If it’s your first visit to Budapest, we hope this blog post will give you some information about getting around and staying safe in Budapest.
Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport is the cities main airport and is located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city center. The airport has two terminals and it’s wise to double check which terminal you’ll be arriving at and leaving from. The distance between Terminal 1 and 2 is quite big (6-8 minutes by car or 12 minutes by bus).
- The smaller Terminal 1 is used by low-cost airlines (such as WizzAir and EasyJet ) both from Schengen and Non-Schengen destinations.
- The more spacious Terminal 2 is divided in two: Terminal 2A serves all Schengen Area destinations. Terminal 2B serves all Non-Schengen Area destinations. Terminal 2 is the hub of the Hungarian national carrier, Malév.
Getting into town from the airport
Public transport. Passengers using public transport from Terminal 1 should use the local half-hourly suburban trains. The journey to Budapest-Nyugati is around 23 minutes and the train station can be accessed via a covered footbridge outside of Terminal 1.
Passengers from Terminal 2A or 2B should use the airport bus or local bus to Kőbánya-Kispest if they wish to connect with the Metro. Timetables are posted at the bus stops located outside the terminal and tickets can bought inside the terminal .
- Minibus service. If you travel alone, consider the Airport Minibus service, a shared taxi operation that collects passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest for a fixed fee. Join the queue at the airport and you will be on your way in 15 minutes. For the trip back, call the center at +36-1 296-8555 at least 24 hours beforehand and Airport Minibus will pick you up.
- Taxi. The airport has an official Taxi supplier which can be found right outside the terminal. Depending on your destination, a trip to Budapest costs between HUF 4,000 – 6,000 (slightly more if paid in Euros). Queue at the taxi stand to receive a written quote for your fare, then pay it when you arrive at your destination. This system is designed to eliminate any unexpected surprises with fares and seems to work well.
Getting around town
Once you’ve reached downtown Budapest, getting around is easy enough. The city has 3 metro lines that cover most of the inner city and a network of buses, trams and trolley buses. The Budapest transport network works on the trust system, so you need to validate a pre-purchased ticket in the onboard validating machines (colored red or orange) when you enter a tram, bus or trolley bus. For the Metro, you need to validate the ticket at the entrance to the station. Be warned that ticket inspectors can check for validated tickets anywhere on the route and they love to catch visitors who haven’t got a validated ticket. If you are unlucky enough to get caught without a ticket, never pay the on the spot fine without getting an official receipt or docket to show that the fine has been paid (and the money will go to the company and not the ticket inspector). If they threaten you with the Police, remain calm, the Police will hardly ever intervene. Do not show your passport or ID card, as they may try and seize it. It is unlikely that the ticket inspectors will speak English, so they will try and intimidate you into handing over cash. The locals aren’t too fond of the ticket inspectors, so it’s likely that someone will come to your assistance if they hear you speaking English. However the best way to avoid any unpleasantness is to always have a ticket or travel pass on you.
Before you make your first journey on public transport, it’s worth watching the locals for a couple of minutes to make sure you where and how to validate a ticket.
Also, beware of pickpockets on the trams at rush hour.
If you want to use Taxi’s, it’s always cheaper to phone ahead first (try City Taxi on +36-1 211-1111 or Főtaxi, on +36-1 222-2222). If you need to hail a cab on the street, ensure that is a legal cab by looking at the license plates. Legal taxis will have yellow number plates, illegal cabs will the normal white number plates. Most of the taxis plying for trade in and around the train stations are illegal and should be avoided at all costs.