Budapest is one of those cities that I cannot really put my finger on why exactly I love it so much. And what I hear from other visitors makes me believe you’ll either love it or hate it.
It is a city full of history and what we know as Budapest today is actually the unification of Buda, Pest and Óbuda. Today, a visitor will still refer to either Buda or Pest to designate the strikingly different sides divided by the Danube. Now on to the basics:
Hungarian Forint = HUF = Ft
Although Hungary is an EU country and part of the Schengen Area, it did not adopt the common currency. Many establishments accept Euros, but unless you want to get ripped off with their exchange rates, get yourself some Florints.
ARRIVING in Budapest
If you arrive by plane, you’ll land in Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD), only 20km away from the inner city, aka the area around Deák Ferenc tér. Be warned that there’s no direct rail connection but many accommodations (not just fancy ones) offer transfers from/to the airport. The options, in order of cost/benefit are:
- 100E, a direct express bus into the city center, from where you have you have access to subway lines M1, M2, M3 and various other transport links. This bus requires a special ticket (900 Ft) that you can buy in any of the machines.
- Taxis into the inner city will tipically cost you 6,500 Ft (~20€)
- Bus 200E to Kőbánya-Kispest, where you can transfer to the M3 until the city center. During the night, the 200E will take you to Határ út, where you can take buses into the inner city.
- Bus 200E to Ferihegy (6km), then transfer to a train until Nyugati, from where you can transfer to M3 and on to the inner city. This one is just too much hassle for a 20km route, and the closest your accommodation to the inner city, the more discouraged it gets.
The ideal arrival in Budapest is by train. In this case, you’ll probably arrive at Keleti, the main international and inter-city terminal. The station is connected to a subway stop of the same name, and access into the city center is quick and easy. The exterior is beautiful and has been recently renovated, so spare some minutes and don’t just go straight through the underground connection. You can find more info on the station and its offered services here.
GETTING AROUND Budapest
If you are staying in the city center proper and will visit the basic spots, you will barely need to take any transport: just from/to airport or train/bus station and maybe one to go up to Buda (more on that later). But if you prefer to not really think about that, just go for the one-, two- or seven-day passes. Buy them at machines in any subway station and don’t forget to validate it! The checks are so extensive here that they might as well install fixed controls.
The Centre for Budapest Transport has published an extensive Practical Guide in English. Lastly, if you wanna take a break from walking, here are some thematic routes with public transport.turisztikai_tkp
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