One of the many great things about Budapest is the city’s excellent and affordable transport network. There are buses, trams, trolleybuses, suburban trains, boats and even a cogwheel railway. Tickets are available via the English-friendly app BudapestGO, although there's still the paper variety, too, and machines for purchasing and punching can be confusing at first. Don’t worry! With this guide, you should be zipping around confidently in no time.
Info & apps
The easiest way to buy tickets and access up-to-date timetables is via the BudapestGO app, available for Android and iOS. Budapest transport company BKK has offices at key stations such as Deák Ferenc tér, Déli pályaudvar and Keleti pályaudvar. They also sell tickets and distribute paper maps.
BKK app for Androids
BKK app for Apple
Budapest Airport to city centre
The 100E bus is the best service from the airport to town by public transport. Taking 45 minutes, it calls at Kálvin tér, Astoria and Deák Ferenc tér, all within a short walk of each other in the city centre. As you exit Arrivals, you see the bus stop and English-friendly ticket machine past the taxi kiosk. Tickets cost 1,500 forints – look out for the plane logo on the screen. Machines accept credit cards and Hungarian forints (change given), drivers take cash only. The 100E runs every ten minutes – the first sets off from town at 3.30am and the last service pulls out of the airport at 1.30am.
Alongside, the 200E bus sets off for south Pest, calling at many stops en route. The terminus 25 minutes away is the last station on blue metro M3, Kőbánya-Kispest, but as the line is being renovated, replacement buses serve the rest of the journey into town. Standard BKK tickets (HUF 350, see below) are valid on this route, but you’ll need to use another for your onward journey.
There are Customer Service Points at Terminals 2A (daily 8am-10pm) and 2B (daily 9am-9pm), with English-speaking staff.
For details of other ways to get from Budapest Airport to town, see here
Tickets and passes can be purchased with the BudapestGO app (see above Info & apps). Alternatively, you can use the English-friendly machines at metro stations, tram and bus stops. The BudapestGO app has a map with their locations. Newsstands also sell tickets. Machines take cards and Hungarian forints in cash, but only bills of 5,000 and below.
BKK offices (look out for the purple signage) operate within main stations such as Deák Ferenc tér, Déli pályaudvar and Keleti pályaudvar. Assistants can provide information and maps as well as tickets – a machine by the door dispenses numbers to find your place in the queue. You can also buy from the driver on trams and buses, cash only, 450 forints for a single ticket as opposed to the 350 forints if bought in advance. See below, Ticket types.
A single ticket (vonaljegy, HUF 350) is for any one-way, uninterrupted ride on any bus, tram, trolleybus or metro line from one end of the line to the other. Transfers are permitted between metro lines but not between types of transport. There are no returns available. If you're changing types of transport, there are transfer and time-based tickets available, see below.
Any ticket purchased directly from the driver costs 450 forints.
There’s a discount if you buy ten tickets at a time, tíz darabos gyűtőjegy. This little booklet costs 3,000 forints, so a 500-forint saving than if you buy ten individually, and are issued as single tickets. This allows you the freedom to use as you wish.
However, if you plan on using the public transport frequently over a certain period of time, you may consider a longer-term pass (see below, Time-based tickets & passes).
At 530 forints, these tickets allow you a single journey with one transfer, say between bus and metro, or different bus lines.
Short-section tickets (3 stops or fewer)
Valid on the metro network for three stops, for 30 minutes after validation. Transfers are allowed, but only between metro lines, and only for three stops. These cost 300 forints.
Main city boat lines D2, D11 and D12 are currently suspended, with only the D14 running between Csepel and Molnár islands. However, those with a monthly pass or longer may use the Circle Line run by the Mahart boat company for free between Tuesdays and Fridays. A day ticket otherwise costs 1,500 forints. BKK passholders must register at the Mahart ticket office before boarding, and pay at weekends like everyone else. The Circle Line sets off every day except Monday from Pier 5 at downtown Vigadó tér, five times a day at two-hour intervals from noon. It calls at Margaret Island and Batthyány tér, taking one hour 15 minutes to complete the journey from and to Vigadó tér.
Paper tickets must be validated before boarding the metro. Tickets for buses and trams are validated after you board – buses require you to enter via the front door and show your pass to the driver or validate your ticket in the machine next to him. Failure to validate your ticket can result in a fine when inspectors come round, 8,000 forints if paid on the spot, 16,000 forints if paid within 30 days.
How to validate
The metro and modern vehicles are equipped with orange machines – insert your ticket into the slot in the middle. You will hear it whirr as it stamps your ticket. Should a machine fail to work, find another one – there will be a row at the top of metro escalators and along each vehicle. Paper tickets will have a silver strip at one end, and a grid with numbers at the other end. Validate the end with the grid. While it seems excessive, some ticket checkers will fine you for validating the wrong end.
Older vehicles contain red punchers. Insert the grid end of the ticket, with the grid facing you, into the slot, and pull the black lever towards you. You should hear it manually punching the ticket. Again, if it doesn’t work, there will be other punchers further along the carriage.
Tickets for boat and heritage services are not validated by stamping or punching, they will be validated by the crew. Similarly the 1,500-forint ticket for airport bus 100E (see above, Budapest Airport to city centre) is usually torn off by the driver or his assistant by the stop on the pavement.
See this video for validating tickets:
Once validated, tickets must be used within 80 minutes of stamping or 120 minutes for night services. Transfers can only be made between metro lines only. Journeys involving transfers between metro, bus and tram must have a separate, validated ticket, or consider a transfer ticket, as listed above.
Time-based tickets & passes
Recently introduced time-based tickets for 30 minutes (HUF 530) and 90 minutes (HUF 750) allow unlimited use of the metro, buses, suburban trains (HÉV) etc, within the city limits. As long as you start the final section of your journey within the time limit, your ticket will still be valid.
24- and 72-hour travel passes
Valid for 24 hours (1,650 HUF) and 72 hours (4,150 HUF) after purchase, these allow unlimited trips within the city limits. No validation is required before travel.
5/30 travel pass
A 5/30 travel pass (4,550 HUF) contains five tickets, each valid for 24 hours. A calendar and time option is printed on the tickets, and users must mark on the day and time they intend to begin their 24 hours of validity. This must be used within 30 days of the first use.
Seven-day travel pass
Valid from midnight on the indicated starting day until 2am on the seventh day thereafter. Unlimited trips are permitted within the city limits. A valid photo ID must accompany the travel card if challenged. The seven-day pass costs 4,950 forints.
Longer travel passes
A valid photo ID must also accompany travel cards for 15 days (HUF 6,300), and passes for a month (HUF 9,500), a quarter (HUF 28,500) or a year (HUF 217,960). Note that lost passes are not refundable. Most Hungarians put their pass in the back of their mobile cover.
Discounted tickets are available for students (HUF 3,450/month) but ONLY for those holding an EU university student card. Quarterly and semester passes are also available.
Senior discounts are available for those holding a valid pensioner ID, 3,330 forints/month.
Beyond the city limits
Some buses and all HÉV suburban trains venture beyond the city limits, and travelling to and from them requires additional tickets. These can also be purchased at machines and BKK offices. Supplements are charged from 10km beyond town, then in 5km increments. See a price list here. Tourist-friendly Szentendre, the most popular option, requires a 310-forint levy, for example. Other destinations include Gödöllő with its grand palace and gardens, and pretty Ráckeve.
Metro 1 is currently not accessible.
Metro 2 has barrier-free access at the Örs vezér tere, Pillangó utca and Puskás Ferenc Stadion stations. At Örs Vezér tere, the platform design supports barrier-free boarding and disembarking. Lifts are available at the other two stations.
Metro 3 is currently under long-term renovation. The newest stations on the northern section of the line, between Göncz Árpád Városközpont and Újpest-központ. Other stations should follow suit as they are unveiled.
Metro 4 is accessible by lifts in all stations.
More information, including details of parallel routes by bus or tram should step-free access by metro not by available.
Travelling with your bicycle
Bicycles can be transported on several tram and bus lines, one trolleybus route and all HÉV suburban railway lines but you will have to buy and validate an extra single ticket. All details are given here.
Travelling with your dog
Dogs can ride for the price of an extra ticket but they cannot take up a seat, and must be carried on the metro escalators. Those being carried as hand luggage in a closed container do not require an extra ticket. Guide dogs are also exempt. Dogs must be on a leash and wear a muzzle.