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Austria and Hungary Trip


Shortlisted cities. Vienna-Bregenz-Innsbruck-Salzburg-Budapest-Siofok-Budapest-Vienna. I am confused with the rail pass options.
1. Whether I should buy the eurail 2 countries pass or eurail eastern pass?
2. Do I need reservations?
3. How much more I need to pay for the reservations?
4. What sort of trains are covered?

We are a couple. Travelling together. Pls help. Open to bus and train options.

Posted by
13765 posts

Sounds like you have a good 3+ week trip planned. I cant answer your question with any certainty, but its rare on this forum that it is proved out that the Eurail Passes are great deals. Travel in Hungary and heading out of Hungary, is pretty cheap to begin with.

Posted by
16883 posts

The European East Pass is cheaper at $241 per adult versus the 2-country Eurail Select Pass, currently at $286 for 6 days of train travel. That's taking into account both the saver discount and the extra day on the Select Pass. The only difference in coverage is that the European East Pass is not accepted on WestBahn brand trains, but there are more than enough options with the Austrian national railway, OBB. Or there's also a cheaper pass for just Austria. When is the trip and how set are the plans? Hotels reserved?

Also, seat reservations are not normally required on any daytime trains in these two countries, but they recently added a reservation for pass holders on the RailJet service between Vienna and Budapest (not other RailJet routes). About 4 euros per person to purchase in the station, perhaps when you first have the pass activated.

Posted by
2165 posts

Have you considered flying open jaw for this trip? There's no need to start in Vienna and go back to Vienna to start your journey back home. You could fly home from Budapest.

Posted by
13765 posts

See, I would have bet it was cheaper to purchase 6 individual tickets with the internet discounts.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi.. Trip is from 16th December till 4th January.. Direct flights to and from Vienna booked. so i cant change that.. hotels not reserved yet. i need to figure out two things before that.

  1. Time to give justice to the place i visit
  2. Transportation involved

Once I'm through with these two, I'll book hotels.

Cities planned. Vienna(3 nights)-Bregenz(2 nights)-Innsbruck(2 nights)-Salzburg(3 nights)-Siofok(1 or 2 nights max)-Budapest(6 or 7 nights)-Vienna(1 last night). Let me know if you could suggest any deletion or addition considering everything including the weather.

I don't mind buying six individual tickets with internet discounts. I just want that my travel is fixed and booked at the best possible rates.

Posted by
16941 posts

It will be a while before you can buy tickets since there is a Europe wide train schedule change due to take place on December 11, so schedules are not published yet, and will not be for a couple of months.
In the mean time, go to to see what ticket prices should be. The cheapest tickets are "Sparschiene" tickets which are advance purchase, nonrefundable, non-changeable tickets. You must travel on the exact train shown on the tickets. But just as an example, I looked on dates in September and got these prices per person in 2nd class.

Vienna-Bregenz 34 EUR
Bregenz-Innsbruck 9 EUR
Innsbruck-Salzburg 14 EUR
Salzburg-Budapest 39 EUR
Budapest-Vienna 19 EUR

So you can see, it is pretty inexpensive if you can commit and buy ticket 2 or 3 months ahead of time. I left out Budapest-Sofiek as that should be a very cheap regional ticket.
The OEBB website can be tricky to navigate. Takes a little practice as it is not very intuitive. Also people have reported problems actually making purchases on-line. The tickets are print-at-home from a pdf file they e-mail you.

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks for that Sam. That's a real insight. By when should I expect the availability of the schedule for the post 11 Dec period.

Posted by
21 posts

I also wanted to know about the local city travel. Is there a tube/metro service travel card or a local bus card? We would need means to commute in the city.

Posted by
16941 posts

Just keep checking. The website, that is the German railway website, has access to all the European train schedules and is very easy to use. When trains show up on the schedule for your dates, then you can go shopping. Unfortunately, to buy Austrian train tickets, you need to use the Austrian site. The schedules usually don't change much, but there can be some new wrinkles. Start checking mid September and then check again once a week until you see them appear.

Posted by
16941 posts

Yes, most cities have at least one-day, and often multi-day local transit cards. Also, your hotels may have complimentary local transit cards. This is most common in Switzerland, but it might be in Bregenz. Just check the hotel websites. You can also research your options at each city's transit website. You will have plenty to do while you are waiting for the train schedules to come up.

Posted by
13765 posts

In Budapest you have a number of choices.

If you are a big museum fan then maybe the "Budapest Card" makes sense. It comes in three flavors;

24 hour 4.900 ft ($18)
48 hour 7.900 ft ($30)
72 hour 9.900 ft ($37)

It will give you unlimited access to the underground, trams and busses and it gives you discounts at various museums and shops. Details are here:

For my travel interests the Budapest Card would not pay for its self, so I get a "Travel Card". It comes in the following flavors:

Budapest 24-hour travelcard 1.650 ft ($7)
Budapest 72-hour travelcard 4.150 ft ($16)
Budapest 7-day travelcard 4.950 ft ($19)

It provides unlimited access to the metro and trams and busses.

The Budapest Card is available at most hotels and I believe you can get them from any of the metro ticket windows.
The Travel Cards you can get at the metro ticket windows and from the kiosks at the metro and tram stops.

For comparison of cost a transit ticket is 350 ft ($1.3) and if you are using your time effectively on a 3 or 4 day trip to Budapest you might go through 4 to 6 a day so its break even to use a Travel Card. The real advanatage is you don't have to validate tickets with each ride. Only tourists validate tickets so you have a better chance of "blending in". I usually use tickets the first day, then buy a 7 Day Travel card then finish up the trip with a day or two on tickets again.

Posted by
13765 posts

Sam's post was what I was alluding to when I said most often the results of the analysis is that rail passes don't pay for them selves.

You might also compare day of travel costs. That allows you some flexibility.

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks once again James. Great tips. Not so worried about travel in Hungary as I'm about travel in Austria

Posted by
13026 posts

No need to reserve in advance when taking the Austrian Westbahn trains, you pay after you board. The controller will see to that. I never used my Pass days on a Wsetbahn train, saved them for the more expensive German ICE trains or night trains.

Posted by
16941 posts

Of course if going from Salzburg to Budapest, you will probably want one of the Railjet trains that are direct (no changes).

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks for the help guys.. Every tip is valuable. My itinerary has changed now and looks like this now.
Vienna(3 nights)
Innsbruck(2 nights)
Salzburg(3 nights)
Hallstatt(1 night)
Budapest(9 nights - plan to have day trips to other cities in Hungary via train or bus, whichever is faster)
Vienna(1 night)

I will try to book the train tickets as soon as the schedule is available online. Somewhere in the month of September I hope. Not going for the rail pass. If you have any suggestions/recommendations regarding the attractions or travel modes, do let me know. The suggestions have been of great help to me.

Posted by
21 posts

Sure. Pls let me know in case you get to know that the 11 december onward schedule is available.

Posted by
21 posts

Guys.. So there is some more thinking that I have done and have thought of some new ideas.
I want to have base cities from where I can leave town and come back by the night to the same base city. Reason is that I want to travel light and don't want to keep carrying my 19 night luggage everywhere with me.

Base city 1 = Salzburg (Giving 3 nights to salzburg, 2 nights open) . From Salzburg I plan to visit Innsbruck and Hallstatt.
Q1. Can these individual cities be covered in a day's time considering the travel times involved. Pls recommend the medium of travel as well. Salzburg to Innsbruck is 1h 46m by train and Salzburg to Hallstatt is 2h 30m by bus.

Base City 2 = Budapest (7 nights in Buda, 3 nights open)
Options that I have in Hungary - Gyor, Eger, Siofok, Pecs
Q2. Can these individual cities be covered in a day's time considering the travel times involved. Pls recommend the medium of travel as well. At max I have 1 night for each city. Pls suggest a city which is more vibrant. I am not a big fan of art and museums. Though I relish natural beauty, nightlife, city roaming and adventures. So pls suggest the must travel to places only.

Options outside Hungary - Prague and Bratislava
Q3. At max I have 2 nights for either city. Pls suggest a city which is more vibrant. I am not a big fan of art and museums. Though I relish natural beauty, nightlife, city roaming and adventures. Which city would be a better pick.

Posted by
16941 posts

I should ask if you are traveling alone or with others? Makes a difference train ticket wise.

Posted by
13765 posts

Between Prague and Bratislava I would tend to prefer Prague.

First, I hope you have a good reason to be staying in Buda. Relatives maybe? You seem to be looking for efficiency of time in everything else and Buda is sort of inconsistent in that regard. For “nightlife, city roaming and adventures.” you want to be in Pest.

The “MUST” travel to place in the winter is Budapest its self. But since you asked: For what you want to do based out of Budapest I would get an apartment. They are cheap and make good bases to come home to.

Siofok is a good day trip from Budapest. You could take the train down (about 1.25 hours) and then take the ferry across to Tihany where after visiting all the shops and seeing the abbey you could catch a train back to Budapest (from nearby Balatonfüred). Personally, in the dead of winter I would avoid the trip or at least use a car service for the return trip.

Gyor is best done on the way into Budapest. Train is very convenient.

Pecs is best done as an overnight. Its’ a pretty town with some interesting old mosques, great square and the porcelain factory/museum. Good souvenir shopping. It’s an overnight trip. Train is very convenient.

Eger, also pretty much an overnight trip if you want to enjoy. Train.

The Danube bend towns are always worth the effort. But in winter with it getting dark so early I would do each town as a separate day trip. You can take a direct train to Esztergom and a direct Metro Train to Szentendre.

Posted by
16941 posts

In Austria, there is something called an Einfach-Raus ticket, which is good for a full day of travel on Regional and Regional Express trains costing 33 EUR for 2 people. It can be used after 9 am weekdays, but all day on weekends and holidays.

So going to Hallstatt for a day from Salzburg would be possible, especially on a weekend. You would have to use the REX train and not the IC train, it would be only a little slower. During the week, you could not leave until the 10:39 train getting you there at 13:24. Returning on the 18:32 train would only give you 5 hours in Hallstatt. But you could leave earlier by buying individual tickets to Steindorf bei Strasswalchen, and leave on the 8:39 REX train. The train arrives at Steindorf at 9:11, so then the Einfach-Raus ticket would be valid. That would get you to Hallstatt at 11:24.

I don't think this ticket would work to Innsbruck, as for one, it cuts through Germany on the way, and two, regional trains are much slower going to Innsbruck then the Railjet train.

So yes, you could do stays in Just Salzburg and Budapest, with day trips to other locations. However, while freeing you from your luggage for these trips, you will spend more for transport costs and your own travel time. If you can travel light, one rolling suitcase each, 55 X 40 X 23 cm, plus a small day pack, it will make traveling easier.

If you want to throw Prague into the mix, I'd go from Hallstatt to Prague then to Budapest.

The more I think about this trip, Innsbruck is the outlier. If you want to visit the Alps, it is much faster and cheaper to visit the mountains south of Salzburg. Think about Zell am See, Bad Gastein, These are only 1 1/2 hours from Salzburg and can be done with direct regional trains and the Einfach-Raus ticket.

Posted by
16941 posts

Thinking about this a bit more, Bad Gastein wouldn't work as only EC trains go there. But Zell am See would work great for a day trip from Salzburg with an Einfach-Raus ticket. It is a direct train, leaves shortly after 9, and take 1 hour and 40 minutes. Trains go every 2 hours.

It will be family ski vacation time there as it is just before Christmas. Be sure to have warm clothing. There will probably be some snow on the ground, but who knows. You can inquire if you can get a walkers ticket to ride the CityXpress cabin lift up the mountain. There is a restaurant there. In the afternoon, you may encounter the famous (or infamous) Austrian Apres-Ski. As I said, it is family time that week, so it may be somewhat subdued.

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks sam. Here is the final itinerary. Accomodation has been booked.

  1. Vienna (2.5 nights as I would be arriving late in the evening) 16-19 dec
  2. Salzburg (3 nights) - Need to visit Hallstatt/Zell am see 19-22 dec
  3. Prague (2 nights) 22-24 dec
  4. Budapest (4 nights) - Will visit other cities in Hungary 24-28 dec
  5. Bratislava (2 nights) 28-30 dec
  6. Budapest (3 nights) - Spend New years and visit other cities in Hungary 30 dec - 2 jan
  7. Vienna (2 nights) 2 jan - 4 jan

Please let me know whenever you guys get to know that the train schedules are out. Will make my intercity travel bookings asap. Now I'm only concerned with the transportation.

Also, please share every bit of advice regarding local public transport and city must visit places

Thanks for every tip that you guys gave. Eagerly waiting for this trip now.