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

Fisherman's Bastion, Budapest...

 

London to Budapest by train, in 24 hours...

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

Train times, fares & tickets...

  Which route to choose?

  London-Budapest by Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Munich & sleeper train to Budapest

  London-Budapest by Eurostar to Paris, CNL sleeper to Munich & RailJet to Budapest

  London-Budapest by Eurostar to Brussels, Cologne-Vienna sleeper, Railjet to Budapest

  London-Budapest by Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Munich, hotel, Railjet to Budapest

  London-Budapest by Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Zurich, hotel, Railjet to Budapest

  London & East Anglia to Budapest via Harwich-Hoek, the ferry alternative to Eurostar.

  Scotland & the North of England to Budapest by ferry from Hull or Newcastle

  Starting your journey from other UK towns & cities

  Trains to Budapest from other European cities

  Trains from Budapest to other European cities

Other useful information...

  Budapest Keleti railway station facilities

  Hotels & accommodation in Budapest

  Useful country information: Currency, dialling code, time zone...

  Holidays & escorted tours to Budapest by train

  General European train travel information

  Taking a bike    Taking a dog    Travel insurance, EU Health Card, SIM cards

  Luggage   Left luggage at stations   Send your luggage in advance

Route map:  London to Budapest by train...

Route map:  London to Budapest & Hungary by train

Sponsored links...

   


Useful country information

Train operator in Hungary:

MAV (Magyar Allamvasutak) www.mav-start.hu, www.elvira.hu for times & fares

All-Europe online train times    Eurostar times & fares.

 

 

Railpasses:

 

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

Time zone:

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

Dialling code:

 

+36

Currency:

£1 = approx 350 Forint    Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.hungarytourism.hu   Hotels in Budapest   Budapest metro map

Hotels:

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

Page last updated:

31 October 2014.  Train times valid 15 June to 13 December 2014.


London to Budapest

Which route to choose?


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

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

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

How much does it cost?

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

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

     by TGV...

 From €39 (£34) each way in 2nd class

 From €69 (£59) each way in 1st class.

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

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

 

 3. Munich to Budapest

 on the Kalman Imre

In a  

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Savings fare one-way:

€29 (£25)

€49 (£42)

€59 (£49)

€69 (£59)

€79 (£67) 

€139 (£118)

 Savings fare return:

€58 (£50)

€98 (£84)

€118 (£98)

€138 (£118)

€158 (£134) 

€278 (£236)

 Full price one-way:

€95

€109

€115

€120

€139 

€209

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

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

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can buy tickets this way, at the cheapest prices.

  • When does booking open?  Booking usually opens 120 days (and at times, up to 180 days) ahead for Eurostar, 92 days ahead for other trains, but I strongly recommend waiting until 92 days so you can buy all tickets together, doing a dry run on both sites first to check times and prices.  This way, you can confirm all train times before booking a non-refundable, non-changeable Eurostar ticket.  Hotel accommodation can be booked before booking your trains risk-free if you use a site such as www.booking.com with free cancellation.

  • Step 1, go to www.bahn.de and using the train times on this page as a guide, book the TGV train from Paris to Munich & back.  Add it to your basket.  You pay online and print out your own ticket.  Easy!  I recommend registering when it asks you, so you can easily retrieve any bookings and re-print your tickets from any PC at any time.

  • Step 2, still on www.bahn.de, book a sleeper or couchette ticket from Munich to Budapest and back, looking for the direct EN train with 0 changes, and looking for the cheap Savings fares.  Again, you pay online and print out your own ticket.  Simple!

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

  • Remember that www.eurostar.com can sell through tickets to Paris from 130 UK towns & cities, not just from London.  If your town isn't one of them, you can buy a separate ticket up to London to connect with Eurostar, see the advice on buying connecting tickets from other UK towns & cities here.

  • Want to choose your exact seat on Eurostar?  www.eurostar.com allows you to choose an exact seat from a numbered seating plan, look closely for the 'choose exact seat' link towards the end of the process.  See tips on choosing the best seats on Eurostar.

How to buy tickets by email...

If you'd prefer to have someone book it for you, just click here and a booking form will appear which lists all the trains you need to book for any of the options on this page.  Fill it in & email it to sales@europeanrail.com.  European Rail will make the reservations and call you back to confirm the cost.  If you're okay with the price you can give them your credit card details and they will send you the tickets.  European Rail is an experienced agency equipped with the German Railways reservation & ticketing system, so they have access to all the cheap fares for travel via Germany.  They charge a £35 booking fee which includes postage to any UK address, or they can send to any address worldwide if you pay the courier fee.  Seat61 gets some commission if you buy tickets using this form.

How to buy tickets by phone...

To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  International Rail are equipped with both the French and German rail ticketing systems, so can offer the best prices all the trains between London and Hungary.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  In many cases tickets can be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.

Alternatively, you can call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card charge), or www.europeanrail.com on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday, £35 booking fee but may have more time to help).  Click here for more information on how to buy European train tickets.

Have your trip professionally arranged...

Custom-made travel arrangements:  A hassle-free option is to get a train travel specialist such as Railbookers to arrange your whole trip, with train tickets, hotels and transfers all sorted with one phone call.  As you're then in effect booking a package, they'll take care of you if there's a strike or major delay, for example.  Just tell them when and where you want to go, and they'll create the best rail-based tour or holiday for you.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

Call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

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

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

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

What are the trains & scenery like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page.

Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...  Watch the TGV Duplex video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine...

 

2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

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

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

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

Munich to Budapest by Kalman Imre sleeper train...  Watch the video

This modern Hungarian sleeper train is safe & comfortable, in the privacy of your own sleeper or in the economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, I recommend the typically Bavarian Mongdratzerl restaurant located inside the Hauptbahnhof, open until late.

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

Cosy & inviting, a hotel on rails, this is the modern air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car of the Kalman Imre at Munich Hauptbahnhof...  The sleeping-car has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  The fare includes a light breakfast of coffee, juice & croissant. Exterior photo courtesy of Istvαn Halαsz.  Watch the Hungarian sleeping-car video.

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

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

Hungarian couchette car at Munich

Good morning Budapest!

City of Budapest & the Danube

Option 2:  By Eurostar to Paris, sleeper to Munich & RailJet to Budapest...

This is a good & affordable option, with a departure from London later in the day if that's important.  Stop off for a while In Paris if you like!

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

Introducing the City Night Line Paris - Munich sleeper train...

The Paris-Munich overnight train is one of the German Railway's excellent City Night Line sleeper trains.  Called the Cassiopeia, it has a modern Comfortline sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3-berth deluxe compartments with private shower & toilet and 1, 2 & 3-berth economy compartments with washbasin.  There is a shower at the end of the corridor for passengers in economy sleepers, and all sleepers have power-points for laptop computers.  It also has modern air-conditioned couchettes with a choice of berths in a 4 or 6-berth compartment, and ordinary seats (not recommended).  Inclusive fares are charged covering travel plus sleeping accommodation.  The sleeping-car fare includes a light breakfast. More pictures and information about this train.

Dinner before you board?  There's no restaurant or bar car on the City Night Line sleeper, but for a good meal in a classic Parisian brasserie before boarding the sleeper train in Paris, catch the earlier 14:01 Eurostar & dine at the Brasserie Terminus Nord directly across the road from the Gare du Nord.  Alternatively, you can have a meal or beer at the Brasserie Flo at the Gare de l'Est whilst waiting for your sleeper, it's just inside the entrance in what was once the left luggage office.  For a cooked breakfast in Munich or evening meal before boarding the Paris-bound sleeper on your return, try the typically Bavarian Mongdratzerl restaurant, located in the hauptbahnhof itself.

Sleeping-car compartment (1 2 or 3 berths)   4-berth couchette compartment on Paris-Munich overnight train   6-berth couchette compartment on Paris-Munich overnight train  

The sleeping-car on the Paris-Munich overnight train boarding at the Gare de l'Est

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper: The most comfortable option, economy with washbasin or deluxe with shower & toilet.

 

4-berth couchettes:  Ideal for families, much more space per person than 6-berth couchettes.

 

6-berth couchettes:  A very economical option, far better than a seat for just a few euros more...

 

Night Train to Munich...  The Comfortline sleeping-car of the Paris to Munich sleeper train boarding at Paris Gare de l'Est...

More pictures & information about this train...

Introducing the Munich - Budapest RailJet...

RailJet is Austria's brand-new high-speed train, linking Munich, Salzburg, Vienna & Budapest, also Zurich, Innsbruck & Vienna.  Designed to run at up to 230km/h (143 mph) on sections of upgraded track, it currently reaches 200km/h on part of the route, but in other parts snakes around beautiful scenery at a more sedate pace.  Look out for great views of Salzburg citadel & castle on the right as you cross the river Salzach approaching Salzburg.  RailJet has three classes, Economy (2nd class), First (1st class), and Business class (€15 supplement over normal first class).  From 1 March 2012 Business class replaced Premium Class with the same seating but a reduced surcharge and free drinks but no free meals.  The Railjet has a bistro car providing drinks, snacks and hot dishes, which are served on proper china at your seat in first and business classes.  TV screens in each car tell you the train's speed, show a map indicating your location, and post a list of next station stops and times.  A great way to travel - simply order one of the regional beers from the bistro, sit back and enjoy the scenery...  More pictures & information about this RailJet train.

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

"The RailJet has landed..."  RJ 63, the morning RailJet from Munich has arrived spot on time at Budapest's historic Keleti station...

 

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

 

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

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

 by sleeper train, per person...

In a

seat

In a couchette

Economy sleeper

Deluxe sleeper

6-bunk 

4-bunk 

3-bed 

2-bed 

1-bed 

2-bed

1-bed

 Savings fare one way from:

€43 (£36)

€59 (£49)

€69 (£58)

€84 (£70)

€104 (£87)

€144 (£120)

€134 (£112)

€174 (£145)

 Savings fare return from:

€86 (£72)

€118 (£98)

€138 (£116)

€168 (£140)

€208 (£174)

€288 (£240)

€268 (£224)

€348 (£290)

 Full price one-way:

€154

€169

€179

€194

€214

€254

€300

€340

 Railpass supplement*

€12

€27.50

€37.50

€55

€75

€115

€75

€115

 Children under 15**

€4

€20

€30

£71

€65

€105

€65

€105

 Child under 6 without own berth

Child under 6 sharing a berth travels free

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.

For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper, 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper, 4 tickets in 4-berth couchettes & so on.

* This is the supplement you pay if you have a railpass, a 1st class pass is required for deluxe sleepers.

** Children under 15 travel free if accompanied by a fare-paying adult, but must pay the berth supplement shown here.

Savings fare = advance-purchase, price varies, limited availability, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

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

 3. Munich to Budapest

 by RailJet...

 Economy class from €39 (£33) each way.

 First class fares from €69 (£59) each way.

 The price varies, book well in advance to get these fares.  Full-price €119 in economy class.

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

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can book this way, at the cheapest prices.

How to buy tickets by email...

If you'd prefer to have someone book it for you, just click here and a booking form will appear which lists all the trains you need to book for any of the options on this page.  Fill it in & email it to sales@europeanrail.com.  European Rail will make the reservations and call you back to confirm the cost.  If you're okay with the price you can give them your credit card details and they will send you the tickets.  European Rail is an experienced agency equipped with the German Railways reservation & ticketing system, so they have access to all the cheap fares for travel via Germany.  They charge a £35 booking fee which includes postage to any UK address, or they can send to any address worldwide if you pay the courier fee.  Seat61 gets some commission if you buy tickets using this form.

How to buy tickets by phone...

To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  International Rail are equipped with both the French and German rail ticketing systems, so can offer the best prices all the trains between London and Hungary.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  In many cases tickets can be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.

Alternatively, you can call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card charge), or www.europeanrail.com on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday, £35 booking fee but may have more time to help).  Click here for more information on how to buy European train tickets.

Have your trip professionally arranged...

Custom-made travel arrangements:  A hassle-free option is to get a train travel specialist such as Railbookers to arrange your whole trip, with train tickets, hotels and transfers all sorted with one phone call.  As you're then in effect booking a package, they'll take care of you if there's a strike or major delay, for example.  Just tell them when and where you want to go, and they'll create the best rail-based tour or holiday for you.

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

Call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

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

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

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


Option 3:  London-Budapest via the Cologne-Vienna sleeper...

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

London ► Budapest

Budapest  ► London

The Austrian Railways EuroNight train from Cologne to Vienna...   Watch the video

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

1 & 2 berth standard sleeper on the Austrian EuroNight train.   EuroNight sleeper train to Vienna:  6-berth couchettes   The Cologne-Vienna sleeper train is an Austrian Railways (OBB) EuroNight train

1 or 2 bed sleeper: The most comfortable option. Standard sleepers have a washbasin, deluxe sleepers a private shower & toilet.

 

4 & 6-berth couchettes:  The economy option, ideal for families.  Couchettes are basic padded bunks with rug & pillow.  This is a 6-berth couchette.

 

Above:  The Austrian sleeping-car or schlafwagen.

Sleeper & couchette passengers receive a complimentary light breakfast with tea or coffee in the morning.

More pictures & information about this EuroNight train

Vienna to Budapest by Railjet train...

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

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

 

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

 

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

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Cologne

 by Eurostar + Thalys

 Fares for Eurostar+ICE start at €59 (£49) each way.

 Fares for Eurostar+Thalys start at £56 one-way or £103 return

 Fares vary like air fares, so book in advance to get the cheapest prices.

 Child, youth, senior Eurostar fares

 

 2. Cologne to Budapest

 by EuroNight train (per person)

 & connecting Railjet train

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

2-berth

1-berth

3-berth

+ shower

2-berth

+ shower

1-berth

+ shower

 Savings fare one-way from:

€43 (£37)

€59 (£51)

€69 (£60)

€104 (£87)

€144 (£120)

€89 (£77)

€134 (£112)

€174 (£145)

 Savings fare return from:

€86 (£74)

€118 (£102)

€138 (£120)

€208 (£174)

€288 (£240)

€178 (£144)

€268 (£224)

€348 (£290)

 Railpass supplement*

€25

€39

€48

€105

€126

€105

€116

€158

 Children under 15**

€4

€20

€30

€65

€105

€45

€65

€105

 Child under 6 without berth:

Child under 6 sharing a berth travels free...

* This is the supplement you pay if you have a railpass.  A 1st class ticket or pass is required for deluxe single or deluxe double sleepers.

** Children under 15 travel free if accompanied by a fare-paying adult, but must pay the berth supplement shown here.

Savings fare = Special cheap fare, book in advance, limited availability, no refunds, no changes to travel plans. 

Normal fare = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

How to buy tickets online...

Anyone from any country can book a London-Budapest journey in either direction using a combination of the Belgian Railways website www.b-europe.com and the German Railways website www.bahn.de.  Bookings open 92 days before departure, you can't book before reservations open.  As this method involves two websites, do a dry run on both sites to check prices and availability before booking for real.  Before starting to book, I recommend noting down each specific train you want to book using the train times recommended above, and the date of departure.  Obviously, remember that your date of travel from Cologne back to Brussels will be the day after your departure from Vienna to Cologne!

How to buy tickets by email...

If you'd prefer to have someone book it for you, just click here and a booking form will appear which lists all the trains you need to book for any of the options on this page.  Fill it in & email it to sales@europeanrail.com.  European Rail will make the reservations and call you back to confirm the cost.  If you're okay with the price you can give them your credit card details and they will send you the tickets.  European Rail is an experienced agency equipped with the German Railways reservation & ticketing system, so they have access to all the cheap fares for travel via Germany.  They charge a £35 booking fee which includes postage to any UK address, or they can send to any address worldwide if you pay the courier fee.  Seat61 gets some commission if you buy tickets using this form.

How to buy tickets by phone...

To buy tickets by phone, call International Rail on 0844 248 248 3, lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday.  Overseas callers call +44 844 2482483.  International Rail are equipped with both the French and German rail ticketing systems, so can offer the best prices all the trains between London and Hungary.  They charge a £10 booking fee for bookings under £100, £20 for £100-£300, £30 above £300.  In many cases tickets can be emailed to you as e-tickets, so there's no postage fee or delay.

Alternatively, you can call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card charge), or www.europeanrail.com on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 09:00-17:00 Monday-Friday, £35 booking fee but may have more time to help).  Click here for more information on how to buy European train tickets.


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

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

London ► Budapest

Budapest ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

A variation:  London to Munich via Brussels & Frankfurt...

On day 1, you can also travel London to Munich via Brussels and Frankfurt rather than Paris.  If you can find one of the (sometimes elusive) London Spezial fares this can even be cheaper, as these start from just €59.  See if there's a London-Munich London Spezial fare available on your travel date using these special links: 

London to Munich departing 08:58 on Sundays

London to Munich departing 10:58 on any day except Sundays

Munich to London departing 06:32 Mondays-Fridays

Munich to London departing 10:28, on Saturdays

Munich to London departing 10:28 on Mondays-Fridays & Sundays

What are the trains & scenery like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page

Paris to Munich by double-decker TGV Duplex...  Click for TGV Duplex video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

A TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Gare de 'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Est...  These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey catching up on your reading over a glass of wine.  And it isn't expensive if you follow the advice on this page!  Watch the TGV Duplex video

 

The upstairs landing on a TGV Duplex showing the stairs down to the entrance door...

Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.     The bar on the upper deck of a TGV Duplex

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating & some tables for four like this.

 

The cafe-bar in a TGV Duplex upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks and microwave-style hot dishes....

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

1st class seats on the upper deck, a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

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

Munich to Budapest by Railjet...

Railjet 1st class   Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train  

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

Railjet restaurant...

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

"The RailJet has landed..."  Train RJ 63, the morning RailJet from Munich has arrived spot on time at Budapest's historic Keleti station, built 1881-1884...

 

Economy class on RailJet with large picture windows.  Some seats are around tables, some are unidirectional.   More pictures & info about RailJet


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

This option not only keeps you on daytime trains with an overnight hotel in Zurich, rather than using a sleeper, it's the scenic option, as it takes you right through the fabulous Arlberg Pass route through the Alps between Switzerland and Austria hugging the valley wall with the mountaintops high above and the valley floor way below.  You then travel on right across the Austrian Tirol.  This option uses a new direct Railjet train between Zurich and Budapest.

London ► Budapest, the scenic route...

Budapest ► London, the scenic route...

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Have your trip professionally arranged...

What are the trains like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page

Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria:  More information about TGV-Lyria

TGV from Milan to Paris   TGV-Lyria 2nd class

A TGV in new Lyria colours at the Gare de Lyon.

 

2nd class seats...  See panorama photo.

TGV-Lyria cafe-bar   TGV-Lyria 1st class

Cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & hot dishes...

 

1st class seats...  See panorama photo.

Zurich to Budapest by Railjet...

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train  

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

Railjet restaurant...

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

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

 

Economy class with large picture windows.  Some seats are around tables, some unidirectional.   More Railjet info & pictures.

Scenery on the Arlberg Pass route...          Watch the Video

The lakes between Zurich and the Austrian border

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

Train into Austria: Mountain scenery   Mountain scenery near Buchs

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

 

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

The mountains keep on coming...

More scenery on the Arlberg route   Snowy peaks!

Mountain scenery and snowy peaks all the way, as the air-conditioned Railjet enters Austria en route to Hungary...

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

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

 

In first & business classes, food is served at your seat on proper crockery as the scenery passes.


London & East Anglia to Budapest via ferry

  Boarding the Stena Line ferry from Harwich to Hoek van Holland

London to Amsterdam by Dutch Flyer train & ferry...  A train takes you from London's Liverpool Street station directly to the ferry terminal at Harwich.  You walk off the train, into the terminal, get your boarding card & cabin key at the Stena Line check-in desk and walk straight onto the overnight ferry to Hoek van Holland.  The new superferry Stena Hollandica is the largest ferry of its kind in the world.  See the Netherlands page for more details...

  Standard inside cabin on the ferry

Cosy cabins:  The overnight Harwich-Hoek ferry is a floating hotel.  All passengers travel in a cosy private cabin with en suite shower & toilet and satellite TV.  This is the cheapest 2-berth cabin...

  Captain's suite deluxe cabin on the Stena Line ferry 'Stena Hollandica'

A Captain's Class cabin with double bed...

The ferry alternative...

If you want to avoid the Channel Tunnel, perhaps if problems are affecting the Eurostar service or if you suffer from claustrophobia, you can travel by train and ferry instead.  Indeed, if you need to travel at very short notice when cheap Eurostar tickets are unavailable, the rail & sail option may still be affordable.  I don't recommend travelling via Dover & Calais, because bus transfers are now required between station and port in both Dover and Calais, and you can no longer buy combined train & ferry tickets this way.  Instead, I recommend using the excellent integrated rail & sail service via Harwich & Hoek van Holland, because trains arrive right at the ferry terminal in both Harwich and Hoek, through tickets are available from London to any Dutch station.  This is also a handy option if you live in East Anglia.  After a day exploring Amsterdam, take the sleeper to Munich and onward Railjet train to Budapest.  Here's how:

London & East Anglia ► Budapest

Budapest  ► East Anglia & London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone:  Special booking form


 Scotland & the North of England to Budapest   

  DFDS Seaways ferry 'Princess of Norway' about to sail from Newcastle.

DFDS Seaways Princess of Norway about to sail overnight from Newcastle to Amsterdam...

  A Commodore Deluxe cabin on DFDS Seaways

A Commodore deluxe cabin with minibar, satellite TV, shower & toilet.  See the video...

  A standard cabin on DFDS Seaways Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry.

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

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

Scotland & the north of England ► Budapest

Budapest ► Scotland & the north of England

Fares & how to buy tickets...


Budapest Keleti station

Click for map of Budapest showing station

Most major international trains arrive and depart from Budapest's historic Keleti (east) station, built between 1881 & 1884, one of Europe's classic railway stations.  There's a British connection, too, as the facade sports two statues, of James Watt and George Stephenson.

Budapest Keleti station main facade   Inside Budapest Keleti station

A classic facade...  The Danube and all the city sights are a 20 minute walk straight down the road in front of the station.

 

Platforms 6-9 at Budapest Keleti.  1-5 are a short walk away down platform 6, platform 10 upwards is a walk along platform 9.

 

Domestic & international ticket offices...

The domestic ticket office is downstairs off the end of platforms 6-9, although there's also a small office upstairs on platform 9.  The international ticket office is separate, accessed through a signed passageway a little way along platform 6.  A numbered queuing system operates, so take a numbered ticket from the machine in the corner and await your turn.  You'll usually find staff who speak good English, and credit cards and euros are accepted.

Over 65?  Anyone who is an EU citizen over 65 years old can travel FREE within Hungary, anywhere on the Hungarian Railways domestic network.  You still need to go to the ticket office and get a free ticket to your chosen destination, and you must still pay any fast train supplement.  Or you can book online at www.mav-start.hu looking for the 'Reduction' drop-down menu and selecting 'Person over 65' under 'Free'.  If you want 1st class you must pay the difference between 1st and 2nd class fares before boarding.  Trams and buses are also free if you're over 65.  Only applies to EU citizens.

Collecting tickets bought online at www.mav-start.hu...

Tickets bought online at www.mav-start.hu must be collected from the small blue self-service machines at Budapest Keleti.  There are at least two machines, one located as shown below, just inside the closed-off main station facade behind the buffer stops for platforms 6-9.

Location of MAV-start ticket collection machine at Budapest Keleti.   MAV-start ticket collection - touch screen

Just enter your reference number on the touch screen, then touch Bevitel (enter), and your tickets will print.  Easy!  A second machine is located inside the south side entrance hall along platform 9.

Luggage lockers & ATMs...

Lockers are located in a room near the buffer stops at the near end of platform 9.  There are large and small lockers, most accepting Forint coins, a few accepting euro coins, see the left luggage page for current prices.  There is a change machine if you only have Forint notes.  There is an ATM for cash withdrawals right next to the internet ticket collection machine shown in the photograph above.

First class business lounge...

Anyone with a first class international ticket to or from Budapest can use the first class business lounge before or after their train.  Open 06:00-21:30 every day of the week, it's located a little way along platform 9, it's the last set of double doors on the right before you reach the exit hall, marked 'Business lounge' above the doors.  The lounge offers complimentary tea, coffee, soft drinks & snacks.  1st class Eurail or InterRail holders with a reservation may also use the lounge, as can anyone with a ticket for a single-berth sleeper, see www.mav-start.hu for more details.

Location of first class lounge at Budapest Keleti railway station   Inside first class lounge at Budapest Keleti station

The entrance to the lounge on platform 9.

 

The first class lounge is open daily 06:00-21:30...

Somewhere to eat before catching your train...

A good place to wait for your train over an inexpensive meal, coffee or beer in grand surroundings inside the station is the Baross restaurant in the corner near the buffer stops on platform 6, usually open 8am to 8pm, credit cards accepted.  For something upmarket near the station, try the Rosenstein Restaurant, www.rosenstein.hu.  At the opposite end of the scale, there's a MacDonald's, Burger King and KFC outside across the road on the platform 6 side of the station.  There are of course plenty of stalls and kiosks inside the station, where you can stock up on snacks, soft drinks and beer.

Hungarian food at the Baross restaurant, Budapest keleti   Baross restaurant, Budapest Keleti station

 


Holidays & tours to Budapest by train

 

020 3327 0761 (UK)

1-800-408-3280 (USA)

1300 971 526 (Aus)

0800 002 034 (NZ)

 

01904 527120

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

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

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

  UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

Call toll-free 1-800-408-3280 or www.us.railbookers.com.

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

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

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

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



The European Rail Timetable & maps

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

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 


Guidebooks

The Man in Seat 61 book - click to buy onlineLonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukLonely Planet to Hungary - buy online at Amazon.co.ukPaying for a guidebook may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.  For independent travel, the best guide is either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both are excellent.  The Lonely Planet range offers an in-depth guide for Hungary or a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.  You won't regret buying one..! 

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

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


Find hotels in Budapest...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth a try...

Backpacker hostels: www.hostelbookers.com...

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

Homestays: www.homestay.com...

www.homestay.com allows you to pre-book nights in someone's home in cities all over Europe and indeed worldwide, just as you'd book a hotel.  Verified hosts earn extra money from letting out their rooms, and you get to experience the people & culture of a country in a way you wouldn't if you stayed in a hotel - but often for little more than you'd pay for a hostel bed.


Send your luggage in advance

Ride the trains without heavy luggage... 

Send your suitcase ahead by Luggage Mule from around £30 each way.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

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

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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