Budapest to Belgrade by Train Slow Travel.

Crossing the Danube in Novi Sad.

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Travelling from the Hungarian capital, Budapest, to its Serbian counterpart, Belgrade, is pretty straightforward. However it requires a certain amount of steadiness since trains take about eight hours for the roughly 330 kilometres – probably the slowest direct train between capitals of neighbouring countries in Europe. Anyway I somehow like this trip since you’ll finish in Belgrade, a great city which also serves as a nice starting point to explore the Balkans.

 

Trains and Schedules from Budapest to Belgrade and reverse

There are two direct trains during the day as well as an overnight train. The Eurocity Avala consists of coaches of MAV (Hungarian Railways), while the other day train as well as the night train run with SV (Serbian Railways) carriages. All trains usually consist of modern air-conditioned coaches and carry both first and second class accomodation. The night train also carries a Serbian couchette car.

My personal recommendation on this route would be the Eurocity train which leaves Budapest around noon, arriving in Belgrade in the evening at around eight. This train also carries a Hungarian restaurant car and a stay there can really help making time go by. Update: Unfortunately the restaurant car has been withdrawn in December 2017. Bring enough food and drink for the long trip!

343 “Ivo Andric” 345 “Avala” 341 “Beograd”
Budapest Keleti dep 07:57 11:57 22:15
Budapest Ferencváros dep 08:06 12:06 22:24
Kelebia (Hungarian border station) arr 11:11 15:11 01:08
Subotica (Serbian border station) arr 11:55 15:55 01:54
Novi Sad arr 14:51 18:49 04:44
Novi Beograd arr 16:09 20:09 06:00
Belgrade arr 16:22 20:22 06:13

 

344 “Avala” 342 “Ivo Andric” 340 “Beograd”
Beograd dep 07:35 11:25 21:40
Novi Beograd dep 07:48 11:38 21:53
Novi Sad dep 09:02 13:00 23:20
Subotica (Serbian border station) dep 12:02 16:02 02:16
Kelebia (Hungarian border station) dep 12:46 16:46 03:00
Budapest Ferencváros arr 15:55 19:55 05:40
Budapest Keleti arr 16:04 20:04 05:50

Always bustling with travellers: Budapest Keleti station.
Always bustling with travellers: Budapest Keleti station.

 

Tickets and Reservations

Another thing I like about this route: Cheap anytime tickets! Hungarian and Serbian Railways offer the „Belgrade Special“ (called „Budapest Special“ in the opposite direction) for just 15€ one way, 26€ return in 2nd class. The ticket can only be bought at stations in these two countries and is available until the day of departure. If you are only going as far as Subotica or Novi Sad, ask for „Bacska Special“ which is even cheaper. Tickets from Budapest to Belgrade can also be bought online at MAV but have to be collected at a ticket machine at a station in Hungary.

All trains can be used without extra reservations when making international journeys. If you travel on the night train, you can buy a reservation for the couchette car in addition to your rail pass or regular ticket (such as “Belgrade Special”) for just 8€.

Eurocity Avala ready to depart from Belgrade central station. Back in 2011 it consisted of Czech and Serbian coaches and ran to/from Prague instead of Vienna.
Eurocity Avala ready to depart from Belgrade central station. Back in 2011 it consisted of Czech and Serbian coaches and ran to/from Prague instead of Vienna.

 

Good to know

There have been occasional reports of theft by organized gangs on the night train in Hungary so take good care of your personal belongings! Normally staff on the night train should also advise you about that issue. Anyway, I have been using that train by myself and did not have any troubles.
Since the trains cross an external border of the Schengen area there are rather long halts for border and custom checks at both border stations (Kelebia in Hungary, Subotica in Serbia). Please make sure to have appropriate ID and, if needed, visa documents with you to avoid any troubles.

Budapest to Belgrade - train route map
Budapest to Belgrade – train route map

 
Update: April 2018

Flo Weber
I like to travel by train. https://www.instagram.com/raildudeflow/
Flo Weber
- 3 days ago
Flo Weber
Flo Weber
f _at_ rail.cc

43 Comments

  1. correction…seems I have to connect in Belgrade on the train from vielko tarnovo to get to Budapest. Having trouble figuring it out. HELP~~~~

  2. i find this all rather confusing. I will be in vielko Tarnovo in Bulgaria and want to take a train to Budapest. Probably the one that connects in Belgrade. Can you help me figure out the whens and wheres and times and cost? I cant quite figure out how long the whole thing will take me. Seems I have to stay overnight in Belgrade and then take a train from there to Bulgaria or is there an overnight train I can connect to to save time? I’d like to get from point a to point b as quickly as possible. Thanks!!

  3. Hi Flo,
    Can you advise me on trains and times from Belgrade to Vienna and is it likely that this train will stop in Budapest and will we have to change trains for Vienna, also is it possible to book and pay for this trip at Belgrade

    • Hi,
      there is the daily direct train from Belgrade (dep 07:30) to Vienna (arr 19:21) via Budapest. You do not have to change trains in Budapest.
      Tickets are available in Belgrade.
      However, it can be cheaper to buy a “Budapest Special” ticket from Belgrade to Budapest for 15€ in Belgrade and buy a Fortuna ticket for Budapest to Vienna online at http://rail.shop/mav and collect the ticket at a ticket machine during the stop in Budapest Keleti (16:04 to 16:40).
      Flo

  4. Flo,
    Great site with very worthwhile info, I know that it’s not necessary to book seats on the Avala train from Budapest to Belgrade but I will want to and my question is how much?
    Also in an earlier article you make reference to the terminus in Beograd is this Beograd Glavna ( junction/ street) Nemanjina and Savska again great info Thanks Desmond

    • Hi,
      thank you!
      Seat reservation should be 3€ when bought locally. Please be aware that EC Avala no longer has a restaurant car.
      The train still terminates at Beograd Glava, yes.
      Flo

  5. Hello Flo!

    Thanks for all the useful information! I am planning to take this Budapest – Beograd train mid August. The 15€ price you mentioned is awesome yet when I checked the website raileurope-world.com, the prices appear to be around 50€ (crazy!). I read that you mentioned the tickets are at 15€ when bought locally yet could the cheap (15€) tickets be sold out or something? Since I will be making my plan according to this situation, I would appreciate your answer very much!

    Thanks!

    Ismail

    • Hi Ismail,

      tickets for Eastern Europe are usually best bought locally. Raileurope is selling the full international tariff (probably with a markup since the regular, undiscounted fare would be 44,80€). The 15€ offer “Beograd Spezial” is based upon a special agreement between Hungarian and Serbian Railways and is available up until departure. This offer will not be sold out.

      Flo

  6. Hi Flo!!

    Thank you very for the info about this route!!! It is really helpful!! I am planning to take the exact route around the 20th of August this summer from Budapest to Belgrade. At the moment, I am hesitating between the day train or the night train. The reason why I am thinking about night train is it can save time and money, but I’m a bit concerned about scam and/or theft on the night train as I read some other articles…. So what do you think?

    Btw, how many days do you recommend to spend in Belgrade?

    Thank you very much!!!!!!

    Kind regards,
    Dinox

    • Btw, do they accept euro on the train? or VISA card? Or i should bring enough local cash with me?

      • Hi Dinox!

        Thank you! I am glad the blog is helping other travellers. 🙂

        I never had issues on the night train; although you have to be cautious in general, especially in the regular 2nd class coaches. Keep your valuables (passport, credit card, money, tickets) close to your body when you sleep during the night – just a general precaution. 😉
        Regarding scams; you do not need a seat reservation for this train (just for a couchette on the overnight service), to be sure make a copy of the train information from the Hungarian Railways site: https://rail.shop/mav
        Personally I dont like the overnight train on that route very much since you have to get up in the middle of the night for the border checks. On the other hand, the trip is quite long during the day and not very exciting.
        I would recommend to buy your ticket beforehand at the station in Budapest (payment by card, HUF or EUR); onboard the train you can pay with HUF and EUR in the restaurant car; in the couchette car I think EUR and RSD are accepted. Card are unlikely – maybe in the restaurant car, I am not sure.

        Have a nice trip,
        Flo

  7. Thank you for having such a helpful resource available for fellow travelers! I plan to travel by train from Belgrade to Budapest this weekend, hoping to take the earliest (7:36am?) Eurocity Avala train. I see that the train departure times on raileurope-world.com are different from your schedule above, but I imagine with how thorough your site is, that your schedule is up-to-date.

    It’s good to know that all Belgrade-Budapest trains can be used without extra reservations when making international journeys.
    How early in advance would I need to arrive at the Beograd train station to purchase a ticket? Are these trains generally on time?
    If I’m traveling with an American passport, would that be sufficient documentation?

    • Hi Kat!

      Thanks for your kind words. 🙂
      The timings in the blog are correct indeed. There is a lot of wrong/outdated information on the website you’ve linked and I wouldnt buy a ticket for 50€ for this route if you can travel for 15€ when buying locally… 😉
      I would recommend to book your ticket the day before, however I seldom had to wait more than 10 or 15 minutes at the international ticket desk at the Belgrade station. Trains are generally on time now, however I have also experienced a delay of about 30 minutes in the opposite direction a few years ago.
      Eurocity Avala has a restaurant car so you could get breakfast or dinner there. Menu: https://www.mavcsoport.hu/sites/default/files/utasellato_etlap2017_01.pdf
      Travelling with a passport should be enough as a US citizen, however Hungarian border police currently enforces strict controls at the border.

      Have a nice trip,
      Flo

      • I appreciate all the information!
        Before reading your blog, it never crossed my mind that crossing a border would be an issue for me, since I’ve done it before in other countries (but never Serbia-Hungary) with only an American passport, and no problems. The most questioning I’ve ever received has been at border controls in airports, “Why are you here, and how long?” I just explain that I’m a teacher at an international school in Greece (I have a Greek resident permit in my passport), and that I travel to other countries whenever I have a break. Do you know if there’s any agency I can contact to make sure I’ll be okay with crossing the border in Hungary? What’s the worst that can happen to me?

        • I wouldnt worry at all with a US passport. 😉
          The main issue is that Hungary (as a EU member state) wants to prevent illegal immigrants to enter its territory (the route through Serbia being one of the main routes for refugees from Syria, Africa,…) so they even erected a long fence along the border to Serbia. Smuggling might be an issue as well but with all the attention this border gets at the moment I dont think that there are many smugglers left…
          I would recommend to check on the websites of Hungarian and Serbian Foreign Ministries and/or US embassy/consulate websites or US State Department. But again – as a regular tourist with a US passport (and no need for a visa in Serbia/Hungary/EU) there is no need to worry. 😉

  8. Hello. Very helpful website. Question; I am taking the 8:05 tomorrow from Budapest to Belgrade. Do you happen to know the name of the station in Belgrade into which the train from Budapest arrives?

  9. Very informative article, thank you very much! Do you know whether the train gets really fully booked over mid-May? We are planning to take the Budapest-Novi Sad (do we need to change trains?) on the 19th of May. Also – do you have info on the Belgrade – Bar, Montenegro train? I also love train travel!

    • Hi!
      Thanks; you’re welcome!
      The train won’t be fully booked as you can use it without a seat reservation, so tickets will be sold even if the train is full. In my experience it never was a problem to find a seat when entering the train in Budapest already, however especially over the weekend and in summer the train can be quite full. Personally, I wouldn’t buy an extra seat reservation and just take a free seat when you enter the train in Budapest. Which train are you looking at exactly?
      You don’t need to change train; all trains run through from Budapest via Novi Sad to Belgrade.
      Currently there are construction works on the Belgrade – Bar line with replacement buses operating on parts of the line between Belgrade and Lajkovac. If you want to travel there, simply buy your tickets locally at the station in Belgrade. You can also find a blog post here: https://blog.rail.cc/bar-belgrade-train-tito/

      We love train travel too! If you have more questions you could also look at the railcc forum: https://rail.cc/en/forum

      Flo

  10. Hi! 🙂
    I was looking for any information about trains to Belgrade from Budapest and I found your article very helpful 😀 thanks 😀 I also had a look at your instagram and wow I really love your pictures! 🙂

    • Hi!
      Thank you very much! 🙂
      I hope you’ll have a nice journey; if you have any other questions feel free to ask.

      Flo

      • Thanks, I actually might have some other questions because I’m travelling next month so I just started to search and read about places to want to visit 😀

        Have a nice day,
        Ula

        ps. Is there any special place among Balkan countries you would recommend to see? 🙂

        • Hey Ula,
          ok I see. If you have more general questions you might think about looking at the railcc forum: https://rail.cc/en/forum

          In the Balkans, there is so much to see…I have just seen a little; but Montenegro is really beautiful (Durmitor national park for hiking/skiing), Kotor and the beaches on the Adriatic… I really like Bulgaria (check out Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo) too.

          Have a nice day too 🙂

          • OK, I will definitely take a look at the railcc forum! Thank you so much for everything again! 🙂

            Cheers,
            Ula

  11. Hi Flo,
    I am already thankful for your information about train from Budapest to Belgrade. I just can’t figure it out on which one there are bicycles allowed and on which they are not? I would like to avoid night train cause I cannot sleep anyway on trains, so I hope is not only that one. Also, do you maybe know the price for transport of the (one) bike?

    Cheers, Sergej

    • Hi Sergej,

      unfortunately bicycles are not allowed on any of the trains (officially); however it should be no problem to dismantle the bike (take off at least the front wheel and put everything in a bag) and take it with you as a piece of luggage. To be sure, I would recommend to contact Hungarian Railways (MAV START) directly. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Flo

  12. Hi Flo,

    I am planning to travel from Budapest to Belgrad by night train. Unfortunately, I just found one night train(341 BEOGRAD) to Belgrad and there is no class one or sleeping car in Internet( https://rail.shop/mav), I just find second class in the site. Should I buy the sleeping car ticket in the Keleti station or there is no sleeping car in 341 BEOGRAD?

    Also, can I buy the train ticket after two months?

    Thank you .

    • Hi May,

      the night train has no sleeping car; however a couchette car is available (with either 6 or 4 berths in a compartment) and also bookable online at https://rail.shop/mav.
      There should be a 1st class car available as well however it seems that you cant book it online; I dont know why this is the case.
      You can buy the ticket online more than two months in advance.

      Flo

      • Thank you for your reply , Flo.

        I go to Belgrade with my friend who is a girl. She saw many bad cases in Internet about the theft in the night train and there is no sleeping car , maybe we book the Ivo Andric or another train. Thank you so much.

        • You’re welcome.
          Regarding theft on this night train…I used it back in 2011 when it still ran from Belgrade to Vienna and I slept well and had no issues. I know about various reports about theft; however on the couchette you can lock the door and the conductor usually is well aware about these issues and will also instruct you how to properly lock the door etc.
          Anyway, the couchette is an old one from Serbian Railways and may not be that comfortable and well maintained…and there also is the border checks in the middle of the night at Kelebia and Subotica…personally I would travel during the day with the EC Avala and enjoy the trip in the restaurant car. 😉

  13. This is a very nice informative article. At the point I was looking for an affordable way to get to Belgrade from Belgium. The cheapest I found to be a Flexibus bus travel from Brussels to Budapest then will catch one of these trains you explained here to get me into Belgrade.
    With an european ID, can I cross to Serbia without visa by train?

  14. Hi Flo,

    I’m expecting to take the 345 Avala from Budapest to Belgrade tomorrow at noon. I have an interrail pass, but the website says that “reservation is required for part of the journey” and marks the trip as Reservation Compulsory. However, you seem to say (and some other sites as well) that reservation is not required. Could you confirm this thought?

    • Hi,
      reservation is only compulsory for domestic travel in Hungary. For international travel no reservation is needed.
      Have a nice trip,
      Flo

  15. Hi! We are going to Belgrade tomorrow bu train 345 Avala. Are there any luggage service to take care of our 2 suitcases on the train?

    • Hi Anne,

      no there is no luggage storage on board the train. If you want to go to the restaurant car I recommend to take your valuables with you and ask a fellow traveller to look for your suitcases (I also always carry a steel cable and padlock with me to fix luggage to the luggage racks).

      Flo

  16. Thanks very much for the blog and the information Flo 🙂
    I understand what you are saying about taking the Avala train as it has a restaurant but I think I’d like to arrive in Belgrade earlier in the day, so I’ll pack a lunch and take the Ivo Andric!

  17. Hi! I am going to travel from Budapest to Belgrad tomorrow and now I wonder if I need some Visa? I’m an Finnish man so I think I don’t need one?

    • Hi!
      No, you do not need a visa to enter Serbia for up to 90 days as a Finnish citizen. However, either passport or id card are required.

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