When planning any kind of vacation to Europe, you have so many different options available to you. Will you explore the big capital cities like Paris, London, and Rome? Will you spend time on the sunny, soft beaches of Greece and Croatia? Will you explore the mountains of Switzerland, the lakes of Scandinavia, or the forests of Germany? There are so many different options to choose from and so many amazing things to do.
This is partly why a lot of people who choose to go to Europe decide to do some day trips as part of their vacation. Since the continent has quite strong and speedy rail connections, as well as lots of international bus services and good roads connecting major cities and regions, it’s quite easy to get around, and even long distance trips can be done quite quickly and simply all over Europe.
This means that no matter where you choose to go, you’re never too far away from other cities, towns, and rural regions. The Austrian capital of Vienna is a great example. Sitting on the banks of the Danube River, Vienna is known for major landmarks like Schonbrunn Palace and St Stephen's Cathedral, as well as countless other beautiful buildings. It's also perfectly situated for a whole host of different day trips.
Vienna is very close to the international borders with Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, so it's possible to do day trips to many different international cities like Brno, Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest from this location. Of the many options available, Budapest is one of the best. The Hungarian capital city, divided in half by the Danube, has a lot of interesting sites, churches, squares, museums, and more. Here’s how to plan a day trip from Vienna to Budapest.
Getting to Budapest from Vienna
Budapest is about 150 miles away from Vienna, so it's quite a long distance, but not too far for the purposes of a day trip. If you're planning this day trip, you'll have a few different options available in terms of how you choose to travel. You can either rent a car and make the trip yourself, hop on board a bus service, or take a train.
Getting to Budapest from Vienna by Car
Renting a car for your day trip to Budapest from Vienna offers a lot of advantages. First of all, it gives you the flexibility to choose when you set off in the morning and what time you head back, so you don’t need to worry about sticking to a fixed timetable like you would on a bus or train. You also get to park where you want and make stops along the way.
It's quite an easy drive to Budapest from Vienna too, following the A4 out of Austria and then the E60 and M1 through to Budapest. You'll have to pay some tolls along the way, but you can be in Budapest within about two and a half hours. Drivers will need to be calm and careful when navigating the inner city streets of Vienna and Budapest due to high levels of traffic.
Getting to Budapest from Vienna by Bus
If you'd like to enjoy the road route from Vienna to Budapest but don't actually want to do any driving, catching a bus might be a smart idea. The bus is often the cheapest way to get around Europe, so it's ideal for affordable day trips and budget travel. You can book your tickets with a company like Flixbus to get the best prices.
When traveling to Budapest from Vienna by bus, you can head out of either Vienna Erdberg or Vienna Central Station. Several buses will leave each day, starting early in the morning at around 5-6am and continuing on into the evening. The bus will take around three hours on average, so it’s the slowest form of transport, but also the cheapest.
Getting to Budapest from Vienna by Train
When it comes to day trips in Europe, the train is usually the most reliable and the fastest way to get around. You can take a train direct from Vienna Central Station into the heart of Budapest, with the journey taking around two and a half hours in total.
This means that the train is faster than the bus, but about the same as taking a car and simply driving. There also aren’t too many trains between Vienna and Budapest each day, so you’ll need to check the times and plan accordingly if you choose to travel on the rails.
Important Information and Things to Do in Budapest
- Getting Around Budapest - In general, if you're only going to be spending a day in Budapest, you can probably just stay in the historic city center and walk around to see most of the main sights and famous buildings. There are several pedestrian-only areas dotted around the city and walking is usually the best mode of transport to get around. If you do need to rely on public transport, Budapest has an excellent network of cable cars connecting the various districts and neighborhoods. It also has a metro/subway system.
- Best Time to Visit Budapest - Budapest is enjoyable in all weather conditions and at any time of year, but if you want to get the best weather, you should visit anytime in the period from late spring through to early fall. In general, the summer months offer the best weather but the biggest tourist crowds, so the best time to visit is in the shoulder months of May or September. There are plenty of fun events to enjoy in Budapest, so if you'd like to visit for a special occasion you could check out the Winterfest Beer Festival in January, the Summer Festival in June, July, and August, the Danube Carnival in June, or the Wine Festival in September.
- Things to Do in Budapest - Budapest is a big and historic capital city with a lot to see and do. Some of the top landmarks in the city include the Budapest History Museum, the 13th century Matthias Church, the fortress of Fisherman's Bastion, the awe-inspiring Parliament Building, St Stephen's Basilica, Buda Castle, and Margaret Island. While visiting Budapest, be sure to try some local Hungarian food and drinks and do a little souvenir shopping at the city’s many independent stores and boutiques.