Travel recommendations in Budapest, Hungary
Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport (IATA: BUD), Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér (pronounced "list-ferents"), formerly (and colloquially still) referred to as Ferihegy; is Hungary's largest airport, about 16km (10 miles) southeast of the city centre.
Outside Budapest, there are alternative international airports in Debrecen, Sármellék, Győr-Pér and Pécs-Pogány.
The airport has two terminals, 2A and 2B, being within a short walking distance from each other. The number 2 appearing in their names is due to the the former (originally opened in the 1950, reopened 2005) Terminal 1 closed recently.
Terminal 2 (opened in 1985) is divided into Terminal 2A (gates 20-30), serving Schengen Area destinations, and Terminal 2B (gates 11-19) serving non-Schengen Area destinations.
Duty free stores are operated by Travel Value. Customs authorities in German airports may not allow you to bring duty-free items purchased at the airport in Budapest through Germany. In Terminal 2, Hugo Boss and Swarowski are the only dedicated brand shops. The alcohol-tobacco-sweets assortment shop has a choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel. You can find Caffè Ritazza eateries in Terminal 2A, both in the pre-check-in area and the in the boarding area. Terminal 2B pre-boarding area offers half a dozen cafés and fast food restaurants which are surprisingly not overpriced as on other airports. Connections
Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air operates flights between Budapest and more than twenty European cities. Currently, there are no direct flight from the US to Budapest, American Airlines cancelled their NYC-Budapest flight in Feb 2012. Many low cost airlines also operate service to/from Budapest. London Heathrow is connected by a number of flights by British Airways (codeshared with American Airlines), while discount airlines fly to London Luton, Gatwick and Stansted (2012). Paris is connected by flights from Air France (Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle), and various low-cost companies (EasyJet from Orly, Ryanair and Wizz from Beauvais)
As of 2012, the following low cost airlines operate to and from Budapest:
Aer Lingus (from Ireland) - Terminal 2B; EasyJet (from France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland); Germanwings (from Germany); Jet2 (from Great Britain); Norwegian Air Shuttle (from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden); Ryanair (from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Sweden); Transavia.com (from the Netherlands); WizzAir (from Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Malta, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and United Arab Emirates).
There is a train station called Ferihegy next to former Terminal 1, from where suburban trains (called 'személy') run twice an hour to Budapest-Nyugati station in the city centre, taking 25 minutes. Although the trains are suburban trains, they are operated by MÁV and not included in the HÉV network. (Dedicated train tickets can be purchased from cashiers or vending machines next to the cashiers in the pedestrian underpass in Nyugati - press the button 'Ferihegy'; normally the machine can give change. At Ferihegy station there is a modern ticket vending machine at the platform towards Budapest. A single full-fare train ticket costs 370 HUF for this travel, but local public transport travelcards, called Budapest pass or Budapest travel card (more info here) are also valid. These can be purchased at the post office on the mezzanine level of the airport. If entering the train without ticket, you will pay an additional fine of approx. 2500 HUF , unless no cashier or vending machine was available at the station.)
Public transport between Ferihegy train station and Terminals 2A/2B is provided by the local bus 200E, running every 8-15 minutes, and travel time approx 10 min, see details here. The bus stop towards the Airport is situated directly next to the train station, but you have to pass a pedestrian bridge with elevators not always working. (Within the bus, this stop is called "Ferihegy vasútállomás" - i.e. train station - in case you want to get off there.) Alternatively you can pre-order a taxi by phone to wait in the bus-stop, to get to the Airport faster or at night. Single bus tickets are available in airport terminals for HUF 350 at the newspaper vendors, or can be purchased from the driver for HUF 450.
The same bus line 200E runs somewhat further into the city, ending at the end station of metro M3 Kőbánya-Kispest, a small local transport hub. Note that for transferring there to the metro, another 350 HUF-ticket is required. There exists a transfer ticket (átszállójegy) for 530 HUF which may be used all the way from the airport to the city center, but for unknown reasons these tickets are not sold in the machines. Get a transfer ticket from the BKK kiosk at the airport. If you return to the airport after your stay in Budapest, make sure you buy two transfer tickets (one from the airport to the city and the other from the city back to the airport). The trip from the airport to Deák Ferenc tér metro station takes about 45 to 60 minutes. During nighttime (11 pm to 4 am) the 900 Nightbus departs Terminal 2 every 30 to 60 minutes, providing connectivity with the 950 Nightbus stop at Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. The 950 bus travels to Rákospalota via the City Center (Deák Ferenc tér) and Nyugati railway station.
In addition to személy suburban trains, Ferihegy also has long-distance trains (called 'InterCity' or 'gyors') to a number of other cities such as Szeged, Kecskemét, Debrecen´and Miskolc. (Warning: On the outbound platform there are some Intercity trains with Budapest-Keleti as destination - do not take this to get to Budapest as this is a ring service starting at Budapest-Nyugati and going through Ferihegy and eastern Hungary before terminating at Budapest-Keleti - taking some 5 h 45 min and costing 6660 HUF). Long-distance trains to Budapest require a seat reservation which costs a couple of hundred HUF so unless you're in a hurry, stick to the trains labelled 'személy'
Online reservation: Airport Transfer Budapest - Specific Airport Transfer Service to meet you inside or outside, as you exit the secure area, with a sign with your name on it. If you have a particular desire to be met by a driver on arrival, or want a specific kind of car, or have special individual needs like a baby seat or wheelchair, you may want to book in advance with a specific airport transfer service or driver.
Be very wary of the so called "Taxi Cowboys" who solicit passengers, they will quote you a reasonable fare then demand much higher payment when you arrive to your destination. Stick with the Airport Shuttle, Reserved private transfer, Public transport or the Taxi Stand in front of the Arrivals Hall.
Recommended transfer companies:
Trains connect Budapest with almost all countries in central and eastern Europe. All trains arrive at Budapest Keleti station, unless stated otherwise.
Berlin: 11¾h, two direct EC trains daily (one of from Hamburg), one connection with change at Břeclav and a night train Metropol. Munich: 7½h, four daytime Railjet trains and one night train Kálmán Imre. These trains stop in Salzburg and Linz too.
Tickets from Germany are much cheaper if bought online, at least 3 days in advance.
Vienna: 2¾h, railjet high-speed services every two hours, departing from Wien-Westbahnhof station (as Wien Südbahnhof is being renovated as of 2012). For tickets from Vienna, as well as from other cities in Austria, note: the earlier you book them, the cheaper they are. Ther RailJet high speed service, that runs a route from Budapest to Wien to Munich or Zürich, but only the non-Hungarian sections are high speed at this time, due to lack of lines capable of handling the full utility of the service. One-way ticket price from Vienna begins at €19. Prague: 7h, direct EC trains almost every two hours, one with change at Břeclav, one with change at Brno and night train Metropol. There is a through sleeper car departing from Prague one hour before Metropol and later attached to it, so you have more time to sleep. Online tickets are much more cheaper than normal tickets (the price begins at €19), but you should buy them at least 3 days in advance. If e-tickets are sold out or you have to buy a ticket immediately before departure, buy a (domestic) ticket Prague-Kúty Gr. (the CZ/SK border point) and international tickets Kúty Gr.-Štúrovo and Štúrovo-Budapest. This combination costs about 65% of the direct ticket. For the two international tickets you can get RailPlus discount and return ticket discount. Bratislava: 2¾h, six EC trains a day. Thank to bilateral agreement between Slovak and Hungarian Railways there are reasonably priced tickets from many important Slovak cities, sold at station counters. Warsaw: 10½, one direct day train, one direct during night with through seat, couchette and sleeper cars (11½h) and three EC trains through daytime with one transfer in Břeclav or Ostrava Svinov (10-11½h). There is a limited amount of SparDay and SparNight discounted tickets, sold at Polish stations, from €29 in seat car and €39 in a couchette. Other trains with various changes in the Czech Republic and Slovakia possible. Bucharest: 16h, two night trains Dacia and Ister and one daytime direct train Traianus. For Ister train you can buy a discounted Fortuna ticket for €29 for seat or €39 for couchette, but you should do it at least 7 days in advance. It can be booked online here http://elvira.mav-start.hu/elvira.dll. Pick up your tickets at some of the vending machines with the 10-number booking code (e.g at Budapest Keleti). Normal ticket cost about €50 one-way, €77 return (a RailPlus discount is possible) and couchette reservation fee is €15. Ljubljana: 9-10h, through coach with IC Rippl-Rónai via Zagreb (arriving at Ljubljana at 23:37) or change at Maribor with IC Citadella, arriving at Ljubljana at 21:38. Zagreb: 6-7h, two daytime trains a day, Agram and Rippl-Rónai. Different seasonal trains to various sea resorts. Return ticket valid 1 month costs about €30 and it's even cheaper than one-way ticket. There is a seasonal sleeper train from Split, departing every Wednesday and Saturday from 11 Jun to 27 Aug. Belgrade: 8h, one daytime train Avala and one night train Beograd. There is a special offer Budapest Special/Beograd Special, €15 for one-way and €26 for return ticket. These tickets are sold only at Budapest and Belgrade stations (you can also buy special tickes in Novi Sad at the same price). Couchette reservation is EUR 8 for 6-berth couchette, but there are reservation-free seats even on the night train. Notice that the night train, arrives in Budapest very early at 6AM, and border crossing is around 2:30AM. Sarajevo: 11h, IC Drava is discontinued by the Croatian Railways. The Bosnian Railways' planned Talgo high-speed service is pending. Only possibility is via Zagreb with 12 hours waiting at Zagreb Glavní Kolodvor. Sofia: 18¼h, Balkan Express with a through couchette car via Belgrade. Direct ticket is expensive, the better solution is to buy a ticket Sofia-Belgrade (see Belgrade#By train) and then Belgrade-Budapest ticket at Belgrade station. The through car waits 2.5h in Belgrade and even if Balkan Express is delayed (a quite common situation), you have a time until the through car is shifted to the train to Budapest. Balkan Express leaves Sofia at noon and arrives to Belgrade at evening, so you can travel to Belgrade in a sitting car, and buy a cheaper couchette reservation only from Belgrade to Budapest. Kiev and Moscow: 25h/39h, fast train Tisza, a typical Russian long-distance train going over 2 nights. International ticket is much more expensive than domestic Russian and especially Ukrainian domestic ticket. If you are on a tight budget, use another train from Kiev (departing on 18:52 or 20:06) to Chop (arriving on 10:04 or 10:52) near UA/HU border. In Chop, buy a ticket for the local train to Záhony (HU) and in Záhony buy a ticket for the IC to Budapest (arriving on 18:37). You have more than 3 hours in Chop and 1 hour in Záhony to buy your tickets - and there are later trains from Záhony to Budapest too. The overall trip is even shorter than that on the direct train and you'll pay less than a half of the official international fare. Beware that Ukraine uses Eastern European Time, which is one hour ahead of Central European Time. Local residents of Chop and Zakarpathya Oblast use CET among themselves, they call it 'local time'. Zürich one direct daytime railjet and direct night train Wiener Walzer. Return fare EUR 78.
The train Avala has seasonal sleeper cars from Podgorica and Bar, departing every Monday, Thursday and Sunday from 19 Jun to 19 Sep.
The main railway stations (pályaudvar) are Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station), Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) and Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station).
Most of international trains, as well as domestic trains to Miskolc, Eger, Győr and Szombathely leave from Keleti. Some trains to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lake Balaton and south-western regions of Hungary leave from Déli. From Nyugati leaves domestic trains to Debrecen, Nyíregyháza and Szeged.
The stations are well connected to each other and to the rest of the city. Keleti and Déli Railway Stations are located on Metro 2, Nyugati Railway Station is on Metro 3. A transfer should take less than 20 minutes during peak hours, slightly more on weekends and evenings.
Depending on where you are coming from, some outer stations can be useful to you; trains arriving from Vienna and Lake Balaton or other western locations stop at Kelenföld station, which is a good public transport hub for Southern Buda (All trains that departs or arrvive to/from Budapest-Déli station, stop at Kelenföld too.) Kőbánya-Kispest station is a good place to get to Eastern Budapest or to Ferihegy Airport.
Train stations in Budapest are not up to Western quality standards; they are hard to access for people with disabilities and their facilities are very limited. Be prepared for long queues at the ticket office. English is rarely spoken. Do not expect luggage trolleys or clean toilets. Food or a coffee purchased at the stations is unlikely to give you a gastronomic buzz; it is also difficult to find a good nearby cafe if you didn't research in advance. Do not accept any offers from taxi drivers waiting around the station entrance. For further information read also Stay safe section.
Budapest’s long distance bus stations are located outside the city centre, but are very well connected to the rest of the city. The main stations are:
Népliget Bus station (Népliget autóbuszállomás, metro 3, Népliget station). Buses from abroad and most of Western Hungarian destinations arrive and depart here. It is a fairly modern station with reliable facilities. Do not forget to check-in if you travel abroad.
Stadion Bus Station (Stadion autóbuszállomás, formerly known as Népstadion autóbuszállomás, metro 2 Stadionok station). This is the biggest hub for Eastern Hungarian destinations, quite modern but somewhat dirty station built underground.
Árpád Bridge Bus Station (Árpád híd autóbuszállomás, metro 3 Árpád híd station). This is a smaller station for some Northern destinations and suburban traffic; use it to and from Szentendre, Esztergom or Visegrád.
Etele tér Bus Station (Etele téri autóbuszállomás, bus 7E, 173E). This is a newly built station next to Kelenföld Railway Station, at the future terminus of metro line 4. Useful for getting to Statue Park and some suburban destinations.
Mahart, operates a scheduled hydrofoil service on the Danube to and from Vienna and Bratislava between early April and early November.
Hungaria Koncert operates cruises with lunch or dinner daily at 14:00, 19:00 and 20:00. This service is 90 minutes with hot buffet lunch or dinner. During the cruise, the Parliament, Chain Bridge, Royal Castle, Palace of Arts etc. can be seen.
Crossing Hungary and arriving to Budapest is easy as Eurovelo 6 links to Vienna and Belgrade. Following the Danube, the road is flat and separated from cars. Spring will offer the best weather to travel by bike through Hungary.