenia is named after the region of Romania in which Bucharest is situated.

    Fares start at €39 with couchette in 6-berth, €49 with couchette in 4-berth.

    Book at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro.  Click EN top right for English.  Bucharest is listed as Bucuresti (Romania).  For Hungary to Romania journeys you print your own ticket.

    Tip:  A sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments is attached at Timisoara Nord, reached around 21:40.  If you want the extra comfort and privacy of a sleeper, simply use bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro to book a seat from Budapest to Timisoara then a sleeper from Timisoara Nord to Bucuresti Nord.  The sleeper is of the classic wood-panelled ex-German Railways type.

  • Step 2, travel from Bucharest to Istanbul by train as follows:

    In summer from early June to early October (2022 dates not known) there's normally a direct couchette car from Bucharest to Istanbul leaving Bucharest Gara de Nord at 10:55 and arriving Istanbul Halkali station at 05:20 next morning.  It's modern Turkish air-conditioned couchette car with 4-berth compartments.  See the Bucharest to Istanbul page for full details.

    Until early June & from early October you leave Bucharest Gara de Nord at 11:00 on a series of connecting trains for Dimitrovgrad, picking up a sleeper leaving Dimitrovgrad at 23:40 and arriving Istanbul Halkali station at 06:20.  The Dimitrovgrad-Istanbul sleeper train has two air-conditioned Turkish sleeping-cars (1 & 2 bed compartments) and a Turkish couchette car with 4-berth compartments.  See the Bucharest to Istanbul page for full details.

    It's a leisurely journey across Romania, over the Danube on the world's longest steel girder bridge (2.5km), and through rural Bulgaria including a descent through the lovely Shipka Pass.  There's no catering, so bring a picnic and some wine or beer and enjoy the ride.  Halkali is a suburban station 25km west of Istanbul, you can take a frequent Marmaray suburban train from Halkali to Istanbul Sirkeci in the city centre, see the Bucharest to Istanbul page for details of how to make this transfer.

    When the through couchette car runs you should be able to buy tickets online at the Romanian Railways website bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro.  Click EN top right for English.  For Bucharest enter/select Bucuresti (Romania) and for Istanbul enter/select Halkali (Turkey).  Tickets must be collected from a CFR station ticket office in Romania such as Bucharest Nord, so only use this site for one-way or round trip journeys starting in Romania.  Feedback would be appreciated.

    Alternatively, tickets can be arranged by agency Paralela 45 Turism, www.paralela45.com.  They can source train tickets starting in Bucharest, so far recommended by several seat61 correspondents.  Feedback would be appreciated.

    In the off-season when there's no direct train, buy your tickets at the international ticket window at Bucharest Gara de Nord.  It's reported that instead of simply issuing an open ticket from Bucharest to Istanbul (or even to Dimitrovgrad) and letting you use all the trains, you need to buy a ticket to Ruse, then rebook (or pay on the train), but don't let that put you off, it's easy enough to pay as you go.  Tip:  Instead of booking Budapest to Bucharest at bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro, try booking Budapest to Giurgiu, as this gets you to the last stop in Romania before Ruse, with reservation on the Bucharest-Ruse train.  You can buy the one-stop ticket from Giurgiu to Ruse in Bucharest, or on the train.

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Budapest to other destinations...

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bullet pointRailbookers custom-made tours

Custom-made tours using trains...

If you just want to buy train tickets at the cheapest price, book online as shown on this page.  However, if you want someone to sort out your whole trip for you, arranging all your trains, hotels and transfers, and to look after you if anything affects your arrangements, talk to Railbookers.  Railbookers can tailor-make a train trip around Europe to your own specification.  Just tell them what you want and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels.  They get good reports and a lot of repeat business!  They now have offices in the UK, North America and Australia.

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.


bullet pointHotels in Budapest

Suggested hotels in Budapest...

  • For something affordable near Budapest Keleti station, but with decent reviews try The Baross City Hotel just across the road from Budapest Keleti station or the Elit Hotel two minutes walk down the road.

  • For something affordable near Budapest Nyugati station, try the 3-star  T62 Hotel just across the road or the even cheaper 3-star Star Inn Budapest Centrum a few minutes walk away, both with good reviews.  The 4-star Radisson Blu Bιke Hotel is just one block along the road from the station.

  • For something different, but relatively inexpensive the floating hotel MS Maribelle gets great reviews, it's a river cruise boat permanently moored on the Pest side of the Danube close to the fortress with views across the river of the Hungarian Parliament.

  • For something special & historic, go for the New York Palace Hotel, opened in 1894 and housing the famous New York Cafe on its ground floor.  It's just 14 minutes walk from Keleti and gets fabulous reviews.  As luxury hotels go, it's pretty affordable.  Or there's the venerable Corinthia Hotel, formerly the Grand Hotel Royal, another famous hotel dating from the late 19th century.  It's 20 minutes walk from Keleti or 9 minutes by taxi.

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 trying...

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

Backpacker hostels...

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 most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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