Little bit of a clever travel hack if I do say so myself: I went to Budapest for Sziget Festival but so did thousands of other people so the flights were expensive. When I looked, a month before the festival started, it was around £180 one way for London to Budapest. Add the baggage and charges on top and you’re looking at £220.
I had a look for the nearest cities to see their prices and found that it was only £50 to get to Bratislava, and then a €16.10 and 3 hours train journey to get from Bratislava to Budapest by train. With all my baggage and charges it ended up at £70 + £14 (converted) and I was looking at £84. A huge £136 saving, and I got to spend the night in another country. Winner!
Downtown Backpackers Hostel to Hlavna Station
The train journey from Bratislava to Budapest couldn’t really have gone much smoother.
I was staying at the Downtown Backpacker Hostel, which was an 18-minute walk from Hlavna Station according to Google maps. Trouble is with Bratislava, so I noticed, is that they cordon off the roads so you have to walk to a certain point in order to cross. That point was three minutes back the other way as far as I could tell, when you’re carrying 27kg on your back three minutes is a long way.
Anyway, I decided to walk to the train station rather than get the 96 bus that went straight there, just for the exercise. Although that bus was only €0.35 – 10 minutes into my back cracking journey I was full of envy towards all the backpackers I’d seen get on it.
Obviously I congratulated myself heartily on arrival though. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that.
At Bratislava Station
I arrived early, thanks to a mix up in my head thinking that the train was 11:35, not 11:53. This meant I could just chill on the platform, people watch and dry my sweaty back out, so all good.
I got plenty of euros out from the ATM to cover the ticket and a few days in Budapest*. I heard a ticket seller and customer talking English so stood behind them in the queue, seeing as my Slovakian isn’t quite up to scratch. I realised after that all the windows at Bratislava Hlavna Station have the languages they can speak up as a sign, very helpful.
Getting the ticket was easy. I just needed a 2nd class, one way ticket from Bratislava to Budapest. It was €16.10, as I’d found out last night on the de.bahn website, and a few seconds later I was the proud owner of the ticket.
Bratislava to Budapest by train
I waited on the platform for 20 minutes, debating whether to buy something at the tens of shops in the Bratislava Train Station but decided it would be too difficult with my bags.
Eventually on the train and it was a bit of a push to find a seat. I’m assuming this is because of the Sziget Festival rush as the locals seemed most perturbed. I was sat in a six-seater cabin with an old man who kept looking at me weird for being on my laptop, two Kindle readers, one Tolkein reader and one man who just stared out the window gormlessly.
The train was modern, more so than English trains that’s for sure, and spacious and clean. Tickets were checked within the first ten minutes and there was plenty of space for bags above your seat.
The journey was simple and fuss free. Over the three-hour journey we passed some amazing buildings, stunning countryside and interesting little hamlets. Earlier than advertised, we were there at the stunning Budapest Keleti Station.
Going from Bratislava to Budapest by train is really easy, and really cheap, give it a go!
*They don’t use euros in Budapest. Had to change €180 as soon as I got there into HUF. Silly girl.