Budapest Christmas 2012

If you are planning what to do, what to see at Christmas in Budapest, here is the best resource on Budapest Christmas: Budapest Christmas, a really cool Budapest Christmas Travel Guide.

Budapest Christmas Ideas

Budapest Christmas Ideas

Some of the ideas we like:

Having a Christmas Dinner in Budapest – some of the best restaurants in Budapest are open at Xmas, some are closed: Budapest restaurants at Christmas – opening hours. This page will give you some ideas for places to eat at on Dec 24, Dec 25 and Dec 26. Then everything is back to normal.

Visiting the Budapest Christmas markets – whether in the city centre (Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market, Budapest Basilica Christmas Market), or outside the city centre, like in the lovely enchanting Obuda Christmas Market, or in the less fancy, sort of post-communist Ujpest Xmas Fair. More modern fairs are to be seen at WAMP Xmas and at the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts.

Concerts at Christmas in Budapest: don’t miss the concerts at Xmas in Budapest. Free concerts are all over the city, each evening and at weekends on Vorosmarty Square (folk, choir, coral), choir and organ concerts at the St Stephen Basilica and a whole lot more concerts (fun jazz, funky, swing etc.) at many bars and clubs in Budapest.

Merry Christmas! or, if you are wondering what is Merry Xmas in Hungarian, it goes like this (mouthful, I know):

Bol-dog – cor-arch-ont!
=Boldog karácsonyt!

Not so difficult after all!

Budapest Events Calendar 2012

Spruce up your Budapest holiday with some of the amazing and fun events taking place in Budapest – a few ideas have been gathered in Budapest Events Calendar 2012 by Top Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest Events Calendar - agenda view

Budapest Events Calendar – agenda view

Each day Budapest has something peculiar to offer, so enjoy Budapest nightlife, live music at bars, cool concerts, classical music events, contemporary dances, sports events like Budapest Formula 1 this summer, or the upcoming Hungary – Netherlands Qualifying Match in September 2012.

Pick a concert, a musical, an exhibition or a gastronomy festival with great wines and traditional Hungarian foods. Pick any genre and you will definitely find something which appeals to you.

Budapest Events Calendar is quite flexible, although it may take some time to download all the events (which is not even a comprehensive list of Budapest events!)

Budapest Events Calendar in agenda view – it is the default view. But you can also take a look at the upcoming events in a monthly overview, which is especially useful if you are planning your Budapest trip in advance. Mind you, many many events are not published until 2-3 weeks before they start (especially smaller concerts and parties).

Budapest Events Calendar in calendar view – if you click on the little calendar icon in the upper left hand corner, you can switch to calendar view in this neat little Budapest Events Calendar

Budapest Events Calendar - calendar view

Budapest Events Calendar – calendar view

How To Buy Hungarian Train Tickets?

If you wish to travel by train from Budapest to Vienna, Prague or Berlin with a pre-purchased discount railway ticket, you may bump into some unpleasant obstacles when buying or booking a train ticket online from the Hungarian MAV Train Company.

Printing out the online rail tickets in Budapest, Hungary

Printing out the online rail tickets in Budapest, Hungary

On the bright side, at least it is possible. Even though some interface pages are NOT in English. So here is our train ticket screenshot step by step guide how to buy tickets in Hungary on the internet. In the screenshots below we will walk you through the online ticket purchase of a train ticket from Budapest to Vienna.

The Hungarian train company, MAV seems to finally keep up with the recent developments, and is now offering online train ticket purchase in advance for both local and international train routes. The snag is that the online MAV interface of buying a train ticket from Budapest to another travel destination has not been really made for tourists who do not speak Hungarian.

So here is a step by step train ticket based on the buying process and screens on the official website of the Hungarian railway company, MAV. Hopefully, with this little help, you will be able to book your budget and discount train tickets from Budapest without a glitch – and save a few hundred or thousand Hungarian forints for your Budapest holiday.

Before you start buying your train ticket, some buying tips:

  • Be prepared for a cumbersome ticket purchase interface, not really made for tourists at this point, sorry
  • Allow about 20 – 35 minutes for booking your rail ticket in Hungary
  • Have something to drink with you. It may help to get over potential frustration
  • Have your valid card prepared (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Electron are all accepted)
  • Please bear with us, sometimes the interface is dumb.

First of all, your browser may find the official online train purchase system of the Hungarian MAV untrustworthy and you may get a warning:

Hungarian Train Company MAV website - online ticket purchase

Hungarian Train Company MAV website – online ticket purchase

You will have to choose ‘proceed anyway’ in order to get through to the ticket buying interface. Sounds a real adventure, we know.

So let’s get on. Visit the official website of MAV, the Hungarian rail company, and in the upper right hand corner, click on the English language version, and give the FROM and TO info:

MAV Hungarian ticket buying for trains

MAV Hungarian ticket buying for trains

In most cases, you will need Keleti Train Station in Budapest.

Then in the right hand boxes, pick your starting date, and choose any of the discounts if it applies to you or your travel partners (children, under 26, students, pensioners, blind, etc.). Discounts can save you a lot of money, so don’t forget to use them well, and bring your ID to prove that you are entitled to the reduced train ticket prices. The ticket inspector will ask you to show your ID if you have a discount train ticket. Note: in general, discounts are for tourists from the EU or for Hungarians only.

Discounts for train tickets in Hungary

Discounts for train tickets in Hungary

In the next window, you can set your single or return dates, the current exchange rates (upper right hand corner), the number of passangers, and you will also need to give your date of birth (MAV system wants to find out if you are automatically entitled to a discount, and old enough to buy tickets – it is not a remnant of the old Big Brother days, no worries).

Single or return tickets bought online from Budapest, Hungary

Single or return tickets bought online from Budapest, Hungary

By scrolling down a bit, you can also see what trains are available on your starting date, if they leave from Keleti Train Station (by default) or from Deli Train Station, which is about a 20 minute metro ride from Keleti, so do check the details of your train route. At the time of writing, the system does not recognize ‘Deli Train Station’ only ‘Déli’ with an accent (say: ‘daily’ not ‘deli’). Mind you, you will get some info on which platform your train will leave from, but it may change, so again, better double check and leave some time for rolling your suitcases (Keleti is quite big).

from Budapest Keleti or Deli Train Station to Vienna

from Budapest Keleti or Deli Train Station to Vienna

The estimated time of your journey is in the 5th column, saying DUR (for Duration). Some trains are not direct, which can make your train trip twice as long, but there are many direct train routes, which e.g. regarding the Budapest – Vienna route, can mean that your trip is less than 3 hours. It is great, isn’t it? (The other option would be the slow, noisy and uneventful hydrofoil trip from Budapest, or taking the fast bus from Budapest to Vienna).

Let’s assume, that we are travelling from Budapest to Vienna in August, two of us, date of birth info given for both of us. Then click on the button ‘Tickets and Prices’:

Date of Birth for passengers on Hungarian trains

Date of Birth for passengers on Hungarian trains

Here we get the ticket prices:

Potential routes for Budapest Vienna train trips with prices

Potential routes for Budapest Vienna train trips with prices

The OPEN button is the little orange arrow, by clicking on which you will get extra info about each train ticket:

Detailed train ticket info - Hungarian MAV

Detailed train ticket info – Hungarian MAV

The white seat icon means that it is a train seat ticket, the white arrows indicate if the trip is there or back.
Most importantly, the little yello I for info icon will take you to a Hungarian page, where you may learn with google translate the following info about Sparschiene for instance:

Sparschiene-Fortuna Budapest goes to both Wien and Graz, and there is another Hungarian Sparschiene-Fortuna from the nice little southern Hungarian town called Pecs (Pécs) to Vienna. Then comes a list of the actual trains and engine numbers (the Hungarian MAV and the Austrian OBB) which are part of the Sparschiene offer. You will also learn that the Sparschiene is a discounted ticket for all year (not just for the tourist season), and that you can only buy this train ticket 2 months in advance (for instance on July 1 you can buy it until September 1 but not later) for both 1st class and 2nd class seats.
Sparschiene is not refunded and cannot be replaced with another train ticket. Once you bought it, you are stuck with it. Children discounts do not apply for Sparschiene train tickets. I think these are the most important, non-technical train nerdy items on the info page.

And here comes a decisive point, where should you click to actually buy the train ticket?

Now, currently, what you need to do is to click on the OPEN button on the left side (by the orange arrow) once again.

open button - buying the train ticket but how?

open button – buying the train ticket but how?

Well, this was the OPEN button they were talking about you think with a hindsight…
And there you go:

Buying rail tickets in Hungary online

Buying rail tickets in Hungary online

Now in the right hand column, you can reserve your train seat. The prices indicated include both the standard train tickets and the price of the extra seat reservation (the latter of which is also compulsory to buy):

Hungarian trains - with obligatory seat reservation

Hungarian trains – with obligatory seat reservation

Not all trains in Hungary go with obligatory seat reservation, but international ones definitely do, and most of the better, faster trains too.

Let’s assume that we have picked an outward and an inward return journey date too. Then scroll up to the top of the page and click on the orange button saying ADD TICKET TO THE…
Then you will end up on this nice Hungarian page after all this work:

Register on Hungarian MAV to buy a train ticket

Register on Hungarian MAV to buy a train ticket

Scroll down to get to Regisztracio (Registration) – you will need to register to the Hungarian rail company site to buy a train ticket. And you are on the right track, as according to their instructions, first you need to pick which tickets you need for which dates, and then register… Painful, we know. Sorry about that.

Registration on the Hungarian MAV train website

Registration on the Hungarian MAV train website

So let’s go through the registration process on MAV site. Under the email, you will need to give your password (‘Jelszó’ in Hungarian) you create specifically for the MAV site (min 6 max 16 characters). Then ‘Jelszó ismét’ means Password again, so you will need to retype your chosen password. The coloured bar measures the strength of your password. Fill in the form, then click on the button ‘Regisztráció’ (register):

Registration on Hungarian MAV Train site

Registration on Hungarian MAV Train site

After clicking on the Register button, you will face a long long Hungarian text, the MAV Terms and Conditions. These are pretty general things, but if you need to know the terms and conditions in English, we can send it to you for a modest surcharge (the fee of the Hungarian – English translation).
Otherwise, if you are lazy terms and conditions readers like we are, scroll down to the bottom of the page to find a box you can tick for accepting the terms and conditions. Please note that we accept no liabilities, so it is your responsible decision:

MAV Hungarian Rail Company - Ticket Purchase Terms and Conditions

MAV Hungarian Rail Company – Ticket Purchase Terms and Conditions

Scroll down to see this little box, and tick.

Accepting MAV terms and conditions

Accepting MAV terms and conditions

Then hit the orange ‘Tovább’ button, which means ‘Next’ in Hungarian (literally ‘further’ but as a web button it is used as next)

Then comes the long long Privacy Policy (data protection declaration) issued by MAV, the Hungarian Train company (again, no liabilities on our behalf, but if you are an accurate legal person, we are glad to make an English version for a modest charge). And let’s not forget about the useful free Google translate tool, although with legal docs it may not be the best help, it gives a general idea what the text may be about.

Scroll down to the bottom of the declaration doc, tick the box to accept it, and hit ‘Regisztráció’ (registration)

MAV Hungarian Train - Privacy and data protection

MAV Hungarian Train – Privacy and data protection

Accepting the MAV privacy doc

Accepting the MAV privacy doc

Believe it or not, at this point I needed to have a coffee break… so cumbersome. Never mind, be persistent. :)

Now comes a pop up window: Thanks for registering on MAV Ticket Purchase. Click ‘OK’ Check your spam box if you don’t see MAV’s automatic email in your inbox.

Thanks for registering on MAV Ticket Purchase

Thanks for registering on MAV Ticket Purchase

Go to your email account to activate your registration by clickin on the link in the confirmation email.

Activate your new MAV registration by clicking on the link in your email account

Activate your new MAV registration by clicking on the link in your email account

Now you end up at the beginning but you can start purchasing your tickets. This interface shows KOrábbi vásárlások = History of purchased tickets (literally ‘earlier buys’)

The red warning text is about bank account data. If you want to print out train tickets (currently only available for inland tickets but not for international tickets) you will need to provide some bank data.

Start buying your train ticket

Start buying your train ticket

In the upper right hand corner you will see a count down. So you will have a short approx. 10-15 minute time frame to finalize your train ticket purchase. Make sure you have your credit card ready.

Choose the option at the bottom of the page
“Tudomásul vettem, nem kérek számlát.” which means that you are not asking for an invoice / receipt for your train ticket, so you are not giving a really detailed bank account info, as you don’t need a fully fledged MAV Ticket account (like a local would do). But you will of course need some bank data (less detailed) to buy your international ticket too.
So tick the box, and hit the orange button ‘Banki fizetés’ (paying via bank)

Don’t forget that you are paying for the train tickets in Hungarian forint (HUF or Ft for short) even if you see the prices in Euro!
You can pay by the following cards (dombornyomott means the numbers on the card are in relief, stand out, are not flat on the card surface):

Visa
MasterCard
American Express
Maestro
Electron

Credit Cards accepted by MAV ticket purchase

Credit Cards accepted by MAV ticket purchase

If you run out of the time frame, no worries, log in, and start your purchase again.

Here I am demonstrating another potential glitch in the train ticket buying system:

if you picked your train route, e.g. for a Budapest Vienna return trip the two trains (outward and return) and click on the button ‘Add ticket to the cart’ you may get a totally blank page. Like this:

MAV blank page during ticket purchase

MAV blank page during ticket purchase

No worries, hit the backpage button, and try again. It may very well be the case that there are no more tickets left for that train relation:

No more train tickets, sorry

No more train tickets, sorry

If you get the red warning message above: no more tickets, sorry (A kiválasztott jegytípus az adott vonatra elfogyott.). It means that you will need to pick another hour or date. Try until you get the right train tickets.

For instance, this Budapest – Wien – Budapest return train ticket in August, Hurraaaay! Or not yet?:

Buying a Hungarian train ticket for international trains

Buying a Hungarian train ticket for international trains

the text “A kiválasztott ajánlat igénybevételi feltételei” simply means the terms and conditions for the given train route and relation. Kosár – Fizetés means ‘Cart – Payment’. Yes, you are in the right place. But where can you actually buy the ticket? Where are the buttons?

If you click on the orange arrow saying ‘részletek’ you will get the detailed info of the tickets, but still no buying (or you can delete the train ticket by Jegyek törlése orange button) Where is your cart now? Good question. I am looking for my cart now. You may be luckier, it is a moody train ticket purchase system. But I won’t give up and you shouldn’t either. :)

I couldn’t find it anywhere, logged in again and started the train ticket purchase again. This time success!!

Booking a ticket in advance for Budapest Vienna online MAV system

Booking a ticket in advance for Budapest Vienna online MAV system

Time is ticking quickly. As above stated, scroll down the page to accept the fact that you don’t want to get an invoice or receipt:

No invoice about booking your rail ticket for Hungary

No invoice about booking your rail ticket for Hungary

Here comes a redirect to the Hungarian Bank called OTP to actually make your booking become true and financially solid:

MAV train ticket booking redirecting to OTP Bank

MAV train ticket booking redirecting to OTP Bank

Then fill in the form:

OTP Bank transfer form for booking train tickets in Hungary

OTP Bank transfer form for booking train tickets in Hungary

And here is a short translation (see both Hungarian and English) for the bank transfer, hopefully, you will make your train ticket booking with success. Please note: we accept no liabilities for your train ticket purchase and we do not buy train tickets for tourists (sorry). I am using bank card and credit card for this form now as synonymous terms.

Bolt (szolgáltató) neve – Name of the service provider MÁV-START
Fizetendő összeg – Amount to be paid 7.670
Devizanem – Currency: HUF
On-line áruház megjegyzése – Additional info by the store (service provider) – MAV-START Zrt. – Nemzetkozi menetjegy – International rail ticket
Terhelendő bankkártya adatai – Data of the bank card to be credited
Kártya típusa – Type of bank card (please choose your valid card data)
Ha OTP SZÉP kártyával, Cafeteria kártyával, stb. kíván fizetni Válassza az ‘Egyéb’ kártyatípust! – irrelevant for you probably, relevant for local Hungarian buyers (If you wish to pay by SZEP card, Cafeteria card, etc. choose the ‘Other’ bank card type)
Kártyát kibocsátó bank neve – Name of the bank issuing the card
Kártyára írt név – Name of the Bank holder
Terhelendő bankkártyaszám – Bank account number to be credited
A kártya számát folyamatosan gépelje be, a fizető felület automatikusan elvégzi a kártyaszám tagolását.
Please print the numbers of the card continuously without spaces. The system will add the spaces automatically.

Amennyiben a kártyaszám beadására kialakított mező hosszabb, mint az Ön kártyájának a száma, a kitöltetlen helyet hagyja üresen.
If the card number box is longer than your actual number, please leave the rest of the boxes empty.

Ha Ön olyan, az OTP Bank által kibocsátott Maestro kártyával kíván fizetni, amelynek száma tíz számjegyű, akkor az első hat számjegyként a következőt kell megadni: 675761. Ezt az Ön bankkártyája 10 számjegyének kell követnie, így tehát összesen 16-jegyű bankkártyaszámot kell megadnia.
(this info refers to Hungarian OTP MasterCards only)

Lejárati dátum (hhéé) / Date of expiration (mmyy)
Érvényesítési kód (CVC2/CVV2) – security code on the back of your card (the 3 digits)
A kártya hátoldalán, az aláíráscsíkon szereplő szám utolsó három számjegye. Amennyiben az Ön bankkártyáján ilyen adat nem szerepel, kérjük, hagyja a mezőt üresen!
Please give your 3 digit security code, if your card does not have any, leave the box empty
Felhívjuk figyelmét, hogy amennyiben az adatbevitel és a Fizetés indítása nem történik meg 5 percen belül, a vásárlás elutasításra kerül!
If you don’t make your purchase within 5 minutes, your purchase will be annulled / rejected.

Printing out your Hungarian train ticket bought via internet

Printing out your Hungarian train ticket bought via internet

Ideally when the paying is done, you should receive a buying code consisting of 10 digits. These ten digits will be used to print out your ticket in Budapest. Go to any of the major Budapest train stations and locate the blue ticket printing machines (saying INTERNETES). These machines are about an average woman’s height with a touch screen. Use your 10 digits to get your train ticket printed out. Here is a small demo made by the Hungarian rail company: video of using train ticket machines.

We can be self ironic and say that it would not be a Hungarian video if it was straightforward. The video is mostly about using the tiring MAV interface for buying an electronic train ticket online with a Nokia mobile phone. The last 5 seconds then suddenly change to a woman printing her online ticket at the official printing terminal (‘the blue MAV ticket machine’.

You can use Keleti Train Station, Deli Train Station, Nyugati Train Station to print out your international rail ticket (plus 3 minor out of the city train stations, you will be unlikely to use). The city of Budapest is pretty spread out, so the 3 major train stations are about 15-20 min ride from each other. You may envision to arrive in Budapest by flight, get a Budapest airport transfer, and expect to hop on your train heading elsewhere from the ‘Budapest Train Station‘. This is not the case.

How can I buy a train ticket in Hungary on the internet?

How can I buy a train ticket in Hungary on the internet?

All three train stations are heavily used. Although Nyugati Train Station is connected with Budapest Airport, which means an easy and cheap Budapest airport transfer, your train will likely leave from Keleti Train Station (most trains from Budapest to Vienna and Budapest to Prague leave from Keleti Train Station).

If you have a lot of luggage and big suitcases with you, taking Budapest public transport is not recommended. You can use a reliable Budapest taxi company or the shuttle service or some of the upcoming and competitively priced private companies for your smooth airport transfer.

Useful Budapest Info

Budapest Cards: Budapest coupons, free tickets to attractions, 5% discount on online orders – the Budapest tourist card includes a travel pass and dozens of good Budapest deals.

Budapest Events Guide: upcoming events in Budapest, festivals, fairs, exhibitions, concerts, etc.

Dos and Don’ts Budapest: some warnings, some tips on what to do

Top 10 Things to Do in Budapest: some of the top things to do, must see places in the city of Budapest (which has lots of hidden gems too).

Please read the comments, or hit the control F search on your laptop to see if you find more relevant info in the comments. We are trying to update the info as best as we can.

Budai Gourmet Festival 2012 – Foodies Welcome to Budapest!

Now the Budai Gourmet Festival is coming at the beginning of June again to make all foodies, locals and foreigners happy in Budapest.

Budai Gourmet Festival Budapest

Budai Gourmet Festival Budapest

The even better news is that you can watch all the Euro 2012 games right at the festival venue on huge outdoor screens, plus enjoy the gourmet foods and drinks, probably the best bites and sips Hungary can offer. There will be lots of jazzy – folksy concerts too to make you really feel relaxed.
The venue is one of our favorites in Budapest: Millenaris Park, a contemporary cultural complex, almost at the foot of the Castle Hill (a 15 min walk down from the Buda Castle District).

Please enjoy! June 8 – 10, an amazingly good event to put down in your calendar for your Budapest trip.
Oh, and almost forgot, you can take a look at the detailed program of the 2012 Budapest Gourmet Festival here

Trains from Budapest to Vienna: How To Travel Cheap by Train?

Traveling by train from Budapest to Vienna is simple, cheap and comfortable. Now you can even save by buying your train ticket online in advance. Here are some frequently asked questions with the answers:

Railjet - economy class seats of Budapest - Vienna train travels

Railjet – economy class seats of Budapest – Vienna train travels

How much does it cost to travel from Budapest to Vienna by train?

Single train tickets

The single train ticket from Budapest to Wien is approx. 3600 HUF/ 13 Euros / 20 USD (single ticket). This is currently the cheapest Budapest – Vienna train ticket. This ticket is called SparSchiene‘ ticket (say shpar-shee-ne). An interesting thing is that the Budapest – Vienna train ticket is slightly cheaper to buy in Budapest than in Vienna (e.g. single is 13 Euros in Budapest vs. 19 Euros in Vienna).

Return train tickets

A return train ticket for Budapest – Wien – Budapest is

  • 9300 HUF/ 33 Euros / 45 USD (return ticket). It’s the price of a full adult ticket. This ticket is called TripTicket Austria (Kirandulojegy in Hungarian), which for this price (33 Euros) contains the rail trip from Budapest to Vienna, in Vienna you can use the public transport free of charge for two days, then you can travel back to Budapest. (Note: the train ticket does not contain free public transport in Budapest only in Vienna)
  • 7,100 HUF/ 25 Euros / 33 USD (return ticket, also called TripTicket Austria): the other return ticket from Budapest to Vienna and back to Budapest does not contain the local public transport in Wien, Austria, only the return train trip between the two cities: Budapest-Vienna-Budapest. This option is ideal for a 1 day quick trip to Vienna (in Hungarian ‘Becs’ Bécs)
Nyugati Train Station Budapest

Nyugati Train Station Budapest (photo: Damian Entwistle)

Kids between 6-14 years of age travel at approx. half price, but there is no price discount on the Sparschiene tickets (single train tickets at the cheapest price).

Return Ticket Deals from Budapest

Special deal about the return train ticket: if you buy the more expensive TripTicket Austria return ticket for the route Budapest – Vienna-Budapest, your two-way ticket is valid for 4 days. Plus on the first two (only 2!) days of your trip to Vienna, you can freely use the public transport in Vienna, i.e. trams (streetcars), metros, buses free (incl. VOR 100 zone local buses, S-Bahns, ÖBB regional trains and Wiener Lokalbahnen trains too.), so the ticket acts like a Vienna travel pass combined with the return railway tickets.

What if Discount Tickets are Sold Out?

Budapest Train Departures

Budapest Train Departures (photo: Robin Brown)

Mind you, if the very favorable ‘SparSchiene’ and ‘TripTicket Austria’ tickets are sold out (they are limited and only sold online, so usually they easily sell out weeks before a trip), you can still buy regular train tickets at the railway stations in Budapest a one-way train ticket from Budapest to Vienna is about 6700 HUF/ 24 euros / 36 USD (no public transport pass included), or a standard return ticket for Budapest-Wien-Budapest. So if you cannot book online in advance, or you do not want to book in advance, there are still tickets available, but at a slightly higher price.

The trains have never been so full that no train tickets were available for a given day (there are more trains from Budapest to Vienna on a day, and you will surely get a ticket for one of them! Although Christmas time is special, as many Hungarians love to visit both the Budapest Christmas markets and the Vienna Christmas market!) See further deals and useful travel tips below.

Is it cheaper if I buy the train ticket online?

YES, it is! We do not want to seem overtly joyful as the interface of the Hungarian Rail company’s online train ticket purchase system is still awfully lame and useless (sorry, that’s the truth, even though we love MAV). BUT we have made a detailed guide to How to Buy Hungarian Train Tickets Online?

Let’s just say that the current online purchase system of train tickets is not really prepared for buying railway passes / tickets in English. Although the interface starts off in English, at a point it turns into fully Hungarian. So hopefully our guide will be of help to travel from Budapest to Vienna.

NOTE!

In the Hungarian MAV internet train system:

  • you can buy tickets from Budapest to Vienna
  • you can buy tickets from Vienna to Budapest, if it is a return trip, i.e. Budapest – Vienna – Budapest
  • you cannot buy tickets from Vienna Budapest as a single trip (only in Wien can you buy it)
  • you cannot buy return tickets from Vienna, i.e. Vienna – Budapest – Vienna (only in Wien can you buy it)

In the Austrian OBB internet train system:

  • you can buy tickets from Vienna to Budapest
  • you can buy tickets from Budapest to Vienna, if it is a return trip, i.e. Vienna – Budapest – Vienna
  • you cannot buy tickets from Budapest to Vienna as a single trip (only in Budapest can you buy it)
  • you cannot buy return tickets from Budapest, i.e. Budapest – Vienna – Budapest (only in Budapest can you buy it)

Bear in mind that – supposing you travel from Budapest to Vienna – you cannot buy your ticket via OeBB as they only deal with train trips originating in Austria and not in Hungary (i.e. from Vienna to Budapest and not from Budapest to Vienna). However, you always have the option to buy a return train ticket (currently about 25 euros), and use it as a one-way ticket, which in some cases may be cheaper than a normal one-way ticket. You could ensure your cheap train seat by

  • buying your Budapest – Vienna train ticket online (allow half an hour) OR
  • by going to any of the major train stations in Budapest:  Nyugati Train Station (the nicest!), Deli Train Station or, where most of the Budapest – Vienna trips depart from, Keleti train station a few days before the planned trip (especially in summer time / high season). Don’t forget to take Hungarian forints with you. Younger train ticket agents are more likely to speak English.
Budapest - Vienna railjet trains at Keleti Pu Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest – Vienna railjet trains at Keleti Pu Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary

Are there Further Train Deals?


Special discount is for kids between the age 6 and 14 (approx. -50%). Additional goodies: the TripTicket Austria ticket includes a two-day free public transportation pass in Vienna: during the first 2 days in Vienna, you can freely travel by trams (streetcars), metros, buses, and the following vehicles in the VOR 100 zone: local buses, S-Bahns, ÖBB regional trains and Wiener Lokalbahnen trains too. If you are visiting Budapest with kids, and you cannot buy the cheaper train tickets online, don’t worry, you will surely be able to buy some at the cashier: please allow at least one hour before train departure (to locate the cashiers, stand in queues, buy tickets, go to your platform)

Where do trains from Budapest to Vienna leave from?

Budapest-Vienna trains leave mostly from Keleti Train Station (in Hungarian Keleti Palyaudvar), abbreviated as Keleti pu. railway station (say: keh-let-tee pah-yah-ood-vahr). Some trains leave from Deli train station.

If you arrive at Budapest airport, and take the train to Nyugati train station , here is how you can get from Nyugati to Keleti train station. Learn more about Budapest airport transfer here. If you want to buy a Budapest card, you can get it online here (5% discount on online buying). Budapest cards (24h, 48h, 72h), are in fact quite cool: check out the 2013 list of Budapest card benefits. The cards include the local transport in Budapest, free guided tours, free tickets to museums, and many more discounts (even a free ticket to a Budapest bath). You can also buy simple Budapest travel passes, without further tourism deals (just for travel).

You can easily get to Keleti Railway Station by taking the metro (M2 red metro line) and getting off directly at Keleti pu. station (approx. 10-15 min from the city center, Deák tér station). You can also take the bus number 7, whose route goes from the Buda side to the Pest side and touches upon Gellert Spa Bath, Elisabeth Bridge, Vaci utca shopping street, Astoria square, Blaha square and then Keleti Train Station.

Where on earth is Keleti Pu. Railway station?


OK, here’s the Budapest Tourist Map to help you (see the train sign in the middle? You can also click on any of the icons to get more info, or follow the blue link ‘View Larger Map’ under the map to get a larger picture of Budapest).


View Budapest Tourist Map in a larger map

How long does the train trip take from Hungary to Austria?

Traveling time is about 3-4 hours (similarly to the Budapest Vienna bus ride). Check the exact duration here.

Are there any passport checks, delays or other inconveniences when the train crosses the border of Austria and Hungary?

Not any more! Hungary joined the Schengen area December 21, 2007. No more borders to keep buses up for passport check. (likewise, rail passengers enjoy the same smooth crossing between the two countries). But if you are a tourist from outside the EU, you will need to check if you need a visa to Hungary, and a visa to Austria.

How many trains leave for Vienna a day? What about the train schedule?

Trains leave almost every two hours! So trains are very frequent between these two beautiful cities. For instance, on a weekday you could leave Budapest for Viena at approx. 6am, 7am, 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm. Excellent connections, right? The Budapest-Vienna train schedule may change, so always check the fresh data, please:

Where can I buy train tickets in Budapest?

Train tickets can be bought at any railway stations in Budapest: e.g. Nyugati Pu (on the Pest side – accessible easily by blue metro line), Deli pu (on the Buda side – accessible easily by red metro line) or at Keleti pu (on the Pest side – accessible easily by red metro line). All 3 major railway stations are quite close to the city center, and are the names of given metro stops, so you can’t miss them.
Online purchase: unfortunately, on the Hungarian railway ticket system, you need to speak Hungarian to go through the purches process, so let’s skip this option for a while. Here is the Austrian railway ticket system online train ticket system, or you can call the Austrian call center if you have any questions: 00-43-05-1717.

Are the Budapest – Vienna trains comfortable?

Sure they are. If you need something more comfy, you need to buy a more expensive train ticket for the first class (the prices above refer to second class regualr seats)

Keleti Train Station, Budapest - photo by Matt Francis

Keleti Train Station, Budapest – photo by Matt Francis

Any quick programs at Keleti railway station?


If you are stuck at Keleti train station (which is a beautiful historical building), and you have a couple of hours to kill, for example you want to eat something in the neighborhood, there are some budget options or mid range options in the vicinity of Keleti train station:

  • McDonalds with a McCafe 2 min walk from the entrance of the train station
  • Montenegroi Gurman Balkan Bar, 12 min walk, open day and night, 24/7 food bar
  • Sissi Food Bar (Sissi Ételbár), 8 min walk, Mon – Fri: 7:30 am-4:00 pm
  • sausages, chicken legs, etc. at the counter of a traditional Hungarian butcher, 80 Rakoczi Way Budapest District VII, about 7 min walk
  • you can see from the entrance of the train station the Golden Park Hotel or diagonally the Best Western Hotel Hungaria, which are two hotels right on the Baross square (5 min walk from the railway station) – you can have an elegant cup of coffee or lunch there.

Budapest Attractions by Keleti Train Station:

In general, the city center is only 15-20 min by metro (red metro line) so you can check out some of the attractions of Budapest (also on the map).

Buses or Trains from Budapest to Vienna?
The vast majority of users on forums (me added) will say: TRAINS are better to travel from Hungary to Austria. But if you wish to learn more about bus travel from Budapest to Vienna, follow the link.

What to do in Budapest?

Here are some ideas what to do in Budapest, Budapest attractions and upcoming events (festivals, concerts, exhibitions, free programmes, etc.) in Budapest Events Calendar – note: the calendar is a bit slow to download but worth having a look at.

Last updated: June, 2013

Renovated Gellert Baths, Budapest

One of the most popular Budapest baths is Gellert Baths in Danubius Hotel Gellert, the renovation of which has been partially finished this April, according to index.hu, Hungarian news portal.

Reconstructed male thermal baths in the 1917 secessionist Gellert Baths photo by Istvan Huszti at index

1917 Art Nouveau Gellert Baths Budapest

The reconstructions works (1.5 billion HUF) are challenging as the art deco style of the baths built in 1917 need to be preserved.

During the renovation period, the separate male and female thermal bath units were functioning in a co-ed style, but in a couple of weeks, you will not need to wear swimming costumes, the old apron system will come back.

Gellert Baths is coed on weekends (all pools), but during the weekdays, from Monday to Sunday, the thermal pools are men only and women only, while the standard pools with cool waters are open for all.

If it sounds confusing, it is. Gellert Baths is a huge palace of baths, so if in doubt, just ask your question in the comments.

After the second world war, there was not enough money to reconstruct more expensive art deco elements, so several details were simply replaced by cheaper socialist style solutions. The 2007-2008 baths reconstructions have brought back the glory of the 1917 Art Nouveau Gellert Baths. Enjoy!

By the way, Hotel Gellert is one of the top Budapest spa hotels, not the most exclusive or luxurious, but it will do for those who choose good value for money.

Photo by Istvan Huszti from Index.hu (http://index.hu/gal/?dir=0804/kult/gellert/)

Museum Cafe and Restaurant (Múzeum Étterem) in Budapest Hungary

Museum Cafe and Restaurant (Múzeum Étterem) is right next to the National Museum in the city center. The reputable restaurant also recommended by the Michelin Guide for Budapest Restaurants was established in 1885. So that’s why its name is also Museum. The large wall painting, the mural has been made by one of the national celebrity painters of the 19th century, Karoly Lotz. The wine list is quite long featuring many of the 22 Hungarian wine regions. Saturday only lunch specials are recommended if you want to taste something Hungarian in an old-style Hungarian restaurant.

Museum Cafe and Restaurant (Múzeum Étterem) in Budapest at the National Museum

Address: Múzeum krt. 12. Budapest 8th district 1088
Phone: 00-36-1-338-4221
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12:00- 24:00 (Sundays closed)
Note: after 7pm booking a table is a good idea (even though the restaurant seats 120+40). World-renowned Hungarian Zsolnay porcelain is used for serving. Closed on Sundays.
Getting here:

  • metro (red line) Astoria station, then a few minute walk or (blue line) Kálvin tér station then a few min walk on Múzeum krt.
  • trams/ streetcars: number 47 or 49
  • buses: number 9 or 15

See the location of Museum Cafe and Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that Museum Cafe and Restaurant is only a few steps from the National Museum (entrance is free!), and is also very close to the old Jewish district with the Grand Synagogue (Moorish-Byzantine neolog synagogue), as well as the beautiful Pushkin Film Theater (Puskin Mozi). The Reformed Church on Kálvin tér or the Franciscan Church on Ferenciek tere are about 5-10 min walk to Muzeum Restaurant.


View Larger Map

Alabardos Restaurant (Alabardos Etterem) Budapest

Alabardos Restaurant (Alabardos Etterem), which is located in a nice old Gothic building from the 15th century, is only a few steps from the Gothic Matthias Church and the panoramic ramparts on top of the Castle hill called Fishermen’s Bastion. Alabardos Etterem is recommended by the Budapest Michelin guide. The restaurant has a terrace and a garden besides the internal rooms, which are all decorated in a style that combines medieval memorabilia, walls, colors with 19th century refurbishment. “The atmosphere inside is hushed and elegant, although slightly pretentious. They appreciate “appropriately” dressed guests at this conservative establishment” (Frommer’s travel guide, New York Times). Wine selection is assisted by a sommelier. World-famous Zsolnay and Herend porcelains are used for dining.

Knights Room in Alabardos Restaurant on Castle Hill in Budapest Buda side

Address: Országház utca 2, Budapest 1014
Phone: 00-36-1-356-0851
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 19:00.-23:00, Sat: 12:00-16:00 and 19:00-23:00 (Closed on Sunday)
Note: Closed on Sunday. Music: live classical music and guitar solos (unobtrusive). Booking in advance is recommended. Attire: preferably formal.

Gothic Terrace of Alabardos Restaurant on Castle Hill in Budapest Buda side
Getting here:

  • bus: Várbusz (minibus leaving from Moszkva tér metro station) or Bus number 16 from Deák tér metro station
  • Funicular from Adam Clark square at the Chain Bridge, then turn right and walk towards the Matthias church tower

See the location of Alabardos Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest). Notice that Alabardos Restaurant is in the Castle District on top of the Castle Hill (Varhegy), very close to the Matthias Church, the Fishermen’s Bastion, the Hungarian House of Wines, the historical little confectioner’s Cafe Ruszwurm, and of course the Royal Palace itself with its numerous exhibitions.


View Larger Map

Gundel Restaurant Budapest (Gundel Étterem) Photos, Basic Info and More

Gundel Budapest (also mistakenly called Gundels or Grundel Restaurant) is a has grown a solid term over the last decades in Hungary. Gundel Restaurant (Gundel Etterem) bears aristocratic majesty in its several rooms with antique furniture, walls, glasswork, etc. Although the well-known restaurant is recommended by the Budapest Michelin guide, so far no stars have been give to it (strangely enough, not to any of the restaurants in the former Eastern block behind the iron curtain).

Magnificent classical interior in Gundel Restaurant Budapest Hungary

As the New York Times’ Frommer’s travel guide writes: “Budapest’s fanciest and most famous restaurant, Gundel was reopened in 1992 under the auspices of the well-known restaurateur George Lang, owner of New York’s Café des Artistes. The Hungarian-born Lang, author of The Cuisine of Hungary, and his partner Ronald Lauder, son of Estée Lauder and a one-time New York gubernatorial candidate, spared no effort in attempting to re-create the original splendor for which Gundel, founded in 1894, achieved its international reputation.”

Gundel Restaurant in Budapest Andrea room

Sunday brunches, which change their theme every week, are quite affordable for 5800 HUF (there’s a 50% discount for children under 15, while it’s free under 5)

Gundel Restaurant  in Budapest Elisabeth ball room Erzsébet bálterem

Address: Állatkerti út 2. Budapest 1146 (14th district)
Phone: 00-36-1-468-4040
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12:00-16:00 and 18:30-24:00, Colonnade Bar: 09:00-24:00, Sunday Brunch: 11:30-15:00
Note: Book a table in advance. Celebs are frequent, pets are not allowed (nor celeb dogs as the cross-section). Attire: formal (jackets in the evenings are obligatory). House specialties are smoked gooseliver, lamb, wild-game entrees, Gundel pancake dessert (Gundel palacsinta) with chocolate, ground walnut, etc.

Gundel Restaurant  in Budapest Music Room Zeneszoba


Getting here
:

  • metro (yellow underground line) at Hosok tere station
  • trolley bus: number 72, get off at either Szondi utca or Állatkert stop (the restaurant is about halfway between the two stops)

Gundel Restaurant in Budapest Andrassy Room Andrássy terem
See the location of Gundel Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that Gundel Restaurant is close to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Hall of Arts and the Millennial Monument on Heroes’ Square. The restaurant is practically neighboring the Art Deco ZOO, as well as the Budapest Circus and is fairly close to the Szechenyi Baths at the City Park, and the House of Horror museum on Andrassy avenue.


View Larger Map

And this is the Salon of Gundel Budapest:

Gundel Restaurant in Budapest Salon

Nice, isn’t it?

Mokka Cafe and Restaurant in Budapest City Center

Mokka Cafe and Restaurant is one of the restaurants in Budapest recommended by Michelin guide. Its style is trendy-elegant ‘ethno-eclectic’ combining African-Mediterranean colors and elements. But it’s also ethno-eclectic in its cuisine in a sense that the restaurant is striving to create its own Mokka versions of international and Hungarian dishes with a modern flair. Sommelier helps you to pick wines. Pricey.

Mokka Cafe and Restaurant in Budapest downtown

Address: Sas utca 4., Budapest 1051
Phone: 00-36-1-328-0081
Opening hours: (lunch and dinner) Mon-Sun 12:00-24:00
Getting here:

  • metro (all lines) Deák tér station
  • tram/streetcar: number 2,

See the location of Mokka Cafe and Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that Mokka Cafe and Restaurant is very close to the Parliament, the Basilica and Roosevelt square with the Chain Bridge & the Gresham Palace or Hotel Sofitel.


View Larger Map

photo from diningout

Budapest Restaurants recommended by Michelin

Unfortunately, Michelin is said to be very slow to react to changes at restaurants, especially in non-Western Europe. Several Budapest restaurantsare striving for the appreciation of this established gourmet institute but they need to be patient, similarly to other Central-European counterparts where Michelin stars have rarely been given (the first Michelin star went to Allegro Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel of Prague).

Budapest Onyx Restaurant - Michelin 1 star

Budapest Onyx Restaurant – Michelin 1 star

See the Best Restaurants in Budapest.

So what are the best restaurants in Budapest that have been awarded with a Michelin star or other recommendation?

Budapest Restaurants with Michelin stars

Bib Gourmand restaurants in Budapest

Budapest restaurants recommended by Michelin guide

If you are wondering where you could have a nice coffee and cake, have a look at the Best cafe guide in Budapest.

Related:

Last updated June 2012

Please send your comments in