getting from budapest to transylvania

Close-up of a map of Central/Eastern Europe focusing on Hungary and Romania.

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If you’re coming to Transylvania via plane, chances are you’ll be flying in to either Bucharest Otopeni (OTP) or Budapest Ferenc Liszt (BUD). While it is much more common to fly into Bucharest, flights from the USA or other locations outside of Europe are likely to have more (and cheaper) flight options into Budapest. You may even be able to score direct flights much easier! There are many different options for getting from Budapest to Transylvania depending on which city you are visiting first.

For links and resources, scroll to the bottom of the post.

important things to note

taking the train

Most of the trains traveling across the border from Budapest into Transylvania will have a Romanian portion of the train and a Hungarian portion of the train. Be sure you are in your correct seat! The Hungarian portion will often detach at the border, and only the Romanian portion will continue onward. Unfortunately, the snack cart is usually in the Hungarian portion, so pack snacks accordingly.

renting a car

When renting a car in Hungary to take across the border, you must let the agent know. Some rental agencies may not have drop-off offices in your chosen city, and there may be additional fees involved.

Be sure to have your IDP (International Driver’s Permit) if it’s required based on your country of citizenship.

border crossing

Although both nations are members of the European Union, only Hungary is a Schengen state. This means that border controls are implemented, unlike crossing from, say, Austria to Hungary (both Schengen States).

time zones

Don’t forget, when you travel from Budapest to Transylvania, you’re heading into a different time zone! Everything is one hour later.

general take-aways

Driving is generally the fastest and most efficient option. If you have access to your own vehicle or can rent a car (permitted to cross international borders), this is your best bet.


when is the best time to visit transylvania?

getting from budapest to…

cluj-napoca

Views of Cluj-Napoca from Cetatuia Park during sunset.

train

There is a daily train that departs Budapest to Cluj-Napoca. It leaves Budapest Keleti at 17:40 and arrives in Cluj-Napoca at approximately 2:00 in the morning. Total duration of the train ride from Budapest to Cluj-Napoca is seven hours twenty minutes and costs between $10-$35 USD.

bus

Transport by bus is also an option from BUD airport to Cluj-Napoca. The ride is about seven hours and costs around $25 USD. President Tours offers transfers between BUD and Cluj-Napoca.

plane

Flying to Cluj-Napoca from Budapest may seem like the easiest or fastest way, but it’s far from it. This option should only be used as a last resort, as there is a layover in Western Europe (usually London or Rome) and the total flight time winds up taking upwards of eight hours.

car

This is the fastest way to travel between Budapest and Cluj-Napoca. The drive takes just under six hours.

things to do in cluj-napoca

day trips from cluj-napoca


sibiu

Views of Piata Mica in Sibiu from Council Tower.

train

This is how I wound up in Romania – taking the train from Budapest to Sibiu. There are two options for this route – the day train or the night train. The day train departs at 10:10 and arrives in Sibiu around 22:00, so it’s roughly an eleven hour journey. It’s long, but doable.

The night train departs Budapest at 19:10 and arrives around 7:00 (+1). I took the day train, and can say with confidence that you won’t be missing much in the way of scenery if you opt for the night train. The day train ride costs around $30 USD; prices for the night train vary depending on your sleeping compartment choice.

bus

S.C. Latino Express offers bus transit to Sibiu OMV once daily. It normally takes about eight hours total travel time. This route is currently not in service due to the pandemic restrictions in Hungary.

You can check the official website for updated information.

plane

Although there is an airport in Budapest and an airport in Sibiu, flights between the two require multiple connections and over 20 hours! Not to mention the fact that tickets cost hundreds of dollars. Find an alternate route.

car

Driving from Budapest to Sibiu takes about five hours. Driving will always be your fastest option.

things to do in sibiu

where to eat in sibiu


timișoara

Colorful piata in Timisoara, Romania with bright flowers in the foreground.

train

A daily train departs Budapest Keleti at 15:10, arrives in Timișoara at 21:40 and takes about five and a half hours. Prices range from $8-$26 USD.

There is also a night train option, but that involves a 12 hour layover and 17 hours total travel time.

bus

S.C. Latino Express offers bus transit to Timișoara once daily. It normally takes under five hours total travel time. This route is currently not in service due to the pandemic restrictions in Hungary.

You can check the official website for updated information.

plane

Again, despite their close proximity, a plane from Budapest to Timișoara is not a reasonable option. Flights are either far too long (over ten hours) or three-ish hours for hundreds of dollars. Any other way is a better option than flying.

car

Driving is definitely the fastest way to get from Budapest to Timișoara, taking just a bit over three hours.


brașov

Red rooftops of Brasov in the forest-covered mountains of Transylvania.

train

There are three different train options from Budapest to Brașov, all of which are over 13 hours and arrive the next day, costing between $40-$50 USD. The first departs at 10:10 and arrives 00:55, the next departs 19:10 and arrives 9:55, and the last departs at 23:10 and arrives 13:25.

bus

S.C. Latino Express offers bus transit to Brașov daily. It normally takes around ten hours total travel time. This route is currently not in service due to the pandemic restrictions in Hungary.

You can check the official website for updated information.

plane

There is no airport in Brașov, and thus no air options between Budapest and Brașov.

car

Driving is the fastest and most convenient option, but still taking over seven hours.

thing to do in brașov

day trips from brașov


târgu mureș

Colorful buildings of Targu Mures, Romania during springtime.

train

Unfortunately, there are no direct trains from Budapest to Târgu Mureș. If you really want to travel by rail, you’ll have to change trains in Cluj-Napoca. This option takes about twelve and a half hours and costs roughly $25 USD.

bus

Bus operators transferring between Budapest and Târgu Mureș are not currently in service due to the ongoing pandemic.

plane

To make up for the fact that trains and buses from Budapest to Târgu Mureș aren’t abundant, in Târgu Mureș you’ve got the option to fly direct! Flights as low as $72 with a total flight duration of one hour. Take advantage of the direct flight and visit Sighișoara while you’re there!

car

Driving from Budapest to Târgu Mureș will take just under six and a half hours.


oradea

Riverfront buildings in Oradea, Transylvania, Romania under cloudy skies.

train

The train ride from Budapest to Oradea is relatively short in comparison with some other Transylvanian cities, taking just under five hours. The train departs daily at 17:40 and arrives in Oradea at 23:25, costing between $6-$20 USD.

bus

President Tour offers a three hour bus ride from Budapest Airport (BUD). This same route continues on to Cluj-Napoca and costs roughly $15-$25 USD.

plane

Flights from Budapest to Oradea are not offered direct, and the amount of layovers and cost makes it a poor option. Stick with train, bus, or car to get to Oradea.

car

Driving from Budapest to Oradea takes just about three hours, making it the fastest option to reach Transylvania.


arad

Arad Town Hall with colorful flowers in the foreground under bright blue skies.

train

There are a few options for rail travel from Budapest to Arad, each of which takes about four and a half hours. The first train departs Budapest at 15:10 and arrives around 20:45, the next train departs Budapest at 19:10 and arrives in Arad at 00:40, and the last train departs 23:10 and arrives Arad 4:30. Taking a train from Budapest to Arad costs under $20 USD.

bus

S.C. Latino Express offers bus transit to Arad daily. It normally takes around four hours total travel time. This route is currently not in service due to the pandemic restrictions in Hungary.

You can check the official website for updated information.

plane

Again, due to their close proximity, skip the plane (and layovers), and opt for overland travel instead.

car

Driving to Arad from Budapest only takes two and a half hours! Arad is the closest Transylvanian city to Budapest, making it a great stopover if you aren’t into long travel times.


baia mare

Wooden churches in Baia Mare, Romania (Transylvania).

train

Traveling from Budapest to Baia Mare requires a couple of transfers. From Budapest, you take a train to Debrecen, from Debrecen to Nyirabrany, and finally from there to Baia Mare. The entire route takes about eight and a half hours and costs $15-$30 USD.

bus

Use President Tour to take a bus from Budapest to Oradea, and from Oradea take a bus to Baia Mare. This journey takes about nine hours and costs around $15 USD.

plane

No flights are currently offered between Budapest and Baia Mare.

car

Traveling from Budapest to Baia Mare by car is the fastest and most convenient option. The ride takes about four and a half hours and avoids any and all transfers!


satu mare

Famous fountain of Satu Mare with blue water in Romania.

train

The train from Budapest to Satu Mare requires one transfer in Debrecen and takes six hours in total. This route will cost about $20 USD.

bus

As with Baia Mare, a bus route from Budapest to Satu Mare requires a transfer in Oradea. The entire thing takes about eight and a half hours and costs about $15 USD.

plane

There are no flights currently offered between Budapest and Satu Mare.

car

Driving from Budapest to Satu Mare takes about three and a half hours. As with every other Transylvanian city, driving is the most efficient means of traveling from Budapest to Transylvania.


resources & links

Things to do in Transylvania

MAV Railways

Romanian Railways (CFR)

Skyscanner

Flixbus

President Tours


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