Budapest is one of the largest cities in Eastern Europe and has a large, but very confusing public transportation network. There are buses, trolleybuses, trams, the metro and suburban trains that connect different parts of the city with each other. Even though the transportation network is very confusing, there is only one price system in the inner city which makes buying tickets pretty easy.
Budapest is getting more and more popular as a touristic destination for travelers from all over the world. At the same time, the city itself grows due to the developments in Hungary. Due to that, public transportation got very confusing over the years.
Tourists have to deal with a wide range of different modes of transport. The one most visitors will interfere the less with are suburban trains. These are mainly used to connect the city with suburbs of Budapest. Be aware that regional trains arrive and depart at different stations in Buda or Pest.
Over the years, the metro got the most important means of transport for visitors and inhabitants of Budapest. By now, there are four different lines, while another one is in planning stadium. At the very moment, the metro mainly operates on the Pest side of the city with only a few stops in Buda. There are three exchange stations: Deák Ferenc tér (1,2,3), Kálvin tér (3,4), Keleti pályaudvar (2,4). The metro line 3 is important for all who arrive in Budapest by plane.
You can reach the metro station Kobánya-Kispest by bus from the airport and connect to the city center with the metro from there onwards. It’s worth a mention that all metro lines and cars in Budapest are different as they were built and restored in a period of more than 100 years. Line 1 even was the first underground railway system in Continental Europe. It was built in 1896.
Metro lines in Budapest:
Even though the metro system of Budapest is growing, it still doesn’t operate in many regions of the city. Due to that, there are several tram lines to support the metro. At the moment, there are 26 main lines operating on a daily basis and 7 supplemental lines that are only operating on weekdays/weekends to support the other lines. The trams in Budapest operate with a relatively low speed even though they mainly got their own rails, being independent of the street traffic.
Throughout the city, there are hundreds of metro stops and dozens of exchange stations. Due to the number of tram lines, the system is tough to get along with. Most trams in Budapest got displays showing the destination and number of the line, while they don’t have ticket machines inside.
There may be many metro lines in Budapest, but there are even more bus lines in the city. Depending on where you want to go, a bus may be the better mode of transport. To get an idea of the bus system, it is good to know that there are three different kinds of service: Regular Buses (black signs), Express Buses (red signs) and Night Buses (black signs, only operating at nighttime). As with the tram and the metro, buses in Budapest are partly modern and partly old or even very old.
Additionally to normal bus lines, there are also trolleybuses in the city. However, this rarely makes any difference for passengers. The price system in Budapest is similar for trams, buses and the metro. Single tickets cost either 350 HUF (~ 1.15 Euro / 1.30 US-Dollar) or 450 HUF (~ 1.50 Euro / 1.65 US-Dollar).
Compared to other Eastern European cities, taking a taxi in Budapest is convenient and safe. All official taxis are equipped with a taximeter. Also, taxis in Budapest got a yellow license plate. The name of the taxi driver is usually displayed right next to the taximeter.
Prices for taking a taxi in Budapest are on the lower side compared to other metropolises in Europe. The base fare is 450 HUF (~ 1.50 Euro / 1.65 US-Dollar) and every further kilometer is charged 280 HUF (~ 0.92 Euro / 1.03 US-Dollar). A taxi from the airport to the city center or the other way round usually costs around 6.500 HUF (~ 21.40 Euro / 23.95 US-Dollar).
Tourists who are visiting Budapest may also be interested in a very special mode of transport. The Budapest Castle Hill Funicular connects the castle with the lower region of Buda. Tourists often decide to take the funicular to not have to climb the mountain themselves.
Buses that are also driving up to the Castle Hill may be a cheaper alternative as the funicular is relatively expensive. However, the experience is very special as passengers enjoy great views of the city from inside the Budapest Castle Hill Funicular.
Single tickets cost 1.100 HUF (~ 3.60 Euro / 4.05 US-Dollar) and return tickets are available for 1.700 HUF (~ 5.60 Euro / 6.26 US-Dollar).