The city of Budapest has a rather extensive and useful public transit system including the metro, tram, trolleys, buses, and even suburban trains (known as HEV lines).
This post will help you navigate each of the public transportation services in Budapest in addition to offering advice for saving money on tickets.
There are a few different ways to pay for admission to public transit in Budapest, and each option is valid on all vehicles including the metro, trams, trolleys, buses, and HEV trains.
The main method is simply to purchase a single ticket, which is good for one uninterrupted trip.
There are also transfer tickets you can buy which allow you to move from one mode of transport to another.
There are several additional ticket options to choose from including metro section tickets and blocks of 10 tickets, but these are intended more for locals than travelers.
Alternatively, you could save avoid the potential hassle of figuring out the # and type of tickets you need and by purchasing a travel card instead.
There are 3 different versions of travel cards available in Budapest: 24-hour, 72-hour, and 7-day.
The 24-hour card can be purchased either for individual riders or for groups of up to 5 people.
The 72-hour and 7-day cards are only available for individual riders.
Each travel card is valid on all public transport vehicles, so you won’t need any other tickets to climb on board.
These cards become valid the moment you purchase them, so we recommend that you don’t pick one up until you need it.
In other words, if you get the pass at 9 pm, it will only be valid until 9 pm the next day.
Tickets and passes can be purchased either at ticket machines or newspaper kiosks.
Most ticket offices have closed down in favor of the machines, but occasionally you’ll find one at metro stations in the city.
You can also purchase tickets onboard buses for an additional fee.
Ticket inspectors randomly come aboard to check and make sure everyone has paid their fare, with fines up to €45, so be sure to validate your tickets.
Another option is to purchase a tourist pass known as the Budapest Card.
This service provides free public transport for the amount of time it is valid (1-5 days).
At first glance, the tourist pass may look a bit more expensive, but when you consider the fact that it also includes admission to dozens of popular attractions for free, the price makes more sense.
Additionally, you can also save up to 50% off many popular tours, landmarks, museums, amusement parks, and more.
Depending on how you use this discount pass, you could potentially save more money on public transport by using a Barcelona Card instead of a travel card.
Another nice thing about this tourist pass is that it only becomes valid when you activate it, so you can purchase it ahead of time.
For more details on this service, please read our post covering Budapest tourist passes.
There are currently 4 metro lines in Budapest that provide service to the city centre and some of the outskirts of the city.
There are several stops that would be of interest to travelers and tourists.
Line 1 | Yellow Line
Line 2 | Red Line
Line 3 | Blue Line
Line 4 | Green Line
The metro opens every day at 4:30 am and runs until 23:00 (11 pm) at night.
You can expect metro trains to make stops every 2-15 minutes on average depending on the time of day.
You’ll find ticket machines at most metro stations, and there are also ticket offices at a few locations as well.
Before boarding, you must validate your ticket at one of the orange machines you’ll find at each station.
There are more than 40 different tram lines in Budapest, and you can distinguish them from the metro by their yellow colour.
While all the lines are helpful for locals, tourists will find the following services most useful.
Much like the metro, Budapest’s trams provide a lot of great stops that travelers and tourists might want to see.
What sets this service apart from others is the greater accessibility and number of lines.
The Budapest trams run from 4:30 am to 11 pm each day, and the most popular lines run every 5-10 minutes on average.
Typically, this service is a bit slower than the metro – especially when it comes to the most popular line, Tram 2 – but you probably won’t have to wait an excessively long time.
Every major tram stop will have a ticket machine nearby which you can use to purchase admission.
Once you step on the tram, you’ll need to validate your ticket using the red, yellow or orange ticket validators on board.
There are over 250 bus lines in Budapest, which makes them one of the most difficult aspects of the public transit system to navigate.
That said, there are some reasons you may want to consider using the bus in this city, and a few great lines that are useful for travelers and tourists alike.
Although there are a lot of buses that service popular stops in Budapest, there are just as many trams and metro trains that visit the same locations, so you may find that you won’t need to use the bus in this city.
That said, the airport transfer via bus 200E is definitely useful, and it’s unquestionably one of the most affordable ways to reach the city centre – especially if you use a travel card or tourist pass.
There is also a 100E bus which is more of a shuttle bus, offering a direct transfer to the city centre from Terminal 2. This line also has more space for luggage, making it more ideal for travelers.
This line costs around €2.70 for a ticket as opposed to the €1 fare on the 200E line, but there are fewer stops on the way to the city and the bus is literally designed for airport transfers, so it’s definitely worth consideration.
It’s also nice that buses 900-999 provide service during the hours that other public transit options are usually not running (from 11 pm – 4:30 am).
Tickets can be purchased on board, but you’ll pay €0.25 more for the convenience.
If you’d rather save some money, you can use a ticket machine, visit a post office, a travel card, or a discount pass.
In addition to all the traditional buses in Budapest, there are also 15 red-coloured trolley bus lines in the city numbered from 70-83.
Each trolley connects with either the metro or trams at several locations throughout the city, making this an excellent alternative for transfers to other services in Budapest’s public transit system.
Here are a few details to keep in mind about each trolley:
As with all other forms of public transportation in Budapest, you’ll need to purchase tickets either from a ticket machine or in the form of a travel card or tourist pass.
Much like the trams and metro, trolleys run from about 4:30 am – 11 pm, give or take a half-hour depending on which line you choose.
Otherwise known as suburban trains, this railway system is designed more for locals than for travelers and tourists, but there are some lines you might want to consider.
The Szentendre train (Line 5) runs from Batthyány tér to Szentendre, a small town on the bank of the Danube river which gives you a taste of Hungarian living.
This line also includes a stop at Aquincum, an ancient Roman city in Budapest that you might want to visit in order to see some of the ruins and historic architecture in the area.
Another great option is the line which runs from Örs Vezér tere to Gödöllo (Line 8), as Gödöllo is a popular little baroque village which houses the royal Gödöllo Palace and was one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite residences.
Although these services can be helpful for anyone planning to take short day trips outside of Budapest, it’s important to note that anyone leaving the city centre on an HEV train will need an extension ticket.
These ticket prices depend on how far out you’ll be going. Here are the fares you can expect to pay:
As you can see, even though you might have to pay a bit extra to use the HEV trains outside of the city, the prices are quite reasonable and definitely worth consideration.
HEV suburban trains run once every 10-30 minutes depending on the line and the time of day, and they provide service from 4:30 am – 12 am each day.
In addition to the metro, trams, buses, trolleys, and HEV trains, there are also a few public boats you can use in Budapest, as well as one funicular you might want to consider.
The public boat lines are provided along the Danube river between Boráros tér and Római fürdő from March to October. Here are the lines currently available:
Tickets for the public boat service are €2.10 for adults and €1.55 for children, and you can purchase them on board. Alternatively, you can also use either travel cards or tourist passes for unlimited access to these boats.
When it comes to funiculars, there’s really only one of note that most travelers will want to consider: the Buda Castle funicular from Clark Adam Square.
This service is not included with any public transport ticket, travel card or tourist pass, so you’ll have to purchase admission separately. Here are the ticket prices:
The Buda Castle funicular runs from 7:30 am – 10 pm each day, and it can be found at the Buda end of the Chain Bridge.