City guide

Before moving to Budapest – Part 1

Before moving to Budapest - Part 1

Whether you are a student, an intern, or just a traveler, and you”re expecting Budapest to become your home during the next couple of months, you had better take a few things into consideration.

Check out these pieces of advice on how to start your new life in the multifarious city of lights!

How to arrive
Budapest has the perfect location, it’s right in the centre of Europe and, being a real capital, it has good connections with the whole continent and the main cities in the world. If you come by plane, you should know that the Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is the largest in Hungary and it connects the country with Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and North America. It’s 16 kilometers away from the centre of Budapest, which can be reached by various means of transport all day long.
Public transportation from/to the airport
From 4 am to 11 pm, there’s bus 200E that takes you from the airport‘s Terminal 2 to Kőbánya-Kispest metro station (the terminus of M3), from where you can easily reach the city center, including Deák Ferenc tér, the meeting point of the city’s three metro lines. Transfer tickets are available at the airport, but it’s also possible to get them on the bus or at the metro station. Ticket prices range from 350 HUF to 450 HUF. From 11 pm to 4 am, some night buses are available, but only one of them (900) starts its journey from Terminal two, and it does not wander to the downtown parts of Budapest, so hopping in a cab might be a better idea. It’s safe, convenient, and does not cost a fortune.

  • Főtaxi is the airport’s official taxi company, providing transfers all day long. Due to a recent decree issued by the local government, taxi fees were regulated, resulting in a fixed price of 280 HUF per kilometer, a basic fee of 450 HUF, and a per-minute waiting fee. A ride between the heart of Budapest and the airport costs about 6500 HUF.
  • The Airport Shuttle Bus offers door-to-door transfer services to and from the airport. It’s possible to book your transfer online and arrange a pick-up point to the airport, and an arrival point from the airport. The service fee to and from the city is around 3200HUF.
  • The airport can be reached by car in a few dozen minutes, which can mainly be attributed to the high-speed motorway that connects the airport with Budapest.

Photo: Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport
Coming to Budapest by train
In case you’re coming to the city by train, it’s worth knowing that Budapest has three major railway stations: Keleti Pályaudvar, Nyugati Pályaudvar, and Déli Pályaudvar

  • Keleti  Pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station) is the main international railway station in Budapest. Trains depart to and arrive from around 15 European countries. It’s located in District VIII, and is among the stops of metro line M2, buses 80, 80A, 7, 7E, 7A, 107E, 133E, 233E during the day, and 908, 907, 973, 931, 956 and 990 at night.
  • Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station), located in District VI, is Hungary’s second most important railway station, and is the focal point of domestic railway lines. You can reach Nyugati Pályaudvar by a plethora of options, including metro line M3, trams 4 and 6 (with the latter operating 24/7, though their routes are the same), trolley bus 72, and at night buses 914, 914A, and 950.
  • Déli Pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station), located in district I at the Buda-side terminus of metro M2, is the Budapestian center of Transdanubian railway lines. Besides the metro, trams (59. 59A, 61), buses, and night buses (960, 990) are also at your service.
Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest
Bus and carpooling
Budapest has a plethora of bus stations offering domestic lines and European shuttles, the biggest and most significant one being Népliget Bus Station. It’s a bit far from the city center, though it won’t take an urban marathon to get there, you just have to take metro line M3. As it usually is in most parts of Budapest, night buses (901, 918, 937) can also be found in the neighborhood.

Carpooling to Budapest is a great idea for multiple reasons: it’s cheaper, more exciting, and more memorable than the traditional options of traveling. You can get to know new, likeminded people, with whom you’ll share costs, cool stories, and life lessons. There are several websites (carpooling.com and carpooling.co.uk are prime examples) where you can look for vehicles waiting to be shared and offer your own ride for a Budapestian voyage.

What to bring

It’s always hard to pack your whole life into suitcases, but you have to be prepared for Budapest’s seasons. Don’t be a Scrooge when it comes to extra fees demanded for the extra luggage, it’s better to be well-equipped for all possibilities.
Summer in Budapest is warm, the average high temperature is over 25 ºC, and it’s not unusual for it to reach 35 ºC plus. Regardless, don’t leave you umbrella at home, because storms might strike down upon thee with furious anger.
From mid-September, the temperatures begin to sink, and are around 15 ºC until the end of October. Autumn days are often sunny, and the Buda hills dress in autumn colors, so taking a weekend trip to Zugliget’s libegő (aka the Budapest Chairlift) is basically a must. From the end of October, days get shorter and nights get cold, the average temperature is approximately 5ºC, and tends to go below zero at night.

Photo: Balkányi László - We Love Budapest

The coldest months are January and February (the latter often referred to as the Monday of months), though the whole winter is pretty freezing in Budapest. The temperature has lows of -15 ºC at night, and the average at day is around 0 ºC, thus there’s no shortage of snow. Unless you’re fond of turning into a B-category villain (like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s punny Mr. Freeze in probably the most so-bad-it’s-good Batman movie of all time), bring your boots, a winter jacket, a scarf, gloves, and a beanie. Still, there’s no need to panic, winter won’t last forever, and by the time March rolls around – save for some extreme cases, such as the one that occurred this year -, spring will come knocking at your door. March and April are rather unpredictable, they are sunny, windy, rainy, cold, and lukewarm at the same time, so getting educated about forecasts and bringing a wide array of clothes are great ideas.

Oh, one last thing: don’t leave your beach outfit at home, baths are open all year long.

Making friends and looking for help before coming
Now that we’ve discussed the first to-dos concerning getting to and around Budapest, it’s high time we focused on the fun. As Alexander Supertramp said, happiness is only real when shared, so getting in touch with sympathetic Budapestians or fellow soon-to-be-Budapestians online is something worth considering.

Remember: there’s always someone like you out there! In case you need help or pieces of advice from expats and locals living in the B and the P, or want to chat it up with someone moving to Budapest, just take a look around Facebook, you’ll find dozens of welcoming groups and communities. Browsing Couchsurfing might also be fruitful, most Budapestian members are open to meeting new people and helping out others. Just write your question or inquiry on the wall, and soon the answers and offers will arrive.

Photo: Bódis Krisztián
If you’re feeling homesick, or just want to be around people who are either from your country or just have the same mother tongue, log in to Facebook, and type, for istance, “Españoles en Budapest” (Spaniards in Budapest) and ask if there’s anyone up for a beer. Spanish people in Budapest will be more than happy to join you, help you out, and become your newfound friends.

This is just a basic guide that will assist you in kicking off your Budapestian life and working out the most crucial details in advance. Apart from this, the city’s magic has to be experienced, and you’ll be pulled in by its unmatchable vibe the moment you take a walk along the Danube Promenade. See you soon!