Getting Around Budapest: The Essential Guide For Navigating Hungary’s Capital

Budapest is known as the “pearl of the Danube” because it’s divided into 2 areas – Buda and Pest- each one on a different side of the Danube. While we think this makes Budapest SO beautiful, we also found that it makes navigating around a *little* more tricky.

After living in Budapest and getting around the city using ALL the ways, Caleb and I have narrowed down the 5 best ways to get around Budapest and, to take it a step further, which method of transport is the best for getting to each of the main attractions. Spoiler alert: your feet are the best, followed by the tram!

We’re laying it all out for you in this guide so that getting around Budapest is simple, easy, and stress-free. whether you’re only there for a few short days or longer. Let’s dive in, starting with a sneak peek of the beautiful #2 tram ride!

Culture Craving Couple contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting us! You can see our disclosure policy.

YouTube video

The Best Way To Get Around Budapest As a Visitor 

These are the 5 methods of transportation we recommend and what attractions to use them to see. You can click each option to jump to our detailed guide on that topic!

1️⃣ Walking –  best for basically everything 
2️⃣ Trams – getting around the pest side/seeing Parliament/Margaret Island
3️⃣ Buses – getting to Buda Castle/fisherman’s Bastion
4️⃣ Metro – Getting to hero’s square or Széchenyi Baths.
5️⃣ Taxi/Rideshare – getting anywhere when you’re short on time and don’t mind spending.

A couple holding hands, walking down a narrow cobblestone street lined with colorful historic buildings in Budapest.

The easiest way to get around is walking.

Use this method: to get pretty much anywhere except *maybe* Heroes Square and Szechenyi Baths.

Yes, Budapest is a *little* spread out between the Buda and Pest sides, and that pesky, very large Danube river makes crossing between both a little more time-consuming on foot, but you get incredible views of the river if you take the time to walk across them! 

Free Email Course: Budapest For Beginners

Discover everything you need to know to plan an EPIC Budapest Getaway in our free email course!

Walking is truly the best way to get around Budapest and see all its beauty! We racked up 40k steps some days and weren’t mad about it.

We mean, If you’re walking from Buda to Pest, it’s likely only going to be 30-40 minutes, which means more calories burned to refill with creamy chicken paprikash and Hungarian white wine, you know? 🍷

Two orange trams on the street in Budapest, with a historic building in the background and people waiting at the tram stop.

The trams are a scenic way to get around without traffic.

Use this method: to get around the pest side and visit Parliament or Margaret Island.

Trams are our second pick because they offer the convenience of wheels but without the traffic of other cars on the road, like a bus, making them faster. Plus, you’ve got lots of options with about 40 lines to choose from.

We also really like trams vs buses because they can also be pretty scenic and romantic, like our favorite ride on the #2 tram. Great for couples like us!

View of the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, with its gothic architecture and red dome, seen from inside a tram. Pedestrians walk and sit in the foreground plaza under a clear blue sky.

The tram line you’ll likely want to use is the #2.

According to National Geographic, this is one of the best tram rides in the world, and we agree. When we rode it, we walked to Margaret Bridge on the pest side (you’ll see the tram stop right at the entrance to the bridge), then we took it all the way to Zsil Utca station. Then walk along the water back because it’s a super nice romantic stroll.

This route will let you see Buda Castle from the other side of the river, the Chain Bridge, Margaret Bridge, and Parliament.

But you could also take it all the way to Fővám tér if you want to add a peep at the Liberty Bridge or Grand Market hall. You could also hop on it right at parliament buildings (stop at Országház Látogatóközpont) if you don’t care about Margaret Bridge.

The bus system is the best way to cross the Danube.

Use this method: to get from Pest to Buda Castle if you don’t want to walk! Or to and from the airport.

The bus system is our third pick because it lets you see Budapest’s beauty, but it can take more time because of traffic.

a red bus in budapest crossing a bridge in the snow

To use it to get to Buda Castle, we recommend taking Bus #16, which goes from Deak Ferenc Ter to the Disz ter, where you’ll get off and head to Buda Castle. 

Below is a photo of the *usual* timetable for this route for easy reference:

A map of the #16 bus in Budapest to go to Buda castle from city center

We also recommend taking the bus from the airport to the city center to save some cash. We found it super punctual, too! The best option is to get the 100E right from the airport – it’s right outside the arrival area, and it’s only about $6 USD per person!

Don’t worry about buying a ticket anywhere for that. You can just pay by tap with your credit card onboard. However, we each had to have our own credit card; we could not share a credit card if we used the tap method. 

The entrance to the Arany János utca Metro station in Budapest, with passengers standing outside and a ticket machine visible.

The metro is fast but less scenic than above-ground options.

Use this method: to get to Heros Square or Széchenyi Baths.

The metro is fast, but, as a tourist, we recommend you prioritize the tram or bus if needed so you can actually see the beauty of Budapest, not just stare at concrete walls whizzing past you.

Having said that, we find it the most convenient way to get to the Heros Square or Széchenyi Baths. Just take the M1 from Deak Ferenc Ter in the city center and get off at Hosok Tere for Hero’s Square or Szechenyi Furdo for the baths.

Buying Tickets For Public Transport

You can buy tickets that work on the bus, tram, or metro, and you can get them from any of the purple ticket dispensers at the tram stops or at the ticket counters in the metro.  There are some at a few bus stops, but only the main “touristy” stops.

You can get them from drivers, but we always felt we were annoying them, and they never had change. Using the ticket dispensers is easier because they take credit cards.

Once you buy your ticket, MAKE SURE to validate it by scanning the barcode on the bus/tram doors or at the driver’s area. If you’re at the metro, the validation box is at the top of the escalator before going down to the platform.

Honorable Mention: Taxis For When you’re short on time & don’t mind spending $$

You could also use a taxi to get to any of the main sites in Budapest. Just know that this is the most expensive option, and it’s not always the fastest because you might get stuck in traffic. Licensed cabs are yellow, and the prices are regulated across Budapest, so you won’t get ripped off.

Is there Uber in Budapest?

Yes, as of June 2024, Uber is back in Budapest! Except, just like Bolt, Uber is the same as original taxis and all have the same fares.

A woman in a pink hat enjoying a warm drink on a nighttime river cruise, with the illuminated Budapest skyline in the background

Insider Tips For Using Public Transportation in Budapest

  1. Our top tip is to snag the Budapest Card. This is a card, especially for tourists with multiple time frame options like 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc, and you get unlimited access to public transport! Bonus: It gives you other discounts on attractions around the city! 

Here is a description of the whole shebang that the card covers. 

You can get them online here, at the airport, or at any of the info points around the city. 

2. Know about single journey tickets. In most cases, if you are purchasing single tickets (not the Budapest card), it’s one ticket per passenger per ride.  So, if you have to transfer buses or trams at any point, you need a new ticket.

The metro is an exception to this. You can keep transferring until you exit the metro at your final point.

The Budapest chain bridge from a different angle, captured at sunset with an orange and pink sky, highlighting the silhouette of the bridge and historical buildings in the background.

3. Always keep your tickets handy. until you’re done riding any form of transportation so you don’t get stuck in a spot check with your pants down.

Eeerr…without your ticket in hand? 😅

4. Get the “Budapest Go” app. This app allows you to plan your journey, buy tickets, and even pre-buy your ticket for the airport bus. It’ll save you a lot of time and stress!

Download it here.

5. When in doubt, use Google Maps. The public transportation option never failed us, so that’s a good way to know which option to take and which line to take!

6. If you’re going somewhere during rush hour, try your absolute best to walk. Otherwise, it will likely take you longer than you think because you’ll get stuck in traffic OR be squished into a crowded bus or tram!

Here is a link to the Budapest public transportation guide if you have any other questions!

Voila! That about covers in our guide to the best ways to travel around Budapest for first-timers. Of course, there are other options like Lime Scooter or bike, but, honestly, those have some safety risks, and we don’t recommend them! If you have any questions, just leave us a comment and let us know!

Now that you know how to get around, it’s time to plan your budget for Budapest! We wrote a detailed, honest guide with exactly what we spent as a couple to help you out!

Other Budapest Posts

Get Our Best Travel Tips

We’ll show you how to plan an epic vacay, have amazing experiences, eat the best food and save some $$!
A couple embraces while watching the sunset behind the Crystal Palace in Madrid's Retiro Park, a moment of romance and tranquility by the reflective waters.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *