When it comes to getting around the city of Budapest transport comes in all forms for both the locals and tourists. You will find it such a pleasant place to watch as it passes you by that whatever for of Budapest transport you choose you will enjoy your time in Hungary’s capital city.
Public Transport in Budapest
Public transport in Budapest is generally quite cheap, especially for a lot of locals who tend not to pay if travelling after 11am when ticket inspectors are rare and them checking tickets is even rarer. However the fines for not having a valid ticket are steep so purchasing a ticket is recommended. If you buy a Budapest Card you receive free use of public transport for the duration of your card’s validity.
Trams in Budapest
Trams are a quick, cheap and easy way to get around Budapest and are used extensively by locals. They are also easy to spot as they are bright yellow and move on tram tracks.
Although it can be a bit baffling for tourists working out where to buy a ticket – you can’t buy them on the tram, you can buy them at metro stations – they are perhaps the most efficient method of Budapest transport.
There are three main tram lines that will generally get you to where you want to be.
Buses in Budapest
Buses like trams are a cheap way – a ticket costs about 350HUF – of getting around the city although despite quite a few bus lanes they suffer like taxis from the heavy afternoon traffic in Budapest and did have a reputation of breaking down as most of them were made in the Soviet era and were not known for their reliability.
However fear not for better or worse many have been replaced with brand new Mercedes buses and if your bus does break down there will always be another bus along soon and it adds to the adventure!
The buses are single decker buses and a dark shade of blue.
Trolley Buses in Budapest
The trolley bus is cross between a tram and a bus. There are two main trolley-bus routes. The trolley buses are bright red and are powered by electricity drawn from above, not from God or the ionosphere but from cables.
The metro in Budapest is quick, cheap and clean. There are currently three Metro lines linking the different parts of Budapest together.
The main interchange between the lines is at Deák Ferenc tér. You can buy Budapest Cards and tickets for the buses, trolley-buses and trams from metro stations.
If you are planning on using the metro you may find it useful to download are Budapest metro map.
Other Transportation in Budapest
Taxis in Budapest
Taxis can be expensive if they are not pre-booked although our recommended Budapest taxi firms all offer a fair (fare) rate, pardon the pun.
Picking up a taxi from the street is not dangerous but can be expensive when you find your taxi driver has a tendency to take massive detours too which increases the cost further or conveniently not be carrying any change whatsoever for the 10,000HUF note you just withdrew for the cash machine.
Taxis can be a surprisingly slow way of getting around too due to the terrible traffic in Budapest most days (particularly during the winter) during the afternoon rush hour between 4.30pm and 6.30pm when journey times can double or triple in central Budapest.
Bicycles in Budapest
Cyclists are well catered for in Budapest. There are plenty of cycle lanes, large bike friendly pedestrianised areas and it rarely rains in comparison to say Paris or London.
If you would like to hire a bike in Budapest there are lots of places where you can. If you are visiting Hungary and like cycling you may want to consider taking a cycling trip around Lake Balaton.
Walking in Budapest
If you want to really take in the city there are few better ways than walking around Budapest. If you are not in much of a rush and the weather is good you will find that Budapest is a wonderful city to walk around.
Hiring a Car
As in all major cities it is easy to hire a car in Budapest provided you are over 21 and have a valid driving licence. There are several car hire companies providing a range of models. Generally speaking it is not as easy to hire a Mercedes or a BMW as it might be in London but there is a good range of cars available and it is perhaps cheaper than in Western European capital cities.
Parking can be a problem in Budapest and traffic can be bad in the afternoon and as public transport is good and most things are relatively close to each other it makes little sense to hire a car in Budapest unless you are planning on visiting places outside of Budapest.