From Budapest to Vienna by Bus: Quick Guide

Traveling by bus from Budapest to Vienna is a no brainer. Here are some frequently asked questions with the answers:

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

The bus ticket prices vary between 2900 HUF/ 11 euros / 15 USD up to approx. 5900 HUF/ 23 euros / 35 USD (for a single bus trip) or 3900 HUF/ 14 euros / 20 USD up to approx. 8900 HUF/ 34 euros / 51 USD (for a return bus trip). It’s the price of a full adult ticket (occasionally, you can get a return ticket at the same price as a single ticket – limited edition and period). See further deals below!

Is it cheaper if I buy it online?

Buses from Budapest to Vienna Volánbusz services faux image

Yes, it is: you can buy the bus ticket on the internet for only about 2,900 HUF/ 11 euros/ 17 USD (single ticket) and 3900 HUF/ 15 euros/ 22 USD. But be careful as the ticket is only valid on the stated specific day, it cannot be modified or exchanged, and it’s not easy to get as there is a limited offer per bus) and you can buy it here on the official site of the Hungarian bus company, Volán The destination box recognizes both WIEN or VIENNA.

Are there any further deals or reductions?

If you are under 26, you can get bus tickets with a 50% reduction! In addition, if you stay a few days in Vienna, it is worth calculating with a Vienna public transport pass (2-day pass for 10 euros / 15 USD). It means that you may be better off with a train ticket combined with a Viennese public transport pass in the train ticket price. Check the current deals for trains.

Where do buses from Budapest to Vienna leave?

Buses leave from Népliget central bus station. You can easily get there by taking the metro (M3 blue metro line) and getting off at Népliget station (approx. 15-20 min from the city center, Deák tér station). You can also take the bus to Arpad Bridge, i.e. Árpád híd station, but to make sure you have a better seat (if it is not numbered) it’s better to get on the bus at the terminal (Népliget – say: nape-ligh-at).

Hey, where on earth is Népliget bus station?

OK, here’s the Budapest Tourist Map to help you (see the blue bus 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 bus ride take?

Traveling time is about 3-4 hours – depending on which bus you manage to get on.

Are there any delays and inconveniences when the bus 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).

How many buses leave from Budapest to Vienna a day? What about the bus schedule?

Bus rides are quite frequent. For instance, on a Saturday, you could leave from Budapest at 7am, 12pm, 15:30, 5pm and 8 pm. The Budapest-Vienna bus schedule on an average Wed is 7am, 12pm, 15:30, 5pm. But always check the fresh data, please.

Where can I buy Volánbusz bus tickets in Budapest?

Vendors are all over Budapest, so you don’t need to go to Népliget for no reason. Here’s a simple Budapest international bus map customized for the Budapest-Vienna travels:

Are buses comfortable?

Most of them are OK. Not super comfy, but they are OK. Personally, I have alway been favoring trains (to stretch out, to eat, etc.) so it certainly influences my judgment.

Any quick programs at Népliget bus station?

If you are stuck at Népliget and you have a couple of hours to spend, for example you want to eat something in the neighborhood: a, the city center is only 15-20 min by metro (blue metro line). b, you can have a delicious Chinese lunch or dinner at Taiwan Chinese Restaurant in Budapest (Taiwan Étterem). It’s not a budget Chinese restaurant – quite on the contrary.

Take the M3 blue metro line for 1 stop to Nagyvárad tér station (see the knife and fork sign on the map).

Buses or Trains from Budapest to Vienna?

The vast majority of users on travel forums (me added) will say: TRAINS. Here is a quick guide to a train trip: Trains from Budapest to Vienna

Last updated: June 29, 2012

Budapest Chairlift: Libego on Janoshegy

The Chairlift in Budapest is on János hill (Jánoshegy) in a beautiful green part of the hilly Buda side of Budapest. Although the Chair Lift is run by the Budapest Public Transportation company, Budapest travel passes and tourist cards known as Budapest cards, do not include a free ride on the Chairlift.

Budapest Chairlift

Budapest Chairlift

Opening hours: weekends and fair weather 10 am – 4pm
Prices: 500 HUF for adults, 200 HUF for kids, 400 HUF for students and retired people. Return tickets are double.
Address: Zugligeti út 97, Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-394-37-64
Note: Groups need to book in advance.

The location of the Chairlift is indicated in the middle with a blue (sorry) ‘helicopter’ icon on the Budapest Tourist Map, you can see the Children’s Railway (Gyermekvasut), the Lookout Tower and the Langos vendor close by. All highly recommended for a relaxed family-friendly or inspirational romantic program.


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Here’s a nice video on the Chairlift on Janos Hill (the second major part of the video is about the neighboring lookout tower, Erzsebet kilato from 1910). Watch out for the retro panpipe music characterizing the 1980s:

 

Budapest Children’s Railway: A Cheerful Blink From The Pioneer Past

Budapest Children’s Railway is not only an ideal program for those who come to Budapest with little kids, or who simply fell in love in (and with) Budapest and want to see the gentle green forest, the panorama, the old nostalgia trains, and to spend a nice sunny day away from the hustle and bustle. It is also a great historical tour: going through 50 years of the pioneer history in the adjoining Children’ Railway Museum.

Budapest Childrens Railway at Normafa stop in summer

Opening hours:
May-August every day from 9am to 7pm
September-April: (except for Mondays) every day. from 9am to 5pm
Phone: 00-36-1-397 5392
Prices:

  • Adults: one-way ticket for a few stops 450 HUF, full line ticket 600 HUF (return 1200 HUF)
  • Children (6-14): one-way ticket for a few stops 250 HUF, full line ticket 300 HUF (return 600 HUF). Kids under 6 travel free. Budapest card enables you & a kid to buy full line tickets at the price of a ticket for a few stops.
  • Pets (with lead and muzzle): 100 HUF
  • Family daily ticket: HUF 3000

Pioneer working at Budapest Childrens Railway

Getting here: the Children’s Railway is in the Buda hills (the hilly Buda side of Budapest), so don’t expect a central location. It’s about 35-50 minutes by public transportation from the city center. First go to Moszkva tér (red line metro), take a tram (choose either from 18, 56 or 59 – people speak English, so ask them where the stop is) and get off at the 2nd stop called Fogaskereku Vasut (Cogwheel Railway). Hop on the Cogwheel Railway and lean back until the terminal. You are at Szechenyi-hegy (Szechenyi hill), walk a few steps, and you are at one end of the Children’s Railway line. You can take a return tour if you are only here for the railroad ride.

But if you want to walk or get to know another part of Budapest, buy only a one-way ticket, get off at the terminal called Hűvösvölgy (‘Cool Valley’) and take the trams (again, choose either from 18 or 56) for about 13 stop to get back to Moszkva tér. Or get off at János hegy, check out the highest point of the Buda hills at the lookout tower called Erzsébet kilátó, and then take the Chairlift downwards. Number 158 bus takes you back to Moszkva tér again.

I would recommend another third way to get to the Children’s Railway from Moszkva tér though, which won’t take you to the terminal, but to the 1st stop called Normafa. Take buses 21 or 90 (about 16 stops or 20 minutes), get off at Normafa, try the freshly made strudel with mulled wine at the strudel vendor, or the goulash in the ski house (both great and highly popular in winter), or some more exquisite courses at the Normafa Cafe and Grill, which has a lovely, family-friendly summer terrace (open from 12 to 24). At Normafa stop, don’t expect a building for the Children’s Railway, it is a stop, wait, get on, and get your ticket from one of the children railway guys.

Location of Children’s Railway (map icon: blue train) on the Budapest Tourist Map. If you are specifically interested in other ex-communist traces in Hungary, check out the red flames icons for more tips.


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FAQ of Budapest Children’s Railway
Is it true that the trains are operated by kids?
Yes, it is. Children aged 10 to 14 years of age control the traffic, operate railroad switches & signals, sell and validate tickets, etc. under the supervision of adults (many times former kid employees of the Children’s Railway). The train/ engine itself is driven by an experienced adult. However, the railway is not a children’s toy train – all services and operations are in line with the regulations of any other railway line of the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV).
How long is the ride?
Length: 11 km/ 6.8 miles. Duration: about 40 minutes (full length from Szechenyi hegy to Huvosvolgy)
Is there any good Budapest panoramic view?
Sure, just by getting on top of the hill, you’ll surely have some nice photos of the beautiful view. Plus, on the train, you can get an exceptionally good glimpse of Budapest from a height of 323 meter/ 0.2 miles between Szepjuhaszne and Harshegy stops. Further places: Szechenyi Memorial Lookout, Erzsébet Lookout (527 m/ 0.3 miles).
Are there any special programs at the Children’s Railway?
Yes, there are. Quite a lot of them, from spring to fall. March 15 sees hundreds of people participating in a 6-hour tour from the foot to the top of the hill: the route touches upon the major spots of the Children’s Railway and some other memorable places in the neighborhood. The tour is about 6 km in length, starting from Széchenyi hegy leading to Hűvösvölgy. Join the tour for a nominal fee, get your map and off you go. Spots are to be ticked off in order and you can expect warm lunch at the end of the tour (included in the price). :) April 12: the day of the Children’s Railway. May 25 is Children’s Day celebrated at the Children’s Railway. June 14 Graduation ceremony for new children’s rail staff, June 23 Museum Night, July 31- Aug 03 (in 2008): 60 year old birthday of the Children’s Railway, Aug 20: the firework tour on August 20 (a Hungarian national public holiday, the celebration of bread, the Hungarian state and the first king), Aug 24 Farewell party of young children’s railway professionals, Sept 13 Nostalgia Day.

Check out this great video on Budapest Children’s Railway (yes, kids still salute the train and travelers):

History of Budapest Children’s Railway

The idea of the Children’s Railway in Budapest came only two years after the end of WW2, in 1947, and in a year (strictly in line with the expectations of the government) in 1948 the first 3 km of the railway was completed, the first couple of boys and girls aged 12-14 took part in a six-week course and started to operate the Children’s Railway (in the beginning it was called either children’s or pioneer railway). Mind you, some people were quite unhappy about the Children’s railway. There were opponents: those who doubted that kids could possibly run such a serious institution, and those who wanted to allocate resources to re-build the country elsewhere.

The Children’s Railway was modeled after the pioneer railways in the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. The aim was not simply a railway for and by kids, but the establishment of a tightly-knit children’s community. Needless to say, the plot for the Children’s Railway (as well as the neighboring pioneer mega-camp, also called Pioneer Republic in Csillebérc, Budapest, also build at that time) was a free gift from the Budapest municipality. By 1949, the second, more challenging part of the Children’s Railway was given over. There was special attention paid to the design: panoramic view and a tunnel were default, so they added a fancy tunnel of 198 m length to make the railway trip more interesting. The first elevator in Hungary was also built here, for the Children’s Railway. In 1956, during the Hungarian revolution against the Soviet dictatorship and occupation, the railway stopped working: but people saw the railway more for kids and families than as the emblem of autocracy, so there was no damaged caused. As the communist regime forgot to notify the Pioneer Railway management that the railway services should be resumed, the director sat down with the kids and decided to resume normal services at their own responsibility. Strangely enough, nobody made a big fuss about it. From the 1950s to the 1970s about 6-700,000 people used it per year (these days it’s about 300,000). It was extremely popular and it was a great pride to be a pioneer railway girl/boy.

After the change of regime in 1989, the Children’s Railway way reconstructed, and modernized. The communist red star emblems disappeared from the trains, the red scarves of the pioneers were replaced with blue ones, and the Children’s Railway pioneers stopped greeting each other with the traditional pioneer greeting ‘Előre’ (which means approx. “Forward!”). Instead, they just used the normal Hungarian greetings in accordance with the daily hours. Another big change was making the Pioneer Railway Museum public (earlier it was restricted to special guests).

Photos and info from the official Children’s Railway site.

Budapest Funicular Railway: Schedule, History & more

Budapest Funicular railway is one of the most popular programs in Budapest, Hungary. The Funicular Railway offers a beautiful nostalgic ride with one of the most unique city panoramic views in the world: you can see the Chain Bridge arching the River Danube, the opulent Four Seasons Gresham Palace on Roosevelt square the distant green of Margaret Island in Budapest, etc. It is the second funicular built in the whole world (1868-70), and it is the only one that has coaches that look like a three-step staircase. The third unique thing is that you will see (or even walk over) little metal bridges that are arching over the funicular itself. Great for taking photos too!

Operating hours: 7:30 to 22:00 every day (except for maintenance Mondays – every odd week: 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc. AND also closed between April 2 & 6 in the spring general maintenance)
Length & time: 1.9 km (1.18 miles) and 7 minutes
Tickets: regular tickets and passes are not valid for the Funicular. You need to buy a separate ticket for about 3 euros/ 4 USD/ 700 HUF.
Alternatives: Of course, you can also take nice walks up the hill (about 15-25 minutes on foot depending on your fitness and urgency – it is about 50 m/ 16.4 ft difference in sea level) or take other means of public transport like the number 16 bus (also has a stop right at the funicular) on Adam Clark square or the so called Castle bus (Várbusz) a minibus leaving from Moszkva tér.

Budapest Funicular Railway at the Castle Hill  by Bruse LF Persson

The Funicular railway (or Sikló say: shik-loah in Hungarian) is a kind of cable railway a bit similar to the Angel Flight in Los Angeles, the Montmartre funicular in Paris, or the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh. The funicular connects the foot of the Castle hill (river level, Adam Clark square) with the top in Castle District (it is between the Alexander Palace and the the Royal Palace) taking you on a 48% steep. It is fun, beautiful, romantic and family-friendly. These days we are so much used to traveling by cars that it is refreshing to travel back in time and use a fantastically restored 19th century funicular – with a Number 1 city view.

History

Budapest Funicular was built between 1868 and 1870 as the second Funicular railway in the world. It was originally steam-powered (now it runs on electricity). The idea of a funicular – then very much in need due to the opening of the Tunnel in 1855 as well as the horse-driven tram over the Chain Bridge – came from Ödön Széchenyi, the son of the ‘Greatest Hungarian’ István Széchenyi (Hungarians thankfully honor this great politician for many of his great deeds). The work was carried out under the supervision of Henrik Wohlfarth engineer. The coaches were made in the Viennese Spiering Factory, while the steam engine came from the Viennese factory of Theodor Schultz.

Up until 1928 it was the only public transport to the Royal Palace and the Castle top as such. In 1928, however, the first castle buses appeared. Fortunately, tourists loved the funicular so much by that time that its traffic has not declined due to modernization. The real tragedy came in 1944: bombardments, broken cables and coaches. Budapest Funicular was destroyed in the WW2.

In 1948 and 49, the governing powers of the capital did not see much in the shattered funicular, so instead of envisioning its revival, they let the remains of the funicular taken away, reused etc. So Budapest had no Sikló (Funicular) for more than forty decades.

In 1986 it was beautifully reconstructed. Since then approx. 800,000 tourists take the funicular for a nostalgic joy ride every year. (The locals are in a hurry so they won’t take the pricey and slowish funicular for regular rides). Budapest Funicular is now part of the Unesco World Heritage. And as I have heard, this is basically the one and only property of Budapest Public Transportation Co. which is actually profitable. Maybe we should have a Budapest yellow submarine and other fun rides too.

But back to the funicular: as you can see in the photo, there is one thing that sets the Budapest Funicular apart from other funiculars all around the world: the footbridges over the railway. See the foot bridges and an upcoming funicular in this video made by a Dutch tourist (pyromax1):

And here’s the funicular from the outside (by GanzAlex):

Source: the official website of BKV (Budapest Public Transportation) on the Budapest Funicular history of BKV (in Hungarian)

Budapest: Vaci Utca the Shopping Street

Váci utca (say Vaatsy ootsaa), which is not to be confused with Váci út (Váci Road) has been a pedestrian only, shopping street for decades. It is well worth taking a leisurely stroll along the street, where one end runs into Vörösmarty tér, the elegant square where Café Gerbeaud is located, while the other end of the street leads you to the Central Market Hall in Fővám tér.

Suggested Tours:

Start in Café Gerbeaud (you may try the Hungarian cake called Dobos), walk through Vörösmarty square (Mihály Vörösmarty, after whom the square was named has his marble statue in the middle of the square). It takes about 20 minutes to walk through Váci street flanked by many 19th century residential and commercial buildings, banks, trendy and classic boutiques, souvenir and antique shops, bars, etc. (interestingly enough, restaurants in Váci utca are not really highlighted in guest or professional reviews). Peep into side streets. Cross to the other side of Váci street (after the white bridge, Elisabeth Bridge). Do some shopping in the Central Market Hall (closed on Sundays, end closes early on Saturdays).

See Vaci utca indicated with a blue line.


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Art Gallery Tour

Buying arts and crafts: zoom in on the map by double clicking, check the purple balloons for art galleries, antique shops. You may find the following places of interest in Váci utca:

  • Auction House, City Center (Belvárosi Aukciósház). Address: Váci utca 36. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am – 6 pm, Sat-Sun 10am- 4pm
  • Arten Galéria/Arten Gallery fine art studio (mostly Hungarian contemporary art works). Address: Váci utca 25. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am – 6:30 pm, Sat 10am- 6pm
  • Abigeil Galéria/ Abigeil Gallery (auctions, exhibitions). Address: Váci utca 19-21.
  • Sziget Galéria/ Sziget Gallery (exhibitions, sales from 19th to 21st century art). Address: Váci utca 63.

Have a look at this video on Váci utca made by Tamás Kulcsár and a Hungarian girl, Gyöngyi:

During the communist era, Vaci utca was The Shopping Street with luxury boutiques tagged with unavailable prices for most Hungarians (even the Hungarian version of the board game Capitaly had Vaci street as one of the most expensive lots to buy). These days, real high-end boutiques are not only in Váci utca, they are either scattered or in malls too, or simply not represented in Budapest. Is the street touristy? Sure, it is, but you will still enjoy its beauty, the chic boutiques, the good cafés with terraces to people-watch, etc. When looking at the prices, keep in mind that VAT is included in the price, so what you see is what you pay. Opening hours for non-food stores are generally from 10 am to 6 pm or even up to 8-9 pm (especially in malls).


History of Váci street

The story of Váci utca goes back to the Romans (“what have the Romans ever done for us? The aqueduct?”). They have built Contra Aquincum in the 3rd century, which was opposite – surprise, surprise – Aquincum on the other side of the river. As the River Danube was strategically quite good for the then Roman ruled Pannonia, they needed fortresses, baths, places for the soldiers, etc.Later on the ruins of these fortresses were used by the Magyars who conquered the area and settled down in the 9-10th century after years of wandering, nonstop horse-riding and backward shooting with their fierce arrows. Chief Árpád brought Muslim tradesmen and Bulgarian plus Slav ferrymen in this area who co-habited with the local Hungarian ad Slav agricultural workers. Between 1218 and 1225 German craftsmen and tradesmen arrived, and then Jewish settlers, so the developing Pest was a real melting pot. The Germans reused the good stones of the former fortresses to build their houses and the Pest side had only weak wooden walls.No wonder the whole city got ruined by the armies of Batu Khan in 1241, who had spies reporting him about the weakness of the settlement. Alas, the winter weather also liked Batu Khan, the grandson of Ghengis Khan, as the frozen river let the armies cross from the Pest side to the Buda side, and not only flatten the buildings of Buda (todays’ Old Buda or Óbuda), but go on to proceed to today’s Austria, Dalmatia and Italy. Luckily for the rest of the Europe, Batu Khan had to go back home for a big CEO meeting after the old khan died and the grandsons had to discuss who is going to be the heir.

In the middle ages, Váci street was called Big or Main street in the 15th century trading city, which had 3 gates to let people in and out through the thick protective walls (they learned from the 1241-42 spectacular defeat from Batu Khan).

Then came the Turks in the 16th century, and decided to love this city and linger on for another 150 years. Most of the city dwellings were in ruins after the long siege, and wooden houses, minarets, Turkish baths sprang up. The street had a Turkish name (Big or Nagy Mahalle), and the hygienics of the middle ages (many dead animals left rotting along the Mahalle). By this time, Turkish tax registries show that most of the settlers were Hungarians of Christian religion and the two major minorities were Germans and Jewish.

1686 was the next turning point that said goodbye to the Turks under the leadership of the Habsburg emperor Leopold I. The city started to rebuild and re-flourish. Again, many peoples found their homes here, including Greeks, Macedons, Armenians, Serbians, Slovakians and of course Germans who got the plots from the Emperor for a few ‘cents’. Most of the settlers, besides Hungarians, are Germans. The Nagy Mahalle (today’s Váci street) is named after the victorious emperor as Leopoldgasse. The city gets back its privileges as a free royal city, which hastens its dynamic growth into a modern commercial and cultural centre.

So much so that Váci utca becomes a fashionable walking street for civic residents to show off new clothes, to gossip, tp fall in and out of love, to talk about serious political issues, etc. And to window-shop, of course! So elegant boutiques concentrate their business efforts in the street already in the 19th century. The tower guard cries the hours every hour and the Svab German milk-women as well as other tradesmen sell loud their produce all day long. The water of the river Danube is sold for drinking, which today is hardly suitable for even bathing.

In 1838, a big-big flood washes away many things, animals and people, while ten years later the firy spirit of the Hungarian revolution upsets peaceful promenading in the street. After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867, when Hungary is given some freedom, both the Pest and the Buda side gains even more impetus for development, and the two sides join in 1873, giving birth to Buda-Pest, i.e. Budapest.

The two world wars, needless to say, bring about a long sad and ruinous break, followed by another ruinous communist era when the shopping street was turned into just a plain street with offices, stores and state-owned shops with uniform products. In 1964, Váci utca becomes a pedestrian only zone, and the gradually softening goulash communism slowly lets back elegant boutiques – after all, the wives of prominent communist leaders also like shopping western quality things.

Some of the historical buildings in Váci utca

No. 9 Pest Theater today, and one time inn, where 11-year-old Ferenc Liszt gave a concert.
No. 11 The facade is covered in Zsolnay ceramic tiles.
No. 39 Three reliefs show that the Zsolnay’s had an office, apartment and store here (1, a man making pottery, 2, a poet 3, the five-tower porcelain factory emblem).
No. 42If you watch hard, you will see owl statuettes at the balconies – once the house of a famous Hungarian doctor (Frigyes Korányi). The facade is covered in Zsolnay pyro-granite ceramic tiles. Pyrogranite was developed by Vilmos Zsolnay, the greatest Hungarian potter achieving international appreciation for his porcelain, eosin and pyro-granite products.

Sources (Hungarian): BP Archiv and Világjáró Magazin.