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Zagreb to Budapest - bus or train?

Hi all.

Traveling from Zagreb to Budapest on a Sunday in January. I'm seeing a range of (often conflicting) advice. Travel time looks comparable (5-6 hours), with buses being marginally less expensive.

Those of you familiar with the bus and/or train trip - which would you choose and why? Is one more scenic? More comfortable?

Please and thank you!

Posted by
10899 posts

Train. More room to get up and walk around to stretch on a half day trip. You know there are $100 direct flights from Zagreb to Belgrade; a fascinating town. Get a guide, see the town, spend a night then go on to Budapest on another $100 direct flight. Each leg is about one hour.

Posted by
16765 posts

I agree that Belgrade is interesting. But in January? Not me. It's colder than my hometown, and I wouldn't care to visit three airports in the space of two days.

I haven't been to Hungary in more than 40 years and don't know anything about the railroad equipment used for that run. I can tell you that the buses in Croatia are usually very comfortable.

On the other hand, I guess buses would be more likely than trains to take weather delays in January, and the Zagreb train station is closer to what you want to see in the city than the bus station is. The two stations are a bit farther apart than they may appear on a map. Still, there always seemed to be a bunch of taxis right outside the bus station, which is very heavily used; the train station, not so much. Zagreb has a lot of trams, and they would be useful no matter which station you arrived at.

Edited to add: There's a tourist office on the upper floor of the building housing the bus station (not really inside the bus station proper). There's also an office, or perhaps two, in the historic district. I'm nearly certain there is no T.O. at the train station.

Posted by
10899 posts

Belgrade is no different than Budapest or Zagreb (further south, maybe warmer?) in January (by the way, I will be there in January and cant wait!). Just thought I would throw it out. When I travel I try and keep travel to no more than 4 hours between points of interest. We travel to Budapest a lot and have discovered that Belgrade makes a pretty good hub in getting to Budapest without long haul trips.

Cant speak to Zagreb, but by train you will be arriving at the Budapest Keleti Station which has really good metro service via the M2 and M4 lines that can get you any place in town quickly and easily. Tickets can be purchased down the central stairs on the right. If you do want to take a taxi then you must call one. Do not take one off the curb. My recommendation would be to call City Taxi at +36- 1 -2-111-111

If you ride the bus I believe you will arrive at the Népliget Bus Station which quite a bit further out of town, but is served by the M3 metro line.

Posted by
16764 posts

Revealing my biases: with two direct trains available per day, it wouldn't have occurred to me to use a bus, even though it is a nice bus. A bus trip of this length will include at least one break that the driver is required to have.

Posted by
2 posts

Hi pjsdoc,
theres are certain options to travel. I used a car transfer last time its a great city for a weekend.
The travel time was 3,5 hours. I typed transfer Zagreb to Budapest to the google and there are good and reliable options of companies who can offer you a private car. Prices are depending of course of how many person you are. So check it out.

Posted by
157 posts

I don't know anything about the bus trip, but we rode the train from Zagreb to Budapest in the summer of 2014 and it took us about 9 hours. I am not sure what the hang up was, but it was a slow ride and took longer than we expected. The scenery was pleasant, though. There also was not a dining car so we were glad that we had a few snacks and bottles of water. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
28 posts

Thanks for the advice, all.

@ Meg - The trip was indeed pretty long - about 7.5 hours. We sat at one station near the border for over an hour. But thanks largely to your post, we brought food : )

@ James - Belgrade sounds intriguing, but we were only in Europe for a week, and we wanted as much time in Budapest as possible.

It's a truly beautiful city. I look forward to returning when the weather is warmer.

Posted by
10899 posts

If you were there between the 4th and the 10th of January, we were there too. COLD! This is turning into the coldest winter in quite sometime; I remember -1F one morning. Did you see the river freezing over!! The good side was the sky was clear and the sun felt great. We've been there a number of times in December, January and February and never seen it that cold.

Glad you had a good time. Next time take advantage of the fact that Budapest is a great hub for discount airlines. We generally try and fly into one city, then use a discount nonstop to Budapest and then out of Budapest home. Really opens up the world.

Posted by
157 posts

Sorry to hear it was a bit of a long trip, but glad you had snacks! Would love to hear about how the trip was.