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Our Summer Train Trip Around Hungary

Explore Hungary easily using just one rail-pass. From the capital Budapest to the smaller cities of Debrecen, Szeged, Eger and more, train travel is one of the quickest, and by far the most comfortable way to travel Europe. 

Why visit Hungary?

Ever since we lived in Budapest for a month last year, we've fallen in love with Hungary. The architecture, the people, the food.. we just love it. But as any Brit whose been outside of London will tell you: a country is not defined by its capital. We knew we had to explore more of Hungary, and now that we have, we think you should too - it's an absolutely beautiful country with a rich culture and a vibrant, long history. 

It's also a great country to explore by train, and here's how:

Get an Interrail / Eurail pass

Getting a rail pass will make your European train journeys comfortable and hassle-free. No more queuing for tickets or buying them last minute online. With an Interrail or Eurail pass you can get on almost any train in Europe.

(An Interrail pass is for Europeans and an Eurail is for non-Europeans. They work pretty much the same way, but as there are different visa rules etc for non-Europeans you get a different pass. We're both European so we had an Interrail pass.) 

These are the countries that are included in your Interrail pass - either by themselves as a one country pass or altogether in the global pass:



There are loads of different passes to choose from, you can choose to travel on every single day of a month or every other day or just a few days. Basically there's an option for all different types of adventures.  

We had one month continuous, first class global passes which meant that we could travel to any of those above countries, on every day of the month, for one month. 

Is an Interrail / Eurail pass worth it?
Short answer: absolutely, 100%. The freedom to be able to get on almost any train cannot be beaten. After our month was over we looked at how much the trains would have cost individually and compared it to how much the pass was. Big savings. 

Rail travel really is the best way to explore Europe, it's so much more comfortable than flying or taking the bus. 

I would go so far as to say train travel is the only mode of public transport that hasn't succumbed to the cheap, corner-cutting hellhole that is European budget transportation: anyone whose flown with a budget airline in Europe will know what I'm talking about - the restrictions on your baggage, your leg room, your overall comfort... 

Even European buses aren't much fun anymore - yes you are allowed more baggage than on an airline and the check-in is not a nightmare, but you still don't have the freedom to walk around like you do on a train, and of course the train is a lot faster. Plus we've been spoilt by the wonder that is Thai trains (actually comfy and you get blankets and meals)!

Back to Interrail, if you agree with me that train travel is the best way to explore Europe, the Interrail (or Eurail) pass is for you. 

Reservations explained: whilst you can get on almost any train in Europe, some fast trains or overnight trains do still need to be pre-booked: this makes sense, it would be a disaster if a popular train was fully booked, and then suddenly a bunch of interrailers got on unannounced - that's a health and safety problem right there. 

Whilst travelling around Hungary there were a few routes that needed to be pre-booked OR we could opt for a longer, no-need-to-pre-book route, which we did: we weren't in a rush and we jumped at the chance to see more of Hungary. (So note on some pre-booked routes, there is often a longer route that doesn't need booking).

But when we travelled from Budapest to Vienna, not booking was not an option. It turned out making a reservation was very easy, we just went to the train station (at least 24 hours in advance) and booked it. 

Reservation prices vary, Budapest to Vienna was very cheap (just a couple of Euros). The most expensive reservation was from Stockholm to Oslo (still only about 10 Euros), which makes sense as that train is a lot more expensive to take.  

All in all, the Interrail / Eurail pass is indeed worth it, but choose your pass carefully. In the end we didn't have the energy to travel every single day, so the 22 day pass or even 15 day pass might have been more suitable for us. If you're not old ladies like us, go for the 30 day pass! 

Travel Around Hungary by train - example route:



Budapest - Debrecen - Szeged - Pécs - Balaton - Györ - Budapest 

This is a circular route which will take you to most of the cities in Hungary, you can compliment it nicely with a trip over the border to Romania and/or Serbia when you get to the south side of Hungary, or a trip over the border to Austria and/or Slovakia when you're on the north side.

Unfortunately this time we didn't make it to Pécs or Györ, but we did manage a trip to Eger (and then onwards to Germany and Scandinavia) these are the stops we made on our Hungarian Interrail trip, the top things to do at each stop, where to stay and how long to stay for:

BUDAPEST


Budapest is a European gem: architecture, history, culture, good night-life, beautiful parks Budapest has it all and more.

Things to do in Budapest: relax in at least one of the thermal baths, make new friends at a ruin bar, taste Hungarian wine at a wine tasting and so much more! I also recommend a bike tour of the city - Pest is nice and flat! 

I could go on and on about all the awesome things to do in Budapest, and I have in The BEST of Budapest - Budapest Travel Guide


Where to stay in Budapest: We stayed at the Corinthia a luxury, five-star joint with first class service and we loved it. (Check out our full review here).


For short term stays in Budapest we love to stay in fancy hotels like the Corinthia, and for longer stays we rent a place on airbnb (first timers can get their airbnb voucher here). 

If you're staying in Budapest on a budget, check out Agoda for the cheapest rates. 

EGER 


Less than three hours from Budapest is Eger, a small city with beautiful buildings and a great vegan restaurant. 


Things to do in Eger: a walk around Eger to see sights like Egri Bazilika, Kethuda Moschee and Dobó István Tér are musts, but our absolute favourite spot was Eger Castle and the view from up there. Special thanks to our Magyar Weasels for showing us round!


Where to stay in Eger: We stayed at Hotel Eger and Park, which is no Corinthia - the internet and breakfast weren't great. But the location is excellent (very central), the bed was comfy and our bathroom had a sauna!  

You can also find lots of other cheap Eger hotels on Agoda. 



DEBRECEN


Debrecen is Hungary's second biggest city with the largest university in Hungary. The first thing you may notice about Debrecen is it actually has skyscrapers! (They don't have these in central Budapest). 

Things to do in Debrecen: in Kossuth Tér you'll find the Great Church and free wifi! But our favourite part of Debrecen was around the Great Forest Park - the university is there (it's a stunning building) as well as Nagyerdei Víztorony - a cool place to hang out and have drinks with new friends. 

Where to stay in Debrecen: We couchsurfed in Debrecen and absolutely loved it! Our hosts were so lovely and kind - they cooked us food, drank pálinka with us and taught us Hungarian. 

I really recommend that you stay with real Hungarians at least once on your trip - seeing a real Hungarian home and meeting real locals is invaluable. (I mean, that's true for pretty much any country, but especially Hungary as Hungarians are the coolest)! 

SZEGED

Szeged is the third largest city in Hungary and is known as the Sun City because it's always sunny in Szeged!

Things to do in Szeged: we recommend just one tour: SzegAdventure. This is one of the most fun tours we've ever been on! Plus you get to see all the main sights of Szeged. Our absolute favourite sight was Szeged Cathedral - look how pretty it is!

Where to stay in Szeged: We stayed at Tiszavirag Szeged and absolutely loved it, it's a beautiful boutique hotel with everything you could possibly need - and more! Check out our full review here.

BALATON

Lake Balaton is a gigantic lake with beaches, mountains and cute little towns. It's only an hour and a half's train ride from Budapest - you can't miss it!

Things to do in BalatonBalaton Sound is an extremely popular outdoor music festival held on the banks of Balaton lake. Go to it and you can have it all: the beautiful lake and kick-ass music. 

Where to stay in Balaton: We visited Balaton to go to Balaton Sound and stayed on site - Balaton Sound offer loads of different accommodations from hotels down to tents, they truly have something for everyone. 

Balaton is definitely so much more than just Balaton Sound, but Balaton Sound is awesome so you might as well go to that too. We'll also be taking a trip back to Balaton at some point to enjoy the non festival side of it. Stay tuned!

The Countryside
Travelling around Hungary by train gave us the opportunity to see the countryside that we just wouldn't have seen from a plane. Hungary is a beautiful country - very flat and with fields and fields of gorgeous sunflowers :) 

Videos

Here is a playlist of all our Interrail adventures, including the ones we had after Hungary in Scandinavia! 


Conclusion


Travelling Hungary by train was one of the best things we did this year, it was awesome to get to see more of the country, but has shown us how much more we still need to see!

Travelling by Interrail was a fun adventure that we really recommend. The freedom to get on almost any train anywhere cannot be beaten, it was so nice not to fly or take buses! We are officially hooked to train travel.

Special thanks to all the Magyar Weasels we met along the way, you really made our trip special. If you haven't already joined our exclusive Magyar Weasels Facebook Group hop on over now and say hi!

What do you think? Will you be taking an Interrail trip next summer? Let us know in the comments below! 

Disclaimer: Travelling Weasels were invited as guests of Interrail, but as always all opinions are our own, we would never recommend something we haven't personally tried out because that would be weird. 

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We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.

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