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Fast Train Prague to Budapest (or reverse)?

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Sep 21st, 2013, 09:24 AM
  #1
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Fast Train Prague to Budapest (or reverse)?

Using AA award miles to fly open jaw to Krakow (3 days) then overnight train to either Budapest or Prague (3 days). Then we would like to take the train to the other city (3 days) bypassing Vienna. And eventually overnight or one day in Berlin before departing back to the states. Time won't permit time in Vienna. (Apologies to our Viennaphiles!)

QUESTIONS:
Is there an express train between PRG-BUD? If not, what kind of timing are we looking at? Flying seems cost prohibitive.

Should we give Berlin one day just to get a quick gimpse or just arrive at night, stay at the airport for our next day departure?
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Sep 21st, 2013, 09:36 AM
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the 'express train' between Prague and Budapest and v.v. takes 6 hours - leaving every two hours - there is also an overnight train but it arrives in Prague at 4 am (sometimes passengers are allowed to stay sleeping on trains until later hours but not sure about this one)- check schedules at www.bahn.de/en like I did - this is the German Railways official site and has schedules for trains in all of Europe - a good way to access the site's English schedule page is to go to the home page of www.budgeteuropetravel.com and click on the link 'best-all European trin schedule' or some such wording and it takes you right to the English-language schedule page - I reference this home page link because it also gives you several useful tips on using bahn.de that may not be apparent at first encounter.

Other sites giving great info on European trains are www.seat61.com and www.ricksteves.com. On www.bahn.de you can buy discounted Prague to Berlin tickets but those are non-changeable non-refundable so be sure of your time and dates and as they are sold in limited numbers must be bought weeks early to guarantee the low fare.
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Sep 21st, 2013, 09:48 AM
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My bahn/de schedule shows 6 hrs 56 mins.

Stu Dudley
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Sep 21st, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Oops - my old eyes read 6:56 as 6:06 - thanks for the correcto - an even longer train trip through IMO ho-hum scenery.
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Sep 21st, 2013, 10:29 AM
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Back to the question "Is there an express train between PRG-BUD?"

The night train leaves Prague (from the "Praha hl.n." station) at midnight (00:01) and arrives in Budapest at 08:35

Even though you don't have to switch trains en route, that's not as quick (not "express") as others that run during daylight hours and all take 6:56 hrs:

05:39 - 12:35
07:39 - 14:35
11:39 - 18:35
13:39 - 20:35

Go to the Czech train site since these trains leave from Praha, it's at www.cd.cz/eshop/
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Sep 21st, 2013, 01:40 PM
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"express trains" take on different meanings in various countries - in France that would be a milk train with speeds of true fast trains there and in Germany, Spain and Italy near 200 m p h. Eastern Europe still has no true high-speed railway but used old tracks on which true high-speed trains simply cannot safely run at high speeds.

Seven hours on a train is no fun for most folks, including me a rail junkie/nut. If you do do that IME pay extra for first-class.
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Sep 21st, 2013, 02:05 PM
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Have you looked at the prices between Prague and Budapest on Czech Airlines? You can check for possible budget flights at www.skyscanner.com

As you've already been told, trains take almost seven hours between the two cities.

As to Berlin IME you would need at least one full day to see some of the major sites.
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Sep 21st, 2013, 06:57 PM
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If you want to break up the train ride, you could overnight in Bratislava. It makes a nice visit, quaint old town with some nice places to eat.
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 09:50 AM
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You can book train tickets from Prague to Budapest from just €19 at www.cd.cz/eshop.

6 hours by train? Yes, city centre to city centre with zero check-in, 6 relaxing hours of a good book, scenery and dinner in the diner, instead of an hour in a taxi or local bus or train to the airport, 2 hours of airport security hassle, an hour squeezed into a plane then more airport checks and another taxi or bus into the city. Frankly, flying won't save a huge amount of time anyway.
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 09:53 AM
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I should add, the reverse journey should be booked at the Hungarian railways site, www.mav-start.hu with ticket collection from the machines at Budapest Keleti.

Only use the Czech site for departures from Prague.
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 09:55 AM
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>>6 hours by train? Yes<<

Everything I've researched says it is 7 hrs - not 6. But still, I would opt for one of the early trains over flying.

Stu Dudley
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Well flying is not an option with airfares at 528USD pp one way on Czech Air in July. Why is it so high? Is it too soon for the discounted fares to appear? Dukey1, I tried skyscanner.com and the other options were insanely long travel times.

So it seems the "7 hr" train is the best option. We originally intended to break it up with a couple of days in Vienna, but since planning, have discovered we would have an easier departure out of Berlin and thought it wiser to bypass Vienna and take the "rush" out of it.

Centraleurope...I appreciate your idea about breaking it up with a stop (and day) in Bratislava, but fear we'll have the same issue as we had with Vienna...too many cities in 14-15 days.

PalenQ, will certainly take your advice with first class. I assume they have sleeper compartments!
Man_in_seat_61, thanks for the Hungarian rail site info.

For now, our itinerary is fly into Krakow (3 full days), overnight train to either Prague (3 days), overnight train to Budapest (4 days), fly to Berlin (2 days), return to US. We fly open jaw so we could switch the order.

Thanks ALL for your suggestions and experience. For some reason this has been a difficult trip to plan.
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Sep 22nd, 2013, 02:33 PM
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PalenQ, will certainly take your advice with first class. I assume they have sleeper compartments!>

Only on the overnight train not the day train but first-class seats are significantly larger than 2nd class and more comfy - typically IME several empty seats to spread out - 2nd class usually much more full.
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Sep 26th, 2013, 09:16 PM
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Would it be viable to add a stopover in Cesky Krumlov? Bus from Prague to CK seems fastest route. Then how would we catch the train to Budapest?
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Sep 27th, 2013, 12:10 AM
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I personally would not stop at Cesky Krumlov.... it is poorly connected by public transport.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 02:25 AM
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Again, if I wanted to break up the trip, I would stop in Bratislava. It is easy to get from the train station to Old Town, has enough to do - but not too much. And is (IMO) more interesting than Cesky Krumlov.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 07:18 AM
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Bus from Prague to CK seems fastest route. Then how would we catch the train to Budapest?>

Well that is a major detour off the direct route to Budapest and you could take a bus and or train to Linz, Austria and take trains via Vienna to Budapest but you are looking at a very very long day of travel if possible.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Google discount central european airlines and you may find something far better than $530.

Seat 61 is usually right, but this is rubbish:
<<6 relaxing hours of a good book, scenery and dinner in the diner, instead of an hour in a taxi or local bus or train to the airport, 2 hours of airport security hassle, an hour squeezed into a plane then more airport checks and another taxi or bus into the city.>>

It's a 7-hour ride, assuming the train is on time. From Prague or Budapest to/from the respective airports isn't even close to an hour each - maybe a 30 minute ride; neither is that far from the city center. And you don't have to futz around for 2 hours because it's an intra-Europe flight.

And I'd take food on board that train, not rely on the dining car.
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Sep 27th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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Big... I am with you - this train is not glamorous. But I never fly this route. It is fine and it is cheap - the difference in money for me) does not warrant a plane ticket. Let's face it - plane travel is not magical these days.

I would never eat in the dining car. It is 7 hours - I can make do with a snack and a bottle of water. The train is not glamorous, but it is not terrible either (and I never buy first class - perhaps that is just me).
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Sep 29th, 2013, 11:52 PM
  #20
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Ok, with CK not really viable we will probably add a 2 day stop in Vienna...We will arrive in Krakow (4 days), overnight train to Prague (3 days/nights), train to Vienna (2 days/nights), train to final city Budapest (4 days/nights), fly home.

We would like to book 1st class sleeper for two on the overnight train from Krakow to Prague. Can we book in advance? Also, may we pre book Prague-Vienna, Vienna-Budapest?

Thanks for your advice!
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