It is extremely easy and cheap to fly to Budapest. This time we had no doubt that we would rather fly than take a car, train or bus. And how to move around locally? How to get from the airport to the center of Budapest?
The idea for Budapest had been germinating in our heads since a fantastic weekend in Vienna. We knew that many people recommended both cities, and even encouraged us to combine the two capitals and make a week-long detour by car. So we decided to see for ourselves and, without delay, started hunting for cheap airline tickets to Budapest.
Table of contents
How to get to Budapest?
This time we had no doubts about how we wanted to get to the European capital – thanks to low-cost airlines, you can fly to Budapest for pennies, so it’s worth hunting for bargains.
Again, we chose the WizzAir airline – at the end of the year there were a lot of promotions with a 20% discount on tickets, so we took advantage. Of course, several aspects of such promotions must be kept in mind. First of all, the discount generally applies only to the ticket price, which, let’s not hide it, but to Budapest is not much, especially if you have a Wizz Discount Club. On top of that we have administrative fees, which are fixed and can exceed the price of a ticket on low-cost destinations. On top of that, in our case, you have to add an infant fee, which can be the amount of an adult ticket or even higher! (In some lines). Plus, of course, luggage….
In sum, the pennies with us came out a lot, but still less than if we were to go by car. In addition, the flight is very short, at good hours, so we had no doubt that this was a good choice.
We won’t write about the flight itself, but we present you below with a good dose of practical information if you plan to travel by plane to Budapest, and get around by public transport on the spot.
Airport and access to the center
The first impression upon landing in Budapest was, to put it mildly…. average. On the way back it was only worse. We laughed that if anyone wants to see what ‘low-cost airline’ means, the best way to observe it is at Budapest Airport.
It is here that a large barracks is erected on the tarmac, where squeezed passengers must stand in line to board the plane. There are several entrances to the barracks – each under a specific flight, and inside?
Once inside the hall, tickets are checked and you stand on, waiting for the plane ready to let passengers in. Although everyone is in one hall there are separate queues separated by tapes for specific flights. There are no benches, no chairs, so even with a child in tow you have to stick out your own in the unheated hall. Something for something, although we felt like chickens on a chicken farm ;)
But back to how to get downtown from the airport….
We decided to get to the center of Budapest by public transport. There is an information desk at the airport, where you can buy tickets and get information on how best to get to different parts of the city (in plus a very good level of English). Of course, here you have to stick out your own, too.
Apparently, there are ticket vending machines at the bus stop just outside the terminal, but we were in such a hurry later that we didn’t have time to check. You can also buy a ticket from the driver, but they are more expensive – we write more about ticket prices below.
The bus is a good and cheap option if you are not in a hurry. There are two lines to choose from: 100E and 200E, the former of which is more expensive (900 HUF) but faster and directly to the center. We went on a budget (350 HUF), taking the 200E line with a change to the metro. Note – the bus is boarded only through the front door. Unfortunately, the whole journey took us about 1.5 hours and it was uncomfortable, especially on the bus. It was quite crowded and chaotic – not very favorable conditions for traveling with a baby stroller…. However, it must be said that just getting to the subway, including changing from the bus, is very well marked.
On the way back we took a cab to the airport, because we had a departure since dawn, and you know – in the morning every minute counts :) We considered ordering the so-called Shuttle Bus, which collects travelers from various places in Budapest, but the price came out more expensive than a cab (about 20-25 eur for all three of us). In the end, we paid 18 euros for a cab, and it only took us 20 minutes to get there. At this price, it is worth taking a cab, especially if you are traveling in a group or with a small child.
Public transport in Budapest
We moved around Budapest mostly on foot, but covered longer distances by subway.
In the Hungarian capital, public transportation consists of buses, trolleybuses, streetcars and the subway. The first, are often venerable, run-down Ikaruses. Although it brought a tear to our eye at the sight of them, we were not tempted to take a ride ;)
There are several metro lines in the city and this is enough to reach the main sights of the city, including the historic yellow metro line, which is the oldest metro line in continental Europe!
Trains run on time, every few minutes, there is no crowding, and the only downside is the lack of elevators to many subway stations. Not once did we have the need to commute somewhere by bus or streetcar.
What types of tickets are there and how much do they cost?
There are several types of tickets in Budapest, which was a little difficult for us to understand at the very beginning. However, when you sit on it, it makes deeper sense ;)
Single tickets – authorizing travel on a single bus, streetcar or combined metro (you can change metro lines at will):
- 1 single ticket – 350 HUF (about 4.66 PLN).
- 1 single ticket bought from the driver – 450 HUF (about 6 PLN).
- 10 single tickets – HUF 3,000 (about PLN 40).
Interchange tickets – you can use any form of public transportation, and you are only limited to 100 minutes of travel time (or 120 at night):
- 1 transfer ticket- 530 HUF (about 7 PLN).
Daily and multi-day tickets, are valid from the moment they are punched on all lines within the city:
- 1 24-hour ticket – 1650 HUF (about 22 PLN).
- 1 24-hour group ticket (max 5 people) – 3300 HUF (approx. 44 PLN).
- 1 72-hour ticket – 4150 HUF (about 55 PLN).
- 1 7-day ticket – 4950 HUF (about 66 PLN).
Children, pre-school age travel for free. For students, discounts are only for tickets of at least one month.
We only traveled by subway, and only sporadically. We bought single tickets, because we never really knew quite where we would ultimately get to and how we wanted to return. However, if you are traveling in at least two people and will be taking transportation a few times, it may be cheaper for you to buy 10 single tickets (we would certainly be more comfortable with this) or group day tickets.
Tickets can be purchased either at kiosks or at vending machines that are located at each subway line. The vending machine has several languages to choose from (including Polish) and you can pay with both card and cash.
Note – as in Vienna, also in Budapest, it is extremely important to validate your ticket before entering the metro!
During our stay, we had our tickets inspected several times – after exiting the subway, there were 2-3 people standing in the aisle checking the punched tickets.
You can find up-to-date information on public transportation on the BKK website.
Traveling by public transportation may seem complicated at first because of the not-so-clear prices and types of tickets, but we hope we have clearly presented them in this post.
Taking the subway is an ideal way to quickly get to the city’s main attractions (especially the historic yellow line), but if you only have a little time and the weather is fine we recommend a slow tour of the city on foot :)
We also recommend you our post what to see in Budapest and about the Parliament Building in Budapest.