Travelling by train between Hungary and Switzerland is a spectacular journey, taking about 13 hours in total. There are a couple of direct trains from Switzerland to Hungary every day, but you can also travel direct to Vienna from Zurich and change there to Budapest. The train journey from Switzerland to Hungary will take you past the Alps, through amazing valleys and some breathtaking rivers and forests.
Taking the Train from Switzerland to Hungary
Switzerland is one of the best connected countries in Europe with various international trains to Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Hungary. The best option to travel from Zurich to Vienna is taking one of the direct Railjet trains using the Austrian National Railways. These depart frequently and don’t require a reservation.
The train tends to get busy in Salzburg until Vienna as people get on it to travel to the Airport. Make sure you set an alarm for the scheduled arrival time in Vienna as the main train station there is not its final stop. So in case you fall asleep there is a chance you will travel all the way to the airport.
The Train Between Hungary and Switzerland – Video
This video will show you the journey from Zurich to Hodmezovasarhely via Vienna and Budapest. I will also explain how to change between two stations in Hungary using the metro system. Once you’ve watched the video just scroll down to check out the photographs.
I travelled from Zurich to Vienna on the second day of my Interrail journey between London and Budapest. I then changed in Vienna to a train to Budapest and then on to another train to my home town of Hodmezovasarhely. The whole point of this journey was to find out what I can see on the way from London by train and instead of flying so I decided to travel using the railways.
Why Did I Travel by Train?
There were several reasons to take the train – number one it is far more scenic as you can see from the window in the video above. And also, I wanted to take it easy and not just rush to the airport, do the security checks and all the rest. The price wasn’t that much more either – the plane was going to cost just under £300 return and the Interrail ticket was only £287 so it was really a no-brainer I think.
Plus it is just so much more beautiful. Before I got on the train in Zurich to Budapest I’d already been to Paris, Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Basel, visiting all those pretty cities.
On this leg of the journey I caught the 6:40 train from Zurich to Vienna, where I had a quick lunch and got on the connecting train to Budapest. I then managed to catch the last train to Szeged and hopped on a bus there to Hodmezovasarhely at around 10 o’clock in the evening.
The beauty of travelling by train is that you can walk up and down the train and if you see something amazing you can just get off at the next stop and discover. You cannot do that by flying or taking high speed trains for obvious reasons. While taking the high speed train may be faster, it often doesn’t stop anywhere and you will need an extra reservation with your Interrail pass.
Using Regional Trains
During my trip I used the Interrail travel planner app and only picked trains that didn’t require reservations. I’ve had to make some exceptions on Friday when I travelled to Strasbourg and on the way back home but otherwise most of my journeys were included in the Interrail price.
The Journey Between Zurich and Budapest
The journey between Zurich and Vienna is super scenic: the hills look spectacular and go on forever as we cross through the Alps. During parts of the journey the train line hugs the river and we cross many bridges. The train is not super fast around here as there are many bends in the track but the views will definitely compensate for the often sluggish process.
The entire journey to Vienna takes eight hours and the line is high speed after Salzburg, travelling at 200 kilometers per hour.
Arriving in Hungary by Railjet
You will arrive in Hungary about an hour after changing trains in Vienna. From Vienna the scenery is pretty flat and the train is much faster. The journey from Vienna to Budapest takes just over two hours. The train will drop you off at Keleti Train Station and you will need to change to Nyugati Train Station if you travel to Szeged.
Transferring Between Stations in Budapest
The journey from Keleti (Eastern) to Nyugati (Western) Station takes about 20 minutes by underground if you know your way. If it is your first time I would recommend at least 30 minutes in case you get lost. First you will need to take the red line from Keleti Station to Deak Ferenc Ter. It is the third stop in the direction of Deli (Southern) Palyaudvar.
When you get off at Deak Ferenc Ter follow the blue signs to Metro Line Three or the blue metro line. The trains come every two or three minutes so no need to run for one. The blue metro uses old Soviet cars, some of which have recently been renovated. From Deak Ferenc ter it is two stops to Nyugati Palyaudvar. Get off here and ascend the escalators to the platforms directly.
The Trains to Szeged
The trains to Szeged run every hour. The railway line is electrified and it takes just over three hours to arrive in Szeged. Nyugati Palyaudvar was built by Eiffel so you will see many similarities between this station and the stations in Paris. The roof, the iron work and many other things look exactly the same. The train to Szeged is very retro, some of them date back to the 1980s or more. They have separate compartments and you can open the windows in the corridors.
In my opinion the trains in Hungary are much better because you can pull the windows down and lean out. As you travel along you can let the fresh air in and simply listen to the clicking of the rails as the train rushes down the line.
It was around 7 by the time I caught the train in Budapest. It was already dark when we pulled into the Szeged where I changed to the last bus home.