Vienna to Budapest by train

Simply put, Vienna and Budapest are two of the most beautiful cities in Europe. They’re bursting with ornate architecture, underground nightlife, extraordinary history and more than their fair share of chocolate treats and coffee. Each place deserves an in-depth visit on its own, but the journey from Vienna to Budapest by train is a way of making the most of both cities.

This trip forms an essential part of any rail odyssey through Central and Eastern Europe. With the slick and comfy RailJet service that connects them, this is pretty much Eurail travel at its best. RailJet isn’t the only way to go, though. If slow(ish) with lots of stop-offs makes your heart sing then you can really get off the beaten track by taking the regional route with your pass instead.

Vienna to Budapest by train

Vienna to Budapest by train: Going by the fast RailJet service

The easiest and most comfortable way is to travel on the direct RailJet service between Vienna and Budapest. The journey takes just over three hours and runs several times a day. Reservations are optional and the service has three classes: economy, business and 1st. Business and 1st class include a welcome drink served at your seat. There’s also a payable table service for meals and other snacks. Economy passengers have access to the restaurant car. Power sockets are fitted to all seats and Wi-Fi is sometimes available too.

RailJet leaves from Wien Westbahnhof station in Vienna and arrives at Budapest-Keleti in Hungary. Seats are comfy, clean and just generally a pleasure to travel on!

Vienna to Budapest by train | Comfortable RailJet seats

Vienna to Budapest by train | Comfortable RailJet seats

Soak up more of Hungary with regional trains

As much as I love RailJet, that isn’t the only route. You can travel on regional trains, changing at Bruck/Leitha, Györ, and Komarom to arrive at Budapest-Déli. If you don’t get out and explore, that route takes between four and five hours.

Györ, a city in northwest Hungary close to the borders with Slovakia and Austria, makes an interesting place for a stopover with its baroque city center, cobbled streets, churches and museums. The imposing city hall is just across from the station so you can still glimpse it (lit up at night) between connections if you haven’t the time for an overnight stay.

Vienna to Budapest by train | City hall in Gyor, Hungary

Vienna to Budapest by train | City hall in Gyor, Hungary

Combine with a trip to Bratislava

Another popular route is to travel “via” Bratislava. Geographically, it’s out of the way, but the services are so fast that it’s easy to wake up in Vienna, spend the day in Bratislava and then finish up in Budapest. The total train time, spread between regional trains and the EuroCity is just over 4 hours.

Getting to Vienna station

Wien Westbahnhof (West Vienna Station) is the one for the direct RailJet service – and indeed many of Vienna’s services. It’s within walking distance of the city centre and well connected by public transport. It’s on the U-bahn lines U3 and U6, the S-bahn line S50 and it’s linked to the airport by bus. Several trams also stop just outside, at Europaplatz. As you might expect of a main station, it has a business lounge, left luggage facilities and tourist information services.

Arriving at Budapest station

Direct services arrive in Budapest Keleti (Budapest East), Hungary’s main international rail hub. Some regional services arrive in Budapest-Déli, so check the signs carefully. The building itself at Budapest Keleti is quite a sight to behold, dating back to the late 1800s and looking resplendent when lit up at night. The station is on the M2 East-West Budapest Metro line.

Taxis are readily available. Taxi drivers can be quite pushy at times, reaching for your luggage as you disembark the train. Keep your belongings within your reach at all times and check the fare to your accommodation in advance so you know how to barter if required.

Read more about RailJet on the Eurail website.

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