How to Travel Hungary by Train: Eger, Debrecen, Balaton And More!

train 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 Hungary and Europe.

Why Travel Around 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:

Travel Around Hungary By Train: Example Route

hungary train

Budapest - Debrecen - Szeged - Pécs - Balaton - Győr - 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 Győr, 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:


trips to 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 how to make the most of your trips to Budapest, and I have in this blog post: 50 things to do in Budapest
  • Where to stay in Budapest: We stayed at the Corinthia a luxury, five-star joint with first class service and we loved it. (If you're interested, our full review is here).


places to visit in hungary

Less than three hours from Budapest is Eger, a normal 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!

  • Debrecen

    visit hungary

    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. 


    travel in hungary

    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: SzegAd venture. 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! 


    what to see in hungary

    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 Balaton: Balaton 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! Note: 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 :)

    Interrail / Eurail Pass

    hungary train travel

    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:

    interrail pass worth it

    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: in our opinion, 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... and 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 buses (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 like us, go for the 30 day pass!

    Wrap Up: How to Travel Hungary (By Train)

    travelling hungary train

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

    P.S.: If you're interested in a way of travelling and getting accommodation cheaply, you might wanna check out house sitting. was kind enough to provide us and our readers with a 10% discount, feel free to click on the link to use it :)

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    We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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