Your Hungarian rail adventure will be nothing short but amazing. The Hungarian capital Budapest, split in two by the river Danube, is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world. You also shouldn’t miss the immense Lake Balaton, the largest lake in Central Europe, and the gorgeous vineyards of Szépasszony Valley.
Hungary by train
Train types in Hungary
Eurail passes for Hungary are valid on all trains operated by the national railway company MÁV-START.
Faster trains are the Intercity (IC) trains or the express trains (gyorsvonat). They also have comfortable 1st class (elso osztály) sections. Most IC trains have a restaurant car. In all the other train lines there are smoking and non-smoking cars. Local trains are called személyvonat, they are relatively slow. Often they only have a 2nd class (másod osztály) compartment.
Private railway companies
A Eurail pass valid in Hungary is also valid on the private railway lines operated by GYSEV (known as ROeEE in Austria).
GYSEV operate a number of train routes, including:
Sopron – Ebenfurth (Austria)
Fertöszentmiklós – Neusiedl/See (Austria)
For more information check the GYSEV website (only in German and Hungarian).
Budapest is the center of all main rail connections. Budapest has three main train stations:
Keleti (Eastern) on Baross ter (red metro line) services most international express trains as well as domestic trains to and from the north and north-east.
Nyugati (Western) on Nyugati ter (blue metro line) has trains for the Great Plain and the Danube Bend.
Deli (Southern) at Krisztina korut has trains bound for Transdanubia and Lake Balaton.
Taking an InterCity train is the fastest way to travel from Budapest to the following cities: Bekescsaba, Debrecen, Dombovar, Gyor, Gyula, Hajduszoboszlo, Kaposvar, Kecskemet, Miskolc, Nyiregyhaza, Pecs, Sopron, Szeged, Szolnok, Szombathely.
Some domestic trains in Hungary require a reservation:
For IC (InterCity) and IP (InterPici) trains reservations is compulsory.
For domestic journeys with EC (EuroCity) reservation is optional.
For the international Railjet train to Switzerland and Germany reservation is optional.
A nice scenic route in Hungary is Szabadbattyán - Balatonfüred - Tapolca
How to get there
From Budapest there are direct connections to Hungary from and to all immediate neighbors: Austria, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia. Also to further countries like: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and even Turkey.
Airport - station links
If you arrive in Hungary by air, you can easily reach Budapest city center by train from Ferihegy International Airport Terminal 1.
Eurail aid office in Hungary
For help with your Eurail pass, you can visit the aid office in Budapest, József Attila str. 16. See Eurail aid offices for more details.
Places to visit in Hungary
Budapest extends along both banks of the Danube, offering stunning views. That the city is ‘split in two’ seems rather appropriate, since the city itself is filled with contradictions. There is Roman architecture and Turkish baths, Gothic churches and Baroque museums and Art Nouveau and Viennese coffee houses. It is home to world-class opera, music and art. Take in all that this unique metropolis has to offer.
City Park (Városliget) has indoor and outdoor pools, a bathhouse, a zoo, and many other attractions. There’s a metro stop inside the park, so it’s extremely easy to get to.
Culinary treasures in Szentendre
This riverside town north of Budapest is on the slopes of the Pilis mountains. Revel in its cobblestone streets, colorful houses, bustling market squares and postcard-perfect scenery. Try some authentic Hungarian cuisine too: Paprikás (beef stew in thick, bell pepper gravy), Gundel Pancake (with ground walnuts, flambéed in chocolate sauce) and Dobos sponge cake (with chocolate buttercream filling and a caramel slice on top).
The journey from Budapest station to Szentendre takes less than 30 minutes.
Fortification for your journey
The 13th century Castle of Eger is perched on a hill that overlooks the city of Eger. Aside from the castle itself, you’ll find a prison museum, underground artillery bunkers and the Dobó István Fortress Museum, one of the most popular museums in Hungary. Don’t miss the views from the castle walls.
The castle is about a 10-minute walk from train station Eger vasútállomás.
Mineral baths for the soul
Lake Balaton is the largest lake in Central Europe, and one of the favorite vacation destinations of Hungarians. Visit this beautiful inland beach on your way to Gyógytó Lake in Héviz. The volcanic crater spring under Gyógytó keeps it warm enough to swim year round, and the mineral-rich mud is considered medicinal, so swimming is only recommended for an hour at a time, tops. Choose from outdoor swimming or indoor swimming in a glass enclosure. The health benefits are numerous.
From train station Keszthely Vasútállomás on the shores of Lake Balaton, take a taxi to the town of Héviz. The spa and hot springs are in the center of town.
The sweet vintages of Szépasszony Valley
Directly adjacent to Eger is the Valley of the Beautiful Women (Szépasszonyvölgy). While this might sound like a place for women of ill repute, it’s actually a vineyard of high regard. Wine lovers dare not miss the rolling vineyards, quaint wine cellars and historic taverns. You’ll also get a taste of some of Hungary’s finest reds. Be sure to visit Istenes Pince (Godly Cellar), the oldest cellar in the region.
From train station Eger vasútállomás, Istenes Pince is about a 10-minute walk.
Events in Hungary
This is one of Europe’s largest music festivals and has been voted in various polls as one of the best. Spread over 8 days, the festival offers a broad range of music genres from international rock acts to jazz and world music. There's also an excellent programme of cultural activities and performances. The festival is set on Óbudai-sziget, an island in the Danube. Camping is possible.
Sziget party train
You can also start your festival on the train! Take the Sziget party train which departs from Amsterdam and has 2 party coaches with DJ's. Breakfast and champagne are available on board. Please note that this train trip is not included in your Eurail pass.
For more information about this train visit the Sziget website.
Óbudai-sziget can be reached by metro from all 3 international train stations.
More about Hungary
Population: 10 million
Currency: Forint (HUF)
Dialing code: +36