Hello all! My husband and I are planning to fly to London, take train to Brussels, then train to Prague, then train to Budapest. We think we will fly out of Budapest to our next destination. I have not travelled between countries in Europe by train before and am curious about passport control leaving Budapest if we have arrived in the country by train. Does anyone know if passport control leaving Budapest difficult? Does leaving by plane present any problems if we have arrived by train? We are both US Citizens. Thank you!
Where are you headed after Budapest? Border controls are often minor events (or non-events) these days. If you're headed to Romania, though, I think your passport will be stamped since you'll be exiting the Schengen zone. It won't matter whether you've used the same form of transportation or different types.
The Brussels-Prague trip will take at least 10 hours by train. You might consider flying if you don't intend to stop off somewhere along the way.
Thank you for the info! From Budapest to Barcelona, then back to the US is the plan. I’ve been reading reviews of the airports in Prague and Budapest and it seems like they can be very frustrating experiences, so I was hoping to avoid them if possible. Although the journey by train might be a little longer it seemed like it might be more enjoyable. Our itinerary is very flexible, so nothing is set in stone.
I’ve flown into Budapest from Paris, and twice arrived there via train from Vienna and have had no difficulty whatsoever at the airport flying home from Budapest. I don’t even recall anything extraordinary about it, and was just there this May. If you entered Europe via a Schengen country they just look at your passport going through security. Ferenc Liszt airport is efficiently run, no worries there, just allow the recommended 2-3 hour arrival as usual.
christa- thank you! That is great information. I’m not usually worried about airports and flights and we always plan on being 2-3 hrs early, but the reviews I read were so awful it made me concerned. Also I am not experienced with traveling Europe by train, so I was curious about that. I’d rather ask and be prepared than not! Thank you again!
Prague and Budapest both have modern airports. I would much prefer going thru them than spending time on a train. Not all of the trains in Europe are clean, comfortably heated/air conditioned and fast. After riding Vienna to Prague with a soccer team on our car on a warm April day, I swore off long train trips.
To take a train from Budapest to Barcelona is crazy. Both airports are perfectly fine. You will not go through immigration/passport control at either airport as you will be entirely within the Schengen Zone.
Sarah, Going from London to Brussels, because the UK IS NOT in the Schengen Area, you will go through both UK exit passport control, and Schengen Entry control (passport stamp for US citizens) at St Pancras station BEFORE boarding the train.
Eurostar says you must be through the ticket barrier at least 30 minutes before departure. For a first time traveller I would recommend being at the station 1 hour before departure, as you have to find the correct part of the station.
Brussels - Prague - Budapest is all within the Schengen Area, so no passport checks at borders, just the language of the on-train announcements changes.
At airports the airline always wants to see you passport as an ID check. Exiting Budapest you will only go through passport control if you are exiting the Schengen Area, Spain is in Schengen, so no passport check if flying to Barcelona.
When you finally exit the Schengen Area, they will see your stamp from St Pancras as your entry date. Example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/02/France_LFT_Londres_passport_stamp.jpg
Thank you all, this is very helpful! We will fly from Budapest to Barcelona, no train there. David that does not sound like a pleasant train ride! My experience with trains in Europe is limited to in the UK, and those were all very nice trains. I will keep that in mind. From what I’ve read London to Brussels is about a 2 hour train ride. Brussels to Prague about 5 hours and then Prague to Budapest about 9 hours. None of these would be on the same day. When you factor in being at the airport 2-3 hours early, a 2-3 hour flight and then 1-2 hours to get out of the airport the trains seemed like they might be a less frustrating experience. And then the reviews I read of both airports in Prague and Budapest were really awful. But from what I’m hearing here that might be an exaggeration. Thank you all!
I fly in and out of the Budapest airport 3 to 4 times a year. Arrival is a snap. Absolutely no issues. Departure can be a snap too if you arrive early.
Paring Budapest and Barcelona is sort of turning your back on the advantage of being in Central Europe, but if thats the plan there are direct flights for $130 or less on Wizzair and Ryanair. Given a choice i would choose Wizzair. With all of the upgrades to the ticket, it will probably cost you closer to $160
If you get on the right train, Prague to Budapest is under 7 hours. Still, i think flying makes more sense. Its about an hour and on Czech Airlines can be about $100.
Better yet, do take the train but spend a night or two in Vienna to break up the trip.
Even better, take a shuttle to Cesky Krumlov, spend the night then another shuttle to Vienna for a night or two, then the train on to Budapest.
I believe you're mistaken about the duration of the train trip from Brussels to Prague. I see nothing less than 10 hours.
I like trains, too; hate trekking out to an airport in the middle of what should be a relaxing vacation. But you are covering vast distances on this trip. Although I've found European trains quite comfortable except for a few commuter lines with unpadded or lightly padded seats, at some point I would opt for a flight.
Actually, as James indicated, I'd reconfigure the trip to cover a more condensed geographical area and hit the other places on a later vacation. You are going to lose a lot of precious sightseeing time with so many long travel legs.
Thanks all, this is great advice. We are traveling in December from N Nevada and will be returning right before Christmas. Barcelona was never even on the radar but I’ve been struggling to find a way home from Central Europe that does not involve painfully long layovers and/or very expensive airfare. Norwegian Air flies direct between Barcelona and Oakland and is very affordable so it’s our best option to get home. But we may have to adjust our plans due to this. Our itinerary is very flexible so we may consider leaving out one of the steps. Maybe fly from London to Prague and leave out Brussels. Again thank you all!
I get it. We plan trips the same way. Christmas is a great time to be in Budapest and in the region.
You are going to think I am nutty, but RT SFO to KBP (depart 9 December, return 24 December) is $1200. 16 hours going over with on e 2:30 stop in Munich and 17 hours return with a 2:45 in Frankfurt.
Budapest to Kyiv is abut 1.5 hours on UIA or Wizzair for about $75 each way. The Christmas Markets will be up and running in Kyiv so you get more winter wonderland. We visited Kyiv last year and it is one of our favorite trips. For just a bit more effort look at Lviv which is supposed to be pretty special at Christmas. I hope the reports are true as we are heading that way (Budapest, Lviv, Kyiv) for Christmas.
I bet you can find an Open Jaw ticket going into one and out of another for about the same price.
That’s not nutty at all, sounds amazing. I had not considered Kyiv. I will look at those routes, thank you! We are very much looking forward to the Christmas Markets. It sounds like it will be beautiful!
We visited Kyiv and Odesa last summer and Ukraine for some reason made a very deep impression on us. So a return for Christmas (their markets open in December, but Orthodox Christmas is January 7) and I suspect the Carpathians for fishing in the summer.
That’s really funny, I was just looking up Odesa. My grandmother was from Odesa, although her family spoke German.
Sarahj234, Google the colonies of Großliebental, Kutschurgan and Beresan. Doubt there are many Germans left as the Яussians pretty much mascaraed or forcibly relocated most of the German enclaves in the territories they occupied after WWII. Unfortunately a process they still employ. Actually WWII is a sadly twisted history in Ukraine. Imagine that you were a country occupied by Russia and subject to atrocities such as the Holodomor that made what Hitler was doing in Europe look like child's play. Now you have to choose a side. Either way you loose; more Russian atrocities or more of the likes of Babi Yar. There was no good answer to that equation and the question continues to affect the politics of mind set of much of the nation. Fascinating place.
This is the guide we used in Kyiv and Odesa. We use guides somewhat sparingly and we never hire a guide that I haven't spent 3 or 4 month talking to (interviewing). Still when we met her even I was surprised had how wonderful she was.
Not sure I am following all of this, do you actually want to go to Brussels, or is that just so you can fly into London and take a two hour train to get to Brussels, because the flight to London is more convenient in its schedule and more reasonably priced? If your plane is late, hope you will have booked a flexible ticket (more expensive, I'm sure). Do you really want to go to Barcelona, or is that just to get a better flight? Is flying into and out of Oakland a hard-wired requirement, if so that is probably the issue. I live in the Bay Area and it might be nice to fly out of San Jose, but even if I want to go to Palm Springs flight schedules and prices are much better out of San Francisco. I fly out of Prague once and not issues, flew into Budapest twice. Any airport can produce unexpected hassles, Heathrow is one of the worst although they have gotten things more under control in recent years. If you are just landing there should not be a big issue though. (If you were changing planes there, the passport control and security check have been extremely inefficient on some of my trips). This all seems really convoluted to me if your real focus is central Europe. When you factor in the costs of getting from place to far-flung place, any savings on flight will probably evaporate. Plus all the time in transit takes time away from what you really wanted to see. Even if you really want to see Brussels and Barcelona, save it for another trip.