Getting From Prague to Budapest
Same Empire, Different Ending – It’s not unusual that if you find Prague an attractive destination then you may also plan a visit to an equally attractive European capital, Budapest. Consider at least an overnight stay or travel at night. Here are three popular options for overland travel between the two capitals.
Staying in Budapest
As usual, I’m a 3 star guy when I’m dealing with city hotels but they have to have a great location. When I’ve not stayed in an apartment I’ve stayed at the SasOne. If you arrive at Keleti railway station take the M2, go two stops and get off at Deak Ferenc. Walk to the other side of the park, the street is Sas Utca and funnily enough it’s number one. You are two blocks from the river and right opposite the Castle. Take a look at the SasOne in Budapest.
Cruises in Budapest are shorter than those in Prague so expect a duration of a maximum of 2 hours. That means they fit two cruises into the evening i.e. one at 7pm and a later one at 10pm. Obviously if you are doing this in the summer and you want a night cruise you’ll be booking the later time. I recommend this one because it’s been around a long time, it does live music and gets good reviews for it’s buffet which includes Gluten Free and Vegetarian options. Check for Prices and Availability.
This is a 2 hour bike around the city mostly at river level. There’s a little bit of walking through pedestrianised areas etc and then back on the bike. Great for getting local tips on places to go. Check for Prices and Availability.
Cake Making Tour
In Prague you will have seen and even tried what we call Trdlo (that chimney cake thing). You may or may not know that the origin of this cake is not Czech, it’s Hungarian. This is a little 1 hour tour for you to actually make your own. Check for Prices and Availability.
All Tour Options
So those are the ones that I recommend. Or simply Check All Available Tours, Prices and Availability
Expect a journey of around 6 hours to get from central Prague to Budapest and that is allowing for normal traffic conditions. As there is really only one route (unless you want Hungarian back roads) you are locked in and can suffer from frequent road works in Czech, Slovakia and Hungary.
The route is pretty simple and with luck will take 6 hours. You’ll need to buy the Czech Motorway sticker and leave Prague in the direction of Brno on the D1 Motorway (E50) then direction Bratislava. When you cross into Slovakia it changes to D2 (E65) and is also signposted as M15 but only on the Slovakian side. Be careful to abide by the speed limit as there are several fixed camera locations around Bratislava. As you cross into Hungary you’ll need to buy the Hungarian Motorway sticker (actually its not a physical sticker, it just allows your car registration plate to be on the database) then stay on the E75 (M1) until you hit Budapest. This whole stretch between the border and the capital is lined with speed cameras.
There are different coach providers that will offer the Prague to Budapest trip but I prefer Student Agency. They use the new long distance “RegioJet” coaches which are the highest standard you can get on a bus route and include leather seats, on-screen film, wifi (domestic trip), hot and cold drinks, papers etc and a stewardess if you need further help. Simply click on the Student Agency Bus Timetable link, select the “Prague to Budapest” section and times/prices/availability will be displayed. They run services from Florenc Bus Terminal (UAN Florenc) from early morning to mid-afternoon and then there’s a big gap until 11pm when there is a single service. This 11pm service takes the same amount of time as the day services i.e. @7 hours but seriously, you have to be able to sleep sitting up or the journey will really drag. My own recommendation is for the train option below.
If you like to look out of the window and watch the country roll by then you are looking at one of the day departure options and as a rule there is a departure from the Prague Main Train Station every two hours and the journey takes between 6 and 7 hours. My advice is to have either Euros or Czech Korun cash with you for buying food and drink on the train. Credit cards are accepted but connection to the banking system can be rough and I’ve known people get their cards blocked because of repeat transactions. For anybody who is not worried about the view and just wants to wake up in Hungary then it’s very popular to take the midnight sleeper option from Prague to Budapest which is nearly 9 hours but its a very pleasant option because you can spend some time in the buffet car for a drink and a snack before getting to bed. Note that this “sleeper” route actually begins at the Holešovice station but stops at the Prague Main Train Station for 30 minutes where most people join. Either way, consider the EUrail “select pass” if you think you’ll be spending time on trains in this part of Europe as the 2-country or 3-country passes might be worth it for you.
Enjoy yourself in Budapest (go to the parliament museum and see just how big Hungary used to be).