Whether you’re staying in Buda or Pest, just remember taxis and your legs will be your best of friends.
GETTING TO BUDAPEST:
You’ll most likely be landing in Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport (BUD) which is Budapest’s largest airport and situated 10 miles in the southeast region of downtown. Although there are Személy suburban trains available, we highly recommend using a taxi option since it’s affordable in Budapest and less time-consuming.
- Taxi: Don’t bother with the drivers offering to bargain at the airport. Instead, look for Főtaxi stands just outside of the airport, they won’t try to scam you and they also speak English. If you’re arriving at the train station, then we highly recommend scheduling a driver to pick you up at the train station. Cost to city center: 5,000 – 10,000 HUF (approx. USD $22-44).
- Airport Shuttle: A shared mini-van will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for 3,200 HUF per person (approx. USD $14). Buy your ticket, line up then shuttle will leave in 15 minutes and drop you off at any address. To book a ride for your trip back, call at least 24 hours prior at +36-1 296-8555. Tickets are sold near the Arrival hall, close to the main exit.
- Private pick-ups: You can make an online reservation with Airport Transfer Budapest. Driver can meet you inside or outside with a sign with your name on it.
- Személy suburban trains: For the budget travelers. Look for a train station called Ferihegy, these suburban trains run twice an hour to Budapest-Nyugati station in city center. It takes 25 minutes and you can buy train tickets with a vending machine at the platform towards Budapest. A single ticket costs 370 HUF (approx. USD $1.63).
You can find direct train rides to Budapest, if you’re traveling from central or eastern Europe: Vienna (Austria), Sofia (Bulgaria), Zagreb (Croatia), Prague, (Czech Republic), Berlin, Hamburg, Munich (Germany), Warsaw, Kraków (Poland), Bucharest, Sibiu, Cluj-Napoca, Arad, Timişoara (Romania), Bryansk, Kaluga, Moscow (Russia), Belgrade, (Serbia), Bar, (Montenegro), Bratislava, Košice (Slovakia), Ljubliana, (Slovenia), Zürich, (Switzerland), Kyiv, Lviv (Ukraine).
The main railway stations (pályaudvar) are:
Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station) – Mostly international trains and domestic trains to Miskolc, Eger, Győr and Szombathely.
Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) – Trains to south-western regions of Hungary, and Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Lake Balaton.
Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station) – Domestic trains to Debrecen, Nyíregyháza and Szeged.
If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. Eurolines has international bus routes and runs to/from Austria and Slovakia 2-3 times a day. Orangeways provides cheaper tickets to/from Austria,Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.
From April through November, Mahart operates a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava.
IN THE CITY
If you’re staying in downtown or in the city center, you’ll be able to walk around to reach most tourist sights. Since there are no bike lanes, be careful of bicyclists using pedestrian sidewalks.
We highly recommend taxis, not only is it convenient but a cheap way to get around compared to other major metropolitan cities. These crazy low rates put San Francisco cabs to shame! By taxis, everything in city center takes about 10-20 minutes. Taxi rides cost a 450 HUF (approx. USD $1.98) base price and 280 HUF ((approx. USD $1.23) for every kilometer. Time-based fare unit 70 HUF (approx. USD $0.31) per minute.
In case the taxi driver doesn’t speak English, a good tip is to screenshot the google map of your destination on an iPhone while you have WiFi prior to hopping inside the cab. Then show your screenshot to your driver.
Metro & Tram:
The schedules aren’t as reliable as other European cities, but they are helpful when you don’t feel like walking or hailing a cab. Check Budapest Transport Limited Company (BKV) for schedules in English. You can get: Single ticket, 1-day travel card (HUF1,650/approx. USD $7.27) if you’ll be using public transportation all day, 1-day group travel card (HUF3,300/approx. USD $14.54) for a maximum of 5 people traveling together, 3-day travel card (HUF4,150, approx. USD $18.29), 7-day travel card (HUF4,950/approx. USD $21.81), 14-day pass (HUF7,000/approx. USD $30.85), 1-month pass (HUF10,500/approx. USD $46.27), monthly pass for students (with a student ID from a European country or an ISIC student card, HUF3,450/approx. USD $15.20).
The Budapest card gives you unlimited free travel in the city, and discounts at museums and restaurants. 24-hour card HUF4,500/approx. USD $19.83, 48-hour card HUF7,500/approx. USD $33.05, 72-hour card HUF8,900/approx. USD $39.22).
These are the important lines for travelers:
- Metro 1, 2, 3, 4 connecting most touristic sights and major hotels.
- Tram 2 runs along the river Danube on Pest side, Tram 19 runs on the Buda side. Both go through beautiful views of the city.
- Tram 4, 6 are air-conditioned and both follow the Grand Boulevard Nagykörút services up to every 3 minutes. They cross over to Buda in the north on Margaret Bridge Margit híd and on Petőfi Bridge in the south. Tram 6 has night services.
If you don’t want to be stuck in a traffic jam throughout most of your trip, then don’t drive in Budapest. We highly recommend that you either walk or taxi. But if you do decide to drive, just remember you can’t turn left on most major intersections, such as: Nagykörút, Andrássy út, Váci út, Üllői út or Rákóczi út.
Riding the bus is not highly recommended since it can be confusing when buses don’t stop if no one asks to get off at indicated stops. But sometimes, to reaching the Buda Hills requires you to take the taxi or the bus. You can buy bus tickets from the driver but it’ll be more expensive. And note that nightly services will begin with bus numbers beginning with “9”. Make sure to press a button when you want to get off at the next stop.
City biking culture is not as prevalent in Budapest but it’s growing. Be careful when biking in Budapest as bike lanes (two yellow stripes) only exist in downtown and most pedestrians are not used to the idea of sharing sidewalks with bikes. Try these rental bike companies: Yellow Zebra Bike (1,500 HUF for 1-5 hours/approx. USD $6.61), BikeBase (2,000 HUF for 24 hours/approx. USD $8.81). Keep in mind that you can only take your bikes on the HÉV (suburban train) and the Fogaskerekü (railway starting at Városmajor).
BuBi is Budapest’s bike sharing program that started in March 2014. It requires registration and you can use it for free for 30 minutes, then it’s 350 HUF per hour (approx. USD $1.50).
Although scooters aren’t as prevalent in Budapest as it is in Paris or Italy, it’s still a great way to enjoy the city. In Hungary, scooters with an engine up to 50cc can be driven without license plate, so you can use a regular car drivers license. But you can’t take an additional passenger with you on 50cc scooters. Helmets are required. For scooters and motorcycles with an engine size above 50cc, you’ll need a license plate and motorcycle drivers license. Check out these scooter rental companies: Budapest Scooter Tours, Retro Robogo (both companies charge approx. USD $30 for 24 hours).
From March through September, there are boats you can take on the Danube River between Boráros tér and Római fürdő. You can buy tickets on the boat or at major ticket offices. 750 HUF ((approx. USD $3.31) for adults, 550 HUF (approx. USD $2.42) for children under 15. Check out map on the right for boat routes on the river.