Discover the best ways of getting around Budapest – from metros, trams, and buses through taxi companies to eco-friendly transport alternatives.
Compared to other large European cities, Budapest is fairly easy to get around, mostly thanks to its extensive public transport system and some really useful eco-friendly ways that have become very popular lately. From metros and trolley buses to suburban railway lines and even boat services and electric scooters, you’ll surely find your favorite way of getting from point A to point B in a quick, efficient and affordable manner. So let us take a look at different ways you can make the best of your travel in this gem of a city.
Most tourists arrive in Budapest by plane, so chances are the first thing you’ll see is Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, so it’s only logical we start with Budapest airport transfer. If you’d like to take public transportation to the heart of the city, you have two options: bus 100E and bus 200E. Both have their final stop at the airport, but 200E goes only until Kőbánya-Kispest metro station, which is the end of metro line 3. Bus 100E goes straight to Deák Ferenc tér, so if you’re looking for the quickest way to the center of Budapest, that would be it.
Bus 100E airport shuttle is special, as this is the only bus you can’t just hop on with a regular ticket or pass. You’ll need to buy a special ticket for 900 HUF to have direct connection to the heart of the city. By the way, we’ve thoroughly covered all airport transfer options in Budapest, so in case you’re interested, check out this article.
Important to note: due to the COVID-19 situation and lack of passengers, bus 100E is temporarily out of service. It’s best to check the official website for the most up-to-date information.
There are over 260 bus lines in Budapest, so even if you’re staying in a district that’s further away from the city center, you can count on a bus to take you to the nearest metro station. While they might not be the best choice during rush hour, as traffic can be an issue sometimes, they’re definitely a reliable way to get around.
Enjoying staying out until later at night? No worries, you’ll easily find night buses, as they cover most of the city to grant everyone a quick ride home.
Budapest has one of the world’s largest tram networks, and since trams rarely get stuck in traffic jams, they’re one of the most effective ways to get wherever you want to go. The center of the city, Deák Ferenc tér can be reached by tram lines 47 and 49, and even with 48 on weekends – the old-school carriages are in perfect sync with the inner city’s historical vibes. Tram lines 4 and 6 on the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard) with one of the most modern trams serve as a backbone of mass transit in the city. They’re usually mentioned together, since there’s only a slight difference in their routes and, as a result, this duo carries the most passengers per day in the world. Added bonus for your convenience: tram line 6 runs all night.
Tram line 2 deserves a special shout-out, since it was included in the top 10 most beautiful tram lines in the world by National Geographic. It runs along the shore of the Danube on the Pest side of the city, and touches many major sightseeing destinations you’ll love, so check our guide on the most iconic attractions along the river [TA1] to get some inspiration. On a related note, tram line 2 isn’t the only noteworthy transportation line in Budapest – check out this article to learn about more.
Metro line 1, the world’s second oldest metro line was built in 1896 and is still in operation today. If you want to try something special, be sure to hop on it – it was renovated, but the old-school vibes of the carriages and the stations were purposefully kept.
Deák Ferenc tér serves as a real hub when it comes to public transport in Budapest, metro lines 1, 2 and 3 all have a stop there. Metro line 4 was built in 2014 and connects two railway stations: Kelenföld vasútállomás and Keleti pályaudvar.
There are 15 lines available, mostly in the vicinity of the city center. Their numbering is quite odd, though, the lowest number you’ll be able to see on them is 70. It’s no accident: when the first trolley bus was introduced, it served as a tribute to Stalin’s 70th birthday just shortly after World War II.
Yes, boats! Pick your favorite from the four available lines and don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to cruise up and down the Danube while checking out the Parliament or the Buda Castle. The usual single BKK ticket is not valid for them, though, but most passes are.
Important note: Boat lines D2, D11 and D12 are temporarily out of service due to the COVID-19 situation, but boat line D14 remains in operation. Check out their website for the most up-to-date information.
If you’ve seen a green train with a white stripe on its side, it was a suburban railway (or HÉV in Hungarian). While their main purpose is to connect suburban towns and cities with the capital, they have several stops within the city limits of Budapest – no wonder they’re the most popular way to get to Sziget Festival every summer.
The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular is a special gem when it comes to public transportation in Budapest, as there is only one of it, but it’s been in operation since 1870. It connects the Buda end of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge with Buda Castle on the top of the hill. If you’re looking for special experiences, it’s definitely one to try, the view is amazing both going up and down.
The main transport services are all owned by the Center for Budapest Transport (Budapest Közlekedési Központ, BKK – the abbreviation you should look for). Tickets and passes are valid for buses, trams, metros, trolley buses, and suburban railways, railways and long-distance buses within the administrative limits of the city.
Tickets and passes are available from the purple machines at the entrance of metro stations and larger transport hubs, you can pay both by cash and card. You can also buy tickets from several bus drivers, but it’s more expensive, so it’s useful to think ahead. Tickets need to be validated after purchase, passes don’t. Even though ticket inspections aren’t regular, make sure you always have a valid ticket or pass on you, as fines can be a real pain.
It largely depends on individual needs. You have options to choose from a wide variety of tickets and passes, and the general rule of thumb is that the more you travel, the more it’s worth investing in a 24-hour, 72-hour, or a weekly pass. Also, with passes the four boat lines are free, and that’s definitely a nice added bonus. For the best option that suits you, you should check BKK’s official website.
The most useful application you could have is BKK Futár (available in both website and app form), which gives you the most up-to-date information on arrival times for all vehicles throughout the city.
There are several taxi companies, but they’re all required to be marked with the word ‘taxi’, and use yellow as their color, so that makes cabs fairly easy to spot. Their tariff is regulated by the government and it consists of three elements: base fare (700 HUF), distance-based fare (300 HUF/km), and time-based fare (75 HUF/min). To avoid any possible taxi scams, it’s always best to call the taxi companies and ask for a cab directly.
Bolt is an alternative to Uber (which is unfortunately no longer in service in Hungary), and it’s generally cheaper than the yellow taxis. Just download the app, register your credit or debit card, and you’re ready to order your first drive, wherever you’d like to go.
Feeling sporty? Ride around the city on two wheels with the help of MOL Bubi or Donkey. Cycling has become more popular recently, so you’ll find a lot of bike lanes and roads around Budapest. Just rent a bike via their app and make the most of your day in town.
Not up for a bike ride, but feel like going green? Lime is just for you. Just download the app, rent an electric scooter, and you’re ready to go.
If you want to check out all the famous sightseeing destinations Budapest has to offer, but you don’t want to use public transport or taxies, hop-on hop-off tours are the way to go. Check out our article on hop on-hop off tours for more info.
- What public transport can I use in Budapest?
- You have many options – buses, trolley buses, trams, metros, suburban railways, and even boats.
- What alternative transport options are there in Budapest?
- If you want to go by car, you can use taxies, or Bolt, which is similar to Uber. You can also rent bikes or electric scooters.
- Where can I find information about Budapest’s public transport?
- The official website is always the most reliable source of information.