Fastest journey13hr 39m
It is an easy journey by train from Paris to Budapest. Our preferred option is to take the mid-afternoon TGV from Paris to Munich, changing there onto an overnight train to Budapest. The TGV service from Paris to Munich is run by French operator SNCF, while the onward overnight service to Budapest is operated by the Hungarian train company MÁV. During the summer months, you’ll be rewarded with some fine scenery on the evening journey through southern Germany towards Munich. Sadly, you’ll not see much of the Alps as that section of the trip is overnight.
There are alternative routes. One option is to take a late-afternoon TGV from Paris to Zurich, from where there is a direct overnight train to Budapest. The travel time is a shade quicker than the Munich option, but it is usually considerably more expensive. You can also travel by day from Paris to Budapest. It’s a longish journey, over 14 hours in all, and you’ll need to change trains in Stuttgart and Salzburg.
Whichever route you choose for your journey from Paris to Budapest, tickets normally go on sale three months in advance.
Paris to Munich
The year-round once-daily direct train from Paris to Munich departs from the Gare de l’Est in Paris and arrives at Munich Hauptbahnhof. On a small number of peak travel dates in 2017, there is a second direct train on this route. A new high-speed line in France opened in 2016, bringing the journey time for the direct Paris to Munich train down to just over five and a half hours. There are several additional Paris to Munich options each day, all requiring a change of train in Stuttgart, Mannheim. Karlsruhe or Frankfurt.
The direct TGV from Paris to Munich tracks east on the high-speed line from Paris towards the German border, sometimes touching 320 kph along the way. After a brief stop in Strasbourg the train crosses the River Rhine and then continues south-east to Stuttgart, where the train reverses. From there it is another two hours with stops in Ulm and Augsburg to Munich Hauptbahnhof, where there is an excellent range of onward connections to destinations in Bavaria, Austria and beyond.
Munich to Budapest (night train)
Late every evening, a multicoloured rake of carriages pulls out of Munich Hauptbahnhof, carrying overnight travellers to destinations which include Venice, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Budapest. The Hungary-bound portion of the train travels overnight through Austria, pausing in Vienna around six in the morning. From the Austrian capital, it is less than three hours to Budapest. The train terminates at Keleti station in Budapest.
The night train from Munich to Budapest is named after the Hungarian composer Kálmán Imre. You have a choice of seats, couchettes or sleepers – all in air-conditioned Hungarian carriages.
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Image credits: Graeme Churchard