Many travelers have asked me how to travel from Budapest to Zagreb or vice versa. After a first glance on the map, the distance of less than 350 km shouldn’t be a big problem and fortunately you have various options for your trip.
I have had the opportunity to travel from Budapest to Zagreb on several occasions and it was always easy and straightforward, without any unexpected delays or problems.
Either way, anything can happen as life is unpredictable, but generally, going to Budapest from Zagreb and the other way around is usually easy, fast and enjoyable.
I traveled mostly by train as that is my favorite means of transportation, but buses are a convenient (and sometimes faster) way of getting from Budapest to Zagreb.
While usually the fastest way, getting on a plane is the slowest and least comfortable option as there are no direct flights connecting the two capitals at the moment.
But now let’s check out some extra details about your options!
Getting from Budapest to Zagreb by Train
This means of transportation is usually the slowest way to reach Zagreb from Hungary’s capital, but more traditional and more romantic and without a doubt my favorite. I personally love to ride trains, so I’m a bit biased here.
The average travel time between Budapest and Zagreb is around 6.5 hours, with two direct trains available each day, one leaving early in the morning and the other during the afternoon.
During the high season, you might have even more direct train options from Budapest to Zagreb, so make sure to check out your options before on the Hungarian Railways official website.
With Budapest being such a large city, the trains to Zagreb will depart from two different stations: usually, the morning one leaves from the Deli train station, while the evening one leaves from Keleti. Make sure to check before hand to make sure that you go to the right train station!
In Zagreb all trains arrive to the main train station (Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor), located conveniently in the very center of the town.
While the train ride itself is not the fastest, you get to ride in a comfortable cart that is usually cheap (as low as 9 Euros if you book in advance) and you also get to ride past the Balaton lake in Hungary, which is really nice to see.
Getting from Budapest to Zagreb by Bus
This is usually the fastest way of getting from one point to the other if you don’t have a personal car. Direct buses are available, with travel times of under 5 hours.
While you do get to your destination faster than with a train, you don’t have the same comfort levels, but in the end it’s up for you to decide which is the best option in your case.
If you are traveling from Budapest to Croatia, Zagreb will be the main junction to all Croatian destinations, especially those along the Adriatic coast (Split, Pula, Zadar, Dubrovnik) as well as to nearby Slovenia and Italy.
There are several bus companies that keep Budapest and Zagreb connected. Usually, buses depart from Budapest’s Nepliget station, but it doesn’t hurt to double check just to make sure that you go to the right place (some buses leave from the Kelenford station, for example)
Népliget is a bus station on the M3 line of the Budapest Metro, near the Groupama Arena, within the 9th District of Budapest. Check this bus station on the map here.
Bus carriers: Budapest – Zagreb – Budapest
As I said, there are several companies connecting the two European capitals, so you will have lots of options throughout the day.
I usually choose the larger, better known companies just because it’s easier to find information about them and book online.
Here are my recommended ones:
One of the most known bus carriers on this line is Flixbus. These buses are very cheap and offer a lot for the money: some of them have on-board toilets (which are really important for longer rides in my opinion) as well as free WiFi.
There are multiple departures throughout the day, from early in the morning to late at night. The seats are comfortable, the buses are nice and you usually get to your destination in time.
While I don’t think that you can go wrong with Flixbus on this route, there is the option of getting a Nomago bus instead. You can check their website for more details, but they have fewer departures.
As an added bonus, if you want something like that, you can opt for a luxury seat in their buses, with larger chairs that are more comfortable.
The fastest way from Budapest to Zagreb: by car
If you’re a tourist, most likely this isn’t the first option for you, but it is probably the fastest. You can drive a car from Budapest to Zagreb and reach your destination in under 4 hours (the distance between the two cities is of around 345 kilometers or 240 miles, much of it on fast highways).
Alternately, you can rent a driver as there are a few companies operating on this route, but it won’t be cheap. But an advantage is that you can also stop on the way to the Lake Balaton in Hungary, which is really nice and one of the country’s top attractions.
If you drive a car, from Budapest you should go on the M7 and E65/E71 route. This route has tolls and the approximate costs are of around 50 Euros per vehicle (including 5.60 € tolls, 9.8 € road tax and around 34 € for gas). Toll prices might change, so double check before leaving!
Budapest to Zagreb by Plane
While taking a plane is usually the fastest way to get from a city to another, in this case things are different because there are no direct flights from Budapest to Zagreb and vice-versa.
There are rumors that some companies are planning to introduce direct flights during the summer, but so far nothing seems to be set in stone.
This means that taking a plane to fly from Budapest to Zagreb is not advisable, as you will spend more than on other means of transportation, but it will also take longer for you to get to your destination.
But at least you have other options available and, even though the slowest, the train remains my favorite.
If it’s not Zagreb that you want to reach in Croatia if you’re leaving from Hungary’s capital, I also have a guide on how to get from Budapest to Split, in case you want to be closer to the sea.