Get on Board in Hungary
Like its Eastern European neighbors, Hungary has invested some money (with the help of the European Union) to modernize its rail network. Yet, it’s still in a restructuring mode, one that’s apparent when traveling the best trains versus local services.
For long distance or international travel to and from Budapest, InterCity trains or international rail services are a comfortable choice. These services mandate assigned-seating, so be sure to make a reservation. No need to worry if you’ve purchased a ticket with Rail Europe—your seat is automatically pre-assigned. And, if you hold a rail pass, you can book a seat from us as well.
You can also make reservations locally, but, by then, your train may be fully booked. Simply follow the signs that say “Foreign Railway Tickets—Seat Reservation” in the Budapest main station in Keleti. Though larger stations have English-speaking agents, their conversational skills might be somewhat limited. So planning ahead while still at home is always good advice (unless, of course, you’re fluent in Hungarian).
Hungary offers some wonderful rail journeys. Take an InterCity two-hour day trip from Budapest to Balaton, along the scenic and soothing Lake Balaton (the largest lake in Central Europe). Siofolk is also on this route, and is probably Hungary’s best bathing resort, just 90 minutes from Budapest. Other day trip possibilities? Kecsemet (a great photography museum) and the university city of Szeged in the Southern Great Plains.
For optimum enjoyment, travel InterCity rail services as often as possible, and ride first class. (Local trains are charming—but slow.) And beware of a navigational brain-twister. Hungary’s rail network was built around Budapest so you often have to go through the capital for long distance trips. There are three separate train stations: Keleti (east) is the main station and an interesting architectural piece; Nyugati (west), is the smallest station but very well-equipped; and, finally--here’s the twist--Deli (south) is a modern, concrete building (on the Budapest side) that’s actually west of the city.
For more information on Hungary contact the Hungary Tourist Board.