Please sign in to post.

Day trip Vienna to Budapest?

We will be in Vienna the second week of December for the Christmas markets. As I was thinking, I thought it might be nice to take a day trip to another country to check their Christmas Market. One city that came to mind was Budapest. It appears to be about 150 miles away and a 2:20 minute train trip.

Has anyone here ever taken that trip? If so, how was the trip on the train?

If not Budapest, where else? Bratislava does not seem to have much in the way of Christmas Markets.

Posted by
885 posts

You can do Budapest as a day trip, but it would be an extremely long day. Your total travel time will be at least 5-6 hours round trip. I don't know anything about Christmas markets or whether cities are still having them due to Covid. If they are having them and you don't mind a long, long day, then it would be a different experience for sure.

Posted by
12400 posts

The train ride is fine. I've done day trips to Budapest from Vienna a couple of times, the last time in the summer of 2015.

Each time the train was crowded. Buy the r/t ticket day or two prior.

Posted by
12582 posts

I've made the trip in reverse just to go shopping for the day. Yes, worth it. A better suggestion would be to spend the night and head back first thing in the morning.

Posted by
2308 posts

Doable, but quite a long day trip. There are a couple of Christmas markets in Bratislava, what is it you don't like about them? Otherwise, have you considered Brno? It is ca 1:30 by train from Vienna.

Posted by
5689 posts

Noting Fred's warning -- might be worth paying for reserved seats. Two hours is a long time if you are standing in the aisle -- we saw that once (after I evicted some people from our €3 reserved seats) Budapest is a beautiful city, deserves more than a quick look.

Posted by
193 posts

I agree that Budapest is great. I was there with my wife in 90. This trip is with my two adult daughters. I thought of a day trip somewhere else just to have an option to do something else plus, I want to give them a taste of another excellent destination in an attempt to instill the travel bug in them.

Posted by
193 posts

Badger's suggestion of Brno looks very promising. The trip is half the time and trains travel frequently. An excellent idea!

Posted by
601 posts

Brno is smaller, but is home to many hipster cafes. I think your daughters would like them.

Posted by
19217 posts

Yes, Brno has a very nice historic center. Few foreign tourists (as far as I could tell) but still a lively city.

Posted by
1394 posts

Traveling from Vienna to Budapest on the RailJet is easy, comfortable and fast (2:40 hours) with the opportunity to have a nap. If you take an early train to Budapest and a late one back to Vienna, you can enjoy a full day for visiting Budapest. Be sure to spend €3 for a seat reservation.

Should you go to Brno, and if you are interested in architecture, try to get tickets (as soon as possible) for visiting the Villa Tugendhat, an architectural landmark on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Tugendhat
https://www.tugendhat.eu/en/

Posted by
1394 posts

@James E.

wmt1 the issue is the schedule. The ECs only take a few min more and give you a lot of flexibility.

Sorry, but I don't get it. All the trains between Vienna and Budapest (17 per day in either direction) need about the same time (approx. 2:40 hours), no matter whether it is a RJ (RailJet), RJX (RailJet Express), EC (EuroCity), D (D-Train) or RGJ (RegioJet). The different train types use different types of cars.

Therefore I do not see any advantage in choosing a certain train type. You choose your train by a departure time which suits you, unless you insist on features unique to a certain train type, e.g. like business class, quiet zone, etc.

Posted by
12582 posts

Sorry, but I don't get it. All the trains between Vienna and Budapest
(17 per day in either direction) need about the same time (approx.
2:40 hours), no matter whether it is a RJ (RailJet), RJX (RailJet
Express), EC (EuroCity), D (D-Train) or RGJ (RegioJet).

wmt1: That was my point in contrast to your statement that:

Traveling from Vienna to Budapest on the RailJet is easy, comfortable
and fast (2:40 hours)

Which could be misconstrued to say that the RailJet was faster.

Posted by
12582 posts

And its a fantastic old station.

But do spend the night. Get a room at the intercontinental or the Marriott with a river view. Generally I say stay away from that part of town, but for one night it is perfect. Then catch a early train home. I dont think you will regret it.

Posted by
1394 posts

Arrival station in Budapest:

All trains from Vienna stop in Kelenföld, and then proceed either to Keleti (in most cases) or to Déli.

Posted by
1394 posts

Which could be misconstrued to say that the RailJet was faster.

I recommend the RJ/RJX trains because the have, IMHO, the most comfortable cars.

The 17 trains per day from Vienna to Budapest are 8 RJX, 6 EC, 2 RGJ and one D train.

Posted by
12582 posts

I recommend the RJ/RJX trains because the have, IMHO, the most
comfortable cars.

Fair

Posted by
193 posts

Ok, in checking prices I see there is a great difference between first and third class tickets. (3X more expensive). I want an enjoyable journey, but all classes leave and arrive at the same time. Cost is a consideration. Is there a great difference between classes?

Posted by
1394 posts

There is no 3rd class. 2nd class is the standard in every train, and it is perfectly OK. Most trains offer 1st class, too, but for a higher price. On RailJet trains there is a business class compartment, which adds an extra charge to the 1st class ticket. In all cases I strongly recommend buying a seat reservation (€3).

Posted by
193 posts

wmt1. I will certainly heed your advice. I will get an assigned seat, It is a small price to pay for the knowledge that we can sit ands sit together. At my age, a 2+ hour stand on a moving conveyance is nothing I would want to do.

Posted by
193 posts

Just bought my round trip second class tickets with seating. I was told I will get my seat assignments within s few days. I arrive in Budapest around 10:20 and leave at 18:40.

I want to visit the Christmas markets. Any suggestions on where to lunch? With a short time there, anything we MUST see?

Thank to those who responded to my inquiry. Your advice has set my course for what I hole will be a superb day.

Posted by
12582 posts

Okay, so you are going to get off the train in Keleti and walk towards the front of the station. Right in the middle near the front you will see stairs going down. At the bottom of those stairs on the right you will find an information office. Walk in and buy a 24 hour TravelCard for each of you. You aren’t really going to get your money’s worth out of it on your short stay, but this is the easiest thing for you to do. They will cost you 1.600ft each or about $5.25.

Now you are going to follow the signs to the RED M2 metro line. If you aren’t comfortable on metros, not to worry, this one is simple. When you walk through the control point if anyone is checking, just show the cards you just purchased and keep walking.

The metro direction is described by the end stop. You want to go in the direction of Déli pályaudvar. The third stop will be Deák Ferenc tér (maybe a 5 minute ride). Get off and follow the signs to the stairs up to the street level.

Welcome to beautiful Pest.

At the top of the stairs use your phone GPS or a map for a bout a 5 minute walk to Szent István ter where the smaller of the two markets is located. See the Basilica and the markets and maybe eat lunch at Belvárosi Lugas Restaurant located across the street directly behind the Basilica. Then use your phone GPS or a map to get to Vörösmarty tér where the larger market is located. Maybe 5 – 7 minutes from the Basilica.

After shopping and drinking and …. walk past Vörösmarty tér to the Danube River and get on the Number 2 Tram. Ride it right to left (downstream) to reach Fővám tér where you will find the Great Market Hall (closed on Sunday). You will know you are at the right tram stop when the tram stops under a bridge. The Market is at the top of the stairs. This one of the worlds best tram rides by the way.

After your market visit look for the tram that runs across the river. Hop on, then get off at the stop on the opposite side of the bridge. This is the 47/49 Tram. You are in front of you is the Gellert Hotel. Once home to the Nazi officers and where Oscar Schindler reportedly stayed when he came to Budapest to warn the Jewish leaders. The hotel bath house is lovely and can be seen in an Anthony Bourdain show about Budapest.

In front of the hotel where you got off you will see other tram lines. You want the 19/41 Tram. Hey, trams are Budapest’s better answer to HOHO busses. Get a seat facing the river and head upstream. You will see Pest across the river, the Chain Bridge (under renovation), the Basilica, the Four Seasons (beautiful historic building) and lastly the Parliament building.

The tram will stop directly across from the parliament. Stay on until the following stop: Margit Híd, Budai Hídfő. Hop on the 4/6 Tram that runs across the Margret Island Bridge and back to Pest. The first stop is mid span of the bridge, so you want the second stop.

When you get off if you look across the street (towards the Parliament) and up the first side street (Balassi Bálint u.) you will see the end of the Number 2 Tram line. Hop on and it will take you to the Parliament and then back to where you started with magnificent views of Buda along the way.

Tram rules. You get on and you get off at your hearts content. See anything interesting, hop of and get on the next one that goes by. No validating and no tickets. Just that TravelCard you purchased that you show if and when you are asked by a guy wearing a BKK armband. Rarely happens.

Posted by
12582 posts

Okay, more time? In the center of Vörösmarty tér (cause that’s where you went when you got off at the place the odyssey up and down the Danube began) you will find the entrance to the M1 metro line. Possibly the oldest on the continent of Europe. The 8th stop is Hősök tere (Hero’s Square). Get off, look around. Now walk back down Andrassy ut. The M1 ran directly under it. Andrassy is the road the French copied to create the Champs-Élysées (or at least that’s my story). It’s a 30 to 40 minute walk and worth every moment of it.

At the end of the road, cross the major cross street, and work your way back to the Deák Ferenc tér station of the M2 metro line (where it all began). Your ride back to the Keleti is easy from there.

That's a route, but not a guided tour. Get a good guide book and I bet you will be getting on and off the trams a lot. The one thing I would see are the Shoes on the Danube (get off the tram behind the Parliament and its about a 5 minute walk down and along the river)

I like the DK Eyewitness Top 10 Guide for Budapest. Easy to carry, good map in it and it hits all the high points.

Posted by
1394 posts

Not much to add to James E.'s suggestions.

If you pass Vörösmarty tér you should stop in Café Gerbeaud and eat some Somlói Galuska, a dessert rather unlikely to be found outside Hungary. The interior of this place is magnificent.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_Gerbeaud

If you are interested in architecture, Europe's largest synagogue, built by a Viennese architect, may be of interest.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doh%C3%A1ny_Street_Synagogue

Certainly strange is a remnant of the Cold War: Hospital in the Rock - Nuclear Bunker Museum
https://www.sziklakorhaz.eu/en/

Posted by
193 posts

James and wmt1, I cannot thank you enough. I have copied your advice and will have it with me while in Budapest.

Posted by
1172 posts

I did Salzburg as a day trip from Vienna and it was great. Salzburg has great Christmas markets. I took the train at 8 am and came back on the 6:30 train.

Posted by
12582 posts

If you had taken a morning train, we could have made it to Buda too....

As you walk down Andrassy ut, if you get tired you can always hop back on the M1 line as there are a number of stops along the way. But if you do you miss the old embassies, mansions, magnificent old apartment blocks, restaurants, Opera house, etc..... You are short on time, so maybe you walk down about 2 stops and then get on for 3 stops and then walk the rest.

Still two hours till train time? At the end of Andrassy ut (the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út stop if you got back on the M1) you turn left and walk towards the yellow trams. Hop on. Its the end of the line so there is no direction decision. Hop off at the first stop which is called Astoria, and walk back about 300m and on your right is the before mentioned Synagogue. I wish you had time for the tour. Worth it. Now, back to Astoria as there is an entrance to the M2 Metro Line there and that will take you back to the Train Station (direction of travel = Örs vezér tere) .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nd9DuDGCz0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TltY6cW1p7o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x0g1uSX7nc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PruFwhua78E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7OXihx9Ji4