Getting Around Budapest: Guide to Public Transportation
Hungary's capital is a colourful and distinctive city. It's a pleasure to walk around. The colourful architecture is striking and takes you back in time. But it begs the question - how best to get around the city and get to the main attractions?
The answer is simple: walking is the best way to getting around the centre of Budapest. To explore the city fully, take public transport. The fastest and easiest way to get around is by subway, but if you want to admire the beautiful views, take the tram. Another good type of transport to travel around Budapest is riverboat - from this you can see the city in all it's glory.
In this article, we've put together all the information you need to know about getting around Budapest for your city break. We'll help you choose the one that's right for you and plan your budget. We will tell you about the routes, fares and traffic patterns in the city.
Public transport tickets in Budapest
To travel on public transport in Budapest, you will need a travel card. It is usually issued as a single ticket. This means that you can use it to travel on trams, buses, trains and trolleybuses. The exceptions are the children's railway, the cable car, the river bus and the airport express bus 100E.
Public transport for children under 6 years of age is free. You do not need to buy a ticket for someone aged 65 or over.
Where to buy a single ticket
The best place to buy a ticket is at special violet-coloured machines. You can easily find them at bus stops and metro stations. Just choose from the menu the fare you want and pay with your card or cash. It's convenient, and the machines have menus in different languages.
It's a good idea to buy your travel card as soon as you arrive at the airport. At the airport, there are ticket vending machines at terminal 2B and at the bus stop.
It is even easier to buy your ticket online: simply install the Közlekedési mobiljegy app on your smartphone. All types of tickets are available on the app. However, you cannot buy a single ticket from your phone.
Types of travel tickets and prices
The hardest part of planning a trip around Budapest is understanding the variety of travel tickets.
They can be:
- one-off tickets;
- for several trips;
- for an unlimited number of trips.
Choose the one that's right for you. For your convenience, we have compiled information on all available types of tickets:
- Single (Vonaljegy). Price 350 HUF. Valid 80 minutes after first use.
- Single with transfer (Átszállójegy). Price - 530 HUF. Validity 100 or 80 minutes after first use (two ticket options).
- 100E airport ticket (Repülőtéri vonaljegy). Price 900 HUF. No validity period.
- Single ticket for the metro (Metrószakaszjegy). Price - 300 HUF. Validity 30 minutes after first use.
- Day pass (Napijegy). Price - 1650 HUF. Valid for 24 hours after first purchase.
- Day pass for 3 days. Price - 4150 HUF. Valid 72 hours from purchase.
- Group pass for 1 day (Budapest csoportos 24 órás jegy 1-5 fő együttes utazására). Price - 3300 HUF. Valid for 24 hours from purchase.
- Weekly, 15-day or monthly pass (Hetijegy). Cost - 4950, 6300 or 9500 HUF, respectively. Valid from 0:00 of the first day until 02:00 of the last day. You must have proof of identity to purchase.
A single ticket (Vonaljegy) entitles the holder to one ride on the metro, bus, tram or trolleybus. It costs 350 forints. Just make sure you punch it in when you get on. The ticket is valid for 80 minutes during the day and 120 minutes at night. During this time, you can change underground lines, but only within one platform.
We recommend buying a Vonaljegy from vending machines and ticket offices. It will cost more for the bus drivers - 450 forints.
If you want to save money, get a set of 10 tickets at once (10 db-os gyűjtőjegy). For that, you will pay 3000 forints. A single ride will cost only 300 forints. It is convenient for groups or families: just divide the tickets between them.
The single-entry ticket (Átszállójegy) is suitable for two-way tickets. It consists of two parts. You have to stamp each one when getting on a bus, tram, trolleybus or metro. So make sure you keep both tickets until the end of your journey! The Átszállójegy is valid for 100 minutes for the first ticket and 80 minutes for the second. It will cost you 530 forints.
A 100E shuttle ticket (Repülőtéri vonaljegy) will get you quickly from the airport into town. You can buy it at a ticket office, from a vending machine or on a mobile app. You have to stamp the ticket when you get on the bus. It costs 900 forints.
The single ticket (Metrószakaszjegy) is for short journeys. It has no more than 3 stations. It's a little cheaper than the single ticket - it costs 300 forints. It is valid for 30 minutes after being validated.
The 1-day pass (24 órás jegy or napijegy) entitles you to unlimited travel during the day. Very convenient if you decide to see Budapest in one day. You do not need to validate your ticket. It is up to you to determine the time at which it is valid.
The pass allows you to take a boat trip on the Danube River, in addition to the bus, tram, trolleybus and metro on a weekday. The ticket costs HUF 1650.
An unlimited 3-day pass works under the same conditions. The price is 4150 HUF.
Travelling with family or friends? Get a 1-day group pass. You can use it 24 hours a day. But you'll all have to share one underground or tram. The price is reasonable - only 3300 HUF for the ticket.
The pass for the week (Hetijegy) is valid from 00:00 of the first day until 02:00 of the seventh day. You don't need to stamp it. However, you will need to provide your ID number. It can be a passport or a driving licence. At the ticket inspector, you will have to show this document.
With this pass, you can travel on trams, trolleybuses, buses, subways, trains around the city, the riverboat (on weekdays) and the VOLÁN buses. The bus pass costs HUF 4950.
Important: in addition to the pass, you'll need an Általános bérletigazolvány or Pass ID. This is an additional 250 HUF.
The 5-day monthly pass (5/30 BKK) is helpful for long stays in Budapest. It is a booklet with five passes. Each one is valid for 24 hours from the moment it is activated. You choose the days on which you want to use your ticket. The cost is HUF 4550.
You can also buy the pass for 15 or 30 days. The conditions are the same as for the weekly pass. You will need a passport for your trip. The cost is:
- for 15 days - HUF 6,300;
- for a month - HUF 9,500.
Schoolchildren, students and pensioners have discounts on travel tickets. The unlimited monthly ticket for students costs HUF 3450. Pensioners will only pay HUF 3,300.
You will have to pay a separate ferry fare. Tickets (Hajó vonaljegy) are sold at the ticket office and onboard. The cost is 750 forints. The only exception is on ferry D14. The ticket price is 170 HUF.
Travelling around Budapest on your own is convenient with a Budapest Card. It can be purchased at ticket vending machines, booking offices or on the official website. In addition to free travel it offers tourists several bonuses:
- free admission to 20 of the city's museums and the Lukács Baths;
- guided tours of Budapest;
- historic tram rides;
- discounts in cafés, entertainment centres etc.
But the card's primary purpose is unlimited travel on city public transport. It will be accepted in trolleybuses, trams, buses, subways, trains, ferries and the BKV cable car. The Budapest Card is not transferable, and your personal details will be noted on it.
You should also not make any marks on the document. They will invalidate the card. Read the information carefully and fill in the fields on your travel card. Remember to sign it!
Tourist cards are sold with different validity periods. Their prices are given below:
- for 24 hours - HUF 7,700;
- for 48 hours - 11.500 forints;
- 72 hours - 15 000 forints;
- for 72 hours for children - 11 500 HUF
- for 96 hours - HUF 18.500;
- for 120 hours - 22.000 HUF.
Is it worth saving on fares?
Riding "hares" on Budapest's public transport is not a good idea. The fines for fare evasion are high - 16,000 forints. And getting into the hands of the ticket inspectors is easy.
So remember some simple rules to avoid trouble:
- always buy a ticket;
- keep it until the end of the trip;
- punch it in at the entrance;
- for personal tickets, carry your passport or driving licence with a photo.
If you do get fined, do not delay payment. For example, if you delay paying for 30 days, the fine will double to 32,000 HUF. However, if you spend on the spot to the ticket inspector, it will be reduced to HUF 8,000.
The real way to save money is to choose the correct ticket. Before you travel to Budapest, plan your holiday. Then you'll have no trouble finding the proper fare:
- for busy outings and short holidays - the 72-hour pass;
- for holidays with family, friends or a group - the group pass;
- for sightseeing - Budapest Card.
How to get around Budapest
Getting around in Budapest is easy. You shouldn't have any trouble getting around. And there are plenty of sights to see just by walking around the city centre.
You won't discover all the beauty of the old city from the windows of a car or bus. Instead, walk through the streets of Budapest, breathing in the air of ancient Europe and touching monuments from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Exploring the city on your own will reveal unknowns. You'll be able to peek into courtyards, inconspicuous streets or not-so-famous buildings. Just wear comfortable shoes and don't forget your smartphone - you're guaranteed a lot of excitement and extraordinary photos!
A map or GPS will also come in handy. It is better to plan your itinerary in advance. That's because many of Budapest's attractions are within walking distance of one another. For example, visit the Buda district, where you can spend a whole day strolling around and discovering Hungary's unique architecture.
There are some disadvantages to this way of travelling as well. The main one is the distance. Budapest is a big city and not everywhere you can get to on foot. So you must take public or rented transportation.
The second is orientation skills. A map will help you quickly find the sights you are looking for. But there is always a risk of getting lost. So it is recommended to use a navigator. With it, you will be sure to find the right route.
On public transport
The metro in Budapest is an attraction in itself. The Hungarian underground was the first underground on the continent. The first stations opened back in 1896. Today the metro consists of 52 stations and 4 lines. And the total length of the tracks is more than 39 km.
The oldest metro line in Budapest is the M1. It is ideal for your first introduction to the Hungarian capital. Andrássy Square, Andrássy Avenue, Széchenyi Baths, the Opera House, Heroes Square and the City Park can all be reached by taking it alone.
The historic underground line is simple to recognize with three yellow trains. They're not even trains; they're small trams running underground. Indeed, there are always lots of people willing to get a ride on them. Tourists make up the bulk of the passengers.
The Budapest Metro operates from 4:30 to 23:00. The trains run frequently: the average waiting time is 5 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the stations.
Trams and trolley
Trams are the most popular form of transport in Budapest. It always attracts a lot of people. The first trams date back to 1866. Today they operate on 36 routes.
The trams in Budapest are yellow. There are colourful old models as well as modern ones. The timetable can be found on the BKK's website. Routes 1 to 69 open as early as 4:30. And the last trams go around midnight. You'll have to wait at stops for no more than 10 minutes and no more than 3 minutes during the rush hour.
Do you want to admire the Danube and the scenic cityscape? Then, hop on tram #2. See the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Parliament Building, Castle Hill and more. And route 6 runs 24 hours a day and takes you past some of the city's major attractions.
Tram tickets must be purchased in advance and must be validated at the entrance.
The trolleybus appeared in the city in the 1930s. Since then, the transport network has grown considerably. Today there are 16 trolleybus routes in Budapest. However, all of them are located on the left bank of the Danube - in Pest.
You only have to go in the front door and punch in your ticket or show it to the driver. Exit is at the middle and back doors. Trolleybuses operate from 4:30 to 23:00.
There are about 200 buses in Budapest, divided into daytime and night buses. The former are numbered from 5 to 298 and the latter from 901 to 999. Daytime buses run from 4:20 am to 11:20 pm. You're probably better off checking the schedule on the bus company's website or at the bus stop.
Night buses start at 11:40 and finish at 4:20.
Some routes are identified by letters in addition to the number:
- "E" is assigned to express routes (e.g. 200E goes from the airport to downtown Budapest);
- "A" is for additional routes. These go out on trips when permanent traffic is congested;
- "M" - trips that follow the route of the M3 metro line, which has been closed for renovation.
Bus stops are marked with a blue "M" sign (from Hungarian meg'all'o - "stop"). You should enter the salon strictly through the front door.
The most crucial bus routes for tourists are the 100E and the 200E. The most important route for tourists is the 100E and 200E.
Rail transport in Budapest is varied. In addition to the underground and tram, it includes:
- suburban train or electric train (Budapesti Helyiérdekű Vasút or HEV);
- toothed railway (Fogaskerekű vasút);
- children's railway (Gyermekvasút).
Take the train to the outskirts of Budapest or travel within the city. The trains are painted green. And the stations are close to the metro.
There are a total of 5 electric trains from Budapest:
- H5 (Szentendrei HÉV) to Szentendrei;
- H6 (Ráckevei HÉV) to Ráckeve;
- H7 (Csepeli HÉV) to Čepel;
- H8 and H9 (Gödöllői HÉV) to Gödöllő;
- P9 to Csepeli.
You can travel within Budapest on the train with a single ticket or pass. For longer journeys, however, you will have to buy an additional ticket.
The Fogaskerekű vasút is a unique type of tram. It differs from ordinary trams in the way the tracks and wheels are constructed. A third rail was placed between the two, a cogged fence. The train, on the other hand, was equipped with a unique gear wheel.
Toothed tram No. 60 will take you from Széchenyi-hegy to Városmajor. It runs from 05:18 to 23:28. No extra ticket is required: all types of rail passes are valid on the train.
In memory of Hungary's Soviet past, the Gyermekvasút children's railway survives in the capital city. It takes care of trains and passengers and is attended by children from 10 to 14 years old. In this way, pupils learn about the peculiarities of railway professions.
The total length of the track is 11 km. The train leaves from Széchenyi Hegi station and goes to Heveswelga. In 40-50 minutes, you get to 9 stations and admire the Buda Hills.
The children's train ticket can be purchased at the ticket offices at the stations. The ticket price in 2021 will be:
- children (6 to 18 years old): one-way - HUF 400, round trip - HUF 700.
- adult: one-way HUF 800, round trip HUF 1400.
Children up to 6 years of age travel free of charge. Each adult may bring two children.
You can only buy a train ticket for cash. You won't find ticket offices at Normafa and Vadaspark halting stations. So be prepared to buy a ticket from the conductor in the carriage.
The children's railway will take you to the cable car, the cog railway. And at Hűvösvölgy Station, stop by the museum. An interactive exhibition will show you the history and the present day of the children's railway in Budapest.
Private or rented transportation
Renting a car allows you the freedom to explore the city without being bound to public transportation. There are plenty of car rental outlets in Budapest: you're sure to find a suitable option. You'll need:
- an international driving licence;
- more than 1 year of driving experience;
- insurance deposit.
More precise terms and conditions will be advised by the rental company's specialists. Study the rental agreement carefully before signing. It may contain additional conditions or charges.
The security deposit will be returned to your card or in cash when you return the car. As long as there is no damage to the vehicle. Car rental costs from HUF 5,300 per day.
Parking is charged at the same time. Its cost depends on the time and place where you plan to leave the car. On average, it ranges from 175 to 525 HUF / hour. It is possible to pay at a parking ticket machine. The receipt should be pinned to your windshield.
You can save on parking at weekends and holidays. During these periods, you can park at any time and not have to pay anything. The Budai vár and Citadella parkoló are exceptions. It is chargeable any day of the week. Also, remember that you can park for up to 5 minutes without paying anything. This time is free in all Budapest car parks.
Motorbikes and scooters
Do you like fast riding and the feeling of freedom? Then rent a motorbike or scooter for your holiday. They are indispensable companions in Budapest's heavy traffic. You have no trouble getting where you want to go, without queues and without waiting in traffic.
Register on the BikesBooking website and choose the bike of your dreams. There are hundreds of scooters and motorbikes, from the basic to the luxurious. Prices vary depending on the model, length and conditions of the rental.
Bicycles are trendy among Budapest residents. There are bicycle lanes in the city. Indeed, they are mostly on the quays. And the parks are ideal for cycling. Try a new perspective on the city and ride through the unknown alleys on the most eco-friendly transport.
It's easy to rent a bike in Budapest. There are several services in the city:
- Budapest Bike;
- Yellow Zebra;
- Zed Bikes;
- MOL BuBi.
The latter is the most convenient and popular bike-sharing service among tourists. Moreover, the green MOL BuBi bikes can be found in car parks. Therefore, it is not difficult to use them.
First of all, install the appropriate app on your smartphone. Then buy a card with your personal ID and PIN from the service centre. You give these details at the bicycle station, pick up any bicycle, and ride it to your destination. The maximum amount of time you can rent a bike is 24 hours.
Rental stations are located throughout the city. So you can quickly leave your bicycle at one of them and continue walking. In addition, there are a total of 122 MOL BuBi car parks in Budapest.
Renting a bike from other rentals will cost you HUF 800 to 4000 per day. In addition, you will have to pay an extra deposit for the insurance.
But there is a great way to save money on rentals. Just register on the Bifesurf website. Locals rent out bikes here - some for free, some for a nominal fee.
On the river boats
Only from the Danube you can see Budapest in all its glory. So be sure to take a ride on one of the local ferries. They are also popular with the capital's residents and quite affordable.
There are three ferry routes in Budapest: the D11, the D12 and the D14. The first two routes start at the pier of Kopası Gat in the southern part of Pest and end at the dock of Romaifürde. The journey time is 1 hour. During this time you will see the city's bridges and scenic views of the main sights.
The bridges are open every day from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.
All taxis in Budapest are painted yellow and have "checkers". When booking, please only choose official taxi drivers. It's a guarantee of safety and quality service. There are modern as well as retro cars in the fleet.
Taxi fares are pretty high by England standards. However, compared to other European countries, the prices are democratic. You will pay 700 forints for getting into a taxi. Further, the calculation will be on the taximeter: for each kilometre - 300 forints. There is an additional fee of HUF 75/minute.
The fare can be paid either in cash or by card. The driver will give you a receipt. Tips are appreciated but not compulsory.
The most popular carriers are:
- Budapest Taxi
- City Taxi
- Fő Taxi
- Taxi 4.
To order a car, it's best to install the app on your smartphone. Unfortunately, not all taxi drivers and operators speak English. This can cause a bit of a problem when ordering by phone.
On tourist vehicles
Sightseeing buses (hop-on/hop-off)
If a simple walk around the city isn't enough for you, take a sightseeing bus. Their routes are designed especially for visitors to the town. See some of Budapest's best sights and even get a closer look or get on the inside. Buses run both day and night.
The Hop-on/Hop-off system makes it possible to buy your own ticket for any sightseeing bus online, at the ticket office or with the driver. The main coach companies in Budapest are:
- City Open tour;
- Big Bus;
It's easy to distinguish sightseeing buses from shuttle buses: the tour buses are double-decker and painted in bright colours. Each board is equipped with:
- audio guide in English.
Upon boarding, you will also be given a city map and discount coupons for museums, cafes, restaurants, etc. Then, you can get off the bus and get on again at any stops within the selected tour. The ticket is valid for 1, 2 or 3 days. Bus stops are listed on the map for each individual route.
The highlight of Budapest is the amphibious water bus. The tour takes you not only by land but also by water. The city of the Danube is magnificent!
The cost of the tour depends on the carrier (all prices are in forints):
- «Big Bus». Adult ticket: 24h - 9500, 48h - 11200, 72h - 14000. Child ticket: for 24 hours - 7700, 48 hours - 8700, 72 hours - 11200.
- «CitySightSeeing». Adult ticket: for 48 hours - 8700, for 72 hours - 11500. Children ticket: 48 hours - 7000, 72 hours - 9300.
- «River Ride» (water bus). Adult ticket - 9800, children ticket - 6700.
Children up to 5 years old are entitled to free travel. In addition, some carriers allow children up to 7 years old to travel free of charge.
Buda Castle funicular
A truly unique form of transport in Budapest is the Budavári Sikló funicular at the end of the 19th century. In those days, getting up to Buda Castle was problematic. Buses only appeared in the city in 1928. "Sikló" made it possible to cover the vast distance to the castle in a few minutes.
The funicular was initially steam-powered. Today the carriages are powered by an electric motor. The ascent time is only 3 minutes. The lower station is on Adam Clark Square. The carriages stop twice along the way. From the hinged bridges, you get great pictures of the city and the funicular itself.
Lift opening hours: daily from 7:30 to 22:00.
- for adults - 1,400 forints one way, 2,000 forints round trip;
- for children: HUF 700 one-way, HUF 1,100 round trip.
Buses No. 16 and 105 can be taken to the cable car's lower station.
See Budapest from above and enjoy its panorama from Janos Mountain. It is the highest point in the city. There is a cable car (Libegő) over a kilometre long.
The lift is not suitable for trips with small children. It is open: the chairs move without stopping and are "covered" by a rung. If you want to go up, jump on the seat as you go. But the unbelievable feeling of such a ride is guaranteed.
The track is open all year round, but opening hours are subject to change:
- in summer - 10:00 to 19:00;
- in April, September - from 10:00 to 18:00;
- in March and early October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m;
- in October - from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m;
- in winter - from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Fares also depend on the season. A round trip ticket will cost you HUF 1400 in the winter and HUF 1600 in the summer. Regardless of the season, you'll pay HUF 1200 for a ride up the mountain.
Children up to 3 years of age are admitted free of charge. All other children must have a ticket at a special price: 600 forints one-way, 8,000 forints round trip.
Historic retro transport
Experience the atmosphere of vintage Budapest on a journey in retro transport. There are several options for historic routes in the city. They are laid out in the central districts and allow you to see the highlights of the Hungarian capital. The main retro routes in Budapest are:
- tram No. 2 runs from Jászai Mari tér to Közvágóhíd on Saturdays after 2:30pm;
- roundabout #109 from the Deák Ferenc tér M stop on the famous Ikarusas;
- tram line no. 19 Katinyi mártírok parkja to Deák Ferenc tér M runs on Sunday afternoons.
Tickets for historical rides around Budapest are sold at ticket booths and vending machines. They can be for one or more rides. The cost will be in 2021:
- Nosztalgia vonaljegy (single ticket) - 500 forints for adults and 300 forints for children;
- Nosztalgia napijegy (day pass) - 2,000 forints for adults and 1,200 forints for children.
Frequently asked questions
Is Uber or Lyft working in Budapest?
No, international taxi services do not work in Budapest. Although a few years ago it was possible to order an Uber taxi. But don't be discouraged - there's a wide choice of municipal and private hauliers in the city. To order a taxi, you can go to their websites or download an app. For tourists from England, the Kiwitaxi service is perfect.
Can I get around Budapest on foot in one day?
It is not possible to see the whole city in one day. The more so if you walk around it. Even in 2-3 days, you can see only the most essential sights. You can, however, walk around the historical part of Pest or Buda. There are quite a few places of interest here. You can walk from one to the other on foot.
But you can't travel around Budapest without public transportation. It covers a vast area.
How much does it cost to get from the airport to downtown Budapest?
There are several ways to get from the airport to Budapest:
- by bus;
- by shuttle bus 100E;
- by taxi.
The cheapest option is a 200E bus. The trip will cost 350 forints. You can buy a single ticket at a terminal, ticket machine or directly from the driver (but then the price will be 400 HUF). If you buy a single or multi-day pass, you get an even better deal.
The 100E express bus is faster than the regular bus. But the fare is also higher - 900 forints.
A taxi will cost you about 6,500 forints. In addition, you will pay HUF 450 onboarding and HUF 280 per kilometre thereafter.
How do I book a taxi in Budapest?
There are several ways to order a taxi in Budapest.
1. You can hail a taxi on the street, but locals don't do it. The price of a ride will immediately increase many times over.
2. You can pick up your car at a special car park. The signs make it easy to spot them. Approach the taxi driver with confidence: he will take you to the right place, and you will pay according to the meter.
3. Telephoning. If you speak English or Hungarian well, this is the way to go. The main numbers to order a car are
- City Taxi +36 1 211 1111
- Budapest Taxi +36 (20/30/70) 777-7777
- 6×6 Taxi +36 1 666 666
- Fő taxi +36 1 222 2222
4. Order a taxi through the internet app. There is no Uber or Gett as you are used to, but the city has its own Bolt app. The principle of its work is not different from other taxi applications. You have to specify your telephone number and e-mail address when you register.
A big plus of this application is the English-language interface. A minus - the cost of the trip is given approximately.
How safe are taxis in Budapest?
In general, taxis are safe for tourists in Budapest. All cars are metered, uniformly yellow. The doors usually contain information about the fares. And the drivers are decently dressed and undergo all the necessary examinations.
But you don't want to let your guard down. Always make sure the meter is on when you get in. Unscrupulous taxi drivers may cheat you of the fare and overcharge you. You're advised to book a taxi by phone or through an app. That way, you won't fall victim to fraud.