If you wish to travel by train from Budapest to Vienna, Prague or Berlin with a pre-purchased discount ticket, you may bump into some unpleasant obstacles when buying or booking a train ticket online.
But 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.
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:
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:
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.
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).
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).
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’:
Here we get the ticket prices:
The OPEN button is the little orange arrow, by clicking on which you will get extra info about each train ticket:
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.
Well, this was the OPEN button they were talking about you think with a hindsight…
And there you go:
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):
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:
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.
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):
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:
Scroll down to see this little box, and tick.
Then hit the orange ‘Tovább’ button, which means ‘Next’ in Hungarian (literally ‘further’ but as a web button it is used as next)
Scroll down to the bottom of the declaration doc, tick the box to accept it, and hit ‘Regisztráció’ (registration)
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.
Go to your email account to activate your registration by clickin on the link in the confirmation email.
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.
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):
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:
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:
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?:
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!!
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:
Here comes a redirect to the Hungarian Bank called OTP to actually make your booking become true and financially solid:
Then fill in the form:
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.
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.
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 Events Guide: upcoming events in Budapest, festivals, fairs, exhibitions, concerts, etc.
Dos and Don’ts Budapest: some warnings, some tips on what to do
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.