Travelling by train in Hungary


General information


This guide to taking trains within and to/from Hungary will tell you the less obvious things that are worth knowing about the tickets, the trains and the stations.

OR if you would like help with planning a train journey within or to/from Hungary, or want to add some Hungarian destinations to a European train travel itinerary, take a look at ShowMeTheJourney's new Concierge Service.

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Changes to train services in response to the Covid-19 crisis:

According to this map, most of the international long-distance trains to and from Hungary have now resumed.

On the night train routes to and from Hungary, according to the latest information posted by MAV, the Hungarian national rail operator:

(1) The night trains on the Budapest <> Buceresti/Bucharest route have resumed.
(2) The trains on the Budapest <> Munchen and Zurich routes are operating, but without sleeping cars.
(3) The Budapest <> Praha/Prague overnight service has resumed with sleeping cars (the daytime EC trains are also now available on this route).
(4) The Budapest <> Warszawa via Krakow service will be available from July 18th.
(5) Still suspended are these services
Budapest <> Lviv.
Budapest <> Berlin

Though the info re the Budapest <> Berlin MAY service may be incorrect.
The Wien/Vienna <> Berlin service is resuming on July 18th and the coaches which form the Budapest <> Berlin service are usually joined with that train for the part of the journey between The Czech Republic and Berlin.
DB (German Railways) has Berlin to Budapest journeys by the direct train available from July 18th.

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MAV is the national railway operator and it operates virtually all trains in Hungary (a notable exception are the trains in the area around Sopron).

Hungarian trains and stations may not be comparatively modern, but train travel in the country is relatively uncomplicated.

The five most pertinent things to be aware of are:

(1) On the departure boards the type of train, including the IC trains, are listed in the 'Vonat' column.

The departure time = 'Ido' and the platform/track number is in the 'Vágány' column.

(2) The fastest domestic trains are IC express trains and they share some routes with international EC and Railjet trains.

That’s because the international EC and Railjet trains to/from Budapest inevitably call at other Hungarian towns and cities, as they travel between the capital and the border.

(3)  For journeys between these Hungarian towns/cities by EC and Railjet trains, MAV applies the same rules (terms and conditions) including mandatory reservations, as it does to domestic IC trains.

(4) However, different rules apply to international train journeys to/from Hungary.

Seats don't have to be reserved when travelling between Hungary and Austria, The Czech Republic and Germany, but ARE compulsory on journeys to Croatia, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia and on ALL overnight trains - rail pass users take note

(5) However, all discounted international tickets, which can be booked online, ARE seat specific, so when making an online booking for journeys by any type of international service, you will be informed that reservations are compulsory.

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BOOKING TICKETS FOR JOURNEYS WITHIN HUNGARY  - 5 Things Which Are Good to Know:

(1) You can usually save only the equivalent of around €2 by booking tickets online for journeys by IC trains, and for journeys within Hungary by EC or Railjet trains,

(2) But it doesn't matter how far ahead you book, the online prices are fixed, so you won't save money by booking months or weeks in advance.

(3)  If you want to book at stations, the best option can be using the ticket machines, as ticket counter staff may not speak English.

The large ‘yellow’ ticket machines at stations have good English translations and step-by-step instructions in English.

(4) If you do use MAV’s online ticket booking service you’ll be sent a reference number by email.

You will need to enter this reference number into a ticket machine at the station when you arrive in Hungary.
You will also need to insert the card you used when making an online booking, so make sure you have it with you.

You won’t be charged by the machine, the payment will be taken shortly after making the online booking.

(5) A higher price (a supplement) is charged for journeys by IC train – and for domestic journeys within Hungary by EC and Railjet trains.

These ‘supplements’, which are in effect reservation fees, are included in the ticket price when booking online or at stations.
As a result all tickets for these domestic express train journeys are seat specific.

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Discounts for travellers:

A feature of travelling by train in Hungary is the plethora of discounts that are available for certain groups such as youths, families and senior citizens.

They are a legacy of when the state rail system was operated under the communist system.

International visitors to Hungary also qualify for these discounts, so have proof of age with you when booking at stations.

These discounts are also available when booking online, but if you have qualified for a discount, don’t forget to have your proof of age (passport) with you when making a journey.

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CATERING ON TRAINS:

The only trains in Hungary that have any on board catering facilities are some of the EC trains (but not all) and the Railjets on the Budapest – Gyor – Wien/Vienna route.

Therefore you need to buy food and drink prior to boarding an IC train in Hungary and take it on to the train with you.

Don’t rely on buying food/drink at the stations, you can generally save money and find better quality items if you use shops nearby.

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ALL THE LINKS BELOW GO TO PAGES IN HUNGARIAN - so use Google Translate to access the information.

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