Budapest to Bucharest by Overnight Train

A visit to the points of interest of Budapest, Hungary including Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion (Halászbástya), Hungarian Parliament Building, Chain Bridge, Hősök tere (UNESCO heritage site), Széchenyi Thermal Bath, St. Stephen's Basilica, Matthias Church, Hungarian State Opera House, City Park and Vajdahunyad Castle, Citadella, Dohany Street Synagogue, House of Terror, Hungarian National Gallery, Liberty Bridge, Gellert Hill, Imre Nagy, the man on the bridge sculpture, before taking the train to Bucharest, Romania

What to see and photograph in Budapest

Budapest is the capital city of Hungary which is part of the EU and Schengen communities.  The following are notable points of interest in Budapest.

  • Buda Castle and Hungarian National Gallery (UNESCO heritage site)
  • Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya) and Matthias Church
  • Hungarian Parliament Building
  • Chain Bridge
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • Hungarian State Opera House
  • Citadella
  • Széchenyi Thermal Bath, City Park, Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes Square (UNESCO heritage site)
  • Dohany Street Synagogue
  • Castle Hill Funicular
  • Imre Nagy, the man on the bridge statue

Hotels in Budapest are very good value. In central Budapest I stayed in one of the cheapest Eurostars I have ever stayed in.

Buda Castle

Buda Castle, Budapest

Buda Castle and the whole castle area of Budapest are designated as a UNESCO world heritage site.  Buda castle was built in the 13th century for the Hungarian royalty.  In the 19th century the castle was improved and expanded which was when the palace was added.  As the castle and palace are visible from all over city of Budapest it’s probably best photographed from the other side of the river.  It’s connected to the city by the funicular and Chain Bridge.  You get a wonderful view of the city, the Chain Bridge, the Hungarian Parliament Building, the river Danube and St Stephan’s Basilica from the castle.

Castle Hill Funicular

Gellert Hill

It’s a steep walk up Castle Hill and for this reason a Funicular is available.  The funicular takes you to the entrance of Buda Castle.  I visited late afternoon on a cold day which meant it was empty but I’d imagine it gets busy during the summer.  You can either take a one way ticket up and walk down or get a return ticket.  The trip up Castle Hill probably takes less than 2 minutes.

Hungarian National Gallery

Castle Hill Funicular It's a steep walk up Castle Hill and for this reason a Funicular is available.  The funicular takes you to the entrance of Buda Castle.  I visited late afternoon on a cold day which meant it was empty but I'd imagine it gets busy during the summer.  You can either take a one way ticket up and walk down or get a return ticket.  The trip up Castle Hill probably takes less than 2 minutes. Hungarian National Gallery Located inside Buda Castle is the Hungarian National Gallery., Buda Castle, Budapest

Located inside Buda Castle is the Hungarian National Gallery.  The art in this museum is mainly by Hungarian artists.  If you are an art lover and have a lot of time to visit the castle, I would recommend it.  There are 2 art museums located close to Heroes Square in central Budapest.  These are the Palace of Art and the Museum of Fine Art.  The Palace of Art is considered to be the premier art museum in Budapest.

Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya) and Matthias Church

Located a 10 minute walk from Buda Castle are the Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church.  Both these sites are UNESCO heritage sites.  The Gothic Fisherman’s Bastion was built at the start of the 20th century.  There are 7 towers on the Bastion and these offer views over the city and banks of the Danube which are also a UNESCO heritage site.  The Fisherman’s Bastion itself is an Instagrammable building.

Hungarian Parliament Building

Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest

For me, the Hungarian Parliament building is one of the most impressive structures in Europe.  This Gothic style building was completed at the start of the 20th century.  It’s possible to visit the interior as the parliament only use a small portion of the building.  I found the best way to photograph it was from directly in front of it from the opposite side of the Danube.  On a calm day with no wind you can get a perfect reflection shot.   The Hungarian Parliament building is one of the UNESCO sites on the banks of the Danube.

Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge, Budapest

Chain Bridge is one of the most popular points of interest in Budapest.  It connects the Buda (Buda Castle) side of the river Danube with the Pest side (St. Stephen’s Basilica, above).  This was the first permanent bridge in Hungary that crossed the Danube.  It was designed by Englishman William Tierney Clark who also designed the Marlow bridge.  This is a smaller but similar bridge which crosses the river Thames in Marlow, England.  The bridge photograph’s well from Buda castle with St. Stephen’s Basilica in the background.  Another good viewpoint is from the other side of the Danube with the castle in the background.

Another notable bridge in Budapest is the footbridge called Liberty Bridge which like the Chain bridge crosses the Danube.

City Park

City Park is located in the east of Budapest away from the Danube.  It’s accessible by the metro.  City Park is a must see in Budapest because it’s the home of Széchenyi Thermal Baths, Heroes Square, Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest Zoo and Art museums.

Szechenyi Thermal Baths

Szechenyi Thermal / Medicinal Baths, Budapest, Hungary

The Szechenyi thermal baths also known as the Szechenyi medicinal baths are the largest in Europe.  They are named after a popular Hungarian politician called István Széchenyi.  These are the Hungarian version of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, just a whole lot cheaper!  The complex was opened in 1913 and the water is supplied from 2 nearby natural thermal springs.  The buildings around the baths are very Instagrammable.

Heroes Square (Hősök Tere)

Heroes Square (Hosok Tere) is a large square and UNESCO world heritage site.  It’s located close to the must visit site of the Szechenyi medicinal baths in City Park.  The square reminded me of the Children’s Heroes Monument in Chapultepec, Mexico City.  Art lovers will love the square because located close by are the Museum of Fine Art and the Palace of Art.

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle was built at the end of the 10th century.  It is a unique building because it has the influence of Roman, Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance.  The castle is lakeside meaning you can take a good reflection photograph of it.

St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen's Basilica, Budapest, Hungary

St. Stephen’s Basilica was completed in 1905 and at 95 meters it’s the third largest church in Hungary.  The largest church in Hungary is located in a small town on the Danube called Esztergom.  The church is named St. Stephan’s after a former king of Hungary.  The church is quite difficult to photograph from the area around it (above).  To get the best photograph of it I recommend taking it from the Buda Castle at sunset.  Entrance to the interior is free but you must pay a small fee to visit the Panorama Tower for a view of the city.

Hungarian State Opera House

A short walk from St. Stephan’s is the State Opera House.  Like that of Bratislava it’s one of the most beautiful buildings of the city.  If you are interested in seeing opera on your visit check out the schedule.

Citadella

Citadella, Budapest, Hungary

The Citidella (Citadel in English) is located on the top of Gellert Hill offering wonderful views of the banks of the Danube and the Buda Castle.  Also located close to the Citidella are the Liberty Statue, Gellert Hill Caves and thermal baths.  The Citadella is a fortress which was completed in 1854.  It was constructed in 4 years by Hungarian forced laborers.  The fortress was used in the second world war and some of the original weaponry still remains.  Nowadays of course it’s a popular tourist attraction.

Dohany Street Synagogue

The Dohany Street Synagogue (above) is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world.  The largest synagogue in the world is located in Jerusalem.  The synagogue complex houses the Jewish museum, Heroes Temple, Jewish Cemetery and the Courtyard Memorial.  The memorial remembers the Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during world war 2.  It’s believed more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the holocaust.

It’s quite difficult to photograph the exterior of the synagogue due to shadows and lots of people constantly outside it.  If I went back I would try photograph it late at night when people are sleeping and there’s no sun.  Alternatively when it’s a cloudy day.

Imre Nagy Sculpture

Imre Nagy, statue at Martyrs' square

Martyrs Square is located behind the Hungarian Parliament building  There you will find a man on the bridge, Imre Nagy (left, I’m on the right!).  Imry Nagy was the prime minister of Hungary during the Soviet era.  He was trying to free Hungary from the communist regime which the Soviet regime considered treason.  As a message to other communist countries at that time he was tried for treason and sentenced to death.  For the work he did for the freedom of Hungary he is considered a hero.

I didn’t know when I took the picture but he is actually looking at the Hungarian Parliament building therefore I was blocking his view!

Budapest to Bucharest by train

From Budapest to Bucharest there are 2 overland options which both take about 15-16 hours.  You can go by Alsa bus which will cost around €60 ($70).  The other option is by train which will cost around €95 ($110).  Although the bus is cheaper and takes the same length of time I chose the train.  I chose the train because it had an overnight option.  The bus option is only available through the day.  Because the train is overnight you are paying for your travel as well as your nights accommodation.  Another reason to take the train is to pass through the Budapest train station which featured in the movie, Mission Impossible 4.

Bucharest to Suceava

2017-08-19T08:35:37+00:00 August 13th, 2017|Eastern Europe, Hungary|35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Abigail Sinsona August 13, 2017 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    The Chain Bridge is such an icon. That photo you took of the bridge is so beautiful! Well, technically, all of these photos are beautiful. I am enjoying your European adventures, especially to these cities like Bucharest and Budapest. It allows me to see this side of the world I’ve never been to!

  2. yukti August 14, 2017 at 4:25 am - Reply

    Your everyday trips with detailed description and details makes me feel, as if I am also travelling virtually with you. Now I have reached Budapest which is a beautiful city with splendid architecture. Parliament and Thermal Baths looks so grand and majestic. Beautiful post with great photos.

  3. Mariella August 14, 2017 at 4:41 am - Reply

    The St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Citadella’s photos looks stunning! I like the fish eye effect, this angle makes it look more grand in the photos. Also, i would’ve chosen the train as well. The bus option would’ve been great if it was also available overnight. I agree that travelling overnight can save money on accommodation.

  4. David McClane August 14, 2017 at 6:42 am - Reply

    Great photos as always James, I particularly like the one of the Chain Bridge! I loved Budapest and it is possibly one of my favourite cities in Europe – even after 4/5 days there I wish I could have stayed longer. Like you I tried to capture a picture of the synagogue but struggled – even at night time it was tough to capture due to its size!

  5. Jasmin August 14, 2017 at 7:37 am - Reply

    I absolutely love Budapest! It’s one of my favorite destinations in Europe and I just never seem to get enough of it! There’s simply just so much to see and do that you could probably spend weeks in there! I believe I’ve visited all these places excluding the Imre Nagy and Opera House. I have to admit that I’m really shocked by the train ticket prices to Bucharest though! I spent 2 months travelling across Eastern Europe all the way from Poland to Bosnia and all the bus and train tickets during those few months ended up costing just 200€ in total.

  6. Lisa August 14, 2017 at 7:41 am - Reply

    Budapest is still on my list of places to visit, and after reading your post, I really want to go now! Buda Castle and the Hungarian Parliament Building do look impressive; I’m sure the photographing the building at night was amazing. I’d also love to visit the thermal baths, those buildings would be great to capture 🙂

  7. Joanna August 14, 2017 at 9:15 am - Reply

    I have been quite a few times to Budapest by train from Bucharest and due to my parents working for the National Rail, I could go for free as I had a few international trips for free. The train is definitely much better than the bus because you can sleep on a proper bed. I do remember however this one time when the sleeper was fully booked so I had to sit down for the entire journey. I swore that never again, at some point I was just walking around the train cause I couldn’t sit down anymore.

  8. Punita Malhotra August 14, 2017 at 9:16 am - Reply

    I agree with you that Hungarian Parliament building is one of the most impressive in all of Europe. Yet, it is not talked about as much as some of its counterparts in other countries. Budapest is a fascinating and highly underrated city.

  9. Julz August 15, 2017 at 5:13 am - Reply

    I really enjoy your travel stories! so many beautiful places. I have been to neither cities and Budapest looks just stunning – Your pics are great!

  10. Bhusha August 15, 2017 at 9:28 am - Reply

    So… What did Imre Nagy have to say? Is he fine?! Did u guys have a good chat. You could have gone for a lunch, you know!!!! Lolz…
    BtwI really hope to explore eastern Europe next year. Let’s see what destiny decides.

  11. Ania August 15, 2017 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Budapest is such a beautiful city. I’ve only ever been there in winter and it was still so magical. I hope I can explore the city again when it’s warm out and get to rephotograph these places in the summer.

  12. Rachelle August 15, 2017 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    My best friend met her now-boyfriend in Budapest, so I’m convinced that aside from being beautiful, this city has some magical properties to it. I had NO IDEA they were able to build the citadel in 4 years! That’s insane! Of course, it’s stunning and I’m excited to be able to visit it and see for myself.

  13. Jamie August 15, 2017 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    Those buildings with the amazing architecture would be wonderful to photograph – especially at night with the lights reflecting in the water. I’ve never considered Budapest as a destination to visit, but the architecture and history is something I would enjoy.

  14. Vanessa August 16, 2017 at 8:35 am - Reply

    What a journey… I’ve not been to either places, looks like you saw so much on the way. Love your account of your trip, awesome pics too!

  15. Sonja August 16, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    I love Budapest! It’s such an amazing city. The architecture is actually some of my favourite in Europe. Great post about what to see and do. Hopefully I’ll be back one day, I’d love to view the Hungarian Parliament building again!

  16. John August 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Budapest is gorgeous. I love the architecture there. St. Stephens, Buda Castle, and the Parliament building are all incredible. Thanks for the tips on where to get the best pictures of them!

  17. Mel Butler August 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    I was in Budapest last year for my birthday and your post took me right back there 🙂 Wished I had seen your post before I went because I would have taken some of your trips of where to go to take photos, especially about Hungarian Parliament photographing directly in front of it from the opposite side of the Danube. Szechenyi Thermal Baths look like it was little quieter for you than me too.

  18. Miranda August 18, 2017 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Budapest has some absolutely GORGEOUS architecture! I think my favorite by far was the Hungarian Parliament Building. These are all totally worthy of getting a picture (or three!)

  19. Ami August 18, 2017 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Budapest has been haunting me for long. It is one city that I have written of – as a part of my wanderlist. I so want to visit those castles and other heritage buildings. I would love to even see those baths. You have given adequate description of these and now I can feel the itch to get there soon

  20. Kim August 20, 2017 at 2:36 am - Reply

    Wow, Budapest is stunning! What kind of camera/lens do you use for the fisheye effect? I love how much detail there is in the buildings, they’re all so intricate and unique. This is the first time I’ve come across the word funicular, and it might be my new favorite word, haha.

  21. Toby August 20, 2017 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Budapest has so many historical and cultural treasures that are very well preserved. I love your photo of the Hungarian Parliament building, it’s absolutely stunning. The view of the Charles Bridge from Buda Castle is stunning.

  22. kathy August 20, 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    I really enjoyed visiting Budapest although it was a few years. I remember visiting the Szechenyi thermal baths and really enjoying it. The walk up to Buda Castle is also really nice. I went to Budapest after visiting Lake Balatan which is a really nice area.

  23. neha August 20, 2017 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    Budapest has a lot to offer. Looking at your pictures, I have made up my mind that when I visit here, I will surely do that at night. Look at the views of the Parliament building, the Chain bridge and many other locations. They are just glittering through the night like stars 🙂

  24. Amy Rebecca Krigsman August 21, 2017 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    It looks like there are plenty of interesting sites in Budapest. I’d imagine the train must be more comfortable than the bus, as well. I took an overnight bus in Cuba and it left quite a bit to be desired.

  25. Swayam Tiwari August 22, 2017 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    One of the abiding images of Budapest are those of people playing chess in the Danube. Did you see those people in Budapest?

  26. Lyf&Spice August 29, 2017 at 12:10 am - Reply

    That looks like quite an interesting journey. Your photography is amazing. I love checking out UNESCO sites, thus, would love to take a look at Buda Castle. Moreover, the funicular ride reminds me of the one I took at Penang. It’s really scenic and unfolds lush, gorgeous views along the way. Cheers!!

  27. Jenn | By Land and Sea September 1, 2017 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    This is the perfect post as we are in the beginning stages of planning a train trip that will include overnight travel and these cities! Thank you so much – saving this for later!

  28. Bee September 1, 2017 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    it’s amazing how many different types of architecture can be found throughout this city. I loved the shot of the parliament building across the river. great tip there. overall, it seems winter seems like the best time to go.

  29. Angie (FeetDoTravel) September 2, 2017 at 8:54 am - Reply

    Budapest is on my list … especially when I see posts such as this! I love the history and the architecture – fascinating, and thanks for providing all the information on how to get there, when I visit, it will be by overland 🙂 Pinned #feetdotravel

  30. Shona @ paraphernalia.co September 3, 2017 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Budapeast is so beautiful and you’ve captured that in your pics. So many iconic buildings to see and the restaurant and bar scene is meant to be very hip and funky. Budapest is high on my list. I’m hanging out to put a tick next to it.

  31. Barry September 3, 2017 at 6:01 am - Reply

    Great intro to the history of Buda Castle and I didn’t know it was a UNESCO world heritage site. There are plenty of stunning photos and I bet you had a great trip. The one of the Dohany Street Synagogue is nice. I will have to explore this area more when I’m next in Europe.

  32. Tracy September 4, 2017 at 8:21 am - Reply

    We really enjoyed Budapest and it is a city we definitely want to revisit – we travelled from Vienna by train and then onto Prague which we also loved. It’s an impressive city!

  33. Annalise September 4, 2017 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Budapest was one of my favourite stops when I went interrailing with friends. I was ill for 2/3 of the days so didn’t see much but it was enough to know this is a special city. I have never been further East in Europe than Budapest but I’d really like to. Thanks for sharing you story and giving me more wanderlust!

  34. Elizabeth October 11, 2017 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    Hi. We are getting ready to take this train journey and I’ve been scouring Blogs for some recent info on the train journey. How was the train itself? Did you have a restirant car? Was it crowded. Thanks so much!

    • James Smith October 13, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Hi Elizabeth, when I took the train it was not so busy, clean and the other people doing the same thing as me. There is a restaurant car although I didn’t visit it, I just took snacks. At some point your passport will be checked as Romania is out of the Schengen zone. Enjoy the journey. If I was to do the journey today I would take the Flixbus (they now do a direct bus) and it’s less than half price of the train.

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