Budapest has an efficient network of public transport, including bus, trolley bus, tram, metro services plus suburban railway called HÉV.
Tickets are available at metro stations or from street kiosks. Passengers can use the same type of ticket for all forms of public transport but they need to validate a new ticket when changing lines or service types. Bus drivers on specific routes do sell tickets but passengers need to prepare exact fares as no change will be given.
Regular use of public transport makes it economically more viable to buy a monthly or yearly pass. Students are entitled to reduced rates.
Ticket validation procedure
Don’t forget to validate your ticket by using a hand-operated or electronic machine when boarding a public transport vehicle. If you travel by metro you have to validate your ticket at station entry points. Electronic ticket validation devices (the orange boxes) are installed at Metro entrances.
Budapest has more than 200 bus routes covering most inner city and suburban areas. Some routes offer an express service, indicated with an E following the number. Express and regular services cover the same routes but with a reduced number of stops.
On the main routes service are available during the night hours.
Budapest has three lines intersecting at Deák tér:
- M1: the yellow line between Vörösmarty tér and Mexikói út. In fact this was the first subway line in Mainland Europe, which was opened in 1896 for the Millennium.
- M2: the red line between Déli pályaudvar and Örs vezér tere.
- M3: the blue line between Újpest Központ and Kőbánya-Kispest.
Construction of the new M4 is underway.
Each station is marked with an “M” enclosed in a circle.
Although locating the Budapest metro poses no difficulty for tourists, metro maps are available at any of the station entries.
Metro services run from 4:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.
The HÉV, the city’s suburban train service, connects Budapest with its suburban districts. A popular journey for tourists is from Batthyány tér to Szentendre. If you leave the administrative border of Budapest you need to purchase a special ticket.
National public transport
Students in possession of student cards are entitled to reduced rates. These are the discounts currently available via the student card system:
- 60% discount when buying a monthly pass for public transport.
- 50% discount on travelling by train.
- 50% on HÉV and the ferry.
Most train lines in Hungary use Budapest as their hub and radiate outward from there. Although the train network has lines connecting cities and towns in outlying areas, to reach your final destination quickly it is sometimes faster to go back through central Budapest.
The best way to travel by train is to use Intercity, a reliable and comfortable connection service. You need to pay a supplement fare, though, which entails a mere HUF 350-520 extra fare compared with regular train ticket prices.
Budapest has three major train stations: Eastern Railway station (Keleti pályaudvar) and Southern Railway Station (Déli pályaudvar) are both situated in an area along the metro line No 2 (red line), and Western Railway Station (Nyugati pályaudvar) which is at a location just off a station along line No 3 (the blue metro line).
If you travel outside of Budapest you can also go by coach. Bus drivers sell tickets entitling passengers to a standing space but to secure seat tickets fares should be purchased in advance.
Coach stations in Budapest:
- Stadionok | XIV. Hungária körút 48-52. (on the red metro line) | Coach departures destination Eastern Hungary.
- Árpád-híd | Budapest XIII., Árbóc u. 1-3. (on the blue metro line) | Coach departures destination Pilisvörösvár and Szentendre.
- Népliget | IX. Üllői út 131. (on the blue metro line) | Long distance coach services destination Transdanubia plus international coach services.
- Etele tér | XI. (bus red 7) | Destination Biatorbágy, Érd, Százhalombatta.
- Széna tér | I. (tram 4 or 6) | Destination Zsámbék and the Zsámbék area.
Visitors will not need a Hungarian driving license but they need to keep all car documents, driving license and passport with them. If stopped by a traffic warden or a police constable, some form of identification including these documents will be asked for and driving without them is an offence. Speed limits in Hungary vary according to road types. In urban areas the speed limit is 50 km per hour, for dual carriageways it is 80 km per hour. If you drive on a motorway the speed limit will be 130 km per hour.
Petrol is not particularly cheap or expensive in Hungary, the price being approximately what you would expect to pay in any other European country. Petrol stations are easy to find in Hungary and most cities will have at least one open 24 hours a day.
Hungary has a zero tolerance policy towards a drink-driving offence.
Renting a car is also possible if you are 21 years old or older and have an international driving license with an expiry of not less than a year.
When taking a taxi, tourists should avoid hailing unmarked taxi cabs. Even if they have a taxi sign on the roof and are seen standing in a taxi rank, don’t get in if they don’t have a company name on the outside.
You can always hail a taxi in the streets but it is cheaper to book one over the phone.