The Best Ways to Travel from Belgrade to Budapest: Detailed Guide [Updated 2024]

You can get from Belgrade to Budapest by car, bus, or plane, and below you will find some additional information to help you choose the way of traveling that suits you the most.

You’ll need at most 4 hours to get from Belgrade to Budapest, but just so you know, there’s currently no train linking these two cities. They’ve been working on a high-speed railway since 2014, but the old one isn’t running anymore.

We’ve heard that trains might start zooming between the cities in 2025, which could slash the travel time to just 2 hours. Until that happens, we’ve got your back with some other cool ways to travel from Belgrade to Budapest.

What is the distance and how long it takes to get to Budapest from Belgrade?

In case you are going by car or bus, the distance is exactly 379 km. Considering the fact that the two cities are connected by highway, this trip can be completed in about 4-5 hours. Of course, these are the ideal conditions, which rarely exist in real life.

Things like traffic jams, slippery roads or busy border crossings can prolong this journey significantly but let’s say that most of the time, it takes around 6 hours to reach Budapest by car. That is, in case you do not make detours and prolonged stops along the way.

When it comes to traveling by bus, you will be looking at just shy of 8 hours per trip. Mind you, crossing the border by bus can last a bit longer, especially if some passengers forget to bring the necessary documents. Surprisingly, this happens quite frequently. Another delay may occur in case the border police decide to randomly check some of the bags.

For those who prefer airline transportation, the flight lasts just 1 hour and 15 minutes. Still, when you consider that you have to be at the airport two hours ahead of your flight, the entire trip lasts well over 3 hours.

The best transport options

Now that you know the timelines and the distance between the two cities, we will take a look at some other details depending on the transport option of your choosing.

Option #1: Driving your car

To me, this is still the best possible option, as it gives me the freedom to follow my own plans and make as many stops along the way as I’d like. This includes using the A1 and M1 highways, which are an international route, so the roads tend to be in good condition.

Cities like Novi Sad on the Serbian and Szeged on the Hungarian side can be great locations to turn off the highway and enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch. Novi Sad is especially beautiful for those who love sightseeing and Szeged is known as the place where shopaholics go to satisfy their thirst for affordable clothing and other accessories. It also has a very nice zoo where you can easily spend a couple of hours, so if you’re not in a rush, you can make a nice detour here as well.

Because the lanes at border crossings for private cars and busses are separated, you’re less likely to wait a long time if you go in your vehicle. Just find a radio station that you like, set the temperature to what suits you the most and arm yourself with a bit of patience. For those who travel early in the morning, the traffic tends to be a bit lighter, and if possible, avoid the major holidays such as New Year’s and Christmas, as it can get quite crowded during this time of the year.

Option #2: Rent a car

As you can probably tell from this text, I am a person who loves to travel on my own terms. For those who do not possess a car, there is always an option of renting one, which gives you all of the aforementioned benefits. Just make sure you mention that you plan to cross the borders, as not all agencies offer this type of service.

Still, most of the time you won’t have any trouble finding a vehicle, as there are dozens of different online options to choose from. Now, when it comes to pricing, this can vary depending on the size of your family or the number of people you are traveling with.

Additionally, if you plan for a longer trip, you should be able to negotiate a slight discount as well. For newer vehicles, up to 5 years old, the prices usually go from 30 euros a day to 50 euros or more with vehicles in higher classes.

Another thing to pay attention to when renting a vehicle is that some agencies will include the cost of insurance in their prices, while others will charge this service separately, so make sure to check for this option when making your pick. You can pick up your car at a preset destination, or they can even deliver it to your address, for a small fee.

Option #3: Going by bus

There are several transport companies that can help you reach Budapest from Belgrade, but FlixBus and Fudex are probably the most well-known and reliable options. Even though most of these companies claim that this trip lasts only 6 hours, the truth of the matter is that 7 to 8 hours is the very minimum most of the time.

Usually, this includes stops at major cities along the way to pick up passengers and longer waiting at the border. What makes this option so interesting is the low cost of transport. For just 25 euros, you’ll be able to get to Budapest, while return tickets can be found for 40 euros.

Compared to the first two options, this is significantly cheaper. The buses usually go once or twice a day, and even more frequently during the busiest times of the year. Now, when it comes to comfort, the fact that I’m six foot six or two meters tall does not actually help in my case, but I can say that the buses tend to be new and well-maintained.

For those who travel often or are on a tight budget, this option is hard to beat. Sure, the trip will last a bit longer but if you are prepared to be a bit more patient, it can be worth your money.

Option #3: Take a direct flight

In case you are more about the destination rather than the journey, you’ll be happy to hear that a direct flight from Belgrade to Budapest is always an option. The direct flights can be found twice a day and are performed by Air Serbia, the Serbian national carrier. Other options include WizzAir and Lufthansa, but these flights are not as common and tend to cost more.

For most of the year, a one-way ticket can be found for right around 50 euros, while the return tickets can be a bit pricier depending on the dates, but can usually be found in the 120-150 euro range. As we mentioned before, the duration of the flight is around 75 minutes, so if you’re traveling light with only carry-on luggage, this can save you some time.

In my humble opinion, this is only a good option for those who don’t like driving, but due to the proximity of these two cities, the time saving is minuscule, and it takes away something from the overall travel experience.

Option #4: Car sharing

While I was initially surprised to find out that this option not only exists but also works like a charm, it’s a fact that thousands of people are using it every day. It is called BlaBlaCar, and it works on the same principles as other car-sharing apps.

While most of the car sharing is intended for individuals who travel within the Serbian borders, there are always at least a couple of available spots to Budapest, Vienna and other major European capitals.

I even tried this service back in 2018 only to find that one of my friends was offering a ride to Budapest. A quick phone call and a few laughs later, we arranged the details of the trip, and it was a truly memorable experience.

Once you go on the website or download the BlaBlaCar app, just type in your place of entry and the desired destination, and you will see the available drivers, which are ranked based on their previous tours. They usually provide a general outlook of their travel itinerary, and you can always discuss some details through messages on the app.

The costs can vary from one driver to another but are usually in the 20-25 euro range for one way, and 40-50 euro for those looking for a return trip. In case you are looking for some company and don’t mind meeting a stranger or two, be sure to check it out.

Belgrade to Budapest by Train

Sadly, these are not available at the time. Several years ago, a major project was set in place, with the goal of connecting the two capitals via a high-speed train. The first major hurdle was connecting Belgrade and Novi Sad, which took years longer than anticipated, but finally became active some time ago.

The plan was to then continue the high-speed rail to Subotica, ultimately connecting it to Szeged and Budapest. This issue remains unresolved, as the Chinese company that was in charge of this project was not able to honor many of the EU safety regulations and standards. Despite the original prognosis that the rail will be completed by the year 2018, six years later the end is nowhere in sight.

So, for all of you who love romantic train rides, sorry to disappoint you, but it seems that you’ll have to wait some more.

How to find the best accommodation in Budapest?

As you might expect, websites like Booking and Airbnb are still the most used options, with thousands of different properties to choose from. Compared to most European capitals, Budapest tends to be not as expensive, but then again there are options for every budget.

Hostels might be a good option for young people who aren’t necessarily interested in luxury accommodation but love to be near the city center. Still, for those traveling by car, it might be best to search for rentals offering a free car park, as searching for free parking in a city you don’t know can sometimes be a stressful experience.

The costs usually start at 40 euros per night for smaller apartments and hostels, and well, as they like to say, the sky is the limit.

Things to do in Budapest

You don’t even have to like gigantic structures to be impressed by the Hungarian Parliament Building, so we can start there. If you’ve ever watched a TV show about Budapest or were given a postcard from this place, chances are the Parliament Building was the first thing shown. This domed structure is located on the Danube River, and it is grandiose during the day, but especially at night.

The recommendation is to check it out as a part of a guided tour, which will allow you to learn more details about this historic place. Boat tours are highly popular in Budapest, and this building is one of the main exhibits every time.

Budapest is also known for its stunning castles and churches, so let’s mention some right now. The Fisherman’s Bastion is a popular tourist sight and the Buda castle, which dates back to the 18th century is another can’t-miss destination. Speaking of important structures, let’s also not forget the St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Matthias Church, serving as the places where the Hungarian kings and noblemen were coronated.

I can go on and on about the gorgeous architecture of Budapest, but I’m sure that you’ll find the necessary information about it elsewhere. What I have to mention is the food and drinks, which is the most underrated part of Hungary if you ask me.

There’s nothing like a good goulash, which is a meat stew to warm you up on a cold Budapest day. For a good alternative, I would recommend a chicken paprikash or a fisherman’s soup. If you have a sweet tooth, you have to try their famous sponge cake, which for me was surprisingly delicious. To end the day, a glass or two of palinka cannot hurt.

We hope that our guide will inspire you to visit Budapest as soon as you can, you will definitely fall in love with this remarkable city. In case you have any questions or additional recommendations, be sure to let us know in the comment section, and we will always try to keep you updated.

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