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 Update: Unfortunately the restaurant car has been withdrawn in December 2017.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"|
|Kelebia (Hungarian border station)||arr||11:11||15:11||01:08|
|Subotica (Serbian border station)||arr||11:55||15:55||01:54|
|344 "Avala"||342 "Ivo Andric"||340 "Beograd"|
|Subotica (Serbian border station)||dep||12:02||16:02||02:16|
|Kelebia (Hungarian border station)||dep||12:46||16:46||03:00|
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€.
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.
Update: April 2018