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Buying international train tickets in advance from the Hungarian rail site

Is there a way, other than buying from a US retailer, to purchase rail tickets from Budapest to a city outside of Hungary (Vienna for example) in advance? I see that I can purchase round trip tickets traveling from Vienna to Budapest at the Austrian rail site but I can't seem to get a fare for just Budapest to Vienna which is the only direction I need. Also, on a different matter, I thought I'd search the past archives to see how many times this question has been asked (and answered?) but I cannot see how to search for past threads on this new travel forum format. (Never mind about part 2 of my question. I finally noticed the Search magnifying glass at the top)

Posted by
2982 posts

Very straightforward ; go to the Hungarian State Railways website ( MAV - start ) and you will be able to purchase your tickets from Budapest to Vienna ( The Railjet is the high speed Austrian train that makes the run in three hours ) Since you cannot home print these tickets , you will receive a ten digit code that will enable you to retrieve the ticket at the station in Budapest ( a blue machine right inside Keleti station by the main entrance . ...... http://www.mav-start.hu/english/ . this is an international ticket ( Hungary - Austria ) so look for the purchase instructions with this in mind .

Posted by
10984 posts

I had a cup of coffee a few months back with a couple that did just as advised above. They said it was flawless. The webpage is http://elvira.mav-start.hu/ I believe that doing it this way locks you into a particular train. But the savings is fairly significant. The only other comment I would make would be about Rail Jet. I don't know if there is any particular advantage to the RailJet other than the speed. I don't know if it is the tracks or the equipment or what but there are trains that are not marked as "RailJet" that are just as fast, sometimes faster.

Posted by
2536 posts

I have been at the link you give, I type in my Budapest (airport) beginning to Vienna end location and I get a timetables but see no prices nor any way to proceed to buy tickets. I've used several national RR websites to buy tickets online in advance but this baffles me.

Posted by
2982 posts

When you reach the page with the schedules , there is a field which requires date of travel , birthdate and number of passengers and a few other items ; THEN , click on tickets and prices . On the next page that appears there will be a price shown on the left , click it . NEXT page shows a description of the ticket , click where it says OPEN . Next page will show a list of choices click in the circle to the right to choose , then on TICKET to THE CART . You should be able to go on from there . Two other suggestions : Use the link James provided , it's more straightforward . Also if you are trying to start at the airport , it requires several connections to make it work . If you enter Keleti station as your departure point, it is less complicated . James will check this , I'm sure , and I defer to any ideas he has . No one here is better equipped with as good a knowledge of Budapest as he . He's also great company over coffee ;-) .

Posted by
10984 posts

Yes, Steven and I do have a life. We will be back siting in the same café on the evening of 12 June. Drop in for a cup. This is where Steven has the edge, he has done it. I have an associate in Budapest that picks up my tickets for me when I need them. Of course Steven is pretty sharp. Steven you are correct, the RailJets should always be faster; they are in other places. I wonder if the Hungarian tracks just aren't up to par and they cant run the trains as fast? I only point it out because we had a confused guest one day. The Inner city train was faster and she was sure there was some sort of trick she was missing.

Posted by
2536 posts

Steven, when I do the search with just Budapest (not a specific station) to Vienna, I get the screen that you just described and I'd never seen before. If a person is arriving at the airport in Budapest will they need a separate ticket for that leg of the journey and then need to use the 10 digit number at the machine in the main train station to retrieve their Budapest to Vienna train ticket? It really would be more seamless if a person could buy the whole ticket ahead of time and retrieve it with the 10 digit number.

Posted by
2982 posts

The question of retrieving the ticket is easy ; you can pick it up at any station that has a machine , so if you encounter one at the airport ,there is no reason not to get it there . The second part of your question is a little more nuanced and I'll try to explain it based on personal experience which may be correct ( or totally off base ) . Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way : What I have found in any of the countries in which I have traveled , local train tickets are often not sold in advance as are long distance ( high speed express ) trains . It's not a strict either or answer , it can vary from country to country , or even route to route . In short , trying to purchase a trip that includes a local leg or two may not be recognized by the computer and the computer will return screwy or non existent results . From the standpoint of ease and simplicity , buy the leg from the airport to the departure station when you get to the airport , The departure station depends on your choice ( most Budapest runs depart from either Deli or Keleti station , for you Keleti seems the best choice . One other quick example to make a point ; this past fall I needed to go from Chamonix , France to Paris - two local ( ter ) trains and one TGV ( high speed ) train . I bought the TGV on line and home printed the ticket but bought the local ticket when I arrived in Chamonix . It was simply easier to do it that way

Posted by
10984 posts

Mone, the train from the airport actually leaves from another airport about 15 minutes by bus away. THEN!! the train goes to a different train station than the one you are taking to Vienna unless you get on some odd route that takes all day. And I quote:

By train
The closest train station to Budapest Airport Terminal 2 is Ferihegy, with trains operating to and from the Nyugati railway station in Budapest. Nearly 100 trains per day, including InterCity services, provide easy access to and from the city in less than half an hour, for a few hundred HUF.
From the Ferihegy train station, Terminal 2 is accessible by bus number 200E during the daytime and with night bus number 900 at night time.
Tickets
Train tickets are not available for purchase at Terminal 2. However, trains operating between the Ferihegy train station and the Nyugati railway station may be used with Budapest travel cards, so the 24 and 72-hour, weekly and monthly travel passes for Budapest public transport available at the post office on the mezzanine level of Terminal 2A are also valid for these services.
Hungarian state railway company MÁV operates a domestic ticket office at the Ferihegy train station every day from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In addition, train tickets can also be purchased from the ticket machines located on the platforms. Tickets for destinations not shown on the ticket machines and supplementary tickets for premium category trains are available from the conductor on board the trains, without a surcharge.
Offer for departing passengers
As a result of cooperation between MÁV and the Budapest Transport Center, passengers taking the train to the Ferihegy train station can purchase a discount bus ticket for their journey to Terminal 2. Discount bus tickets cost 300 HUF, and are only available together with the train ticket, from ticket offices at railway stations. Discount tickets are only valid between the bus stop next to the Ferihegytrain station and Budapest Airport Terminal 2, on bus number 200E (during the daytime) or night bus number 900 (at nighttime).
For more information on train services in Hungary, please visit: mav-start.hu

Clear as mud? There are shuttle busses at the airport that will do a much better job of getting you to the proper train station in Budapest. More information here: http://www.bud.hu/english/passengers/access_and_parking

Posted by
2536 posts

This seems more complicated than it should be but doable...Too bad the taxi situation in Budapest is not a regulated option that could be a quick way to get from the airport to the correct train station if you could count on a set fare. We'll manage and thanks for all of your help.

Posted by
10984 posts

Mona, where did you get that idea about the taxi? I just thought you were just trying to be cheap. Take a cab and leave the headache behind. The precaution on taxis in Budapest is that independents tend to overcharge a little; absolutely nothing worse than that. When you arrive at the airport, pick up your bags, go past the generally closed customs counter under the sign Nothing to Declare, then out the black glass door. Now you are in the arrivals hall. Here independent drivers will approach you to sell their services. Keep walking right out the exit doors to the outside. On your left you will see a kiosk with two windows and the name FOTAXI on it. This is the "regulated" airport contracted taxi service. Tell the person in the Kiosk you want to go to Keleti and they will hand you a slip of paper. At the curb someone will help you with your bags and open the door to the cab (most often). You hand the slip of paper to the cab driver and in 30 minutes you will be at Keleti. It is not a fixed rate like it once was but it is metered like cabs all around the world and i have never been in a name brand cab with a meter is was suspicious of. Cost about $30 to maybe $35 depending on traffic.

Posted by
2536 posts

James, the negativity about Budapest taxis was gotten from my very dated Best of Eastern Europe RS book ca. 2004. Glad to know that there is at regulated taxi queue, Fotaxi, at the airport these days. I am all for having people get around seamlessly on their first day of arrival after a long west coast flight. We are flying into Vienna where I've got things figured out. I'm trying to help my brother and his wife who are flying into Budapest. We'll meet up in Vienna for the beginning of our vacation and then spend some time in Budapest at the end. BTW, we still haven't decided on an apt vs hotel yet but there still seem to be options but we'd better get moving on this detail soon. Thanks for everyone's help so far.

Posted by
10984 posts

For when the time comes, you just want to do business with a name brand taxi company. You don't hail respectable taxis in Budapest, you call for them. The hotel can call for them but you will pay a surcharge if they do. Still taxis by most standards are cheap in Budapest. We use them to and from the airport, and when we have reservations or appointments up in Buda. Otherwise the public transportation is outstanding for most needs. Leaving the airport we use Fotaxi, but the rest of the time I like City Taxi http://www.citytaxi.hu/ See that photo on the website banner? There is a place where you can stand and see that stunning view. That's the view that started our relationship with Budapest in 2011.

As for your old guide book. Time for a new one. Budapest hasn't lost any of the original character we fell in love with a dozen years ago but there have been a number of changes..........most for the better.

Posted by
10984 posts

I didn't see your departure date. Somewhere here you will see I like the K&K Opera for a moderate priced hotel and the Le Meredian for a high class hotel. Of course the Four Seasons consistently scores as one of the top two hotels in Europe; but ching, ching! Apartments are a good choice. That's what we do. Interesting thing about apartments is that they generally don't rent until very near the occupancy date. It isn't uncommon for an apartment that has a healthy 60%+ occupancy rate to not sell until two weeks prior to arrival. So if you strike out every place else because you waited too long you might still find a good apartment. But if you do see something you like don't risk me being wrong. The K&K in high season maybe 90euro, the Le Meridian maybe 200 euro and a nice conveniently located apartment maybe 55 euro.

AND, yet another idea. I don't know your travel budget but you can probably get your brother and his wife picked up at the airport and delivered to Vienna in a very nice car in about 2.5 hours for under $400.

Posted by
241 posts

How far in advance can you buy tickets 60 days?

Posted by
2982 posts

@ Ann , 60 days is correct , but to play it safe you can start looking somewhat earlier ,after all , it's pretty easy to keep an eye out .

Posted by
7 posts

I'm trying to buy tickets on http://elvira.mav-start.hu:
1. It shows a lot of schedules from Budapest to Wien, but when I go to prices page to really buy the ticket, there are only few of the schedules available, only those ones that are on railjets, does anybody knows why?
2. I tried do buy the ticket and entered my master card datas, inserted password, returned succesful and after on next step an error that I inserted some card data invalid, but I tried more than once and always the same error, so I'm not inserting any data wrong, does that occurred with any of you??? is there any error on Mav site?

Posted by
11158 posts

paolagelatti: You should start your own thread, so that you will get your own replies.

Posted by
2982 posts

@Paolagellati , Did you register on the MAV website before trying to buy tickets ? Also , what are your travel dates ? That information might help to sort this out .

Posted by
7 posts

Steven, I registered on Mav and my travel is on Aug, 12.
Harold, I created a new thread as you suggested "Buying ticket on Mav (Budapest to Vienna)".

Posted by
2982 posts

@Paolagellati , I have no difficulty getting to the page ( after specifying the ticket ) that asks for a sign in - e-mail and password . Have you gotten to that point ? I am also reposting my instructions on your new thread .

Posted by
2982 posts

Also , the railjet ( OBB ) trains are the best choice for this run . Fastest at three hours and no changes .