BUDAPEST - GETTING AROUND
Budapest can be explored on foot when paired with the extensive public transport options offered in the city. To give you an idea of the biggest distances you might travel on foot, it is about 2.5 miles from Gellert Hill on the southern side of Buda to Varosliget on the northeastern side of Pest. Most attractions are located within a mile of the banks of the Danube, however, such as Buda Castle, Gellert Hill, Liberty Square, Vorosmarty Square, Dohany Synagogue, and the Great Market Hall, among others. Vaci Street, the main pedestrian street in Budapest, is located approximately 750 feet east of the Danube. The Danube Promenade on the Pest side is another great place to go for a stroll.By the Budapest Metro
The Budapest Metro is operated by BKK (Budapesti Közlekedési Központ, www.bkk.hu/en), which also operates the bus, tram, and trolleybus systems. First opened in 1896, it was the first-ever electrified underground system on the European continent. Today, the Metro consists of four lines and 48 different stations. The lines are as follows:
- Line M1 (Yellow): Vörösmarty Square (Vörösmarty tér) to Mexican Street (Mexikói út). Popular stops at Ferenc Deák Square (Deák Ferenc tér) and Heroes` Square (Hosök tere). It is officially and popularly called the Millennium Line because it was opened in 1896, the thousandth anniversary of the Magyars` arrival in Hungary.
- Line 2 (Red): Déli train station (Déli pályaudvar) to Leader Örs Square (Örs vezér tere). Important stops at Széll Kálmán Square (Széll Kálmán tér), Lajos Kossuth Square (Kossuth Lajos tér), Ferenc Deák Square (Deák Ferenc tér), Astoria, Lujza Blaha Square (Blaha Lujza tér), Keleti train station (Keleti pályaudvar), and Ferenc Puskás Stadium (Puskás Ferenc Stadion).
- Line 3 (Blue): A south-north line running from Kobánya–Kispest to Central New Pest (Újpest–központ). Important stops at Border Street (Határ út), Népliget, Calvin Square (Kálvin tér), Ferenc Deák Square (Deák Ferenc tér), Nyugati train station (Nyugati pályaudvar), Árpád Bridge (Árpád híd), and New Pest City Gate (Újpest–városkapu). Keep in mind that there may be delays or buses to replace the Metro at certain points as there is a long renovation and reconstruction being undertaken to improve Line 3. The first half of reconstruction works began in November 2017, and was completed in April 2019. Reconstruction on the second half began in April 2019 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.
- Line 4 (Green): Kelenföld train station (Kelenföld vasútállomás) to Keleti train station (Keleti pályaudvar). Important stops at New Buda Central (Újbuda–központ), St. Gerard Square (Szent Gellért tér), Customs Square (Fovám tér), and Calvin Square (Kálvin tér).
- A proposed Line 5 (Purple) hopes to integrate the Metro lines with three commuter rail lines, eventually running 24 miles from Szentendre to Csepel. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and will be finished by 2024.
Metro journeys run every 2-5 minutes on the most popular lines and times and every 10-20 minutes in off-peak times. The first journeys of the day start around 4:30 a.m. and the trains stop running for the evening around 11:30 p.m. Tickets for the Metro cost 350 Ft, with a transfer ticket costing 530 Ft. A Budapest Card, which includes other perks such as admission to various points of interest, can be bought for 6,490 Ft for 24 hours, 9,990 Ft for 48 hours, and 12,990 Ft for 72 hours. For more information on the Budapest Card, see the section at the end of this page. For more information on the Budapest Metro, visit www.bkk.hu/en.
Even more extensive than Metro and commuter rail combined, the Budapest Trams, also operated by BKK, have been in service since 1866 and are considered the most popular way for locals and tourists to get around Hungary`s capital city. There are 36 different tram lines in operation today, with 27 designated as full-time lines and nine designated as supplemental lines. Out of all 36 lines, only Line 6 (from Széll Kálmán Square, or Széll Kálmán tér, to Móricz Zsigmond Circus, or Zsigmond Móricz körtér) runs 24 hours a day; the rest leave every 5-10 minutes during peak times and every 15-20 minutes outside of peak times, between 4:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. daily. Prices are the same for the tram as they are on the Metro or commuter rail. Tickets (or cards) can be bought via vending machines at Metro/rail stations or at select tram stops. The instructions are easy to follow and are listed in Hungarian and English. For a map of Metro, rail and tram lines, visit www.bkk.hu/apps/docs/terkep/bpmetro.pdf.
By the funicular
The Buda Castle Hill Funicular runs a distance of about a mile up Castle Hill. Opened in 1870, it was only the second funicular like it in the world at that time. It is also operated by BKK, but unlike the other forms of transport, a separate ticket is needed to ride the funicular. It runs every 5-10 minutes, depending on passenger demand, from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with the last ride going up at 9:50 p.m. It is open daily except for every other Monday, when maintenance takes place. A single ticket is 1,200 Ft and a return is 1,800 Ft. For more information, visit www.bkv.hu/en/buda_castle_funicular_.
By commuter rail
Commuter rail in Budapest is called BHÉV (Budapesti Helyiérdeku Vasút, which translates to `Budapest Railway of Local Interest`). It is noted on transport maps by the letter H, in contrast to Metro stations and lines which are labeled with the letter M. There are four main lines, and a side line which operates from one of the four main lines. They are numbered in sequence after the Metro lines, so the first number in the BHÉV is 5. The lines are as follows:
- Line 5 (Purple), from Batthyány Square (Batthyány tér) to Szentendre. This line will eventually run in tandem with the new Budapest Metro line, which will also be purple and labeled Line 5.
- Line 6 (Brown), from Közvágóhíd to Ráckeve.
- Line 7 (Orange), from Boráros Square (Boráros tér) to Csepel.
- Line 8 (Pink), from Leader Örs Square (Örs vezér tere) to Gödöllo.
- Line 9 (also Pink), from Leader Örs Square (Örs vezér tere) to Csömör.
Tickets are priced the same as the Metro and tram networks and can be bought via the Budapest Card or tickets at vending machines in the rail stations. As mentioned above, the instructions on the machines are written in both Hungarian and English. For more information on the BHÉV lines, visit www.bkk.hu/en/timetables.
The bus system in Budapest is massive and spans over 200 regular lines and 40 night lines, making it the best option for 24-hour travel in the city. The buses, like the other modes of transport, are also operated by BKK. The large bus system can be daunting, but with the help of the BKK timetables page (www.bkk.hu/en/timetables), you can search by landmark name, bus route, or location, and find bus routes (and other routes) close to where you are and close to where you need to be. Fares are collected at the beginning of the ride by the driver, either paid in money on the spot or with tickets and cards purchased from newsagents or vending machines. The price structure is the same as the rail, tram, and Metro.
Don`t be scared of taking a taxi in Budapest; there are plenty of honest taxi drivers here. The reliable ones are easy to identify as they will have a company logo and phone number and a working meter. Make sure the meter is running before you leave. If not, find another taxi. If you hail one on the street, the base fare is generally 700 Ft, then 300 Ft each kilometer thereafter. When ordering a taxi by phone (all the companies here have English speaking operators), the rate is higher. Waiting time costs 75 Ft per minute. Taxis are available from the airport at the kiosks in front of Terminals 2A and 2B. The ride from the airport into central Budapest costs approximately 8,000-10,000 Ft depending on wait time and the number of pieces of baggage handled.
There are four ferry lines that criss-cross the Danube. They are operated by BKK and are noted by the letter D on transport maps, with the bottom portion of the letter D resembling a sea wave. The lines are numbered 2 (red), 11 (rose), 12 (maroon), and 14 (magenta). Line 2 leaves from Elisabeth Bridge, while 11 and 12 leave from Kopaszi gát. The first ferries leave at 7:30 a.m. each weekday, with the last ferry arriving to its destination just after 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.bkk.hu/en/timetables.
Information on the Budapest Card
The official city pass for Budapest is called the Budapest Card (www.budapestcard.org). Budapest Cards can be bought from outside the country, priced in Euros, but if you buy inside the country, you will pay in forints. As the forint prices are already detailed in the Metro section, the online-only Euro prices are as follows: €22 for a 24-hour card, €33 for 48 hours, and €44 for 72 hours. This card entitles you to free rides on BKK-operated transport systems (except the funicular) and entitles you to discounts on hop-on hop-off tours, dinner cruises, and free admission to a number of sights, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Aquincum Museum, the Budapest History Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Hungarian National Museum, Memento Park, the New Budapest Gallery, Lukacs Baths, and many more! Note that other businesses and landmarks offer reduced admission for Budapest Card holders even if they may not offer it for free. This card also allows you to enter attractions at the front of the line instead of being forced to wait to purchase a ticket. For a full list of discounts and an FAQ, including where to buy the Budapest Card when in Budapest, visit www.budapestcard.org.