This guide to Budapest-Keleti train station explains what to look out for when departing from, or arriving here by train.
Budapest Keleti/Keleti- pályaudvar is undoubtedly a beautiful train station, but in some respects it is also a living monument to a bygone era of rail travel.
It’s clearly been a while since Keleti rail station has been modernised and some would argue that is part of its charm
Seven things also worth Knowing About Budapest-Keleti train station:
(1) Budapest Keleti/Keleti- pályaudvar has recently lost its crown as the undoubted main international train station in Budapest.
The daytime express trains between Budapest and Slovakia, Czechia and Germany AND the daytime trains between Budapest and Poland now depart and arrive at Budapest-Nyugati station.
(2) The overnight trains to Czechia, Germany and Poland still use Keleti station, as do all the trains between Budapest and Austria, Romania and Serbia
(3) If you are heading to Budapest on a train which calls at Budapest-Kelenfold station, before arriving at Keleti station - it's likely that you'll have an easier journey to your final destination in the city if you leave the train at Kelenfold.
There's more info about this below,
(4) Don’t be put off by first impressions of Keleti rail station.
It houses modern ticket machines and the departure info makes it fairly easy to find your train.
(5) Budapest Keleti/Keleti- pályaudvar station also houses a rather fabulous café - find it to the left of the main concourse as you face the trains.
An omlette, bread and coffee will cost less than the equivalent of €4.
(6) We deliberately haven't included our usual list of recommendations of places to stay with easy access to Keleti station.
Budapest-Kelti station isn’t in the smartest area of Budapest and it’s also some distance from all of the most popular tourist sights.
So a much better option is to stay in the city centre, but choose somewhere with easy access to a Metro station on Line 2 or Line 4 - so that you can then have easy access from/to Keleti by Metro.
(7) Budapest Keleti's location in the city meant that it had a reputation for being a station where waiting for a train in the evening was cautioned against.
A recently published guide book to the city recommends that when taking an overnight train from Keleti - the best option is to wait in the McDonalds across the street and then enter the station shortly before the train is due to depart.
ShowMeTheJourney was there in the daytime and observed an efficient police presence in the station and the McDonalds did not look particularly inviting.
Budapest-Keleti is a terminus station, so to exit from the trains you need to walk on to the main concourse, which is located by the front of the trains.
The vágány (platforms/tracks) that the express trains normally arrive at, are those in the middle of the station, so these are directly linked to the main concourse.
Other trains can arrive at vágány (platforms/tracks) to either side of the central area of the station - and these other parts of a Keleti station are a short walk from the main concourse.
So the access from the trains to the main concourse is step free - but there are short flights of steps which link all of the exits from the main concourse to the surrounding streets.
If you need step-free access to the areas around the station, then there is a lift for the sole of use of travellers who require mobility assistance, which leads down to the metro station concourse.
On this metro concourse is a separate lift, which leads up to the square in front of the station.
Having arrived at Keleti station by train if you want to continue your journey by Metro the only access to the Metro station (Keleti pályaudvar) is by usually by using the stairs - which are the dominant feature of the main concourse.
Unless you need mobility assistance and if so there is a lift available.
So if you have heavy luggage, you'll need to take it down these stairs.
Therefore if you have luggage, you're heading to the city centre and your train calls at Budapest-Kelenfold station - transferring to the Metro there is usually the better option.
There are sets of lifts at Kelenfold station, which can be used by all passengers, which connect the vágány (platforms/tracks) with its Metro station.
Tickets for the Metro can be purchased from the purple and white ticket machines (not the yellow machines).
The Metro machines accept coins and credit/debit cards.
Take Metro line 2 (direction ‘Deli palaudvar’) to ‘Deak Ferenc ter’.
There are no trams from Keleti station towards the city centre.
Tram line 24 is the only tram route which serves the area around Kelti and it heads south towards the Kozvagohid area.
For the Hungarian Parliament Building:
Take Metro Line 2, (direction Deli palaudvar) to the 'Kossuk Lajos ter' stop.
For the Buda Castle and surrounding Varnegyed area in Pest:
Take Metro Line 2, (direction Deli palaudvar) to Széll Kálmán tér and then either walk up the steep hill or take bus lines 16 and 16A up towards the castle.
This is a much easier option from Keleti than taking the Castle Hill funicular.
The better option from Keleti is:
(1) to follow the directions above
(2) explore the area
(3) the take the funicular DOWN - so that you can then access the city centre by walking over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.
For Kelenfold station - take Metro Line 4 to Kelenfold vasutallomas
For Deli station - take Metro line 2 to Deli palaudvar
For Nyugati station;
(1) take Metro line 2 direction (Deli palaudvar) to Deak Ferenc ter station
(2) transfer there to Metro line 3 (direction Újpest-Központ) and leave the train at Nyugati pályaudvar.
If you won't be travelling with heavy luggage etc then Budapest - Keleti station is easy to use.
It's a terminus station so once you're on the concourse, the access to the trains is step free.
It's accessing this main concourse which can be trickier - see the info below.
The departure board has English translations, so once the vágány (platform/track) number is confirmed on it, you simply walk ahead from the main concourse in order to board your train.
Four Things Worth Knowing About Departing By Train From Budapest-Keleti:
(1) Budapest Keleti can be frustrating train station to use if you have luggage etc, none of its entrances from street level are step free.
(2) On the Budapest Metro Maps the Hungarian name of Keleti station is understandably used, so you're looking for - and taking trains to 'Keleti pályaudvar'.
(3) If you arrive by metro there are lifts and escalators to take you up to the metro station concours; which is the below the main concourse of the train station.
However, the tricky to find lifts from this metro station concourse, up into the main station building, are for use only by those who require mobility assistance.
So if you have luggage etc, there is usually no alternative to heaving it up the two flights of steps up into the main station.
On the same level as the metro station concourse you’ll see a comparatively archaic ticket booking office.
You need to enter into here and the steps up to the main station concourse will be over to the left.
(4) The majority of international and domestic express trains depart from the central group of vágány (platforms/tracks) 6 - 9; which are steps away from the main concourse and the entrance from the metro.
However, there are other platforms/tracks to the left and right of these, which are some distance from the main concourse.
So even if you have a ticket, aim to be at Keleti a minimum of 5 minutes before your train departs.
Buying tickets from the ticket machines:
The MAV (yellow) ticket machines on the main concourse are relatively easy to use.
Not only do they have an English language option, they also have step-by-step instructions in English.
In contrast the staff at the domestic ticket counters may not speak English.
Worth knowing is that if you will be travelling to another destination in Hungary, you will only pay the equivalent of a couple of €s more at the station compared to booking in advance online.
If you have booked a ticket online from outside Hungary for a domestic journey within Hungary and now have a reference number to be used for collecting a ticket - you have to use these machines.
Entering the reference number in order to for your ticket to be printed out is straightforward.
The instructions in English on the machines also cover how to collect these tickets.
Using the Ticket Offices at Budapest Keleti Station:
The domestic ticket office is located beneath the main concourse in a somewhat underground gloomy area, that looks as though it hasn’t been updated since the 1960s.
When exiting from the Metro part of the station, you'll find that this domestic ticket office is the first part of the station that you'll come to - the ticket booking counters for journeys within Hungary are over to the right.
If you enter the station at street level, you will to use the stairs on the main concourse to descend to this ticket office.
Though our recommendation is to give the MAV ticket machines a try, particularly as the staff at these ticket desks may not speak English.
Using the international ticket office
This lower level ticket office and the yellow MAV ticket machines sell domestic trains only, but international tickets can be arranged at the international ticket office
It is located by platform/vágány 6, to the left of the main concourse.
This ticket office can be very busy, particularly in the summer.
Hence the opening of a new self-service international ticket office.
It has PCs with a step-by-step interface for buying AND reserving international train tickets.
Another big plus is that you can use these self-service machines for international journeys that involve a change of train outside of Hungary.
However, rail pass users cannot purchase reservations from these terminals - you have to book in person at the counter
Budapest Keleti (Keleti-pályaudvar) is one of four main trains stations in Budapest.
Many express trains from the south and west of Budapest including trains between Wien/Vienna and Budapest also call at Kelenfold station.
Leaving/joining a train there can be a much better option than using Keleti station.
It generally takes the train around 15 mins for a train to travel between Kelenfold and Keleti stations.
However Kelenfold is on the rather fabulous Line 4 of the Budapest Metro, so you can be in central Budapest before the train you have just left has arrived at Budapest Keleti.
In contrast to Keleti, the newly modernised station at Kelenfold has step free access from the train platforms to the metro.
So if your final destination in Budapest is adjacent to Metro Line 4 then definitely leave/join a train at Kelenfold.
Keleti is also on Metro Line 4, but you will save a minimum of 20 minutes if you travel via Kelenfold.
Line 4 also has a step free interchange with Metro Line 3 at Kelvin Ter station.
To Deak Ferenc Ter from Kelenfold Station
If you’re heading to the Deak Ferenc Ter area of Budapest, then;
(1) leaving the train at Kelenfold,
(2) taking Line 4 to Kelvin Ter and
(3) transferring there to Line 3 for the journey to Deak Ferenc Ter
is faster and easier* than travelling via Keleti.
*Yes Deak Ferenc Ter is on a direct Metro line (M2) from Keleti, but the ease of transfers at Kelenfod and Kalvin Ter, in comparison to the transfer at Keleti, tip the balance in favour of this routing - particularly if you have luggage.
To Wien/Vienna from Kelenfold:
If you’re travelling from Budapest TO Wien/Vienna in 2nd/economy class, then making a reservation for the train to Vienna/Wien is recommended, if you want to join these trains at Budapest-Kelenfold - the trains can fill up at Keleti.
Or if you don't want to bother with making the optional reservations then head to Budapest-Keleti and join these trains there.
As ShowMeTheJourney doesn't recommend staying in the immediate vicinity of Keleti station, the best option can be to choose somewhere with easy access by the Budapest Metro.
By Kalvin Ter station
Staying in the neighbourhood around Kalvin Ter station is a particularly good option if you will be arriving and departing in the city at different stations.
It is the only metro station with direct links to all four of Budapest's main railway stations - Deli, Kelenfold, Keleti and Nyugati.
These hotels in the vicinity have the best guest ratings:
The Hotel Rum (personally recommended)
By Dean Fereck Ter station
This Metro station, close to the heart of the city, has a direct link from Budapest Keleti and staying in the area can be a particularly good option if you are on a budget as there a a number of hostels within a 10 walk of Dean Fercek ter.
Also in the area are:
This is one of more than 300 station guides available on ShowMeTheJourney, which will make it easier to take the train journeys you want or need to make. As always, all images were captured on trips taken by ShowMeTheJourney.