By Rick Steves
Are rail passes a good value for Hungary?
Since point-to-point train tickets are cheap in Hungary, as they are throughout Eastern Europe, a rail pass isn't likely to save you much money. The main reason to buy a rail pass in this region is to avoid the hassle of buying tickets as you go. If a rail pass happens to match the countries you plan to visit, it can be a smart choice.
How do I see whether a rail pass makes sense for my trip in particular?
Use this map to add up approximate pay-as-you-go fares for your itinerary, and compare that cost to the price of a rail pass for the number of days you expect to spend on the train. (Dotted lines show ferry routes and dashed lines show bus routes, neither of which are covered by rail passes.)
Also, follow the links below for:
• More tips for figuring out whether a pass makes sense for your trip
• The basics on choosing among rail passes
• More tips on how to save money by fine-tuning your rail pass
• Advice on deciding between first and second class
• Fare-estimate maps outside Hungary/Slovakia
• Answers to frequently asked rail-pass questions
Choose one of the passes below to check prices and to buy your pass (orders are fulfilled by Rail Europe).
Extra tip #1: The European East Pass meets or beats the price of a three- or four-country Select Pass covering Hungary — just note the difference in validity periods (one month for European East Pass versus two months on the Select Pass), and that the European East Pass offers no youth discount or free kids.
Extra tip #2: If you string together more than one regional rail pass (such as a Germany Rail Pass and a European East Pass), you'll use a day from each pass when crossing the border between them.
Extra tip #3: If you're considering a Hungary–Romania Select Pass, note that separate, single-country rail passes can be a little cheaper for most trips in Hungary and Romania, though you use a day of each pass when crossing the border. The main benefit of this two-country pass is the ability to spread travel over a two-month period (which the single-country Hungary Eurail Pass doesn't allow).
Do I need to make seat reservations on Hungarian trains?
For the most part, you can hop on nearly all Hungarian trains with just your rail pass in hand. Only overnight trains, and some international routes, require reservations (as indicated in online train schedules).
If a rail pass doesn't pencil out for your trip, see our general tips for buying point-to-point tickets.
Hungary Rail Passes: Key Details
Single-country Hungary Eurail Pass: Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass.
European East Pass: Covers nearly all trains in Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia (but isn't accepted on Austria's "WestBahn" brand private trains). Valid for just one month, not two, after you've activated the pass. Note: This is not a Eurail-brand pass, so special Eurail promotional deals don't apply to this pass.
Central Europe Triangle Pass: Covers three train trips in a circle of either Vienna–Budapest–Prague or Vienna–Salzburg–Prague (choose your cities at time of purchase). If these specific routes fit your trip, then this pass saves money over buying separate train tickets between these cities. You can start at any listed city and travel in either direction to return to your starting point via the most direct route. For instance, Prague–Salzburg travel is covered via Linz (6/day, 1 direct, most with 2 changes), but not via Germany. Not valid on "WestBahn" brand private trains. This pass is pre-validated for your specified one-month travel period, but still needs to be activated (stamped) by a train-station staffer prior to first use, and cannot be refunded after the first day of validity. Note: This is not a Eurail-brand pass, so special Eurail promotional deals don't apply to this pass.