As autumn sets in and the weather loses its summer heat, cycling remains a great outdoor sport. If you prefer the freedom of your own schedule, why not strike out solo and explore the city on your own two wheels? Bicycles can be rented from points all over the city, and then you’re free to roam. Thanks to a whole network of bike lanes, Budapest is ever more cycle-friendly, routes often taking in the city’s famous landmarks and dramatic scenery. Here we suggest seven in and out of town.
Bubi Bikes are Budapest’s own city-wide rental system, comprising 76 docking stations around town, lined with signature lime-green cycles. These can be rented for time periods as short as 30 minutes, and as long as 12 months.
Unfortunately, the system is quite convoluted, so pay careful attention. Access per bike is only granted in 30-minute segments, which means if you purchase a 24-hour card you must switch bikes and return them to a docking station every 30 minutes. A deposit of 25,000 forints is required before renting, and failure to return your bike within the half-hour time frame will result in penalties taken from your deposit. However, the abundance of biking stations throughout the city is a major convenience, so be time-conscious and you’ll be OK.
0 – 30 minutes: FREE
Up to 60 minutes: 500 HUF
Up to 90 minutes: 1,000 HUF
Up to 120 minutes: 1,500 HUF
Up to 150 minutes: 2,000 HUF
Up to 180 minutes: 2,500 HUF
From 181 minutes to 5 hours and 59 minutes, every extra 30-minute block incurs a fee of 1,000 HUF.
From 6 hours to 8 hours and 59 minutes: every extra 30-minute block incurs a fee of 1,500 HUF.
Beyond 9 hours: every extra 30-minute block incurs a fee of 2,000 HUF.
Of course the rental process can be done via the App, online, and via physical MOL Bubi Bike Cards. These are better for long-term usage of the bikes, which can be arranged for three, six or 12 months. MOL Bubi passes can be purchased at any BKK customer service centre or the molbubi.bkk.hu site. And you can pre-register online here.
Another option for bike rental, Bikebase Budapest offers rentals in five-, 24- and 48-hour increments, as well as three days, at 3,900 forints/day for single-speed and street bikes. Touring bikes are 4,900 forints/day. A lock is included with the rental fee, and child seats and panniers are available for a small charge. Kids bikes, child seats, and adult bikes must all be reserved.
Like Bubi Bikes, Donkey Republic has bike ports scattered around the city, and all the bikes can be unlocked via their App. Monthly memberships are also available for those who want to use the service frequently. Donkey Republic requires no deposit but does require an internet connection to lock, unlock, and return your bike.
IC-Tour & Rentals
Bikes with IC Tour & Rentals cost €7 (2,300 forints) for two hours. One-day rentals are €13 (4,300 forints), and a full 24 hours is €15 (5,000 forints). The company also offers electric scooter rentals, hugely popular in Budapest these days.
Yellow Zebra Bike Rental
Yellow Zebra is a popular bike rental shop in Budapest, which also offers guided tours. Their bikes can be rented at a rate of 1,000 forints/hr for any standard three-speed male or female bike. After that, options are available from half-days to three-plus. Also available are tandem bikes, child bikes, e-bikes and more. Deposits must be paid in cash, but they are accepted in a variety of currencies.
The Eurovelo No.6 route is one of the oldest cycle tracks in the world, stretching from France to the Black Sea. The section through Budapest – which follows the Danube – is particularly scenic, passing Castle Hill, Parliament and the Chain Bridge. Buda Explorer, a cycle hire outlet and tour company, offers rental packages for those embarking on the Eurovelo 6. Bikes can be picked up and dropped off along the route in Passau, Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade, past castles, coastlines and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
WHAT: Oldest bike path in the world, passing through Budapest
Heading north out of the city, you can reach picturesque Hűvösvölgy in the Buda hills, and continue cycling through greenery to the vantage point of Hármashatárhegy, a take-off point for gliders. Starting from Széll Kálmán tér, head for the junction of Budakeszi út and Hűvösvölgyi út on the Szilágyi Erzsébet utca. Opt for the latter, and the bike path follows tram line No.56 all the way to Hűvösvölgy. There you can stop for a rest at a buffet or restaurant, then forge ahead to the glider airport via the hiking trail through the woods.
This section is more recommended for off-road cycling, but you shouldn't expect any particularly dangerous sections, rather just avoiding peaceful walking families and no dangerous climbs. There are also clearing areas in the forest suitable for rest stops and picnics.
Starting from Széll Kálmán tér, you can board the cog railway by the circular Budapest Hotel – it has a separate section for bicycles, so buy and validate an extra transport ticket.
Arriving at János Hill, you ride to the terminal of the Children’s Railway, before heading towards Normafa for refreshments and relaxation. Here there’s a café/restaurant in the Síház and several buffets. From here you can reach the Elizabeth Lookout Tower, the highest point in Budapest, but it’s a steep climb.
Coming back, it’s safe to roll down to Budakeszi, its Wildlife Park also worth a look. From here it’s relatively straightforward to get back to the above-mentioned junction of Budakeszi út and Hűvösvölgyi út, from where Széll Kálmán tér is a doddle by bike.
Kerepesi in District VIII is the most famous cemetery in Budapest, and one of the oldest still preserved in Hungary. The area is huge, so biking is the best way to see it all. There is a sculpture garden and plenty of trees, which is the perfect autumnal backdrop. Maps are available at the entrance to guide you towards the graves and mausoleums of Hungary’s great and good.
Kerepesi Cemetery District VIII. Fiumei út 16-18
With its own stop on busy tram route 4/6, Margaret Island (Margitsziget) is easily accessible from either Buda or Pest. In autumn, its many paths and walkways, lined with trees, put on a brilliant display of red, orange, yellow, and crimson. The island was used as a hunting grounds in the Middle Ages, and the ruins of a Dominican convent built in the 13th century are still visible. Also on the sightseeing map are the Musical Fountain and the Palatinus Baths.
Népsziget, with an endearing name of People’s Island, is one of the best, off-the-beaten-track places to cycle. The island is full of old, abandoned buildings, which gives it a much different feel from the well-groomed Margaret Island – but as a result the island is much less populated. Visitors can cycle freely, bars and cafés sell beer and snacks, in summer lángos and hekk, fried dough and fried fish. There’s even horseback riding and a goat farm, if you fancy checking out other activities during your bike trip.
Népsziget District IV – accessible from Újpest-városkapu metro station
Szentendre is a classic day trip from Budapest, a quaint town dotted with galleries and Serbian churches some 25 kilometres north of town. Ideally, cyclists should be able to ride all the way there along the river, but work taking place en route currently makes this tricky. The most convivial option is therefore to ride up to the bucolic Római embankment (Római fürdő), have rewarding drink there, then take the HÉV train (bikes allowed) up to Szentendre.
From town, you can either use the Pest side, taking Váci út up from Nyugati station then crossing the railway bridge for a spectacular view of the surrounding scenery, or the Buda side, and the bike path that hugs the Danube. That only runs to Árpád Bridge, after which you’ll be battling traffic until you get to the Római embankment, where a phalanx of affordable, alfresco bars and buffets awaits.
The HÉV from Rómaifürdő to Szentendre takes 25 minutes – you’ll have to validate two tickets, one for you, one for your bike, or purchase a bicycle pass. See the BKK website.
From Szentendre, the cycle path once again becomes user-friendly, and you can head off to explore the verdant wonders of Leányfalu, Tahitótfalu and Szentendre Island.