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 chairlift. The system still operates with paper tickets, 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.
The easiest way to access up-to-date timetables, and locate nearby ticket machines, is via the BKK FUTÁR app, which is available for Android and iOS. BKK is the Budapest transport company, with information offices in main metro stations such as Deák tér, Keleti and Kelenföld.
Budapest airport to the city centre
Scheduled ever more frequently – currently the first sets off from town at 3.40am and the last service pulls out of the airport at 1.20am – the 100E bus is the most popular service into the city. Taking about 45mins, it only calls at Kálvin tér, Astoria and Deák Ferenc tér, all within a short walk of each other in the city centre.
The bus stop and ticket machine are past the taxi kiosk as you exit the airport terminal. Tickets cost 900 HUF – look out for the plane logo on the screen. Machines accept credit cards and cash, drivers cash only.
Alongside, the 200E bus sets off for south Pest, calling at several stops en route. The terminus is usually the last station on blue metro M3, Kőbánya-Kispest, but as the line is being renovated, currently it goes to (and sets off from) Nagvárad tér a few stops nearer town. Standard BKK tickets (350 HUF, see below) are valid on this route, but you’ll need to use another for your onward journey.
There is a Customer Service Point in the Terminal 2A [≈ High power LED current, peak 2.7 A] (daily 8am-10pm) and 2B (daily 9am-9pm) with English-speaking attendants should you need assistance.
For details of other ways to get from Budapest airport to town, see here
Tickets are purchased either by cash or card in metro stations, at street stands and from newsstands around the city. Machines will only accept bills of 5,000 forints and below. You can also buy from the driver on trams and buses, cash only.
A handy alternative is the BKK offices (look out for the purple signage) set up within main metro stations such as Deák tér, Ferenciek tere, Keleti, Kelenföld and so on. Assistants can provide information and maps as well as tickets – a machine by the door dispenses numbers to find your place in the queue.
The ticket machines can be switched to English, and are located all around the city. The BKK FUTÁR app shows all ticket machines near you as a small purple icon.
Tickets are singles, there are no returns available. A single ticket (see below) is 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.
Tickets sold at any of the street stands, metro stations or newsstands, 350 forints.
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 costs 3,000 forints, so a 500-forint saving than if you bought 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.
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.
Three boat lines transport passengers up and down the Danube. Each ticket costs 750 forints (under-15s 550 HUF), and is validated by the boat crew. Note that fewer services operate once the winter timetable comes into force from mid-September.
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
There are two ways to validate tickets.
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, ferry and heritage services are not validated by stamping or punching, they will be validated by the crew. Similarly the 900-HUF ticket for airport bus 100E 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 100 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.
Passes & travel cards
Many passes are available within the Budapest public transport network. Simple 24-hour cards and the like allow unlimited use of the metro, buses, suburban trains (HÉV) etc, within the city limits (see below).
The Budapest Card (see below) grants special discounts to participating attractions around town, as well as use of public transport .
24- and 72-hour travel passes
5/30 travel pass
A 5/30 travel pass (4,550 HUF) is also available, which 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 validation.
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 or general pass must accompany the travel card. The seven-day pass costs 4,950 forints.
15-day travel pass
Valid from the day of purchase until 2am on the 15th day, within the city limits. A valid photo ID or general pass must accompany the travel card. The 15-day pass costs 6,300 forints.
Monthly travel pass
Validity starts from the day of purchase and runs until 2am of the same day the following month. within the city limits. A valid photo ID or general pass must accompany the travel card. The monthly travel pass costs 9,500 forints. You can also buy a little plastic wallet (55 HUF) from BKK outlets – most Hungarians put their pass in the back of their mobile cover.
Discounted tickets are available for students (3,450 HUF) 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.
The Budapest Card is a great way to discover the city, as along with transport access, it also grants free admission to many Budapest attractions, and other discounts along the way.
A 24-hour Budapest Card is 6,490 forints, 48-hour 9,990 forints, 72-hour 12,990 forints, 96-hour 15,990 forints and 120-hour 18,990 forints. There are also junior cards (6-18s) for 72 hours at 9,990 forints.
Key discounts include free entry to the Lukács Baths and over a dozen museums, two free guided walking tours and a free pocket-guide app.
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.
The ticket system for traveling outside the administrative area of Budapest is extensive, and a full explanation, depending on where you are going, can be found here.
The most popular option is the HÉV train from town to Szentendre. Those already holding a valid transport pass can buy their onward journey from the city limit at Békásmegyer (310 HUF) from the ticket office/machine in town at Batthyány tér or machine at Margit-híd – note that working this out on the machine is fiendishly complicated. Standard transport tickets are valid as far as Békásmegyer.
Wheelchair access is available on many transport lines, including:
The D14 line connecting Soroksár, Molnár-sziget and Csepel-Királyerdő. The D11, 12, 13 boats at the following piers: Haller utca, Várkert Bazár, Jászai Mari tér, Népfürdő utca, Újpest and Árpád út.
Over half the buses in Budapest have low-floor capabilities and operate on every line EXCEPT the Nos.23E, 39, 85E, 100, 121, 225 and 251.
Low-floor trolleybuses operate on every line. Low-floor trolleybuses operate at all times on lines 74 and 79, and at weekends on the 70 and 78.
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 accessible by lift only at Kőbánya-Kispest station.
Note that for all these lines, parallel routes are available via bus, tram and trolleybus, detailed here
Metro 4 is accessible by lifts in all stations.
Travelling with your bicycle
Bicycles can be transported on all HÉV suburban railway lines but you will have to buy and validate an extra ticket. Bikes are also allowed on boats, and the cogwheel railway in Buda.
The following allow bicycles on board:
Buses 65, 65A, 165 and 212
Trams 56, 56A, 59, 59A, 59B, 60 and 61
Travelling with your dog
Travelling with your favourite furry companion? They can ride without restriction within the city limits thanks to a monthly pass (5,250 HUF). Only one dog per pass, and the accompanying human must also have a valid ticket or pass.