Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Riding the Rails on a Budget
For budget-conscious travelers, riding the rails in Germany and Hungary offers an affordable way to explore these countries. Train travel provides easy access to charming villages and lesser-known destinations without breaking the bank.
One of the best deals is Germany's extensive regional train network. For just €17, you can purchase a Bayern Ticket valid for an entire day of unlimited train travel in Bavaria. Or opt for the €24 Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket to explore any region in Germany on weekends. These tickets allow you to hop on and off trains spontaneously rather than being tied to a strict schedule.
Travelers rave about riding local trains through Franconia's rolling hills dotted with medieval towns. The journey itself is part of the experience as you watch hilltop castles and historic churches pass by your window. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of venturing to small towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber, then return to your starting point in the evening.
In southern Germany, routes winding through the Bavarian Forest offer stunning mountain scenery. Catch the Waldbahn from Plattling to Zwiesel for breathtaking river valleys stretching between quaint villages. The scenic journey takes just over an hour, leaving you plenty of time to explore Zwiesel before heading back.
Hungary's villages and provincial towns are also accessible by rail on the nationwide MAV network. The charming town of Szentendre is only a 40 minute ride from Budapest, making it an easy day trip. Wander cobblestone streets lined with colorful Habsburg-era architecture before catching the train back to the capital.
For a peaceful escape from urban areas, travel to the southern village of Mohács. Climb to the hilltop memorial commemorating Hungary's defeat by Ottoman Turks in 1526. Then relax alongside the Danube in this unhurried town before taking an evening train back to Budapest.
What else is in this post?
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Riding the Rails on a Budget
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Discovering Quaint Villages by Train
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Trams Offer a New Perspective of Budapest
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Automobile Day Trips from Berlin
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Cheap Eats - Street Food Finds in Munich
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Hostels and Pensions - Affordable Accommodations
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Free Walking Tours in Historic City Centers
- Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Off the Beaten Path Destinations
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Discovering Quaint Villages by Train
Trains provide the perfect opportunity to discover charming, overlooked villages across Germany and Hungary. Unlike major cities, these rural destinations move at a more relaxed pace and offer glimpses into traditional local life. Venturing by rail lets you avoid tourist crowds and forge your own path to hidden gems tucked away from main attractions.
One delightful village accessible by train from Munich is Füssen, located near the foothills of the Alps. Its cobblestone streets and historic buildings hark back to its roots as a stop along the trade route to Italy. Meander along the Lech River, passing the late Gothic Parish Church of Saint Magnus. Stop for a drink in a sun-drenched café patio before browsing the Benedictine monastery’s impressive library. Füssen offers a peaceful alternative to the bustling tourist scene in Munich.
The village of Mittenwald, just 90 minutes from Munich, delivers postcard-perfect Alpine views. Beyond its charming painted houses, Mittenwald charms visitors with its musical heritage. You can visit the Geigenbaumuseum (Violin Museum) housed in the former violin-making school. Don't miss watching craftsmen create the town’s renowned instruments in their workshops. The surrounding Karwendel mountains are crisscrossed with hiking trails to alpine huts where you can refuel with a hearty meal after a day of exploring.
In Hungary, the provincial town of Eger makes for an easy day trip from Budapest. Walk the town’s baroque streets and soak up historic ambiance emanating from Ottoman and Habsburg influences. The 13th-century Eger Castle provides panoramic views of the surrounding hills dotted with vineyards. Visit the Valley of the Beautiful Women, famed for its Egri Bikavér ("Bull’s Blood of Eger") red wine. Return to Budapest relaxed and enlightened by Eger’s richness.
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Trams Offer a New Perspective of Budapest
Gliding along steel rails past stately museums and bustling markets, trams let you experience the real Budapest alongside locals. Unlike tours confined to major sites, trams provide a lived-in feel for this storied capital. Rumbling by residential neighborhoods and glimpses into everyday life, you’ll see a more authentic side of the city beyond the guidebooks.
Budapest’s efficient tram network makes navigating this sprawling metropolis a breeze. With over 30 lines criss-crossing the city, trams can whisk you from Buda Castle to City Park in 25 minutes flat. Their frequent schedules mean you never have to wait long at stops dotted with whimsical pavilions. And at just 350 HUF a ride, trams are cheaper than taxis or guided tours.
Travelers rave about Line 2, linking Budapest’s two distinct districts along the iconic Chain Bridge. On the Buda side, marvel at the neo-Gothic splendor of the Hungarian Parliament Building. Cross to Pest for an eyeful of the magnificent St. Stephen's Basilica and lively shops lining Váci utca. As you rattle along the Danube, you’ll understand why Budapest is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.
For a dive into everyday Hungarian life, hop aboard tram 4 or 6, bound for outer neighborhoods. Passing worn apartment blocks and local markets, you’ll feel worlds away from the tourist centers. Grab a langos pastry as locals do and enjoy views of Liberty Bridge. With a transit map and sense of adventure, trams let you craft your own Budapest itinerary beyond the typical sights.
Come evening, Line 6 offers a peaceful ride across Chain Bridge to Buda’s hilltop neighborhoods. Watch the city lights sparkle as you ascend Castle Hill towards historic Buda Castle. Step off near trendy cafés before wandering back alleyways dotted with hidden courtyards. After a day exploring by tram, cap it off with magical views of Budapest aglow after dark.
Aim to ride the trails on weekends when sections of Andrássy út and the Danube riverbank are closed to cars. With ample room, trams become sightseeing vehicles offering unobstructed vistas of top attractions. Sundays also feature vintage tram parades full of old-world charm. Snap photos aboard these nostalgic relics from Hungary’s past.
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Automobile Day Trips from Berlin
With its world-class museums, vibrant food scene, and non-stop nightlife, Berlin dazzles visitors from the moment they arrive. But leaving Germany’s capital for day trips allows you to experience the surrounding countryside and smaller towns that shaped Prussian history. Avoid convoluted train timetables and expensive guided tours by renting a car in Berlin. Just an hour’s drive in any direction reveals castles, gardens, and memorial sites reflecting the region’s storied past.
One of the most rewarding day trips via car from Berlin is Potsdam. Located just 30 minutes southwest, Frederick the Great built opulent palaces and gardens here in the 18th century that rival Versailles. Chronicles describe Sanssouci Palace as “the Prussian Versailles” with intricately landscaped gardens meant to awe guests. Wander through vine-strewn terraces and marvel at the Orangery’s exotic flora. Cross the regal Marble Bridge towards the New Palace, flaunting more than 200 lavish staterooms.
Beyond royal grounds, Potsdam hosts chilling relics from Germany’s tumultuous 20th century. The KGB Prison Memorial documents the detention of political prisoners by Soviet forces following WWII. An even heavier chapter is commemorated at the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz where the Third Reich’s “Final Solution” targeting Jews was planned in 1942. Understanding Germany’s complex history makes Potsdam a must-visit side trip.
Heading 45 miles north of Berlin brings you to the cathedral city of Brandenburg an der Havel. Situated along the Havel River, Brandenburg still retains its medieval old town of picturesque half-timber buildings. Climb the Gothic cathedral’s bell tower for panoramas of red-tiled rooftops stretching to the horizon. Wander through the 13th-century Dominsel Island, listening for evening concerts performed at St. Peter and Paul Church.
Beyond its historic center, Brandenburg envelops you in natural serenity. Glide across the Beetzsee lake aboard a solar-powered boat, taking in islands shaded by beech forests. Or pedal along miles of cycling paths crisscrossing meadows dotted with thatched-roof farmhouses. Locals boast that Brandenburg delivers “big-city amenities with small-town charm,” making it an idyllic escape from Berlin.
Venturing east of the capital leads you to Frankfurt an der Oder, bisected by the Oder River marking the Polish border. Ruled by various kingdoms over its 800-year history, Frankfurt showcases Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque styles in its historic buildings. Follow winding alleys that open onto cobbled public squares centered around elaborate fountains. The town’s most impressive sight is the 14th-century St. Marien Church, exhibiting both Gothic and neo-Romanesque elements.
Cross the Oder by footbridge into Poland’s Slubice, and you’ll feel transported to another country within minutes. Try delicacies like pierogi dumplings as you take in the more provincial atmosphere compared to Frankfurt’s German efficiency. Touring Frankfurt and Slubice in a single visit provides an illuminating contrast of cultures.
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Cheap Eats - Street Food Finds in Munich
Munich dazzles visitors with its grand Baroque palaces and world-famous beer halls. But experiencing the real Munich happens away from the tourist hubbub, in tiny street food stalls beloved by locals. Hunting down these authentic eateries lets you immerse yourself in neighborhood life and enjoy delicious cuisine without blowing your budget. Follow the savvy locals towards Marienplatz to discover some sensational street eats.
Even Munich natives eagerly join the line at the 200-year-old Feinkost Käfer for traditional weisswurst sausages and brezeln pretzels. Served from a small takeaway window, their delicate veal sausages remain some of the city’s finest. Pair them with a dollop of sweet mustard and wash it all down with a crisp helles lager. You’ll soon understand why weary office workers flock here to recharge. For just a few euros, it makes for a quintessential Munich lunch experience.
Another beloved pit stop is the Schneeweinchen & Rosenrot food stall, found in the Viktualienmarkt farmers market. This third-generation family business serves hearty plates of Leberkäse warm meatloaf accompanied by potato salad. Grab one of the outdoor picnic tables to join local shoppers chatting over this Bavarian comfort food. The market’s bustling atmosphere and convivial spirit are what Munich is all about.
While Viktualienmarkt closes in the afternoon, the party continues at Occam Deli’s street food stand just across the street. Their loaded fries heaped with sausages or pulled pork will fuel you up for an evening exploring Munich’s legendary nightlife. And their Mexican-Bavarian fusion currywurst burrito is ingenious – perfect for sopping up all that great German beer!
Night owls will relish a late-night Turkish döner kebab after the bars close down. Follow your nose towards the tantalizing smells wafting from Dönertier’s food truck on Sonnenstraße. You’ll likely end up waiting patiently with others craving spiced meat carved from the rotating skewer, then stuffed into piping hot flatbread along with shredded lettuce, tomatoes and garlicky yogurt sauce. It may sound simple, but add some fries and ayran yogurt drink and you’ve got some top-notch street food.
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Hostels and Pensions - Affordable Accommodations
Lodging sticker shock got you down? Ditch drab hotels and discover the social spirit of hostels and pensions for an authentic local experience on the cheap. Whether you prefer a cozy guesthouse or trendy backpacker hangout, affordable digs abound so you can save your cash for the fun stuff.
In Germany, pensions provide homey hospitality and old-world ambiance befitting their history as family-run guesthouses. For well under €50 a night, pensions let you live like a local in rooms packed with charm. Wake up to fresh-baked brötchen rolls and join fellow guests for breakfast by a crackling fireplace. Many pensions occupy historic buildings, so you may sleep in a medieval timber-framed inn or a 19th-century townhouse.
Pensions shine in small towns like Rothenburg ob der Tauber where the Gästehaus Raidel pampers guests with its idyllic walled garden and chic, modern rooms in a 14th-century building. Score your own private balcony overlooking the market square at the exquisite Burghotel Auf Schönburg. Beyond one-of-a-kind atmosphere, pensions provide insider tips from hosts that no guidebook can match.
Meanwhile hostels deliver social energy with modern amenities for budget mavens. Berlin leads the charge in cool, creative accommodations like the Circus Hostel. Beyond basic bunks, you’ll find stylish, airy dorms, a trendy lounge, and weekly events from cinema nights to summer barbecues. Along with standard shared bathrooms, the Circus Hostel offers gleaming hotel-style suites so you can have the best of both worlds.
The Wombats City Hostel also channels Berlin’s vibrant spirit with its hip lobby bar and chill outdoor terrace, perfect for swapping travel tales. When you need a break from socializing, small four-bed dorms offer privacy along with under-bed safes and reading lights. Grow tired of late-night revelry? The hostel's soundproofed rooms provide quiet quarters to recharge. WiFi, linens, and guest kitchens round out the amenities.
Budapest landmarks like the House of Terror reside just minutes from Wombats City Hostel in the happening District VII neighborhood. Nearby ruin pubs and the buzzing Jewish Quarter nightlife mean you’ll never run out of evening activities. And during the day, the hostel’s keycard grants discounts at neighborhood eateries and shops.
Beyond Budapest, private rooms in provincial hostels like the Koztarsasag provide a comfy base to explore cities like Sopron and Szentendre for under €15 per person. Converted from a 19th-century family home near the train station, expect charming antique finishes rather than cookie-cutter hostel decor. You’ll feel right at home as you fuel up each morning with the included breakfast in the salon.
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Free Walking Tours in Historic City Centers
Strolling along cobblestone streets while hearing tales of Knights Templar, medieval sieges, and royal conquests – free walking tours let you soak up history in Europe’s storied capitals without emptying your wallet. Wandering through these open-air museums, you gain insight that sterile exhibits cannot match. When an animated guide spins yarns of archdukes and invading Turks, these far-off times spring to life right before your eyes.
Joining a walking tour shows you hidden corners most tourists miss, from quiet cloisters to tucked-away taverns. Beyond historic trivia, you’ll see how each century shaped these cities into the vibrant places they are today. And you can pepper your guide with questions to learn more about contemporary politics, food culture, and everyday life. After an informative and entertaining two hours, you’ll understand what makes each destination distinct.
In Budapest, Absolute Walking Tours draws rave reviews for their witty, informal guides who reveal the real personalities behind Hungarian history. You’ll learn why no building in Budapest can stand taller than 96 meters – the exact height of Hungary’s revered Parliament Building. Gaze up at ornate architectural flourishes as your guide explains how rivaling aristocrats tried to outdo each other in periods past. The tour winds along the Danube before climbing Castle Hill. Guides amuse you with tales of feuding kings and Transylvanian voivodes along the way. You’ll leave laughing, but also enlightened with a nuanced picture of Budapest’s complex story.
Berlin’s tumultuous 20th-century history unfolds on Alternative Berlin’s walking tours. Their laid-back guides recount Berlin’s raucous cabaret days in the 1920s, the Nazi regime, and Cold War intrigues while leading you through resonant sites. Hear how subversive punk rock shaped youth culture in East Berlin. Learn why the city’s residents yearned for ketchup and bananas in post-WWII scarcity. The experience sticks with you long after leaving Alexanderplatz’s socialist architecture and the graffiti-covered remnants of the Berlin Wall.
Munich’s Munich Walk Tours inicioates you like a local strolling through historic Munich with entertaining guides revealing cultural traditions. Learn why stone lions guard noble palaces as you pass the grand Maximilianeum building. Discover how beer purity laws instituted 500 years ago still regulate brewing today, an integral part of Bavarian culture. And you'll gain local tips like where to grab an afternoon coffee and cake like a true Münchner. Your tour guide’s passion for the city becomes contagious.
Trains, Trams and Automobiles for Under €50: Exploring Germany and Hungary on the Cheap - Off the Beaten Path Destinations
Beyond the well-trodden tourist trails of Budapest, Munich, and Berlin lie lesser-known towns and landscapes waiting to be discovered. Venturing off the beaten path rewards intrepid travelers with unique sights and meaningful interactions without the crowds and kitsch. From sleepy villages to decaying castles, hidden gems scattered across Germany and Hungary reveal the countries’ more authentic spirit.
Escape frenzied tour groups and forge your own journey along Germany’s castle-studded Romantic Road. Stop to explore the medieval walls and towers of Dinkelsbühl, an unsung Beauty compared to its famous neighbor Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Or make a beeline for Burghausen, home to the longest castle in Europe stretching an astonishing 1,043 meters. Thrill at its imposing stature but marvel also at the pastel-hued homes lining the Salzach River below as you stroll through this pleasant town.
Hungary’s haunting plains open up a land lost in time dotted with decaying manors. Ramble through the 19th-century Festetics Palace, considered one of Hungary’s most romantic estate homes, set amidst tranquil gardens and lakes. Or seek out the crumbling Majláth Castle, which looks straight out of a gothic novel with its dramatic turrets and spires. Don’t miss the folk architecture museum offering a glimpse into traditional life on the Great Hungarian Plain.
Germany’s Black Forest radiates fairy tale allure with its verdant peaks and heart-shaped lakes. But many visitors stop at popular Titisee. Those pushing further into the wilderness are rewarded at Schluchsee, the Black Forest’s largest lake. Work up an appetite hiking forested trails before diving into a plate of Black Forest Cake at Seehotel Hohenfels. The peaceful setting far from crowds will restore your senses.
Smaller cities like Weimar and Passau tend to fly under tourists' radars but deliver charm in spades. Stroll Passau’s picture-perfect Altstadt on the shores of the Danube before grabbing a sausage at the half-timbered Rathaus. Meanwhile Weimar’s historic plazas and gardens that inspired Goethe and Schiller see only a modest stream of visitors. Spend an evening at one of the town’s cozy biergartens discussing German literature and philosophy without the crowds found in Berlin or Munich.
Beyond cities and landscapes, thermal baths tucked across Hungary provide relaxing escapes. Sample the therapeutic mineral waters of the Turkish-era Rudas Baths in Budapest or Egerszalók's Salt Hill Thermal Baths, where mineral-rich springs have been enjoyed since the 1700s. Reward your tired muscles soaking in 100-degree F waters as the stresses of travel wash away.