I can’t tell you how many train tickets I’ve booked online and in-person since 2016 and being full-time nomads. Sometimes I’ve gotten frustrated, lost, had problems translating what we desired and more. Most of the time though, I’ve kept my cool, smiled and been patient and have gotten what we needed and where we wanted to go quite easily.
The Budapest Nyugati Railway Station is not the only train station in Budapest. You can’t just tell your taxi driver to take you to the Train station, instead say “Budapest Nyugati” and they will get you here. It’s on the Pest side of Budapest. Buda is across the Danube.
Now, before you just go to the Railway station you first need to research the route you are wanting to go online. I usually just use Google Maps and state something like Budapest to Bratislava then click DIRECTIONS and choose by Train.
The only options I really had available were to leave from Nyugati Station. There is another big station, Budapest Keleti is about 20 minutes outside of the city.
PURCHASING OUR TRAIN TICKETS IN-PERSON
This can be confusing.
We like to purchase tickets directly at the train station unless we are in the UK. It’s super easy there to use phone apps.
Anyway, if we know the dates and times we want to leave, upon arriving at a destination, I like to purchase tickets before we leave to check into lodgings.
Most of the time we either forget or decide to come back another day which is what we did in Budapest.
WHERE TO GO
Once you walk into the Train Station (walk through the front of the building as seen in the main photo above. There is also a side entrance where the Mall is) stay to the Right.
Look up on the walls as you walk and follow the LUGGAGE signs. When you get this the Door below, Go in. This is where you purchase Domestic as well as International Train Tickets.
Next, you will go into and follow the walkway down the corridor and to the left.
There were doing construction while we were there. This first Room is for Domestic Tickets only. If you want to travel within Budapest then look no further. Go to a Ticket booth. Some agents speak English while others don’t.
If you are looking for International travel then look towards the door at the opposite end of this room. I don’t recall seeing any signs for it until I got right up to it.
Once you enter this door you will be in a much smaller room with only a few ticket counters. Again, not all agents speak much English.
HOW TO GET THE EXACT TICKETS YOU WANT
Not that you’ve found the Ticket counters, this is where you being patient and prepared come into play.
Before you go to the station make sure you have a Screenshot of the EXACT Time and Station you want to go to. It’s not enough to say, “I want to go to Prague tomorrow!” as there are a couple of stations there and you want to make sure the one you are going to is closest to your accommodations.
You can even hold your phone up to the counter and have these areas circled if you want. I point to the times I want to leave and the exact station I want to go to including the time it’s scheduled to arrive.
Next, I say FIRST CLASS. Then say 2 (and hold up fingers for 2 Adults) and one child. They will ask how old the child is and I again hold up 2 fingers and say that he’s 2 and even say ‘baby’.
I repeat the above several times, really nicely. And once more as they are printing up the tickets because many times they book 2nd class instead of 1st because they didn’t understand what I wanted.
This is always MY/Your fault if you don’t speak Hungarian. Don’t get frustrated with them or yourself for not having the process be smooth. Just breathe, smile and keep going. Anytime there is a language barrier they, as well as you, can become frustrated easily.
Now, you may not want first-class but why not? It really isn’t that much more. Usually only a couple dollars per ticket.
There is nothing wrong with 2nd class though, we’ve traveled this way more than first class. We just never had realized though how cheap 1st class was so we never booked it. Sort of like first-class flights, I don’t even consider it because the cost was ridiculous and wasteful. Trains are not the same, however.
ISSUING YOUR TICKETS
At this train station, and for this particular route to Bratislava, they issued us tickets good for the next 24 hours on that route. No set assigned seats other than being in 1st class. Our toddler’s ticket was at a 2nd class price.
This means that we can take that train at any of the times it leaves that station on the day we are scheduled to leave. So there really was no need to be specific with your time after all but it’s always better to be prepared.
AT THE STATION ON DAY OF DEPARTURE
Here are some tips to help you on your departure day.
- Arrive 15 minutes early so you can possibly board early (if your train is already there) and so you can find, and walk, to the track you need.
- Ask someone near the train who looks like they work there, where your 1st or 2nd class car is. Show them your tickets and point to the part that says class on it. If they know, they will help you.
- There is a Luggage rack in each car for most trains. There is also overhead storage but sometimes it won’t fit big bags.
- All trains will allow you time to board at this station because it’s a major hub and it has to come to a complete stop and then reverse out and switch tracks to go in the proper direction. You will have time to get all your stuff and your family onto the train so don’t stress out.
- There are toilets and sinks on board but unless you are in first-class you might not have enough toilet paper so always bring Tissue with you and perhaps some hand sanitizer if you don’t want to use the public small bar of soap shared.
- Most trains have food cars but some only have snacks. you can also sit in the care and order a meal on some trips. Bring your own snacks though and also a plastic bag to throw everything in. There are garbage bins but not all seats or areas have them.
- Be thoughtful of other passengers and don’t play music or get crazy loud. Most people are respectful of other passengers and as foreigners, it’s our responsibility to fit in with how they do things.
- ALWAYS HAVE YOUR TICKETS HANDY and make sure that if you have assigned seats, you are in them. The conductors will come by to check tickets at least once, and sometimes quite a few times, depending on where your destination is. And, they won’t always do it right away. They will speak to you in Hungarian first so say politely, ENGLISH, and they will ask you for your ticket. But, if they stop in front of you it’s because they want your tickets, so you just hand em’ over.
- Free Water. Most trains offer free water bottles to 1st class passengers and sometimes 2nd class. We have had one train where we got nothing for free but did have a great cabin all to ourselves
- Free snacks and meals. I mean, they aren’t free because you paid for a 1st class ticket. They are part of being in first class. Again, no idea what trains give just water while others give a full meal. We enjoy the surprise though.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help. Good luck and safe train travels.