Are you visiting the Austrian capital on your next vacation?
Vienna is known for its delectable cuisine, mind-blowing palaces, and abundant cultural heritage.
While exploring the capital, we recommend a day trip to Budapest, the Queen of the Danube.
Yes, this is 100% doable. You can hop on a day trip from Vienna to Budapest and discover the charm of both capitals. You can easily plan the day tour yourself or visit with a group. Every minute will be worth it.
This thorough guide will share the most practical tips and advice on how to organize one of the best day trips from Vienna, so you can maximize your stay.
Put your digital travel shoes on, and let’s explore!
Note: This article contains affiliate links. In case you purchase something through one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep creating the free content on this website!
How to Get from Vienna to Budapest
You can travel to Budapest from Vienna in a few different ways. Let’s have a look at each:
|Mode of Transport
|From 2 hours 30 minutes (in each direction)
|From 2 hours 37 minutes (in each direction)
|From 2 hours 40 minutes (in each direction)
|From 45 minutes (in each direction)
|Approximately 12 hours (round trip)
|Get Your Guide
Traveling from Vienna to Budapest by Car
Going to Budapest from Vienna by car is easy and will give you a lot of flexibility.
The distance between the two Central-European capitals is approximately 245 km (152 mi). The travel time is around 2:30 hours, depending on the traffic.
When deciding to rent a car, don’t forget to add toll, gas, and parking fees to the rental price and insurance.
To find the best rates, we recommend using Discover Cars.
Visiting Budapest from Vienna by Train
Traveling from Vienna to Budapest by train is a convenient and affordable way.
Here’s what you should know before catching the train to the Hungarian capital:
- The fastest direct train ride is 2:37 hours. The slowest one takes 11 minutes longer.
- The first train from Vienna Central Station (Wien Hauptbahnhof) leaves at 6:40 AM. There’s one train approximately every hour after this.
- The trains from Budapest leave once every hour. The last one to Vienna departs at 8:40 PM, arriving at 11:21 PM.
- The cheapest tickets we’ve found start at €19.20 per leg.
- The get the best rates, you should book your tickets as soon as possible via this website.
Traveling to Budapest from Vienna by Bus
The cheapest and fastest bus route to Budapest from Vienna is with Flixbus.
Here’s all you need to know about this transportation mode:
- The journey takes between 2:30 and 3:00 hours, depending on the time of the day.
- The buses leave from Vienna Airport and arrive either at Budapest Kelenföld Bus Station or at Budapest Népliget Bus Station.
- The first bus leaves Vienna Airport at 7:35 AM, and the last one – at 9:15 PM.
- On the way back from Budapest, you can take a bus at 5:40 PM or at 11:45 PM, arriving in Vienna at 2:35 AM on the next day.
- The price of the tickets varies, with the lowest we’ve seen starting from €15.99 in each direction.
- To secure the best prices, we recommend booking online in advance via this link.
Visiting Budapest from Vienna by Plane
The only airline, which offers direct flights from Vienna to Budapest, is Austrian Airlines.
The flight duration from Vienna is 45 minutes and from Budapest – 50 minutes.
However, the earliest flight lands at 10:40 AM in Budapest, and the latest return flight to Vienna departures at 3:00 PM.
This means that even if there’s no delay and you travel with hand luggage only, you’ll have no more than 2:30 hours to see the Hungarian capital.
In our opinion, this transportation mode is not suitable for a day trip to Budapest from Vienna.
Still, it might be a great option if you’re staying a bit longer in Hungary’s capital. So, check out the current prices here.
Traveling from Vienna to Budapest by Tour
Our recommended mode to explore Budapest on a day trip from Vienna is by joining a tour.
The tour to the Hungarian capital departs from Vienna State Opera.
The journey in a comfortable bus takes approximately 3 hours, including a short break.
In Budapest, you’ll explore the city’s main attractions on a bus tour, followed by a walking tour. Afterward, you’ll have enough time to go shopping, devour Hungarian delicacies, or discover the capital of Hungary at your own pace.
If that sounds good to you, go ahead and book your Budapest tour from Vienna from Get Your Guide.
What to Do on a Full-Day Trip from Vienna to Budapest
Now that the nitty-gritty is out of the way, let’s focus on the exciting stuff!
Hungary’s capital teems with amazing things to do and see. This section will show you the must-visit places on a day trip from Vienna.
Important note: You might be able to see every landmark on the list below. But by trying to cover everything, you won’t be able to give each spot the time it deserves.
For that reason, we highly recommend you choose the things that interest you the most. After all, if you enjoy Budapest on a day trip from Vienna, you can always revisit.
The Hungarian Parliament Building – Neo-Gothic Splendor
The jaw-dropping building of the Hungarian Parliament should top your list.
Since its completion, the structure has been the largest edifice in Hungary, covering 194,000 sq. ft. (18,000 sq. m). It’s also the third-biggest national assembly in the world.
The Parliament unites three distinctive architectural styles – Baroque, Renaissance, and Neo-Gothic.
The result is a magnificent fusion that stupefies locals and tourists alike.
The interior spellbinds visitors with its 10 courtyards, 13 passenger and freight elevators, 27 gates, 29 staircases, and 691 rooms.
While the parliament’s main façade faces the Danube River, you’ll find the main entrance on a square at the east of the building.
Pay special attention to the hexadecagonal (16-sided) central hall, where two chambers adjoin it – the Lower House and the Upper House.
Széchenyi Thermal Baths – the Largest Spa Center in Europe
One of Budapest’s nicknames is the Spa Capital of the World.
So, if you’d to spoil yourself, we highly recommend a visit to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths.
The thermal baths at Széchenyi comprise the largest bath center with medicinal facilities in continental Europe. At the gorgeous, Neo-Gothic complex, you can pamper yourself to saunas, thermal basins, and outdoor hot water pools.
The pools abound in calcium, fluoride, magnesium, and bicarbonate. All these minerals are vital for your well-being.
Two thermal springs supply the rejuvenating water. Their temperatures are 165 °F (74 °C) and 171 °F (77 °C).
The Chain Bridge – The Epitome of Charm
Budapest’s most famous bridge is a popular tourist landmark.
The cast iron Széchenyi Chain Bridge connects the west and east sides of the city – Buda and Pest.
At the time of its creation in 1849, people around the globe regarded it as one of the engineering miracles of the modern world.
One of the most interesting facts about Budapest is that eight gorgeous bridges span the Danube River. Among them, the Chain Bridge is the oldest and most prominent one.
The best part? The bridge is walkable and takes around 10 minutes to reach the opposite side.
However, given that you might stop to take photos of the stunning panoramas, plan at least double the time.
House of Terror – Bloodcurdling Experiences
One of Budapest’s top attractions is among the world’s darkest museums. The House of Terror displays the history of Hungary in a horrifying way.
The museum was a site where the Nazi and Soviet regimes tortured and murdered hundreds of people.
The word “TERROR” hangs above the entrance in colossal letters, preparing you for the horror inside.
The museum also acts as a memorial to the fatalities of these regimes. This includes people who were imprisoned, questioned, and killed in the building.
While this exhibition hall might be horrifying, it also aims to show visitors that the victims didn’t lose their lives in vain.
Buda Castle – the Former Palace of the Hungarian Royal Family
The splendid Buda Castle overlooks the Danube River from Castle Hill. This former bastion of the Hungarian kings and queens is among the most discernible constructions in Budapest.
Erected in 1265, today’s Baroque structures were added to the complex in the 18th century.
Nowadays, they blend very well with the surrounding area known as Castle Quarter. The district is famous for the Medieval, Baroque, and Neoclassical houses, monuments, churches, and public institutions.
Today, the castle is home to the Budapest History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery.
An interesting fact about the Hungarian capital is that it boasts more than 200 massive underground caves. The most popular ones include the Buda Castle Labyrinth, Szemlő Mountain Cave, and Pálvölgyi Cave.
The Fisherman’s Bastion – the Splendid Stronghold
Would you like to experience the mesmerizing beauty of Budapest from above? Then, we suggest you climb to the Fisherman’s Bastion.
The 19th-century fortress prides itself on seven turreted towers. They represent the Seven Tribes of the Magyars.
The stupefying views of Pest, Margaret Island, and the Danube River from the Neo-Romanesque lookout terraces of the Bastion will astound you.
Do you want to hear the best part?
You can combine a visit to the Buda Castle with a tour of the Fisherman’s Bastion since both attractions are very close to each other.
The balconies are free to visit, but you have to pay a small fee to explore the top turrets.
The Cave Chapel – a Mesmerizing Temple
One of the most peculiar places in Budapest is Sziklatemplom. Meaning “rock church” in Hungarian, it’s also known as Gellért Hill Cave due to its location.
Pauline monks consecrated the spot in the 1920s. At that time, the Cave Chapel functioned as a monastery. Later, it turned into a field hospital, treating the wounded during World War II.
The temple remained closed from the 1950s to 1989 during the Soviet regime.
The one-of-a-kind setting of the monastery makes Cave Chapel truly unique and well worth the visit.
Unlike many religious structures, the chapel is not richly decorated. Its sole purpose is to serve as a calm place for worshiping.
Food Tips for Your Day Trip from Vienna to Budapest
Do you enjoy sampling new dishes? Well, we’ve prepared these food tips especially for you:
- Try the Paprikás. Every year, the average Hungarian consumes more than 500 grams (1.1 lbs.) of paprika. That explains why Chicken paprikás tops the Hungarian cuisine list. The spicy meal is one of the foods Budapest is famous for. And it’s a must-try on your visit to the Hungarian capital.
- Don’t miss the legendary Budapest confectionery. The Queen of Hungary and Empress of Austria – Sisi – loved spearmint candies. In Budapest, you can still find her favorite sweets. Try them at the oldest confectionery in Budapest – Ruszwurm.
- Want a quick bite? Food trucks, langos, and bakeries are your go-tos. In this way, you can try more dishes and spend more time discovering the Spa Capital of the World.
- Discover Hungarian wines. A visit to Budapest isn’t complete without a stop at a local wine bar. Hungarian wines are famous across the world, so you won’t regret trying them.
Visa, Currency, and Language Tips for Budapest
Hungary belongs to both the Schengen Area and the European Union (EU).
This means one thing. If you possess a U.S. passport with a minimum validity of 6 months, you don’t need a visa to visit Hungary for up to 90 days.
Please consult the official website of the EU for a list of all entry requirements.
While Hungary is an EU member state, it’s still not a member of the Eurozone. It uses its own currency – the forint.
If you need cash, you won’t face difficulties because Budapest is chock-full of ATMs.
But if you prefer to pay with a card, no worries. You can do that almost anywhere.
In addition to that, Budapest is quite cosmopolitan. So, conversing in English in malls, hotels, or restaurants shouldn’t be an issue.
But if you’d like to impress locals with your Hungarian linguistic skills, here are five of the most common words and phrases:
|Thank you! / Thank you very much!
|Köszönöm / Nagyon köszönöm!
|Excuse me! / I’m sorry!
|Elnézést / Bocsánat!
|Yes / No
|Igen / Nem
A Day Trip from Vienna to Budapest –Bridges, Panoramas, and Thermal Baths
From heart-pumping river vistas to stunning bridges, and from spoiling SPA centers to mouthwatering food, Budapest is packed with things to do and see.
A day trip from Vienna to Budapest won’t be enough to explore everything the Queen of the Danube offers. But it’ll give you a chance to experience the unique atmosphere of the Hungarian capital.
Throw in some thorough planning, and you’ll make the most of your time to discover both capitals.
Now, we’re curious:
Have you visited Budapest before?
If not, what will be the first attraction you’ll check out?