Want to take on Budapest by bike? Read on to explore the opportunities offered by the city’s most popular bike sharing service, MOL Bubi.
Cities from all around the world have been striving to make their public transport system greener for years, and Budapest is no exception. In addition to introducing more and more electric vehicles to the fleet of the capital’s public transportation service (BKK), alternative means of transport such as bikes and scooters have also become widely popular in the city. In this article, we’re going to talk about the rebirth of Budapest’s app-driven public bike sharing system, MOL Bubi.
However, in early 2021, it all turned for the better. To help the commuters of Budapest stay away from crowded vehicles during the pandemic in 2020, MOL Bubi decided to make its service available to people more easily and with much better terms, while also reducing the cost of renting a bike for as little as 100 forints (approximately 30 cents – yes, you’ve read that right) per month, provided you don’t ride longer than 30 minutes per rental. If you did, any extra minute would cost another 20 forints (0.05 cents), but if you wanted to avoid having to pay extra per minute, you could drop off the bike and pick it up again at any time. Obviously, this move became extremely popular among Budapesters, who started riding Bubis in numbers never seen before. This eventually encouraged the company to look into its possibilities, and boy, were they right to do it!
Today, MOL Bubi awaits users with an easy-to-use app, a more-than-friendly monthly cost, and completely redesigned bicycles. Let’s get down to the details!
- First, you’re asked if you allow MOL Bubi to use your location. It’s not a must, but it’s recommended so you can instantly see the available bikes in your vicinity on the map.
- Enter your phone number and tap Register.
- You’ll receive a PIN via text message. Enter it, then tap Complete Registration. Please note that you’ll need this PIN for signing in on different devices in the future, so be sure to memorize it. Alternatively, you can also change it in your account settings.
- Now you’re able to see all the bikes on the map. However, to pick up a bike, you’ll need to activate your account. Tap the Activate Account button, expand the Profile Fields section, and fill in all the required details. Then, expand the Unlock Options section and tap MOL Bubi fare products.
- Here you’re asked to enter your debit card details. As soon as you register your debit card, a monthly cost of 500 forints (approximately €1.5 – yes, you’ve read that right, too) is deducted from your account, and you’re ready to ride!
TL;DR: Watch MOL Bubi’s explainer video (English subtitles available) to familiarize yourself with the sign-up and renting process.
As mentioned above, the monthly cost of MOL Bubi is as little as 500 forints (approximately €1.25), which gives you an unlimited number of free rides under 30 minutes per ride. What happens if you go above 30 minutes, you ask? Basically, you’ll be charged 20 forints (0.05 cents) per minute until you return your bike, but you do have the option to finish your ride before that and unlock another bike to avoid the extra fee. It may feel like cheating, but it’s totally allowed by the app.
What we recommend is, if you’re close enough to your destination, don’t worry about the extra cost, as even 10 more minutes of pedaling will only set you back 200 forints (60 cents). But if you’re planning to take on the city by bike, it’s worth planning your day so you finish your rides between your stops before you hit the 30-minute mark.
Once you’ve activated your account, you’re ready to ride. Read on to learn how to unlock, park, and return Bubi bikes.
You can either check the map on the app’s home page to see the available bikes that are closest to your location, or simply lock an available bike if you happen to walk past a MOL Bubi docking station while out and about.
Click here for a full view of MOL Bubi docking stations and available Bubi bikes in Budapest.
To unlock a bike, just tap the Rent Bike button on the app’s homepage and scan the QR code located on the back of the bike. As soon as the smart lock opens, you’re good to go. Don’t forget to adjust the saddle height if necessary, and the handlebar has a handy phone holder, too.
It’s important to note that you can only return your bike at MOL Bubi docking stations, so if you want to be on the safe side, check the map for docking stations near your destination before hitting the road. Once you’ve arrived at a docking station, push the bike into the dock (there’s small disc on the left side of the center of the front wheel which can be slid right into the slot on the right side of the docks), and manually push the lever underneath the saddle all the way down until it clicks. You’ll hear a beep and receive a notification on your phone, confirming that you’ve successfully returned the bike.
However, beware that if you lock your bike outside a MOL Bubi docking station, you’ll be charged a 5000-forint (€14) “Bike Collection Surcharge”.
However, you do have the option to park your bike if you need to temporarily interrupt your ride, but keep in mind that it will be calculated into the duration of your ride. To park your bike, first select the Park option in the app, then push the lock down like you would when returning the bike. You’ll hear a beep confirming that the parking was successful. If you want to continue your ride, just tap Open Lock in the app, and you’re good to go.
After decades of criticism, Budapest’s bike road network has undergone major improvements in the past few years. Although there’s still room for improvement, most of the capital’s main traffic routes are now complete with bikeways (sometimes physically separated, but mostly on-road lanes marked with painted signs), which caused an unprecedented increase in bicycle traffic in the city. One of the biggest change in Budapest’s cycling infrastructure was the addition of bike lanes to the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút), which commuting bikers had long been petitioning for in the past. As a result of this, the whole of the inner city has become quickly and easily accessible by bike, much to the joy of sporty, environmentally-conscious locals and tourists.
And if you’re looking to do some sightseeing on the saddle, we have an awesome article for you which you can use to explore Budapest while pedaling away. Get familiar with the best biking trips in the city.
- Does Budapest have a bike sharing service?
- The most popular bike sharing service in Budapest is called MOL Bubi and is operated by the city’s public transportation company. MOL Bubi is cheap, easy to use, and widely popular among locals and tourists alike.
- How much does it cost to use bike sharing in Budapest?
- MOL Bubi, the most popular bike sharing service in Budapest operates at an extremely friendly price. It costs 500 forints (approximately €1.5) a month, which gives you an unlimited amount of rides under 30 minutes per occasion. If you go above 30 minutes, you’re charged 20 forints (0.05 cents) per minute.
- Is Budapest safe by bike?
- The cycling infrastructure in Budapest has undergone tremendous improvements in the past few years, adding on-road bike lanes and physically separated bikeways to most of the city’s main traffic routes.