There’s only one winner if you’re wondering how to travel from Budapest to Bratislava. Train travel is the hands down champion here.
You’ll be in Bratislava before the wheels on your flight from Budapest to Bratislava leave the tarmac.
The train journey takes only 2.5 hours and also follows the Danube river, providing a beautiful vista along the journey.
Budapest to Bratislava Train
Trains which will take you from Budapest to Bratislava several times every hour. However, many of these journeys involve a change of train (or two) at Hegyeshalom (Hungary) or Győr (Hungary) and Parndorf (Austria).
The slowest train takes 3 hours 19 minutes via Győr (Hungary) and Parndorf (Austria)
By far the best option is the EuroCity train which travels direct from Budapest to Bratislava in just 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The train actually continues on from Bratislava to Prague which we will catch after a couple of days in Bratislava.
What you See
On the journey you can watch the typical Hungarian houses with orange roofs pass by through the suburbs.
It’s also nice to roll into, sometimes stopping, sometimes not, charming antiquated train stations like the town of Vac. The station is painted orange with yellow features and red flowers hanging from baskets.
Keep an eye out on the way for the castle ruins high in the Visegrad Mountains above Nagymaros-Visegrad station.
For a good part of the journey in Hungary the train follows the hills adjacent to the Danube river offering lovely views of the river which is synonymous with The Land of Magyars.
After crossing the Hungary – Slovakia border (there’s no stopping) – the train veers away from the Danube river and travels cross-country, with river views making way for large agriculture fields dotted with cute, little houses.
For the journey from Budapest to Bratislava chose a seat on the left side of the train for uninterrupted views of the Danube. On the left side you will find single-seater seats.
If you are doing the reverse journey from Bratislava to Budapest, chose a seat on the right side of the train for the best views of the Danube and the Visegrad Mountains.
We opted for the fastest train which is the EuroCity as it offers a direct connection.
In first class the train is modern and comfortable, similar to the local train from Cambridge to London.
In First Class the seats are in a 2 – 1 configuration across the aisle, meaning everyone has a spacious seat with plenty of leg room too.
There are 8 sets of seats which face each other, separated by a table. Half of these are 4-seaters and the other half are 2-seaters (i.e. a single seat separated by a table).
We travelled with a Eurail pass – a seat reservation is not necessary. We just arrived at the station 20 minutes before departure and took our seats. After the train set off a conductor came around and clipped our Eurail pass.
You can tell which seats are reserved as they are marked with a yellow tag next to the seat number as show in the image.
The carriage was at 25% occupancy on our trip. However, we noticed plenty of seats which were marked with reserved tags for the leg from Bratislava – Prague so, you may wish to make a reservation.
Funny to note – once the train enters Slovakia announcements for each station are made in English (in an Australian accent).
- wifi (didn’t work when we tried it as we left in Budapest. However, on another EuroCity train from Bratislava – Prague it did work)
- storage room for bags (large overhead space for suitcases – including large full-size ones)
- dining cart and/or table service (in first class)
- Power plugs for each seat
- Free bottles of water (in first class)
Meals & Drinks
The train operator – JLV – take their meals seriously. We were tempted by the menu which includes interesting fare which is cooked by “talented young chefs of Czech gastronomy”. There’s a hashtag #youngchefsonboard which you can search on Instagram to find some of their work.
Meals can be purchased on board including: veal with colourful pepper, lentil salad with vegetables and veal demi-glace, roasted pork with sauteed zucchini and spinach on bacon, chicken strips with leek, onions and mushrooms with Madras curry and rice- €7.5
More fancy train meals include pork cheeks in black beer, creamy mashed potatoes, red onion & honey chutney (€7) or smoked duck breast with cabbage and carrot salad and horseradish polenta (€8.7), or even a sirloin in cream sauce, bread dumplings and cranberries (€6.2).
There’s even a breakfast menu which is more extensive than just a typical cold continental breakfast or a croissant. For €5.80 You can order an American breakfast (2 eggs cooked as you like with ham, Emmental cheese, butter, jam and a hot drink of your choice.
You will notice beer is also priced according to Eastern European standards – an exceptionally reasonable €1.60 for a half litre Kozel (dark beer) or €1.60 for the world renowned Czech Beer Pilsner Urquell (300 ml).
In First Class there is table service for your food and beverages. There is also a spacious dining car where you can sit for your meal.
Unfortunately we didn’t have room for more food after being well catered for by Hilton Budapest. However, it’s good to know that the train from Budapest to Bratislava is one service where you won’t be disappointed to arrive on an empty stomach.
Oh, and you can pay by credit card, euros or Czech currency.
What to do & Where to Stay in Budapest
Budapest is divided into to halves by the Danube river. On the north is “Buda” and the south is the “pest” side.
The Budapest – Bratislava train departs from Nyugati station on the Pest side which is a convenient location to see much of Budapest.
Hilton Budapest City is the ultimate accommodation for anyone looking for an urban city-break. The hotel is located just a few minutes easy walk from the platform to reception.
The journey might take a little longer if you get sidetracked in the fashion boutiques along the way as the walk is through West End shopping centre.
From Hilton Budapest City you are well placed to see
- the Hungarian Parliament;
- Antique Pinball museum (“FlipperMuseum”);
- Museum of Ethnography; and
- Margaret Island.
Of course it’s a perfect location for shopping too – with an entrance directly into the middle of West End shopping centre.
The other unmissable attraction in Budapest is the Fisherman’s Bastion. The fortified wall is incredible as it looks like it was sculpted from sand.
We had the most incredible view of the Fisherman’s Bastion and Parliament from our room at Budapest Hilton hotel.
You can also enjoy unparalleled views in air-conditioned comfort from the breakfast & dining room, gym and Executive Lounge.
From Budapest Hilton you are within walking distance of:-
- Matthias Church (you can see it from some rooms);
- Charles Bridge;
- Buda Castle;
- Labyrinth; and
- the impressive Citadel.
What to do & Where to Stay in Bratislava
If you love smaller cities, you will prefer Bratislava to Budapest. It’s really easy to walk to all the best things to see in Bratislava like:
- Bratislava castle;
- St Martin’s Cathedral;
- Michael’s Gate;
- Old Town Bratislava with gorgeous cobble-stoned streets.
We stayed a short 5 minute taxi ride from the city centre and train station at DoubleTree by Hilton Bratislava – click the link to read our review.
If you are travelling on an Eastern European adventure – as we are – then Bratislava is an unmissable stop between Budapest and Prague.
We loved staying at DoubleTree Bratislava because we had the opportunity to relax in the wellness centre including sauna, steam room and large indoor swimming pool.
We have also crowned the hotel chefs “Kings of Bratislava desserts” because we didn’t have a bad one during our stay. Just check out this welcome platter!
Despite the fact we have already been to Bratislava a total of 3 times, we were blown away with our stay at DoubleTree. Start planning your Eastern European vacation with Hilton Europe.
How to Book
We travelled from Budapest to Bratislava using a Eurail Global Pass. We enjoyed the flexibility of knowing we could jump on any train without making a reservation, giving us flexibility to sight see as much as we wanted.
Find out more information about Eurail and book a pass on their website https://www.interrail.eu/en/interrail-passes/global-pass.
If you do wish to reserve a seat, book on the Eurail website at least 8 business days prior to departure to allow time to post tickets to you. You may also make a seat reservation in person at the train station.
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Disclaimer: We were invited as guests to Hilton hotels & on Eurail. However, this does not affect our views and opinions. As always, all opinions are our own.