Anyone who has been on a trip will admit that a lot of factors contribute to making a trip memorable. This includes the stay, the food, the transport, the weather and a lot of other things that make the trip worth going to. The city of Budapest in Hungary is blessed with a stunningly beautiful natural landscape that includes hills, lakes, thermal springs, historical buildings, churches and monuments. The city receives more than 4 million footfalls every year, thanks to the extensive network of public transport that makes commuting faster, easier and cheaper for tourists. If you are a visiting Budapest for the first time, this guide to their public transport system will surely help you.
What is Budapest Public Transport Services?
The Budapest Public Transport Services include more than 200 buses, 32 tram, 15 trolley buses and 4 metro lines and boats that run through the city and covers all the major tourist attractions. Apart from these, there are HÉV (green trains) suburban trains too that connects Budapest’s suburbs with the major downtown hubs. There are low floor buses, trams and trolleybuses on several routes in Budapest for the physically disabled persons. Night transport services are also available throughout the city. You can check the timetable for various modes of public transport here.
Types of Public Transport in Budapest
The Budapest Public Transport Services comprises of different types of public vehicles as well as special vehicles that makes daily commuting much easier. The main public vehicles found in Budapest are:
Buses run through the city quite frequently. Buses are an important mode of transport in Budapest especially for tourists travelling to Buda Hills since it is the only mode of public transport that goes there. Night bus services are also available. The night bus services are marked with a three digit number between 900-999. You can board a night bus at stops marked with the black-and-white owl symbol.
Travelling by trams allows you to cross some of the best scenic routes of the city although at a slower pace compared to buses or metros. Tram no. 2 travels through the Gellert Hill, Castle Hill, the Parliament, the Danube Promenade and the bridges of Liberty, Erzsébet and Cain.
Some of the most important tram lines are:
- Tram No. 2 runs along the Danube, between Jászai Mari tér (at Margaret Bridge) and Közvágóhíd in IX. district. The tram 2 runs at every 3 – 5 minutes from 6 AM till 7 PM on weekdays, then every 9-10 minutes till midnight. It operates less frequently on Sundays and bank holidays
- Tram No. 4 runs between Újbuda Központ and Széll Kálmán tér in every 5-6 minute frequency from 7 AM to 8 PM
- Tram No. 6 runs between Móricz Zsigmond körtér and Széll Kálmán tér, one of the busiest lines in Europe. Tram 6 operates all night and you can expect a tram car in every 10 minutes between 9PM to midnight
- Tram No. 47 runs between Deák tér-Budafok Városháza tér
- Tram No. 49 travels between Deák tér Kelenföldi Train Station.
Trolleys buses can be distinguished from the regular ones due to their red colour. Trolley buses operate from morning till midnight on 14 trolley bus lines. You can check the timetables at the stops.
Budapest has more than 30 tram lines that can be recognized by their bright yellow colour. The 4-line metro system is efficient and clean. Trains run from 4.30 AM to 11.10 PM daily at a frequency of 2-5 minutes. The three metro lines: M1 underground, M2-red line, M3 blue line meet at Deák Ferenc tér in the city centre. The 4th line operates between Kelenföld Pályaudvar in Buda and Keleti Train Station in Pest.
The HÉV suburban trains run between Batthyány tér and Szentendre at a frequency of 10-30 minutes. These trains can be used to travel to the outskirts of Budapest.
Regular boat services are offered on the Danube between Boráros tér and Római fürdő from mid-March till the onset of winter. The public boat lines are:
- D11 (Haller utca in district IX.-Újpest Árpád út)
- D12 (Haller utca in district IX.- Római Fürdő/Lido
- D13 ((Haller utca in district IX.-Római Fürdő)
- D14 (Csepel-Királyerdő/district XXI. – Soroksár Molnár-sziget).
The special vehicles include:
- Cogwheel Railway
- Funicular: It takes you up to Buda Castle from Clark Adam Square at the Buda end of Chain Bridge. It operates from 7.30 AM to 10 PM every day
- Chairlift: The chairlift offers a wonderful panoramic view of the Buda Hills. It begins from János Hill and goes down to Zugliget
- Children’s Railway: Best for Buda Hills excursions
Also Read: A guide to using public transport in Prague
Public Transport Tickets & Transfer Tickets
- Single Transfer ticket: 530 HUF
- Single ticket: 350 HUF| 450 HUF if the ticket is purchased from the driver on board the vehicle
- Metro Station ticket: 300 HUF up to 3 stops (valid for one uninterrupted trip without change on all 3 metro lines for 3 stops for 30 minutes)
- Block of 10 Single tickets: 3 000 HUF (Price lower than 10 Single Tickets purchased individually)
- Funicular: It will take you up to the Castle Hill from Clark Adam Square. The tickets are priced 1100 HUF/adult, return tickets will cost 1700 HUF. For children, the ticket prices are 600 HUF and return tickets are for 1100 HUF
- Chairlift: Full price single ticket: 850 HUF, Full price return ticket: 1400 HUF | Discount single ticket: 550 HUF, discount return ticket: 800 HUF
- Night tickets: Single tickets, a block of 10 tickets and Travel Cards are valid for the night services
- Boat tickets (one-way): Adults: 750 HUF | Children up to 15 years of age: 550 HUF.
- Children’s Fares: Children up to the age of 6 can travel free of charge. Students can buy discount monthly/yearly passes with a valid student ID card. Families travelling with kids can buy a 72-Hour Junior City Card for children between 6 -18 years old for 33 EUR.
Passes for Tourists
Tourists can get hold of a travel card depending on the duration of their journey. The different travel card options available in Budapest are:
- 24-hour Travel Card: Valid on all public transport vehicles. For boat number D11, D12 and D13 the card is valid only on workdays for an unlimited number of trips for the entire day starting from 12 AM. The Pass price is 1650 HUF
- 24-hour Group Travel Card for max. 5 persons: Valid on all public transport vehicles. For boat number D11, D12 and D13 the card is valid only on workdays for an unlimited number of trips for the entire day starting from 12 AM. This pass is good for families. The Pass price is 3300 HUF
- 72-hour Travel Card: Valid on all public transport vehicles for an unlimited number of trips for 72 hours starting from the time and date you purchased it. The Pass price is 4150 HU
- 7-day Travel Card: Valid on all public transport vehicles from 12 AM to midnight till the sixth day following the purchase of the card for an unlimited number of trips. The Pass price is 4950 HUF
Where to Buy the Tickets and Passes From?
All the tourists have to buy their ticket/pass in advance. One can get them from ticket vending machines (TVM) or at many newspaper kiosks 24/7 by paying with cash or bank card. Some ticket vending machines are present in metro entrances of Corvin Negyed M3/blue line, Népliget M3/blue line, Nyugati tér M3/blue line, Blaha Lujza tér M2/red line and Széll Kálmán tér M2/red line.
How to Use the Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs)?
You can follow the steps below to know how to use the TVMs
- Select the ticket/travel card you want to buy
- Decide whether you want the machine to print an invoice or not, if not then press payment without VAT invoice
- Choose payment method-cash/bank card (PayPass/contactless cards)
- After the payment is done you can collect the purchased ticket or travel card
How to Validate the Ticket?
You must validate a ticket before beginning your journey. For metro tickets you have to put the ticket in the ticket validation machine (orange coloured box on a metal pole) that’ll stamp a time and date on the ticket. On other vehicles, there will either be an orange box or a smaller red box in which you insert the ticket then pull the black part on the top towards you to punch the ticket (a pattern of holes will appear on the validated ticket). Inspectors will check the passengers’ tickets throughout the day before boarding any vehicle.
Fines are high if you are caught travelling without a valid ticket or pass. If you’re caught without a valid ticket by a ticket inspector, you have to pay 8000 HUF on the spot or in BKK’s Surcharge Office within 2 work days from the date of the fining. If you don’ pay the fine on the spot or within 2 working days, the amount of the fine will be 16000 HUF. The inspector must give you a receipt of the payment when you pay on the spot. If you don’t pay the fine on the spot, the ticket inspector will initiate a fining procedure for you.
Commuting for Airport to City Centre
You can travel from the City Centre to the Airport in the new 100 E bus line that runs from 3:40 AM to 1:20 AM. The bus service can be availed using a special ticket that is valid only for this line. It costs 900 HUF. This bus runs in every 20 minutes. One-way public transport ticket costs 350 HUF (450 HUF when you buy it from the driver onboard the bus). You can alternatively take a train service from Ferihegy Train Station to Western Train Station or take the M3 (blue) metro line or trams 4 and 6 from the train station to reach the City Centre.
On one hand, Budapest has maintained the traditional modes of transport like chairlifts and on the other hand, it has successfully incorporated new technologies in transportation system to help people commute faster and better. In the coming years, the city will hopefully introduce more options for intercity travel. If you would like to explore Budapest and experience their public transport system, all you need to do is to contact us at Pickyourtrail and allow us to help you create your perfect travel itinerary.