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Bus/Train/Fly from Krakow to Budapest

Hi everyone! What's the best way to get from Krakow to Budapest during the day? (On a Sunday in September.) I've read that buses are generally faster than trains, so I looked at OrangeWays buses. But I have read a lot of horrible reviews online about OrangeWays (e.g. buses showing up hours late or not at all, bus has no working toilet, etc.). Are there other companies I could try? Are the trains more reliable with better conditions? I am less concerned about cost than I am about schedule and comfort. I was hoping to just fly from Krakow to Budapest, but my sister couldn't find any direct flights at all between those two cities on any airline. Am I missing something? Thanks! ~Jessica

Posted by
4637 posts

Google transportation between Krakow and Budapest. There are many options. Flying would look like the best option but unfortunately there is no direct flight so I would drop that option. Direct train is only one and that is overnight. If you are not a good sleeper I would drop that one too. The fastest train connection is 8 hours 15 minutes. Express bus from Krakow bus station (next to train station) to Ostrava Main Train Station leaving Krakow at 2:20 pm then on train to Breclav (direction to Vienna) then from Breclav to Budapest arriving at 10:35 pm. Little risky because if your train is delayed you could miss your connection in Breclav. I don't have personal experience with Orange Ways but I think I would try them. 6 hours 15 minutes, bathroom on board. Price good. Then there is also some private and semiprivate transportation if time is more important than money.

Posted by
43 posts

Flying makes no sense--take a day train. You change at Breclav and Katowice. The connections are short and easy, and you can have a nice lunch in the restaurant car along the way.

Avoid Orangeways like the plague---they have simply awful reviews if you Google them!

Posted by
1709 posts

Jessica, If you value comfort and convenience (not to mention your valuable vacation time) then I'd suggest that flying is the preferred way to go. Lot Airlines has several daily flights, connecting thru Warsaw, that will get you from Krakow to Budapest in less than 4 hours versus the nearly 11 hours it will take you by train. There are many times when the generally excellent European train system makes sense for travel between major cities, but this isn't one of them in my opinion.

Posted by
43 posts

Robert, there is no sense on flying on this route. You get on the train in Krakow in the evening, you get off in Budapest in the morning. Simples. No security, no queues, no getting to/from airports. No weather delays.

Posted by
4637 posts

Absolutely agree with Podroznik. Too much hassle connected with flying when you cannot fly direct. Time saved would be negligable if any. Cost would be quite higher than bus or train. Bus seems the shortest time and also probably the cheapest. But as I said I don't have personal experience with Orange Ways. I thought it was something similar to Student Agency and those buses are excellent. But if people who used them think you should avoid them I would and take overnight train. I would take some liquid sleeping pill - beer and maybe get some sleep.

Posted by
1709 posts

As it happens we flew the route from Krakow to Budapest a couple of years ago and it was delightful. Got us there in less than 4 hours - departed mid morning from Krakow and were in Budapest in time for lunch. Couldn't have been easier. The connection in Warsaw was smooth and efficient. We thought the slight extra cost (not that much actually) was definitely worth the convenience.
While we also enjoy the European train system, we don't enjoy (or recommend) the overnight coaches....we both swore after our last experience "never again".
Comes down to personal preference I suppose. We'll always choose the comfort and convenience of flying if it's a reasonable option, but I know that others may prefer to do it differently.

Posted by
10792 posts

I haven't made the trip between Budapest and Krakow yet; and may never do it. But I have been from Budapest through the heart of Slovakia to the Polish border on a number of occasions. That put me within a couple of hours or so of Krakow.

By car the direct route is about 6 hours by car. (probably 400 - 500 euro by private transfer)
By train figure 13 to 15 hours including time to the station and transfer time (maybe $100?? don't really know)
By plane, including check-in time and time to and from the airport, maybe 6 hours with a good flight (about $300 last time I checked)
So trains are way to long for me.
Air and Car are about the same cost for a couple
But there is some beautiful country between Budapest and the Polish boarder and it would be a shame to miss it. For me the ideal transfer would take 2 to 3 days so I could enjoy Slovakia. We've been there 3 times now and will return again.

I know of a guide that is trying to work out a 2 or 3 day tour from Krakow to Budapest so all the travel time is productive. PM me and I will pass along the contact information.

Posted by
4637 posts

James is right; travel from Krakow to Budapest or vice versa is simply too long for one day. If I would decide to do it then I would do it with a guide as James suggests or if I would want to spend less money then by train Budapest - Eger, stay overnight, Eger - Kosice stay (or not) overnight, Kosice - High Tatras, stay at least couple days, High Tatras - Krakow via Zakopane (this one by bus, all others by train).

Posted by
170 posts

Jessica, make sure the following does not happen to you.

Two months ago, I went from Krakow to Budapest on a train. That trip was the first bad experience with RailEurope I have had after more than 20 years of travel in Europe.

I decided to buy a train ticket between Krakow and Budapest before I left on my vacation. The itinerary was Krakow, Katowice (Poland), Breclav (Czech Rep.) and Budapest, with the trip composed of individual tickets for each of the four legs. The RailEurope salesperson said no trains were running between Krakow and Katowice, because of construction on that rail segment, so I should take the bus instead to Katowice, where I would then switch to the train system to complete the trip to Budapest.

When the RailEurope tickets arrived at my residence, I noticed that the cover page for the trip said the departure point was Krakow and the destination was Budapest, with individual tickets for three of the four legs, but there was no bus ticket between Krakow and Katowice. As a result, I called RailEurope back to inquire why the bus ticket was missing from the package. They said that as long as I showed my cover page to the ticket taker for the bus, I would be fine. I doubted this was true but had no alternative.

My fears were well founded. On the day of my trip, I went to the Krakow bus station to go to Katowice, but the ticket taker on the bus did not recognize the RailEurope cover page as a ticket, as the organization said would be the case. Thus, I had to buy a bus ticket to Katowice. That morning, it was raining, causing traffic backups, so the bus was 45 minutes late to Katowice. As a result, the train to Breclav I was supposed to be on had departed. There was a train late in the afternoon I could have gotten on, but I would have gotten to Budapest around 3 a.m. or later. Thus, I decided to spend the evening in Katowice. I was especially looking forward to Budapest, but had to spend one day less than I had anticipated.

If you want to take the train between Krakow and Budapest, make sure the trains are running on the Krakow-to-Katowice leg. I think RailEurope scammed me just to sell a trip.

Enjoy your visit. I loved both Krakow and Budapest.

Posted by
10792 posts

my preferred trip from Budapest to Krakow if I ever decide to do it would be:
Day one Evening train from Budapest to Kosice. 3 hours direct. Spend the nigh in Kosice (neat town)
Day two See the town. Guide after lunch from Kosice to Štrbské Pleso and one of my favorite hotels in the world. About a 2 hour drive with our choice of castles, villages, towns, food, nature along the way.
Day three Guide to Ostrava, Svinov, Czech Republic and the rail head to Krakow. A little over 3 hours. Again, magnificent castles, mountains, villages. then a late afternoon or early evening train to Krakow (about 3 hours).

A faster trip (but you miss some good stuff) would be to spend the night at Štrbské Pleso, spend then spend the next day in the immediate area (again, castles, nature, villages, etc - even rafting) and then be dropped of at Zakopane, Poland for the4 hour train to Krakow.

I just realized that I did this backwards from your question. Just read it backwards. When we go up to Štrbské Pleso we generally hire a transfer. Runs about 300 euro.

Posted by
43 posts

Another bad Rail Europe experience. The Man in Seat 61 and other members here recommend Polrail Service for international train trips starting in Poland. They have a pickup point in Krakow and can also deliver directly to your hotel.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks so much for the advice, everyone! I really appreciate it. We decided to fly. I can't wait to see Eastern Europe!

Posted by
10792 posts

Before you purchase that air ticket. I have used these guys a couple of times with good results: http://transferbudapesthungary.com/vienna-bratislava-prague-budapest-airport-transfer-taxi.html If there are two of you its cheaper than flying. If there are three of you its a bargain. Have them pick you up at 5 pm on your last day in Krakow and you can be well settled in Budapest that evening.

And if you are going to be in Budapest between the 15th and the 30th, let me know. We will be back at that time and i have collected a short list of whats going on in town for our own use.