It’s extremely straightforward to travel by train between Vienna and Budapest as the capitals of Austria and Hungary are connected by an hourly train service throughout most of the day.
This guide shows you all you need to know about the train service between Vienna and Budapest, including a rundown of all the different trains that operate on this stretch, travel classes and on-board service, as well as where you can buy your ticket.
The train services between Vienna and Budapest are operated in collaboration by the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and the Hungarian State Railways (MÁV).
Both cities are connected by hourly trains throughout most of the day, with the first train typically leaving Vienna at 6.40am and the last one at 9.40pm.
In the opposite direction, the first train of the day from Budapest to Vienna leaves at 5.40 am, while the last train departs at 8.40 pm.
It takes around 2 hours and 40 minutes to travel by train between Vienna and Budapest.
The most user-friendly website to search online timetables is the site of the German Railways, which works like a charm for trains all over Europe.
The train service between Vienna and Budapest is operated by two different types of trains, namely:
The Railjet trains are listed as RJX (which stands for Railjet Express) in online timetables, while the EuroCity trains will all have a train number starting with EC in the timetables.
While there are some distinctions in terms of seating and on-board services between Railjet and EuroCity trains, they both take exactly the same amount of time to travel between Vienna and Budapest.
The Railjet is the most premium train on the route between Vienna and Budapest and it can reach speeds of up to 230 kilometres per hour (143 mph).
Onboard Railjet trains, there are three travel classes: Economy (second class), first class, and business class, which can be considered a premium first class.
The difference between these travel classes primarily lies in seat comfort and space.
Economy class seating on Railjet trains is in a 2-2 configuration, first class in a 1-2 configuration, and business class offers spacious semi-compartments with 3 or 4 seats.
Seats in all classes have power sockets, and the Railjet trains are equipped with Wi-Fi internet.
All Railjet trains have an Austrian dining car where you can either sit down for a drink, snack, or a full meal, or you can choose to take it away to enjoy at your own seat.
In first and business class, a train attendant will come to your seat to take food and drink orders and then deliver them from the on-board restaurant if you prefer not to head to the dining car.
EuroCity trains are traditional locomotive-pulled trains with seats in open-plan saloon cars or 6-seat compartments.
These EuroCity trains typically consist of Hungarian (MÁV) carriages, offering both 2nd and 1st class seating options.
Second-class seats are arranged in a 2-2 seat configuration, while first-class seats are in a 2-1 configuration, providing more personal space and a quieter environment.
However, sometimes carriages with side compartments are deployed, and in this case both 1st and 2nd class will have 6 seats per compartment, with the first class seats being more plush and comfortable.
Power sockets are available in both travel classes, although these EuroCity trains may not always be equipped with Wi-Fi internet.
Certain EuroCity services offer a Hungarian dining car where you can enjoy affordably priced drinks and freshly cooked meals, a real treat!
You can consult the online timetables to determine which EuroCity services offer a dining car and which ones do not.
When it comes to ticket prices, there isn’t any difference between Railjet and EuroCity trains, as the cost of your ticket will depend on how far in advance you book and whether various saver tickets are still available, and not on the train type.
A full-price 2nd class ticket between Vienna and Budapest costs €50.80 and is valid for any train on the route, on the day of travel.
Therefore, it’s entirely up to you whether you use your full-price ticket for a Railjet or EuroCity train, and if you miss your intended departure you simply use your ticket for the next train departure an hour later!
However, if you book in advance, you can usually purchase a significantly cheaper “sparschiene” (saver ticket).
In contrast to fully refundable and flexible full-price tickets, saver tickets are only valid for a specific train departure and are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.
There are various categories of saver tickets, and the cheapest 2nd class train ticket between Vienna and Budapest is priced at just €13.
If all the tickets in the cheapest fare bucket are sold out, a slightly more expensive fare bucket will kick in, so it pays off to book ahead as tickets usually become progressively more expensive as you get closer to the departure date.
It’s however good to know that tickets never sell out, as you can always buy a full-price ticket on the day of travel, online or at the station!
Seat reservations are optional on both Railjet and EuroCity trains between Vienna and Budapest, ensuring that tickets cannot sell out, and passengers without seat reservations are free to choose any available seat on the train.
However, it is best to make a seat reservation in advance if you want to ensure a seat, especially if you are travelling together or in a larger group and want to make sure you can all sit together.
It’s also advisable to reserve a seat on rush hour departures and during popular times of the year, like Christmas, Easter, or the summer holidays.
A seat reservation costs €3 per person and can be purchased either together with your ticket, or separately if you already have a valid ticket or rail pass.
Where to buy tickets
You might discover it’s much more easy to buy your Vienna-Budapest train ticket through the third-party booking website Omio.
Omio’s search engine is more user-friendly, and they offer train tickets at the same price, accepting all debit and credit cards.
Since Omio has access to the internal booking systems of almost every national railway company in Europe, you can use this highly rated website (4.3 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot) to book all your bus and train tickets for your European trip in one go!
Interrail or Eurail on Vienna-Budapest trains
If you have an Interrail or Eurail pass, you can travel on any Railjet or EuroCity train between Vienna and Budapest free of charge, as there are no supplements required for these trains.
When you already have an Interrail or Eurail pass and just want to make a seat reservation for one of the trains between Vienna and Budapest, I recommend using the Austrian Railways website.
When searching for train services, you have the option to select “seat reservation only (no ticket),” after which every result will display a €3 price for a reserved seat only.
Please note that you must present your rail pass or any other valid ticket on board, as a seat reservation alone is not sufficient for travel on a train.
The private competitor: RegioJet
In addition to the multiple daily trains jointly operated by the Austrian and Hungarian Railways, there are also two trains a day between Vienna and Budapest operated by the private operator RegioJet.
This privately-run Czech transport company provides four distinct travel classes on its trains, ranging from their no-frills “low-cost” class to “business class” with four highly comfortable leather seats per compartment and a small bottle of sparkling wine as a welcome drink.
Read my RegioJet train review if you want to learn more about this option.
Tickets for RegioJet trains between Vienna and Budapest start at €9 and can be booked online through their website.
It’s important to note that tickets purchased for trains operated by the Austrian and Hungarian Railways are not valid for RegioJet, and vice versa.
If you have an Interrail or Eurail pass you can also use RegioJet trains for travel between Vienna and Budapest, although a seat reservation is compulsory and costs between €1.30 and €2.80 depending on travel class.
How is the journey like
So how is it actually like to travel by train between Vienna and Budapest?
Although travelling from Budapest to Vienna hardly ranks among Europe’s most beautiful train journeys, it’s a perfectly pleasant trip.
Below, you can find a short picture trip report showing how a journey on a Railjet train from Vienna to Budapest is like.
With hourly departures, a journey time of just over two and a half hours, and tickets starting at just €9, taking the train between Vienna and Budapest is without doubt the best way to travel between the capital cities of Austria and Hungary.
State-of-the-art Railjet trains and pleasant EuroCity trains are jointly operated by the Austrian and Hungarian Railways, and feature comfortable seating in all travel classes and dining cars.
You also have the option to choose one of the two daily RegioJet trains that operate between Vienna and Budapest.
Whatever option you ultimately choose, the train is clearly the way to go from Vienna to Budapest or the other way around!