Thanks to extensive city development, Budapest’s major landmarks, spas and public transport are now increasingly accessible to those with limited mobility. Options for wheelchair hire are still quite limited, however, with lengthy minimum rental periods.
AMS is one of the most visible services in the city for renting mobility aids, but its equipment can only be hired for a minimum of 15 days. Visitors planning an extended stay in Budapest can rent wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and a myriad of other care items such as bathtub seats, bathtub handrails and rolling hospital beds.
Wheelchairs begin at 350 forints/day, plus a deposit. Walkers are 50 forints/day plus deposit. AMS items can be delivered to your house or hotel at a surcharge: items below 20kg carry a levy of 2,900 forints, over 25kg, 15,000 forints.
AMS also offers services for passengers with reduced mobility to get to and from the airport, including a 24-hour dispatch centre and an online order service. See the AMS website (Hungarian-only) for more information and to order necessary equipment online.
As with AMS, Gysgy Reha offers equipment rental for a minimum period of two weeks. This includes wheelchairs, with both adult and child sizes available. A one-time cleaning fee is required, at 7,620 forints. After that, the chair can be rented for 500 forints/day. Those interested in renting should call +36 1 330 7735 or +36 1 288 6640, weekdays only, 8am-4pm.
Hungary 4 All/Merek.hu
A great resource for wheelchair-friendly activities in the city – especially if travelling with children of limited mobility – is the website Hungary 4 All, which has a comprehensive list of accessible attractions. They also lead their own tours, all of which are wheelchair-friendly.
Hungary4All partners with another group for assistive rentals, MEREK. Operated and financed by the General Directorate for Social and Child Protection, MEREK aims to integrate people with physical disabilities. Standard and electronic wheelchairs are both available through MEREK, with the option for delivery. MEREK’s website also features rehabilitation services, in-house sports and community activities, summer camps and other leisure events. Anyone interested in renting from MEREK should email the details of their needs here for a better idea of costs and availability.
Mozgásséroltek Budapesti Egyesolete
MBE is a non-profit organisation run by activists. Its site is Hungarian-only, but the service is available to any person “who has lost some or all of his or her motor, visual, auditory, mental and intellectual abilities”. They offer wheelchairs, crutches and walkers, among other items.
Membership is required in order to use MBE’s services, and can be arranged online, by post or personally at the association’s office (XIII. Hegedűs Gyula utca 43, Mon-Thur 10am-3.30pm). The MBE membership card also provides discounted entry to museums, cinemas and the zoo. Pick-up and drop-off are also available around the city. For information on renting equipment, see their website.
Public-transport company BKK has greatly improved access of stations and vehicles. Though the network is yet 100% accessible, with the replacement of old carriages, the installation of new lines and the refurbishment of stations citywide, passengers in wheelchairs can use an increasing number of public conveyances. Accessible lines are marked with applicable pictograms.
To learn more about accessible routes, download BKK Futár – an online journey planner by BKK – where besides the quickest routes and the timetable information, anyone can track the availability of low-floor vehicles. Download iOS and Android.
English-language Route4U app provides accessibility maps of the Hungarian capital for those with limited mobility, displaying accessibility information on pavements, crossings and numerous attractions. Best of all, this handy app is constantly updated by wheelchair users, as it automatically records the traversed tracks and evaluates the streets, before marking them with various colours to indicate accessibility levels. The app is available to download on iOS and Android devices.
Those with physical disabilities alongside one accompanying person can opt for BKK’s door-to-door shuttle service that runs 5.30am-11.30pm weekdays and 8am-4pm at weekends, booking required. Call the BKK customer service centre at +36 70 390 3414 (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, limited English spoken), and a dispatcher will confirm the pick-up time based on availability – regular customers who use this service for daily commutes are always given priority.
Metro line 4 is fully accessible and along its route all stations have lifts, plus all of the platform constructions are suitable for people with limited mobility. Aboard carriages, there are designated areas for people with physical challenges, and above all, safety belts are provided for securing a wheelchair. Passengers should not board these driver-less trains when the opening/closing signals are sounding at stations.
All of the metro carriages of metro line 2 are disabled-friendly – again, do not enter or alight when the doors are opening/closing – and three stations, Örs vezér tere, Pillangó utca and Puskás Ferenc Stadion have lifts.
The new stations on the northern section of metro line 3 – Újpest-központ, Újpest-városkapu, Gyöngyösi utca, Forgách utca and part of Árpád híd – are also wheelchair-friendly, with more to follow as the whole line is renovated.
Linking Buda and Pest, frequent tram lines 4 and 6 follow almost exactly the same route as the Grand Boulevard. With the exception of Boráros tér, all tram stops offer easy accessibility by wheelchair, and the entire line is mostly served by low-floor vehicles. These also run on tram lines 17 and 19 on the Buda side. Back in Pest, most trams on routes 1 and 3 are accessible (and all No.1 trams at weekends).
Except for just a small handful of lines, accessible buses operate on every route – the bus driver has to set up the ramp for boarding when a passenger in a wheelchair is about to get on/off the vehicle. The departure times of low-floor conveyances are underlined in each timetable, while wheelchair users are offered a designated door for boarding the bus marked with the applicable pictogram – the wheelchair can normally be secured at a designated area aboard. Note that a number of trolleybus stops may present challenges for people with mobility problems.
HÉV trains run to the city’s suburban zones but all lines are served by old vehicles that are currently not wheelchair-accessible.
Sights & attractions
Many of Budapest’s major landmarks now provide easy access for those in wheelchairs, offering lifts, ramps and/or step-free admission.
Four public lifts from adjacent streets provide access to Buda Castle, where the pavement can be traversed more easily than before, although wheeling around cobblestoned streets can still pose problems, as can high kerbs. Matthias Church can be accessed by wheelchair from its southern entrance via a ramp, but notify staff at the cash desk located across this entryway to open the gate – visitors in wheelchairs and one accompanying person can enter free of charge.
The ground level of Fishermen’s Bastion is accessible by wheelchair, where the windows with their low position provide a lovely panorama. The National Gallery is facilitated by a lift and a disabled-friendly bathroom.
St Stephen’s Basilica also offers wheelchair access but a companion has to go up the stairs to inform staff to open the lift.
Budapest Zoo by City Park is also wheelchair-friendly, with accessible bathrooms, although transport there isn’t as straightforward as for other sights.
Those with mobility problems can enjoy the extensive parkland of Margaret Island, where paved roads provide effortless passage. From the tram 4/6 stop in the middle of Margaret Bridge, a zebra crossing and a sloping walkway with little traffic around it lead you onto the island.
Many of Budapest’s baths provide disabled-friendly bathrooms, showers and changing rooms, plus many of the pools are equipped with bath lift chairs. Visitors with mobility problems can use the Gellért, the Széchenyi, the Rudas and the Lukács.
Restaurants & cafés
Many of Budapest restaurants, cafés and bars are accessible these days, and provide adapted bathrooms. Do note, though, that even a restaurant as prestigious as the Gundel might accommodate those with limited mobility, but it does little to advertise the fact on its website or at the venue itself. Always phone ahead for wherever you fancy dining – the chances are you’ll be in luck.
Accessibility also stretches to nightspots: in the bar vortex, the Ellátó Kert on Kazinczy utca puts an emphasis on being wheelchair-friendly. The Nem adom fel café & bar on Baross utca is the Hungary’s first eatery operated by people with special needs, as nearly all of their employees live with some kind of disability.