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Train to Ljubljana

The Eastern Europe guidebook states that there is a direct train daily leaving Budapest at 8:30 for Ljubljana.

Has anyone taken this train recently, and if so, what advice/information can you offer? We would like to purchase tickets for next April 2018, before leaving Canada.

Thanks,

Chris

Posted by
2170 posts

https://www.mavcsoport.hu/en Here's the website for MAV, the Hungarian railway, so you can get an idea of the train schedules though I don't think you can book this far out, usually 2-3 months is the norm. I have travelled on Hungarian trains but always purchased upon arrival in Budapest.

Posted by
6372 posts

According to the seat 61 website, 60 days in advance is when trains open up for booking on the Hungarian Rail site. So that's the earliest you can purchase them. If you're going to be in Budapest for a few days before going to Ljubljana, then you can probably purchase them when you arrive in Budapest at the lesser advance rate rather then buying them on the day of travel.

Posted by
72 posts

Thanks, everyone. It looks as if I need to wait until February before I can book tickets.

I appreciate the advice.

Chris

Posted by
110 posts

Hi Chris,

I am researching for a similar trip and also found Flixbus has a direct bus between those cities. The trip is a little shorter by bus - 6:15. Just a thought for you if you are open to bus travel. I have not used Flixbus - can't personally recommend but I know we are considering based on time.

Happy planning!

Posted by
4700 posts

I can see how the Flixbus option would be tempting for a lot of people. (I have used Flixbus but not from Budapest to Ljubljana.) Personally, with only a two hour difference, I'd lean heavily toward the train, but I also like trains and hate long bus rides. I like that I can get up and walk around on a train and don't have to be stuck in a seat for six hours. And I can't read on a bus - I get motion sick, whereas on trains I'm usually OK. But I know to other people, these don't matter and the two hours savings in travel time matters more than anything else.

I'd also urge anyone looking at these options to look at where the stations are in Budapest. Neither the Budapest-Deli train station (where the train to Ljubljana leaves from) nor the Budapest Népliget bus station that Flixbus uses are right in the center of town, getting to one or the other by public transit may take longer for you depending on where you are staying. If it takes 20 minutes longer to get to the bus station than the train station - then there goes part of your time savings. Of course, it could be just the opposite, where the bus station is closer to where you are staying...

Posted by
12850 posts

Using Deak Ferenc ter as sort of a ground zero for where most people stay in Budapest, the Deli Station is about 10 minutes away on the M2 metro line and Népliget is about 15 minutes away on the M3 metro line (both of which depart from Deak Ferenc ter).

I cant imagine spending 8 hours on a train or 6 hours in a bus. That's just not a holiday for me; it's a lost day as well.

If i had to go to Ljubljana from Budapest I would fly to either Belgrade or Sarajevo and spend a night then fly on to Ljubljana. At least that way I could see something interesting and not be boxed up for 8 hours. Maybe $200 in plane fare if you book in advance and travel light.

Posted by
4700 posts

James, I don't see how flying from Budapest to Sarajevo and then Sarajevo to Ljubljana (or Belgrade instead) saves me a lot of time. I still have to get to each airport, get there early enough for security, take the actual flight, then get into town. That's, what, three hours per city? Six hours instead of eight? And I have to add an extra day plus a lot of complications to my trip. Each mode of transportation adds another possibility for delay.

All the stop in Sarajevo or Belgrade does is break up the travel day and MAYBE save you an hour or two.

And for some of us, train travel is a treat. I always try to plan at least one train trip or two at minimum on any trip to Europe, just for the fun of it. On my most recent trip in May, I trained from Venice through Italy and France up to Paris. The train trips were one of the absolute highlights of my whole trip. Some of them were long but I was sometimes disappointed that they were already over. I tend to find train travel relaxing and fun.

The more I read about this Budapest to Ljubljana train, the more I'm inclined to build it into a future trip!

Posted by
12850 posts

All the stop in Sarajevo or Belgrade does is break up the travel day
and MAYBE save you an hour or two.

Exactly.

If you are into trains, then great. Just not my cup of tea. Are you Chris?

Posted by
72 posts

This question has led to an interesting discussion about modes of transportation.

My husband and I both enjoy travelling by train and have done so many times in Europe. We often see a lot that we would otherwise have missed and we also get to catch up on email, and journaling, as well as just relax a bit in between otherwise busy days. That said, we do search for the most suitable option between any 2 stops, beginning with our Rick Steves guidebooks, and then turning to this Forum for personal advice.

This time we are going to be in Eastern Europe for 24 days. We're flying direct from Toronto to Budapest, taking the train to Ljubljana, bussing to Lake Bled, taking the Go Opti bus to Vienna, the CK shuttle to Cesky Krumlov and then to Prague, and flying Ryanair to Krakow. Finally we're bussing back to Budapest and then flying direct back to Toronto. We're actually splitting our touring time in Budapest between the first and second on stops there.

Thanks to everyone for your helpful postings.

Chris

Posted by
12850 posts

This time we are going to be in Eastern Europe for 24 days. We're
flying direct from Toronto to Budapest, taking the train to Ljubljana,
busing to Lake Bled, taking the Go Opti bus to Vienna, the CK shuttle
to Cesky Krumlov and then to Prague, and flying Ryanair to Krakow.
Finally we're bussing back to Budapest and then flying direct back to
Toronto. We're actually splitting our touring time in Budapest between
the first and second on stops there.

Chris, sounds like a plan. Everyone has different interests, enjoyments and sets of circumstances. I am fortunate in that i have the means to travel "well", but unfortunate in that I don't have the time to capitalize on my travel resources. I've been on long haul train trips so for the "experience", its done. Glad I did it, but not something that I would enjoy more than say an additional 2 or 3 hours of fly fishing in the rivers of Slovakia; so I make the value judgments accordingly. Admittedly i also get bored easily and find more enjoyment checking in 1.5 hours early in an airport and then eating breakfast in the airport prior to flight time than I would riding a bus. So the early check-in isn't much of a penalty for me. I'd have to eat breakfast someplace.

To maximize what i enjoy I have pretty much started picking destinations based on transportation more so than any other factor. There are so many places i want to go and so much i want to see, that if nothing else, it helps me decide. Four hour transit times tops, is my preferred limit. If I cant get from point A to point B in four hours I find an intermediate stop of interest. It's part of the reason I haven't been to Ljubljana yet; and it is a place I am interested in. I used Belgrade to get from Dubrovnik a few years back and am just not ready to return to Belgrade. The Sarajevo connection is new and looks like it my be my solution. Good fishing north west of Ljubljana too, which might get me there sooner.

Because Budapest is my home base, every trip must end in Budapest and a few start and end in Budapest; but i have generally found it more efficient to start in the most remote location and then work my way to Budapest. A few weeks back was Atlanta - Rome - Podgorica (fishing), Budapest. In December it is Budapest (New Year) - Lviv (Christmas) - Kyiv - Budapest.

Yes, these are all personal rationalizations but they work for me and there is no right or wrong, just what floats your boat.

To your plan, since Krakow is the outlier if it were me I would start there. That eliminates one long trip. Of course that may not work with the rest of your plans. CK Shuttle I think is an exceptional service carrier and about the only logical way to see Cesky Krumlov. Make sure you spend the night so you can see the town with fewer tourists (the day trippers come late morning and leave early afternoon) - I love CK. Stayed at the Dovark (sp) Hotel and had the room with the balcony that faced the castle. Stunning at night.

Ryan Air makes me a little nervous. I have booked them 3 times. Twice worked, the third they notified me the night prior to the flight that the schedule had been change. Changed, nothing! They moved the departure to another city. Here recently they grounded a lot of flights with little or no warning. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ryanair-hldgs-cancellations/grounded-ryanair-cancels-flights-of-another-400000-customers-idUSKCN1C21NU I wont risk them for a while. But you know, the worst that can happen is you have an alternate experience. These things just don't upset me.

Posted by
4700 posts

Sounds like a great trip, Chris, with a lot of stops! I think I've been to all of those places. Is RyanAir really flying from Prague to Krakow now? That's sure a boon to all of the travelers who have struggled to make that connection over the years! Too bad there isn't one on to Budapest...

I highly recommend renting a car in Slovenia for a few days. You certainly don't need one (or want one) in Ljubljana itself or to get to Lake Bled. But driving in Slovenia is easy for people used to driving in North America and usually cheap to rent a car. And there is some spectacular scenery you can see with a car that you won't see from a bus or train, plus you can get to some of the little towns easier. One scenic drive I recommend is from the town of Skofja Loka to Bled via the mountains, via the towns of Jamnik and Kropa. Really lovely, spectacular drive. Skofja Loka is an easy drive from Bled (not especially scenic til you get there) and the town itself is worth a few hours too. You may be able to return the car in Bled - or just drive back to Ljubljana, which really isn't that far.