Train tickets in Budapest, Prague?

Apr 15th, 2006, 11:38 PM
  #1  
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Train tickets in Budapest, Prague?

We'll be traveling from Budapest to Prague and from Prague to Budapest after a few days in each city. Since it is not economical to purchase Eurail passes for jut these two trips, will we be able to purchase advance train tickets in each of these cities relatively near our hotels (Pest and Old Town, respectively), or must we travel to the rail stations themselves (e.g., quite a common requirement in Italy)?
mohun is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 12:35 AM
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You need not travel to the stations, but can go to a travel agent who speaks English and takes credit cards, for a fee of five percent or less. Moreover, you can book both journeys in one office. I suggest Wagons Lits Carson, on Dorotteer Ut, round the corner from Gerbeaud’s splendid coffee house and cake shop. You should write down your times and dates, decide whether you want a sleeper, couchette (crowded) or seat, write that down, take something to read, and go to the travel agents. If you set Google to night trains Haines and to Man at Seat 61 you will find pages of advice on making the best journey. At railway stations you cannot sit, speak English, or use credit cards.

Ben Haines, London
[email protected]
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Apr 16th, 2006, 12:21 PM
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Here is a correction to my original post (although it may not greatly affect answers to the question I posed): Our train travel is from Budapest to Prague and, a week later, from Prague to Vienna, so a return ticket in Budapest/Prague/Budapest is not relevant, but purchasing tickets in BVudapest and Prague separately is. I've already received a good answer for Budapest; therefore, I'd appreciate any hints about booking the trip from Prague to Vienna.

Thanks.
mohun is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 12:52 PM
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In Prague the travel agents Cedok on Na Prikope sell tickets at very little more than station prices. They take credit cards and speak English. In fact, if you know your travel date you can make the same booking from Wagons Lits Carlson in Budapest: the software is linked.

Ben Haines, London
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Apr 16th, 2006, 12:58 PM
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I don't think the trains from Prague to Vienna are reserved anyway, and the ones from Budapest all the way to Prague may not be, either (2nd class, anyway). So the train ticket you buy isn't good on a particular train. Point is, if you arrive at the station(s) early enough, you can simply buy your tickets at the stations the day of travel. That might scare you but I had no trouble with it. I tried writing down the name of the station I was traveling too, the local spelling for it, and the time in 24 hour time (so 16:00 not 4PM). But I found that in Prague at least, the ticket person spoke English anyway. I did go ahead of time to buy tickets the day before (also so I knew where the station was), but if I were doing it again, I'd just buy tickets the same day and get there early.

Andrew
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Apr 21st, 2006, 10:46 AM
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I used the Carlson Wagonlit web site to contact the firm in Budapest to check on opening days and hours for rail ticket purchases and the several other services Carlson might offer. The web site seemed to be focused on business travel. After three unanswered emails to Carlson’s Budapest contact email addresses, I called telephoned the Carlson corporate number in the US and the customer service representative with whom I spoke told me that Carlson only deals with business travel needs (although the word “leisure” is mentioned in the contact section of the web site). It appears that I may have to purchase tickets in person at the Budapest and Prague rail stations, unless I can contact a more responsive travel agent.
mohun is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 10:59 AM
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Well when you arrive in Prague at the train station take a few minutes to buy your ticket to Vienna - or perhaps you could buy all the tickets in Budapest.
PalQ is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 11:04 AM
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FYI
Beware that there are two major stations in Prague, dont get confused like i did.
Lostmymind is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 04:06 PM
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I think, mohun, that you'll be surprised how easy it is to buy the tickets at the station.

To the person who reminded you about the different stations in Prague, that's good advice. Same with Budapest. Long story short: there are several train stations called "Budapest" and on my way into Budapest last fall, from Vienna, I had neglected to write down the station name I needed to get off. Because my train was headed to Belgrade after Budapest (so I guessed not a lot of people would get off in Budapest), and I hadn't written down the actual station name, I hopped off at a suburban station in Budapest by accident (far from the center!) and was basically stuck in the middle of nowhere. It all happened so quickly! Fortunately I was able to hop on another train in about 20 minutes and all was well - but if you don't know the language, you should DEFINITELY have the exact station names written down!!! Even experienced solo travelers like myself can get overconfident and make dump mistakes.

Andrew
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Apr 21st, 2006, 06:24 PM
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Now I'm a bit concerned.

We'll be going from Prague to Budapest on the 16:40 train arriving in Budapest at 23:22.

I checked on the German web site and it doesn't indicate 1st or 2nd class (also checked on the Czech web site). However, it does say "EuroCity
Please reserve".

Can I assume "please reserve" means your seats are reserved for a specific train?

I really don't like the idea of getting on a train that just arrived from another city and and go from car to car with our luggage looking for setas.
Myer is online now  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 03:24 AM
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Topped for additional comments.
Thanks.
Myer is online now  
Apr 24th, 2006, 12:29 AM
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Carlson Wagon Lit are of course right that they seek business travellers, not us tourists, and in London, fort example, they cannot help us. But at least two years ago when I and those I advised actually turned up at their door in Budapest they gladly sold us our bookings. They have a more comfortable place to buy these, as they have chairs, while station ticket offices do not. If anybody is turned away at their door in Budapest please would you tell me, and I shall alter my advice.

In Budapest Keleti station it is a little more pleasant to book at an agency whose name starts with a W and that stands just east of the four or eight longest platforms, rather than at the usual international bookings window.

Ben Haines
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Apr 24th, 2006, 12:15 PM
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Ben Haines and others:

It appears that one may purchase tickets and reserve seats (to the extent that the reserve option is available or necessary for any particular train [the reserve price is included in the ticket price]) on line at raileurope. There might be a bit of a premium in the price but there may be some comfort in getting the tickets arranged ahead of time. Has anybody had, or heard of, any difficulties with this sort of purchase through raileurope?

On a more specific question, at least on the raileurope web page there appear to be two choices of Vienna rail station: Lequip and Neustadt. One stop requires a change of trains and an additional 30-minute ride to the other station. Are both these stations in Vienna roughly equidistant from the city center so that the one-stop option would be easily the more attractive? (our hotel will be the Austria at Fleischmarkt 20, about 5 minutes walk from St. Stephens).
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Apr 24th, 2006, 12:55 PM
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Those stations are minor stations in Vienna - the main stations are Wein-Sud and Wein-Westbahnhof - mainline Prague-Wein (Vienna) trains will arrive at the Sudbahnhof. the RailEurope site at times gives confusing info - for example in Florence to Pisa it lists trains only starting at Florence's Rifredi station even though these trains also serve the main intown Florence station. Use the German Rail web site (www.bahn.de) for better schedules in all of Europe - an easy way to reach the English language scehdule page of the German site is to visit: www.budgeteuropetravel.com and on their home page, near the bottom, click on "All European Rail Schedules" and you instantly see the German site's English schedule page where you just put in Prague and Vienna and the date and you'll get all the trains. If you want tickets and reservations in your hand then yes you may want to pay a bit more here and go thru RailEurope - in this case i'd advise going thru Budget Europe, whose home page i cited above, as a Raileurope agent they don't charge some of RE's handling fees and are experts in my long experience of dealing with them.
Please reserve means reservations are not mandatory but are available - it's confusing whether this means you should reserve as an option or just whether reservations are possible.
PalQ is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 09:14 PM
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I hear different stories as to the mark-up that Raileurope take: they are said to have taken thirty percent. So it is good to ask others for a quotation at the same time as Raileurope. Agents who work well are these

Euraide of Florida, E-mail [email protected], phone
at the Florida office 941/480-1555, site http://www.euraide.com

Trains Europe of Cambridgeshire E-mail [email protected], phone 00 44 900 195 0101, site http://www.trainseurope.co.uk/ -

Ffestiniog Travel of Wales, E-mail [email protected], phone
00 44 176 651 2400, site http://www.festtravel.co.uk,

Inside France (Canterbury). E-mail [email protected], phone
00 44 122 745 0088, site www.rail-canterbury.co.uk/.

German Rail UK in Surbiton. E-mail: [email protected], phone
00 44 870 243 5363, site http://www.deutsche-bahn.co.uk,

Railwise Ltd in London. E-mail: [email protected], phone
00 44 207 242 1490, site http://railwise.com

Ben Haines, London
[email protected]

ben_haines_london is offline  
Apr 25th, 2006, 09:11 AM
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30% mark ups - where does that misinformation come from? RailEurope is often higher than in Europe prices but not nearly 30% routinely as said. In fact sometimes they are cheaper - to wit $90 round trips on Eurostars London-Paris, Swiss Passes, significantly cheaper in US thru RE than at station in Switzerland. I'd like to see an illustration across the board of the mythical 30% mark ups by RailEurope - it just isn't true.
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