If I remember correctly, I took my last flight in 2018. After that last flight, I decided to stop flying to holiday destinations, as we’re in the middle of a climate crisis. However, that does not mean I won’t go on holidays at all anymore. The contradictory is true! And so, this past summer I went on a holiday again, to Budapest. The most sustainable way to travel there is by train (leaving biking and walking aside, haha). And so that’s what I did. I traveled from Amsterdam to Budapest by train. In this post I’ll tell you all about that journey.
I’ve been to Budapest before, in 2017. That year I went to the Sziget Festival with friends. I flew to Budapest to visit the festival. Two years later I finally realized how harmful flying is to the environment and that we can’t afford to fly in this climate crisis. However, I did enjoy the Sziget festival very much and I wanted to visit again this year, in 2022. If you don’t fly, that doesn’t mean you can’t go on a holiday anymore. This year I went to the Sziget festival again, but I went to Budapest by train! I’ll tell you all about traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest by train.
This was not the first time I made a big journey by train. In 2019 I travelled from Amsterdam to Albufeira by train. That trip was something I did alone, because my friends did not want to join me. They went by plane with the 3 of them, I went alone by train. It was a great adventure! However, one friend of mine saw how much I enjoyed that trip and so this year she agreed to go by train too. So, this trip to Budapest we did together, with the two of us.
First things first, the route options. There are multiple options to go from Amsterdam to Budapest by train. 4 options in total, so there’s a lot to choose! You can do whatever you prefer. I found this information on Seat61.com, which is honestly the ultimate guide to train travel around the globe. Just select your starting point and destination, then the website will do all the work for you and provide you with all the information you need. Here are the 5 routes which are available when traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest by train:
Option 1 – Via Vienna
Leave Amsterdam at 19:30 in a night train- arrive in Vienna at 09:19 – leave Vienna at 10:42 – arrive in Budapest 13:19. Travel time: 17 hours and 49 minutes. Lowest price: 69,80 euros, includes a bed.
Option 2 – straight to Budapest
Leave Amsterdam at 06:38 – Arrive in Budapest at 21:19. Travel time: 14 hours and 41 minutes. Lowest price: 56,90 euros.
Option 3 – via Berlin
Leave Amsterdam at 11.00 – arrive in Berlin at 17:22 – leave Berlin at 18:43 – arrive in Budapest at 08:20. Travel time: 21 hours and 20 minutes. Lowest price: 86,90 euros.
Option 4 – via Munich
Leave Amsterdam at 12:38 – arrive in Munich at 20:07 – leave Munich at 23:20 by night train – arrive in Budapest 09:19. Travel time: 20 hours and 41 minutes. Lowest price: 87,80 euros, includes a bed.
What we did
This year I traveled via option 3, we first went to Berlin and then by night train to Budapest. This is not my preferred option, actually. If I could choose again now, I would choose option 1. Why? It’s the fastest option which includes a night. Option 2 is the fastest, but you lose an entire day due to the traveling. With option 1 you leave in the late-afternoon and arrive in the morning. During the night you sleep in the train, so overall the trip feels very short.
But then why did we choose option 3? Well, I booked this trip 2019 already. In 2019 option 1 was not available yet, the night train from Amsterdam to Vienna is new. But when COVID-19 reached the Netherlands in 2020, our trip was cancelled. I booked via Oebb, the Austrian railway. They offered us our money back or a voucher. I chose the voucher, which we then would use in 2022. However, in between 2019 when I booked and 2022 when we actually traveled, option 1 became available. But because I booked via the Austrian railway, we had to take the same original route I booked in 2019, option 3. The difference is not that big and I enjoyed the trip still. But next time I will pick option 1.
The travel itself
I live in Amsterdam, but my parents live in Enschede, which is very close to the German border. And so, I did not actually start this trip in Amsterdam. A few days before the trip I already traveled to my parents in Enschede. So that’s where I started the trip. We stepped on the train to Berlin in Hengelo, which is the last stop in the Netherlands before entering Germany, only 6 minutes from Enschede. However, our trip still took 22 hours because I booked a longer transit time in Berlin. I just like to be sure, in case we had a delay. We left in Hengelo at 11:00 and arrived in Budapest at 8:20.
Hengelo – Berlin
The train from Amsterdam to Berlin is quite luxurious. It took us 4 hours and 22 minutes to travel from Hengelo to Berlin, we left at 10:59 in Hengelo and arrived at 15:22 in Berlin. We reserved a spot in the train, which was recommended to us, because it’s busy train during summer. The reservation is 4 euros per person. It was worth it, because otherwise we’d had to stand for over 4 hours.
Berlin – Budapest
Arriving at 15:22 in Berlin, we had two hours to transit. That was very welcome, we got some food, went to the bathroom and had the time to find out where to go and all that. At 18:43 we left to Budapest with the night train. I thought the trip was fine, there’s a bathroom and a sink to brush your teeth in the train too. At first the cabin is arranged with 6 seats, which are later converted to beds. My friend and I slept in a 6-bed sleeper, so 4 other people were in the same cabin. I’d say that’s a bit much and would maybe not do that again.
A 4-bed sleeper is 10 euros more expensive, but I’d say that’s worth it (read more below). There’s also free breakfast included in this night train (which is coffee, tea or juice and non-vegan biscuits which I gave to my friend). I slept quite good, but the beds in this night train were a bit smaller in width than the bed I had to Albufeira in 2019. We arrived in Budapest at 8:20, which means you have an entire day of your holiday left, which I find great!
The return was of course the same route, but a different time-table. On the outward journey we left at 11:00, traveled all day and night and then arrived in the morning. On the return we left in the evening at 19:40 and arrived in Berlin at 09:51 the next morning. This time we had a 4-bed sleeper, which is much better. There’s just more room for everyone. Once in Berlin we then continued our journey to Hengelo at 12:34 in Berlin, arriving 16:56 in Hengelo.
The total costs for the outward journey and return are 192 euros per person, so about 96 euro for a single journey. I can afford that. You can make the trip cheaper by not having a bed, then it saves 50 euros in our case, so you can do it for 142 euro per person, which is 71 euros for a single trip. If you also cut the reservation in the first train then it’s 67 euros for a single trip. However! I would not recommend that at all! A bed is amazing during the night. The money is not worth it for me, I hate sleeping in a chair. And good to know: in night trains you can always book a women-only cabin.
I would recommend traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest by train to anyone! It is such an experience. You can see the landscape change and really enjoy the journey. There’s time to read, chill, watch a series or movie and relax. And not to forget: it’s sustainable! And Sziget? It was a blast!
What do you think about traveling from Amsterdam to Budapest by train?