Getting Around Budapest

How many ways are there for getting around Budapest?

"Getting around Budapest by tram is easy"

Getting around by tram in Budapest

We’ve always looked at “getting there” as part of the fun while traveling, even within a city. On our recent trip, we found Budapest to be one of the easiest cities to get around quickly. It was one of the reasons we liked Budapest so much, and we used a variety of the many modes of transportation, whatever was the most appropriate for the situation.

"Metro train underground in Budapest"

Budapest Metro train

The Metro is the second oldest electricity powered underground railway in the world. It was inaugurated by Franz Joseph I, emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1896 as part of the millennial celebration of Hungary, commemorating the first Magyar settlement. Despite its age, we found the Metro to be reliable and comfortable and the facilities to be well-maintained. The trains and stations each have their own distinct character and edgy kind of beauty.

"Unusual woodworking and door at Metro station in Budapest"

Unusual wall and door in Metro station

There was something fascinating about this little nook, fancy woodwork and odd door. We don’t know the answer, but this is an interesting question: Is it art or is it functional?

There were colorful murals and posters in almost every stop and station.

"Colorful murals in Budapest Metro station"

Murals in Metro station

The train cars, even on some of the oldest lines, were clean and comfortable.

"Riding the metro, easy for getting around Budapest"

Tired, but happy metro rider

I was a happy metro rider, although this was our last metro ride in Budapest before we had to leave early the next morning. I’m always a little sad when a trip comes to an end.

"Long, fast and steep escalator in Metro station in Budapest"

Escalator at Metro station

Getting to the train platforms was sometimes part of the experience. I was surprised the first time I went to get on an older escalator and realized that it was moving much more quickly than escalators I’ve experienced and some old ones were actually made of wood. This one was quite steep, but maybe not quite as steep or long as some other I’ve seen, especially in Washington DC, for example. Although I’m pretty serious about watching my step on escalators, especially fast ones, Mr. TWS actually got me to look back for this picture.

"Riding the escalator at Metro station in Budapest"

Riding the escalator at Metro station

It’s also interesting to note that the original Line 1 was named a World Heritage Site in 2002.

"HEV Suburban Railway at Margaret Bridge HEV station on Buda side of the Danube River"

HEV Suburban Railway in Buda

We also took the Suburban Railway (HEV) which connects to the Metro at several spots. We took it along the river north of Margaret Bridge on the Buda side of the city.

The tram system was also quite extensive, easy to use and frequent. I liked the look of the yellow cars.

"Yellow and white tram with Budapest Parliament building in the background"

Tram with Parliament building in the background

This photo captures two iconic sights in Budapest — the street car and the Hungarian Parliament building.

"Castle Hill Funicular in Budapest"

Buda Castle Hill and the Castle Hill funicular

We rode the funicular several times;  it was an easy way up Castle Hill from just across the Chain Bridge on the Buda side of the Danube. In addition to the beautiful views, it provided access to the Buda Castle, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. I enjoy riding funiculars and cog railways in many places I travel — they’re usually short rides and there’s almost always a stunning view at the top, just as here in Budapest.

Watch this video of one of the trips we took on the ride down from Buda Castle accompanied by the music of Harvey79’s “Budapest”. (If you’re reading this in our newsletter, you’ll need to read the post on the website to see the video.)

The Danube is such an important part of Budapest’s beauty with many key sites visible along the banks. We found that taking a nighttime one hour tour boat trip was a fun way to get some unique views. It’s one of those touristy guilty pleasures I enjoy. Included in the fare was one (not very good) glass of wine, but there were million dollar sights along the way. I also have to admit that I started to doze off about half way through the ride. There’s something about boats even in beautiful places that makes me a little sleepy. (I also had an experience of sleeping on the Seine.)

"Tour boat on the Danube River going under Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Budapest"

Tour boat on the Danube River

A tour boat was about to pass under the Chain Bridge when we took this photo from our room at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace.

We took taxis to and from the airport and to a restaurant on our first night by direction of our concierge. We did read a number of warnings about taxi fare problems, but didn’t encounter those because of the few controlled rides we took. However, we didn’t take this little taxi that we spotted near Parliament. I’m not sure that Mr. TWS and I would have been able to fit together.

"One way of getting around Budapest: a Lipocia Taxi. This one was near Parliament"

Lipocia Taxi near Parliament

We saw a few bicyclists in the city, but it seemed a less common mode of transportation than in Berlin, for example. We saw this guy rollerblading across the beautiful Liberty Bridge.

"Rollerblading is one way of getting around Budapest: This one is on Liberty Bridge"

Rollerblader on Liberty Bridge

We didn’t ride scooters (or get any food delivery).

"Motor scooters get the delivery services around Budapest"

Food delivery by motor scooter

We didn’t drive any cars in Budapest. I like this photo because of the everyday life scene, the old building and the colorful signs in Hungarian. The car adds a nice touch.

"A colorful car in front of an old building in Budapest"

A Budapest street scene of daily life

Of course, walking is our favorite mode of transportation in cities, whether it’s sunny, at night, or in a light rain as pictured below on the Chain Bridge.

"Walking is a favorite way of getting around Budapest. This was in the rain across the Chain Bridge"

Walking across the Chain Bridge in the rain

It was nice to see this couple on a stroll along one of the narrow streets of romantic Budapest.

"Couple walking in Budapest at night"

A romantic walk

This is our contribution to Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox

What modes of transportation do you use for getting around cities?

40 thoughts on “Getting Around Budapest

  1. budget jan

    I held my breath when I saw the yellow tram first up – it reminded me of Lisbon:)
    I also loved the odd door in the metro. And that huge escalator – I bet the wind whistles through it sometimes. Even walking across the bridge in the rain looks fun. Budapest looks like a romantic place to be.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Old trams are awesome, aren’t they? What really amazed me about the escalators was how fast some of them moved, especially the old ones.

  2. Leigh

    I love the tram photos – and they kind of remind me of Toronto. No the taxi in your blog, yes to the boat tour and a definite yes to walking. I love the pastry shops in Europe and have to walk those calorie off.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Oh, yes… the pastry shops. Not far from the Parliament and tram you see in one of the photos is a cafe that had the best cherry strudel I’ve ever had. I don’t say things like that lightly.

  3. Marisol@TravelingSolemates

    I love taking public transo when I’m traveling – bus, subway, tuktuk, etc. I find it the best way to connect to local scenes. Your post brought back fond memories of my trip to Budapest many years ago. My friends and I took the metro around the city a lot. We didn’t know that we had to buy new tickets everytime we had to transfer; a metro undercover police caught us transferring without a ticket and he fined us:(

    1. Cathy Post author

      It can get very confusing about metro tickets in various cities. On my first trip to Berlin, I kept over-paying for tickets from the machine, because I had no idea what I was buying. 🙂 In Budapest we talked to a ticket agent and got the right pass for us.

  4. Gaelyn

    These all look like great ways to get around a city. Driving would probably be a real pain. Wouldn’t want to drag luggage up those extra tall escalators. Bet walking would be the best.

  5. Krista

    Hi Cathy 🙂 I found your blog through your comment on Jan’s interview of me this week. 🙂 I was so interested to read about the history of the Budapest metro. I had no idea it was so old!! I too love taking all forms of transportation in Europe. 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      Hey, Krista — Thanks for coming by! I was surprised to learn how old it was, too. Some of the cars look like they’re originals, too. 🙂 But still running!

  6. Lane

    We found the Budapest metro super easy and reliable. Once an English-speaking student showed us how to use the ticket machines we were good to go. 🙂

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’ve got to find out more about that Lipocia Taxi — not sure what the deal with it was, but thought it was super cute.

  7. Lisa @ Gone With The Family

    Isn’t it great how public transport is part of the fun when you’re traveling but just part of everyday life that you don’t take notice of at home? Budapest looks to be such a beautiful city – and I think I’d enjoy riding that funicular! We tend to explore mostly on foot when we are traveling and take public transit when we need to get someplace farther afield.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I love riding funiculars and cog railways — all those types of things. This one was just too short — just a few minutes. 🙂

  8. Denise

    From Budapest airport I took a taxi and had no problems with it. The funicular up to Castle hill was fun, but overpriced compared to getting a bus, and the ladies who sold us the tickets at the boot were really rude. We walked everywhere even if it was -10 degrees and a bit slippery, and enjoyed using the metro.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I agree the funicular is rather expensive — because it’s a touristy thing. 🙂 But we enjoyed it. We love walking in all weather, too.

  9. jenny@atasteoftravel

    I haven’t been to Budapest yet but I do love a city where the transport system is easy to use so visiting there can’t be too far away! I’m a walker so for me this is often the best way to see the city.

  10. InsideJourneys

    I was thinking of the metro in DC when I saw that long escalator. Like the tram and that little taxi — very cute. If I have time, I prefer to walk but if not trains are perfect. Budapest really is a beautiful city. Thanks for sharing its many faces, Cathy.

  11. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    I’ve learned so much about Budapest from your latest posts and its diverse modes of public transportation just makes it even more inviting. I love how European cities make it so easy to get around. We love navigating them since it’s such a change from living in car-centric SoCal. That Lipocia Taxi looks awesome! I really like those yellow trams against the historic buildings too.

    1. Cathy Post author

      SoCal and where I live in NoCal are totally car-centric. I try to use public transport whenever possible here, but the options aren’t great.

  12. Andrew Graeme Gould

    I love those yellow trams, Cathy, trams happen to be my favourite form of transport when available. Budapest is certainly a city I’d like to visit. Wonderful views of it here. Love the video, too.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks, Andrew. Glad you liked the video — I thought the “Budapest” music I found fit the look & feel of Budapest rather well.

  13. Aggy

    I never realized that there were so many ways to travel in Budapest! I went on their trams, buses and metros – and enjoyed them all! And I did find the escalators were moving quite fast in the metro stations!

  14. Lucy

    Useful tips! I haven’t been to Budapest for a while but remember the great views from the funicular, on the way up at least – by the time we came out of the castle there was thick fog and you could barely see a few feet in front of you!

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