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Vienna to Budapest

We are finishing a RS tour in Vienna, we would like to take a train to Budapest and spend 2 or 3 days there. Anyone have any helpful tips on trains and a tour guide we could use in Budapest. We would love to get picked up at train station and not sure whom to trust, read bad things about taxis. Also where to stay in Budapest a safe location with plenty to walk to.

Posted by
4286 posts

I suggest you 1) get a couple of recent guide books to peruse so you know what you are interested in; and 2) go back and read through past posts here on the Hungary forum. I think you need an updated view of Budapest and there is a wealth of information here. It’s safe.

If you are booking your own tickets Vienna to Budapest, you can use the Austrian train website: https://www.oebb.at/en/

Someone will come along with guide recommendations. But it’s not a hard city to see on your own. You might also like the City Taxi app - easy to use, but you may want to set it up at home. Very reliable and safe. If you want to tour the Parliament building, you need a reservation ahead of time: https://jegymester.hu/production/480000/parlament-parlamenti-latogatas

The trams are for transportation, but they are like a whole sightseeing excursion by themselves. :) And the metro is fast and reliable. A travelpass is the easiest and works for both. https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/ This explains but you can buy it there.

There is a lot to see and do, so plan on 3 days, not 2, if you can. And food…. aaahhhh.

Lots of good hotels. :) I personally have only stayed at the K+K Opera Hotel. The location is great, but there are plenty of others also.

If it helps, here’s my Trip Report from October: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/2-weeks-in-budapest

Posted by
18507 posts
  1. Get your tickets from https://www.oebb.at/en/ pick a schedule that suits you and don’t worry too much about if it’s a RailJet or not; you want to go to Keleti station in Budapest.
  2. Budapest is a good self guide city, the guides become more important if you have a speciality you want to get deep into and with 2 or 3 days I think you would enjoy something more general (my favorite guidebook for Budapest is: https://www.amazon.com/DK-Eyewitness-Budapest-Travel-Guide-ebook/dp/B0B1H2QXGS/ref=sr_1_1?crid=37UVQ6MD984XE&keywords=eyewitness+budapest&qid=1673223260&s=books&sprefix=eyewitness+budapest%2Cstripbooks%2C129&sr=1-1 for the background work and https://www.amazon.com/Eyewitness-Budapest-Pocket-Travel-Guide/dp/024146286X/ref=sr_1_4?crid=37UVQ6MD984XE&keywords=eyewitness+budapest&qid=1673223277&s=books&sprefix=eyewitness+budapest%2Cstripbooks%2C129&sr=1-4 to carry along.
  3. If you want to get picked up at the train station use this guy: http://www.silverwings.hu/ but it’s a bit of overkill as the taxis are cheap and reliable and safe and have been for the last ten years (my favorite company is https://citytaxi.hu/en/home/ and download their app to really make it easy) ; or depending on where you stay the metro is good (I can tell you how in a PM).
  4. Where to stay depends on 2 days or 3 days …. for 2 days I would say on the River Front and for 3 you might want to get a little deeper into the city to seem more traditional life; again PM me and I can give you some ideas.
  5. Safe neighborhoods: I can not imagine being so lost that you would end up in anything but a safe neighborhood as it’s a very safe city (although TexasTravelMom found a dicey neighborhood, but I sent her to it - my bad; but if you PM me I can tell you about what hotels are easily accessible to what sights … it really is about location when you have a short trip.
  6. Plenty to walk to, yes, and you will want a metro pass so you can ride the trams to get around as well (the trams are fun actually) and you will want to use at last one metro line, the M1 (again not intimidating and easy).
Posted by
968 posts

Make sure that your train ticket includes a seat reservation. Sometimes it is a separate step and an extra charge to reserve a seat. On our trains between Vienna and Budapest in October 2019 there were lots of people sitting on the floor because they hadn't reserved a seat.

Posted by
509 posts

George Farkas is a brilliant tour guide. He's a native of Budapest. He was my Rick Steves tour guide in Eastern Europe in fall 2022. I cannot praise him enough. His contact information must be in Rick's book. If not, email Rick Steves, and they will send it to you.

Posted by
28 posts

Thank I have contacted George and he is taking care of us. Picked Moment hotel any tips on restaurants or shopping?

Posted by
509 posts

Urban Betyar is an excellent restaurant. Down the same street is Strudel House Budapest. It's good for just strudel but it serves full meals. In 2015, during a previous visit to Budapest, I ate at the Red Pepper and had the best goulash.

Finally, there is a great cafe for cakes and coffee/tea called the Cafe Gerbeau. It's very elegant, and the communists allowed it to operate during the communist era. The cafe was founded in the 1850s.

There is a for-mature-ears-only story on Gerbeau. See if you can learn about it! Egesegedre ("cheers" in Hungarian).

Posted by
58 posts

I am looking into doing the same thing in the Fall. Does Budapest have a card where you get unlimited use of the trams, buses etc? Thinking of taking the 100E bus to the airport. Out of curiosity what made you chose Moments hotel?

The Rick Steves guidebook for Budapest is old but has some good info in it. I think the new addition is coming out in June 2023.

Posted by
4286 posts

WOZ, you may want to start your own thread so tablescape2 doesn’t get an email for all your answers.

But yes, there are great passes for Budapest public transportation.
Info here: https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/

I travel with a data package on my phone, so I downloaded the BudapestGo app and had my pass there. That way I didn’t have to stay up with a paper ticket. But either way (paper or app) works. You can set the app up and buy your pass up to 30 days ahead and tell it when to activate. You can buy a paper pass when you arrive. Passes work on trams, metro, and busses in Budapest.

You may also want the City Taxi app ahead of time (I think this was the one I needed the dreaded “code” texted and I have my U.S. data turned off during my trips). Works like Uber and they are very reliable. I in particular liked scheduling my airport returns the day before since they were very early mornings (went twice). The 100 bus looks nice, but I haven’t used it.

There is an amazing amount of detailed info on the Hungary forum, much of it from Mister E. Most of what made my 2 week trip nice was learned from him via lots of reading here.

Posted by
18507 posts

tabelscape2, you choose a good location (near a lot of my favorite things); I have been in the lobby but never stayed there, nice looking place too.

WOZ and tablescape2: Here are the metro pass options https://bkk.hu/en/tickets-and-passes/prices/ (I would stay away from the BudapestCard unless you just want to spend a lot of time in museums); you can either buy a paper one or use the BudapestGO app like TX Travel Mommy does.

I haven't quite figured out when, with the App, you have to scan and when not, so I use the paper one as you just carry it and show it when asked (rarely).

Either works and tablescape2 if you go paper you walk from your hotel to the end of Andrassy (about 100m) turn left and go about 300m to the metro entrance and there is a information office at the bottom of the stairs on the right that will sell you the paper one (or buy it at the airport at booth with the purple banner in the arrivals hall on your left as you are leaving).

TX Travel Mommy: I use these https://www.amazon.com/Vertical-Holders-Sealable-Waterproof-Proximity/dp/B0888QJYKM/ref=sr_1_34?crid=2YWUYMIO8CN6V&keywords=plastic%2Bcard%2Bsleeve&qid=1674928140&sprefix=plastic%2Bcard%2Bsleeve%2Caps%2C179&sr=8-34&th=1 and I have extras for friends and guests when they visit, i just put it on my key chain and forget it which for me is better than having to dig my phone out of my hidden pouch (LOL).

WOZ: My two favorite books for Budapest are Eyewitness Guide to Budapest and Eyewitness Top 10 for Budapest; the full travel guide is best for planning, the Top 10 makes for a good small book to carry on the trip. (sorry Rick)