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Getting from airport to Pest

My wife and I are arriving a couple of days early for an Avalon river cruise and have a VRBO location in Pest. How do we get from the airport to the apartment we rented. The apartment is relatively close to the main train station in Budapest.

Please don't just say it is easy. Please explain the process. We are country bumpkins off on a tour of Europe and are completely ignorant.

I have seen on some YouTube videos that you have to have your ticket validated. If you buy a ticket for the tram why do you have to have it validated. It makes no sense to us.

Oh boy, what have we gotten ourselves into?

Posted by
22598 posts

The easy route is to go direct to the taxi starter and take a cab. Have the address clearly written on card. Verify that the taxi will accept a credit card and you should be good to go.

Validating or time stamping a train ticket simply means the ticket is used. On trains without reserve seats, such as the airport train, can be used at anytime. You are only allowed to use it once so the purpose of stamping it. Once stamped the ticket will have a time limit, could be three or four hours, that the ticket is valid. Keep track of the ticket because you may be asked to show it. If you are on the train without a validation, the fine could be huge and payable now. It is not a scam -- that is how they do business. It is not complicated but you do need to pay attention. When in doubt -- ask !!

Posted by
2443 posts

I can't resist saying--it IS easy to get from the airport to Pest via taxi. Fo Taxi is the official taxi service for the airport and once you've collected your luggage just follow signs to their kiosk--you tell the person in the booth where you are going (I always write it out for clarity) and they give you a slip of paper that you give to the driver and in generally less than 30 minutes you'll be at your apartment. Very pleasant and helpful drivers. My last visit was 2019 and the cost was about 8,000 HUF (maybe $25 US). I travel solo and have always just taken a taxi from/to the airport, prefer that to a shuttle or transit--5 trips to Budapest and counting, hope to get there again later this year or next spring.

As for ticket validation on public transit, I didn't do that as I always bought a 7 day travel card, a hetjegy, and that had the expiration date on it so all I needed to do was show that when entering the metro, bus or tram. You might look into options for your short visit on the transit website for BKK, where the validation process is explained along with the various ticket options.

My first visit in 2014 had me arriving via train from Vienna and I was given excellent info from our Budapest expert, James--he told me exactly where to find the ATM and the taxi stand--and within an hour of arriving I had checked in, found a metro station and bought my pass and was out exploring--for a capital city it's relatively small and it's easy to get comfortable there--and the Hungarian people are very kind and helpful. I hope you have the same wonderful experience I had that led me to return so many times.

Posted by
15149 posts

That link to the old thread; the thread needs an update. The black line on the floor is gone. But just walk from baggage claim to arrivals hall then straight out the front doors. Taxi kiosk is on the left.

By the way if you want to buy your TravelCard for the metro, there is a sales office on the left in the arrivals hall... look for the purple sign. And you want a TravelCard so you don't have to mess with individual tickets and validating. It will also save you a few dollars. With the TravelCard its sort of an honor system. You only show it when asked. Then life is simple.

Forget the talk about trains You won't need it.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you so much everyone. It is easy :-). I had been concerned about taking a taxi since I had seen some video warning that they might take you to the cleaners but the system there at the airport seems simple. I like it.

Posted by
15149 posts

There was an issue with taxis maybe 15 years ago and the stories continue on the web. They are all now well regulated and honest. As often as not the driver will be wearing a sports coat and at the least they all dress well and are honest and polite; but usually limited in English. Still, with the address written down, its not an issue. Use one of the apps for calling a taxi (except at the airport go to the kiosk) and there is a place for notes to the driver, I type in where I want to go and it all works well.

Posted by
134 posts

You've come to the right place and the information you've received is accurate.

I would follow James's advice: get the travel card at the airport, then get the taxi. There is no need to worry about taking a taxi to your flat. They will assist you and you'll be in the heart of Pest in no time.

Regarding the ticket for the tram: this is not like the NYC subway system where you walk through a turnstile, there are no barriers to entry. You are on the honor system with ticketing.

James recommended the TravelCard which is inexpensive and allows access to all busses, trams, and metros (subways) in the city. A 24-hour travel card is about $5. You may be asked to show your travel card, so make sure you have it available at all times.

You can also purcase single tickets and those are validated in a machine. You could also be asked to show that ticket.

I find the TraveCard easier to manage than tickets. I have a clear phone case and place my travel card on the back of my phone where it is visible through the case. My last visit was in September and there were more checkpoints - both entering and exiting - than on previous visits. A quick flash of the card and I was on my way.

One thing to note: it is not the most senic drive from the airport into the city - don't worry!