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Rail Travel (Prague / Vienna / Budapest)

Travel Forums Europe Rail Travel (Prague / Vienna / Budapest)

1. Posted by KH33 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

I've been reading...and reading...all the threads in hope that my questions might be solved, but unfortunately, I can't seem to find anything that directly applies to my situation. So I apologize that I pose yet another inquiry regarding the Eurorail/Interail...

From December 20th to January 1st, I plan to travel from Prague to Vienna to Budapest all via train. Since I'm American, my understanding is that I can purchase a Eurorail Pass but not an Interail pass. Correct?

Here is where my problem lies. For the Eurorail 3-Country Pass, it does not include Czech Republic. If I go with a Regional Pass, I'll have to buy a Czech-Austria Pass in addition to an Austria-Hungary Pass, which will add up to almost $400USD. Very expensive!

Am I left to buying an individual ticket from Prague to Vienna and then another ticket from Vienna to Budapest? Or is there some other pass I don't know about?

If I do purchase individual tickets, should I buy these online before I leave the US or should I wait until I get to Prague? My concern about waiting is that I'll have problems considering the time of year that I'm traveling. Are trains more or less busy during the holidays?

Also, I'd like to make day trips to surrounding cities (ie Salzburg, Pilzen, etc). Will these extra train (or bus) rides add up and make the two 2-Country Passes a better deal?

Thank you for any and all advice you can provide!!


2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

The easiest and best solution to your problem is to travel Prague-Bratislava-Vienna-Bratislava-Budapest. You buy a standard international train ticket in Prague at the counter in the railway station that goes Prague-Bratislava-Budapest. You buy a return ticket to Vienna in Bratislava at the train station.

Do not buy a rail pass at all, as for this route both Eurail and Interrail are a total waste of money. You buy all your tickets at the train stations, squeezing the best out of the old Eastern European Standard tariff and special offers.

You can find out prices by playing around with

Note: This gets even cheaper if instead of travelling Prague-Budapest you travel Budapest-Prague. If it is possible for you to reverse your route pm me please, I'll give you the details.

3. Posted by jimmyoz (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

hi kristen, t_maia
i read a post in feb that quoted 116 euro from prague to bucharest (with stops at bratislava, budapest, bran). but the person didnt specify a price, nor what trains he used. i too am looking into a similar train trip, although not til next april.
t_maia, what are the benefits of flying to bucharest then training it west to prague via the same route?
how much cheaper, better way to do it?
i'll check out that website you suggested. thanks for listening guys!

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

I think the overall cheaper price is not that much, maybe 10-20 EUR. Basically you can take advantage of cheaper fares for trains originating in the south, plus you change trains at borders in order to benefit from lower national fares instead of paying higher international fares or vice versa. It is quite complicated and I need to spent a few hours online digging up the info. I'll get back to you later.

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

I found some of the info I was looking for, if it is still current it is apparently possible to travel from Budapest to Bratislava for a stunning 15 EUR one-way and 17 EUR return. Travelling the other way (Bratislava to Budapest) is 23 EUR one-way. These kind of differences add up.

You also can save quite a lot by breaking your journay in Sturovo, right after Slovakian/Hungarian border and purchase once a Budapest-Sturovo r/t ticket in Hungary and than a Sturovo-Praha ticket in Sturovo or from conductor.

For travelling Budapest-Vienna without going via Bratislava buy a Hungarian domestic ticket to Györ, change in Györ and continue to Vienna from Györ with a special Euroregio ticket.

[ Edit: Edited on Oct 16, 2008, at 3:02 PM by t_maia ]

6. Posted by jimmyoz (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

i didnt realise it was cheaper to go east-west. thanks for that!!i think ill start in bucharest then.
if youve been to romania, and only had a few days outside bucharest, and wanted to see some cool stuff, maybe go for an overnight hike, would you base yourself in sibiu or sighisohara?
both seem to be on bucharest-budapest train routes leaving bucharest.
sorry if this is a silly question. just new here!

7. Posted by KH33 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Hey guys,

Thanks for giving me such helpful tips!! Unfortunately, I bought a ticket before I heard back. Too bad cause it sounds like I would have saved money. At least I know what to do in the future.

Seeing that I've got an Eastern Europe Rail Pass, do you have any advice on whether or not I need to reserve a seat for each ride? I can travel 5 days in one month and plan to travel from Prague to Vienna to Budapest. I also plan to make one side trip in each country. I had a rail pass for western Europe a couple years ago and was able to just board any train I wanted. Is this the same in eastern Europe? If I need to make reservations in advance, should I do it before I leave or when I get to each city?

Thanks again for your help!


8. Posted by luzian (Full Member 36 posts) 8y

Quoting KH33

I had a rail pass for western Europe a couple years ago and was able to just board any train I wanted. Is this the same in eastern Europe? If I need to make reservations in advance, should I do it before I leave or when I get to each city?

It's the same in eastern Europe, on most trains you can just board without a reservation. There is one train type called "SuperCity" that always has compulsory reservation, and a very small number of InterCity/EuroCity trains too. If you look for schedules on, you would see a red R symbol in the "Products" (=train types) column if reservation is compulsory. But it should be easy to avoid these trains, there are enough other trains between your destinations. If you do take a train with compulsory reservation, you can still get that on the day of travel in most cases. Sometimes you can even board without and just pay the fee in the train... compulsory reservation is mainly an extra fee for some special trains.

The only thing to think about is that on the days just before Christmas, trains might be busier than usual as many people travel to visit family etc. for the Holidays (after Christmas it's usually not such a big problem as it spreads out more). So depending on how long you plan to stay in Prague, you could think about getting a reservation for the first trip (Prague to Vienna I assume) if you want to make sure you have a place to sit. Even then I think it should be possible to get a seat reservation 1 or 2 days in advance in Prague. Worst case with no seat reservation and a totally overcrowded train, you'll have to squeeze in somewhere or stand.. but even then you'll always be able to get on the train.

Btw Bratislava (Slovakia) is worth a visit too if you have time for a side trip (it's only one hour by train from Vienna).

Have fun!

9. Posted by ariqe (Budding Member 37 posts) 7y

So does the above applies if I were to travel :

Budapest > Vienna > Prague ?

Any special things to take note ?

10. Posted by ariqe (Budding Member 37 posts) 7y

And I am doing 3 days each for the 3 locations in June.
Can i cover all of the following in 9 days (actually is 10 but minus 1 for all the rail travelling etc) ?

Castle District
Thermal baths in hotels
Heroes' Square
Chain Bridge
Vörösmarty Square/ Váci Utca
Central Market Hall

seems like
does not offer films in English ??

Hofburg Palace
kunsthistorisches Museum
The Belverdere
Secession Bldg
Schloss Schonbrunn

Prague Castle
Charles Bridge
Old Town Square
St Vitus’ Cathedral
Wenceslas Square
National Gallery

Seems like i am pretty ambitious.

Is this good ?

Any "must-go" places /Or places above i can leave out ?