Over recent years, it is becoming increasingly easier to reach the heart of Hungary’s capital from Budapest Airport, whether taking public transportation or utilizing private door-to-door transfer services. We offer the following guide with options suitable for all budgets, including photos of exactly what you’ll see immediately after clearing customs.
Before considering which form of transfer you will take, note which Budapest Airport terminal your plane will disembark into. Budapest Airport has two adjacent terminals, 2A and 2B (Terminal 1 is now closed); 2A is generally utilized by major international airlines, while 2B is primarily used by discount airlines.
UPDATE: Beginning on July 8th, 2017, a new direct bus service between Budapest Airport and downtown Deák Square is being added to the city’s public-transportation network, costing 900 forints each way – see the article below for details:
…nonetheless, the following information about reaching downtown from the airport via the 200E bus and the M3 metro remains valid.
Following the recent purchase of new buses and a major renovation of the subway terminus where passengers from the airport transfer to the downtown-bound metro, Budapest’s BKK public-transportation network now provides an easy and fairly pleasant link from Budapest Airport to everywhere in the city that is reachable by any of its four underground lines – and the entire trip can cost as little as 700 forints (a little more than two euros).
Immediately after exiting customs in either Terminal 2A or 2B, you will find a booth in the arrivals area offering “Information and tickets” from BKK, distinguished by their wall-sized maps of Budapest’s public-transportation network. Here you can buy any type of BKK tickets and passes (see more information in this article; the minimum number of tickets necessary to get from the airport to downtown is two, which can be bought individually (350 HUF apiece) or in a set of ten tickets at a discount price (3,000 HUF).
While this booth also serves as an outlet for purchasing the Budapest Card (providing unlimited use of public transportation along with museum entry, access to a thermal bath, free tours, and various discounts), if you are only traveling to a hotel and do not plan to go out much afterwards for the rest of the day, it’s best to just buy two tickets for now and use them to reach your accommodations, since Budapest Cards have a 24-, 48-, or 72-hour time limit that begins with your first usage of the card; to maximize its value, wait to purchase a Budapest Card until right before you begin sightseeing. If you must exchange money for Hungarian forints at the terminal, keep in mind that exchange rates are much higher at the airport than at most downtown exchange offices, so only exchange as much money as you absolutely need.
With at least two tickets in hand, proceed out from the terminal to find BKK’s airport express bus, the 200E to Kőbánya-Kispest (this is not a downtown location, but this is the closest point to take the M3 metro to downtown); if you are arriving at Terminal 2A, the bus stop is to the right after exiting the arrivals area, and the bus stop is to the left if you are exiting Terminal 2B. From 4:09am to 10:59pm every day, bus 200E takes passengers directly to the Kőbánya-Kispest metro terminus, from which point all four of Budapest’s underground lines are accessible. (Night bus 900 departs from the same stop at 12:59am, 1:29am, 2:29am, and 3:29am – however, to get downtown passengers must transfer to another night bus, entailing a long and dark journey through some of Budapest’s least attractive neighborhoods.)
Step aboard bus 200E and punch one of your two tickets in view of the driver, and within a few minutes you will arrive at the newly renovated Kőbánya-Kispest transportation hub, now adjacent to a modern mall. Make sure to stay aboard bus 200E until its very last stop (many passengers disembark at the “park and ride” area one stop early, which still allows access to the metro station, but only via multiple staircases.) From the final stop for bus 200E, walk to one of the stairways or the escalator leading up to the elevated corridor connecting the mall and the metro terminus, all indicated with ample signage.
At the conclusion of the elevated corridor, you will find the entry area to the M3 metro line. Punch your second ticket in one of the orange validating machines and proceed to the downward escalators – usually guarded by a stern ticket inspector – toward the subway platform. Make sure that you board the metro heading towards “Újpest-Központ”, but since this is the final stop for subways traveling in the opposite direction, you will be informed of your mistake (quite brusquely, by loudspeaker) if you are on the wrong subway.
From here the metro travels directly to the heart of downtown Budapest and beyond, every day of the year; transfer to line M4 at the Kálvin tér stop, and transfer to lines M1 or M2 at the Deák Ferenc tér stop (there is no need to punch another ticket to transfer between metro lines). It takes approximately 50 minutes to travel from the airport to Deák Ferenc tér using this public-transport option, but make sure to buy tickets for the journey; BKK inspectors regularly patrol this route, and they are merciless with ticketless Budapest visitors. Check out this website for complete BKK timetable information.
Providing door-to-door transfer services for reasonable rates, the shuttle service is one of the most popular ways to travel from Budapest Airport to anywhere in Hungary’s capital. Now – after a two-month pause from the beginning of the year in the shuttle service’s operation – transfers can be booked again with the freshly launched miniBUD company, beginning in March 2016. With an extensive fleet of modern minibuses offering shared rides, the staff amasses several passengers that are traveling to the same area of the city and then drops them off in the most convenient order possible. Because of this, it can actually take longer to reach a destination with this service than it takes to use public transportation, but the convenience of not having to handle luggage on the bus and metro can be well worth the extra expense and time. Check out the official miniBUD website for fare information and details.
From spring 2017, Luxembourg-based company flibco.com has been offering direct bus-transfer services between downtown Budapest and the airport with a departure frequency of every 30 minutes round the clock. The bus stops at several transport hubs citywide, including at Deák Square, at Népliget Bus Station, and at Nyugati, Keleti, and Déli railway stations; a one-way trip costs 9 euros per person.
The fastest and most direct way of getting from Budapest Airport to downtown is definitely by taxi, with services provided by taxi stands in front of both Terminal 2A and 2B that are staffed by English-speaking attendants. Only one company is currently authorized to provide unreserved taxi service with curbside pick-up at Budapest Airport: Főtaxi, which guarantees regulated rates with prepaid vouchers available at the taxi stands. To reach most central-Budapest hotels, Főtaxi charges approximately 7,000 forints (about 22 euros). Log onto www.fotaxi.hu for complete information and a tariff calculator.
Other taxi companies operate at Budapest Airport, with plenty of dodgy individuals awaiting fresh visitors in the arrivals area with grunted offers of taxi service, but utilizing their services invites unpredictable outcomes for your pocketbook.
Check out the official airport website for more information about transportation to and from Budapest Airport.