Old Town, Prague, Czech RepublicOld Town, Prague, Czech Republic
August 15, 2013

Budapest to Prague by train

by Kevin Revolinski in Train routes

Traveling from Budapest to Prague brings you to two of Eastern Europe’s most enticing capitals, and the Eurail pass makes it easy. Both cities straddle great rivers, and both offer historical highlights from the medieval to the art nouveau. And with the hop-on, hop-off ease of the pass, you can stop at a few other places along the way – Györ, Vienna and Brno are three of the highlights.

How to get from Budapest to Prague by train

The 7-to-9 hour journey from Budapest to Prague is easily made during the day or overnight on Eurocity (EC), Intercity (IC), and Railjet (RJ) trains. The route typically offers direct trains, though there are other options with one or more connections. Vienna is a notable halfway point that isn’t on the direct route but that typically comes up in a search.

By high-speed train

Each day starting as early as 6 a.m., more than a dozen trains depart for Prague from the three stations in Budapest. EC and RJ trains make the trip in about 7 hours, either directly or with a short connection in Hungary or the Czech Republic. Routes that include segments covered by IC trains require a reservation fee and show more stops. Midday trains on the other lines may also require reservations, but for the early morning and evening trains, reservations are optional.

By regional train

The Eurail pass is also valid on MAV-START, Hungary’s national railway, which is especially useful for overnight trips to Prague, and on GySEV/Raaberbahn, a company owned jointly by Hungary and Austria. The latter offers a variety of local routes as far as Vienna and can connect you to a number of smaller towns in between, which makes for a slower but perhaps richer journey. You would then need to switch in Vienna to continue on to Prague. Travel times for the MAV-START trains are comparable to other international trains, and journeys may actually be on EC or Euronight trains. Both lines depart from Budapest-Keleti station. If you’re on a tight schedule, be sure to leave plenty of room for error.

Getting to Budapest’s three train stations

There are three main international train stations in Budapest: Eastern (Keleti palyaudvar), Western (Nyugati palyaudvar) and Southern (Déli palyaudvar). This gives you an abundance of options; in fact, there are more than a dozen trains heading to Prague. If for some reason you can’t find one that suits your needs, consider taking a train to Vienna, the halfway point, and finding a train to Prague from there. On the Buda side of the city is Déli palyaudvar station, easily reached using the Metro line 3 (blue line). The other two stations are on the Pest side, and both are on Metro line 2 (red line). In all cases, the correct metro stop shares its name with your chosen train terminal.

When choosing a train, be sure to examine your route’s connections. While Déli station may be a shorter metro ride from where you’re staying, a lot of trains departing from Deli connect via other Budapest stations, perhaps even Keleti.

Arriving at Prague hlavní nádraží train station

Prague station, Czech RepublicPrague’s central station, Praha hlavní nádraží, is an old classic that has received a modern update. The original art nouveau station from the 1900s has old-school visual appeal. The 1970s extension and a 2011 renovation have added convenient modern service with shops, restaurants, and a few Wi-Fi hotspots. Prague’s central station is also connected to the Metro on line C (red line), and you can access the tram system at the north end of the block outside. There is a luggage storage area with lockers as well as a left luggage office for larger bags. Showers are also available. Backpackers may choose to walk directly to their destination, since the station sits inside the edge of the city centre, on the west side of the river. You’ll want to avoid the taxis at the curb outside the station; these are infamous for cheating tourists.

Top 3 cities to see on the Budapest to Prague route

What’s your rush to get to Prague? You’re travelling through some prime real estate in the region and the Eurail pass makes it easy for you to stop for a few hours or maybe a couple days at one must-see Austrian city, and a couple of Hungarian and Czech cities that often get overlooked. The stops listed below are just a few highlights you might consider on the railroad from Budapest to Prague:

    1. Györ, Hungary

      Gyor Castle on the Raba River, Hungary

      Lying halfway between Budapest and Vienna, Györ is a quaint and picturesque town that makes a very pleasant stroll for a few hours. The Rába and Rábca Rivers meet here, and the Danube flows by just a few kilometres outside of town. Not to be missed are Lakótorony, the city’s 13th-century tower, and the 15th-century Gothic Dóczy Chapel. The city museum includes items as far back as the Neolithic Age. After Budapest’s big-city vibe, Györ offers a friendlier atmosphere, and the shops and restaurants are inviting. UNESCO-honored Pannonhalma Abbey is located 20 kilometres outside the city.

    2. Vienna, Austria

      Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

      Home of the Habsburgs and Sigmund Freud, Vienna was also the stomping ground of musical legends such as Strauss, Hayden, Beethoven, and Mozart. Grand buildings and monuments stand at every turn in Vienna, which ranks among the world’s most livable cities. Vienna is easy for travellers, with a fine metro and tram system and walkable nature in and around the city centre. Order a piece of chocolaty sachertorte with a cup of the classic Viennese café melange at Café Central.  Explore the museums in and around the Hofburg, and don’t miss the UNESCO-recognized Schönbrunn Palace, the former home of the Habsburgs, rulers of the Austrian Empire.

    3. Brno, Czech Republic

      Brno Cathedral, Czech Republic

      Caught perhaps in the shadow of Prague, Brno doesn’t get the attention it deserves. The second-largest city in the republic, it also has the second-largest preserved historical area. Climb up to the Špilberk Castle for a view of the city and a stroll in its lovely park. Visit the Church of St. James, a gothic beauty with catacombs that are second only to those in Paris. Shop at the fresh market in the town square and buy a bit of local produce or cheese. Mummified monks await in the Capuchin monastery, while a museum dedicated to native son Gregor Mendel can teach you a thing or two about genetics. St. Peter and Paul Cathedral dominates the skyline and is walkable, like everything here, from the train station, where you can leave your bags.

      Discover Eastern Europe’s best-loved cities, Prague and Budapest yourself – take a look at the Eurail passes.