Below is an example of using the MÁV START Train website to book an adult, return, second-class, direct train journey from Budapest (Keleti train station) to Austria (Wien train station). Once you know how to use the MÁV START Train website you will know how to book other European train journeys/tickets for places such as Prague.
Before you even attempt to buy a ticket from MÁV START, Registration PageRegister An Account with them first. Why? Because after booking a ticket and adding it to the shopping cart you are then asked to Register An Account in order to pay for that ticket. Nothing wrong with this procedure in theory, however there are some issues with it when using certain web browsers on certain operating systems.
When using Firefox and Google Chrome on Linux for example and after adding a ticket to the shopping cart, either the shopping cart becomes unavailable (not accessible) or it gets emptied. When using Microsoft Edge for example on Windows 10 I never get these problems. It is probably because of the way the MÁV START website and/or its scripts work and favour Windows users? Either way, I have used the Microsoft Edge web browser for the example below.
Begin your train search by visiting the http://elvira.mav-start.hu/MÁV START Train website. If necessary, change the language to English (or Deutsch) via their language link in the top-right corner of their website.
Click on the English language link to use English web pages
The main page starts off wanting your FROM (Departure) and TO (Destination) information, on the left-side of the page; under the heading ROUTE; so begin by clicking inside the FROM edit box and start typing the word Budapest.
As you start typing Budapest, a list of departure stations beginning with the letter B will appear in a drop-down menu whereby you can either click on a main station name (i.e. BUDAPEST*) or on an exact station name (i.e. Budapest Keleti) if you know which station a train departs from or you prefer a particular station. Carry on typing if you do not see a specific station name appear in the drop-down menu at first. For this example, click on Budapest Keleti.
Click on the menu-item called BUDAPEST KELETI to select it as your departure
If you know the exact departure station name (i.e. Budapest Keleti), select it instead of a main station name (i.e. Budapest*); as the website sometimes shows better options when you do this. Example: It sometimes states No Journey Available when BUDAPEST* is selected, but then shows Available Journeys when Budapest Keleti is selected.
Now click inside the TO edit box and start typing the name of your destination (i.e. VIENNA). Again a drop-down menu will appear, this time with station names that begin the letter from your destination name (i.e. Vienna Centrale). For this example, click on the menu-item called VIENNA [WIEN*] - a main train station.
Click on the menu-item called VIENNA [WIEN*] to select it as your destination
The next step is to select your Departure Date by using the calendar on the right-side of the page. The button with the arrows pointing right [>>>] mean forward (advance) the months on the calendar whereas the button with the arrows pointing left [<<<] mean backward (show previous) months on the calendar.
In this example I will use the forward button [>>>] to advance the calendar to September and then click on the number 12 to choose 12th September as my departure date. If I only want to use today's date, I can just leave the calendar alone (set to today's date of 29th June).
Tick the DIRECT CONNECTIONS ONLY option to show direct routes only
Once you have chosen your Departure station, Destination station and Departure Date, the next step is to click on the TIMETABLE button. However, before doing that, you might want to limit the search results to show Direction Connections Only; by ticking the option DIRECTION CONNECTIONS ONLY, which I have done above.
As I am paying a full adult fare, plus the fact discounts are only available for domestic train journeys (train journeys within Hungary only), I cannot select any discounts from the REDUCTIONS drop-down menu. However, this does not mean I cannot limit the search results to look for DIRECT CONNECTIONS ONLY; even though the above Search Options message states otherwise.
With your Departure, Destination and Departure Date chosen, and the Direct Connections option ticked if need be, click on the TIMETABLE button (above) to continue. Doing so will produce the following page with Outward Journey, Return Journey and Passenger options on it.
In the Outward Journey section you can change your seating to a 1st Class carriage, Couchette (sofabed compartment for male and female (mixed) for 4 or 6 passengers) or Sleeping Car (bed and sink compartment for up to 3 passengers, with an 'own compartment' option) from 2nd Class carriage.
If you need a return journey, simply click inside the DATE edit box or on the calendar icon and change the Return Date (calendar); as described above.
Enter your D.O.B and then click on the TICKETS & PRICES button to continue
In the Passengers section you can select up to five passengers, which will then be classed as 'one group' whereby you need to specify their D.O.Bs. If you need one or more passengers to have their own compartment for example, you are advised to make them separate bookings. Either way, you must supply a D.O.B for every passenger, including yourself (even if buying a single ticket).
The D.O.B entry helps the search engine to look for discounts and special offers for example, based on each passenger's age.
When you have entered all of the above details, click on the TICKETS AND PRICES button (above) to continue. You will then see a summary of your journey and possible ticket prices.
A summary of your single (outward) and/or return ticket(s)
Underneath the above summary, you can view timetable and train details for your departing train, and returning train if applicable, by clicking on the orange 'Further Information' button to the right of a price. In this example I will click on the orange 'Further Information' button next to the 26,00 Euro (8,060 Ft) price.
Click on an orange 'Further Information' button to continue
Initially the 'Further Information' button just exposes train times and duration for your departure train, and return train if applicable, which means you then need to click on a specific train's orange 'Further Information' button to view even more specific information such as train times, durations, departing platforms, station stops, arrival times and so on.
This is the initial 'Further Information' page, which is a summary page.
In this example I have clicked on the 'Further Information' button next to the 7:40am outward journey train and viewed its train details. If I now want to book a seat on this train, I need to click on the empty circle button to the right of the page, which is the Seat Reservation button. It changes to a solid black circle when clicked on, which means I want to book a seat on this 7:40am train.
Click on the 'Seat Reservation' (circle) button to book a seat
You do exactly the same if you have chosen a return ticket. In this example I have booked a seat reservation for the return journey train leaving Vienna at 5:25pm.
Click on the 'Seat Reservation' (circle) button to book a seat
When you have reserved your 'right to a seat' (i.e. A seat only and not a specific seat number), go to the top of the page and click on the TICKET TO THE CART button to add your train ticket(s) to the shopping cart/basket whereby you will then be asked to login to your MÁV START account. If you do not have one, you will need to Register An Account (see notes at the top of this web page).
Login to your MÁV START account or register for a new account
Once you are logged in you will have a set time to pay for your train ticket(s), denoted by a countdown clock towards the top-right corner of the page. The pages that follow show your train itinerary.
A summary of your train itinerary and purchase options
Prices are calculated in Euros, but you will pay in Hungarian Forints
It is best to select I REQUEST A PRINTED INVOICE
Read and Agree To the T&Cs and then click on the PAY button
After reading and agreeing to the terms and conditions, click on the PAY button to be transferred to the OPT Bank payment page. Fill in the required details, confirm those details and then pay for your train ticket(s). It is a very straight forward process.
Fill in your bank details, confirm those details and then pay for your train ticket(s).
When you first start searching for a train ticket via the MÁV START website (from Budapest to Vienna for example, which is classed as an International Train Ticket), you will see the following message (as shown at the top of this web page also).
Please note that home printing of international tickets is NOT POSSIBLE. International tickets booked online must be collected at any of the Ticket Collection Points located at railway stations in Hungary before your journey. Passengers travelling without a collected ticket must purchase a new ticket on board and pay penalty.
It means you will receive a unique pin code after paying for your train ticket whereby you need to go to any train station in Hungary with a yellow ticket machine (collection point) and enter your unique pin code into it in order to then have your train ticket printed by that ticket machine.
NOTE: Yellow ticket machines redeem/print international train tickets and blue ticket machines redeem/print domestic train tickets.
The good thing about this unique pin code system is that anyone can collect (printout) your train ticket. This means you could pay for someone, such as a family member or friend living/studying/working in Hungary, to take a trip to Vienna for example. Or ask someone to collect your ticket in preparation of your early morning European tour.
When registering a MÁV START account you can create named invoices that can later be applied to your ticket purchases, when using a ticket machine.
As an example: You can create a personal 'Natural Person' invoice and a business 'Economic Organization' invoice whereby each gets a unique Customer Code. When you later buy a ticket from a ticket machine whereby you need an invoice, you simply enter your Customer Code just before paying. That way you will get your ticket(s) printed as well as an invoice.
The registration form itself just needs your invoice data - Name, Settlement (address of residence/business, such as your UK home/business address) and type of invoice to create (Natural Person or Economic Organization). A unique 10 digit Customer Code will then be assigned to that invoice. From there you can create more invoices, delete an invoice or edit an invoice.