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Walk or Budapest Card or TravelCard or Ticket?

I spend too much time in Budapest and that can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing when it comes to providing advice. Good, because I know my way around; bad because having done all the “first time” tourist things (multiple times) it can be years since I did something, and things do change. So here is my perception on a subject, I am interested in new perceptions; lets see where i am off base. This subject is interesting because out of habit for the past two decades I have arrived in town, picked up my 30 day TravelCard and only walked to the spots in-between the metro stops. [i added this because somehow I gave Derek the wrong impression]

A nice full day tour of half of Pest might be: Deak Ferenc ter (sort of ground zero for Pest) to Great Synagogue to Great Market Hall to Danube Corso to Parliament Building to Heroes’ Square to Opera House to St. Stephen’s Basilica to Deak Ferenc ter.

Walking that, depending on the route you choose, will take 2.5 to 3.5 hours and cover 12km to 15km (7.5 to 9 miles). Cost = Free.

The trams with big windows and frequent stops are like HOHO busses; and if you buy a TravelCard or a Budapest Card you can hop on and off as your heart desires. Even the one subway line you might want to take is both historic and anything but intimidating.

Using 2 or 3 trams and the M1 metro transportation depending on the route you take will take about 1.5 to 2 hours including about 40 to 60 minutes of walking (3.5 to 4.5 km or 2 to 3 miles). Cost = If you don’t hop on and off, and if you pay by individual tickets, figure 8 tickets at 350 each = 2,800 forints ($8 – very cheap for the day). A 24-hour TravelCard is 1,650 forints ($5) and better a 72-hour card is 4,150 ($12). A 24-hour BudapestCard is 6490 forints ($18) but you should go to the website for it and see if the other benefits it comes with are worth it to you.

To be honest I would add about 20 minutes of walking and get off and then back on the M1 at every other stop to see Andrassy ut.

Part of the charm for me has always been getting off the well-traveled path. So, if you do utilize the metro, don’t let it control your movements; if you pass a side street that has something of interest on it, get off at the next stop and explore. I guess this is the one drawback of the metro, it is too easy to become complacent and just end up going from point A to point B and miss so much in the process. But most people only spend 3 days in Budapest and its soooooo large a tourist area and every bit of it is an amazingly preserved, living, functioning relic built between 1860 and 1940 (more or less).

So recent experiences? What worked for you? Why?

Posted by
264 posts

The temperature was 85 degrees Fahrenheit last week for the 3 days I was in Budapest. There’s no way I was going to walk the entire day across the city. We did walk a short few blocks of Andrassy Ut, but it’s full of expensive stores that I’m never going to shop at, so there was no need to walk all of it. We took the M1 to Heroes Square to visit that and then taking the M1 back, the metro stopped and everyone was ordered out near Octogon station (a local translated the Hungarian to me and an elderly lady who was also on the metro saw me and waved me over and pointed to the M1 alternate bus) and we were told to take the alternate M1 bus service to Deak Ferenc Ter. So I did get to see all of andrassy Ut on the bus.
James, I know you love your city, but with limited time, most of us tourists have to pick and choose what we want to see. We did take a Taste of Hungary food tour, and the guide walked us around parts of a neighborhood district to eat at local restaurants. We did take the Metro to visit Dohany Synagogue and from there we walked to Szimpla Kert and we ate lunch at the food trucks next door. We walked from there through a neighborhood to the Liszt house musuem. One day, We walked the Vaci Utca for souvenirs. We took the metro to the Hungarian Parliament, visited it, and then took tram #2 to vigado ter and walked to where the Vaci Utca starts.
So for me, buying a 24 hour metro ticket each day and riding the metro and the trams and the buses with the locals is how I did it. And it’s a different experience from the antiseptic travel from a tour bus or the Ho-Ho bus
I’ll do a trip report later, In the three days I was in Budapest, I saw what I wanted to see, did an afternoon at Szchenyi thermal baths, and had a great time! Of course, I didn’t see everything or experience the true local vibe, but I know I’ll come back again someday. Also, I’m a geocacher, so I spent a lot of time walking in local areas finding geocaches in Budapest and seeing what the local geocachers think is important to them for the rest of us to see.
Edited: I misunderstood James’ post. I apologize and have retracted the statements.
Edited again: to correct the M line to the M1.

Posted by
226 posts

The 72 hour Travel card (your suggestion) worked great for me. i reached Budapest after 7 days of ~10 miles/day walking in other cities. public transit was a boon. Bus, metro, tram, funicular. Used them all. got in, got off wherever i wanted.

went to the top 3 baths. Took metros even for 1-2 stops. enjoyed the loopy feeling on those gargantuan escalators. Between the thermal baths and the public transport, it was a relaxing end to the tour!

Posted by
78 posts

The first time in Budapest, we bought a book of 10 tickets, thinking we wouldn't use them very often. Silly mistake. Now we typically visit for 1 week and purchase a 7-day travel card.

Walk: We walk in the inner circle: Deak to Great Market or Parliament, for example. When the Chain Bridge was open, we would walk across it and then up the hill to the Castle district. (Now, we will take the M2 to Széll Kálmán and walk up to the Castle district (only becuase a relative lives along the way). If we're in a hurry, we'll transfer to the 16 bus.)

Ride: We always take the Metro (M1) to Széchenyi to maximize our time. We will then walk to Heoroes Square and either get the M1 or walk to Oktogon for the Metro or the tram. I love the 4 and 6 trams - always crowded, and always just a stop away from where we want to be. At least once, we'll ride the 2 tram, just for the views.

I love that so much of Budapest is connected by several options of transportation. We walk when we want, we ride when we want.

For a first timer in Budapest, I think the 72-hour card or 7-day is a great way to get oriented and see as much of the city as possible without feeling like you've walked a marathon each day.

Posted by
8 posts

We were there a couple of weeks ago for 5 nights (had 4.5 days; 6th day was train day)
We bought the 72 hour pass and it was so easy and cheap. I love trying out public transit when I'm visiting a place and this is probably my favorite I've gotten to experience! I liked hopping on without having to fish for the ticket each time. We thought we'd have to find a station to buy the pass but our hostel told us we can use the box right outside (it was a bus stop by the Blaha Luj metro) I used a credit card and it did ask for my PIN (the only other place on my whole trip I needed a PIN was metro ticket in Barcelona) You can select "validate starting now". We saw inspectors probably 4 times in our few days there, so make sure you have a validated ticket!

We still walked a lot because we enjoy it... for instance, we walked up to the castle from Buda for the experience.

We took the 100E airport bus to Astoria stop which was a simple experience and probably about $4 each. It loads right outside the terminal doors. I think we bought a ticket inside at a box with a credit card, but now I can't quite remember.

Posted by
13542 posts

A1) Thank you everyone, i had become so dependent on the metro, I just wanted to be sure if someone asked my recommendation would be appropriate.

A2) On airport transfer:

A3) Bus is 900 forints ($3): with buying a ticket, schedule time and drive time figure maybe 1 hour to get to Deák Ferenc tér then you will need to get to your hotel from that point and if you take the metro, plan on maybe another 20 minutes of metro and walk time for a well located hotel (Better count on 1.5 hours from bag pickup to hotel door - but might be faster).

A4) Shuttle is 6 euro ($7): this one generally wont leave till full, then will drop you at your hotel but everyone gets dropped at their hotel, so it might make 10 stops and you might be last; it might be as fast as 45 minutes bag drop to hotel, but might be a lot longer.

A5) Taxi about 8,000 forints ($22): generally no more than 40 minutes bag to hotel unless you just hit some bad traffic, but it cost a lot more than the other options but less than half of the same in Berlin or Rome.

Posted by
2644 posts

I like having a Travelcard because it encourages me to jump off at a stop and see what's there, then get back on and continue to where I was going. I do find that works better when it's an above ground tram - where I see something interesting as I pass by - than an underground metro.

Posted by
13542 posts

B1 CWsocial, exactly.
B2 I have noticed 5 categories of people on the trams 1) Locals who have TravelCards so they just get on and off with no issues 2) Tourists with individual tickets trying to figure out the various forms of validation machines on the trams and fighting their way up the aisles to get to one 3) the current refugees who show their passports to ride 4) those that look like pensioners who ride for free (a hint, get an old beat up flat cap, dress a bit dated, you will never be asked to show your TravelCard or ticket ... works every time for me) 5) those that didn't understand the rules and get caught in one of the random surprise checks and have to pay the 8,000 forint fine, right there on the spot.

Posted by
157 posts

We stayed at Intercontinental. visiting Palace Area on Castle Hill was high on our list. Since Chain Bridge was closed we walked around to the Elizabeth Bridge. Seems to me a smarter way to go. The walk was easy and we walked back.

And really, unless a person was intent on using the funicular, it was a smart way to walk. The stairs/escalator appears to be the shorter distance. If the Chain bridge was open, I would suggest a person walk across it, take the stairs, then when returning, take the Elizabeth to return.

James ... never saw you mention the hiking trail up to the monument from the Elizabeth bridge area. Will keep that in my idea book for another visit.

Overall, we found walking in Pest easy. Found St Stephen and the Ferris wheel easily.

Posted by
13542 posts

And really, unless a person was intent on using the funicular, it was
a smart way to walk. The stairs/escalator appears to be the shorter

Very smart and the Castle Bazar area where the stairs are hasn't got the attention it deserves in guide books.

James ... never saw you mention the hiking trail up to the monument
from the Elizabeth bridge area. Will keep that in my idea book for
another visit.

I was once talked into climbing up to the Elizabeth Lookout Tower; that was the last climb this old body will do. But yes, excellent.

Thank you for all the good ideas ... need some on my thread too... people are reminding me of things I forgot and introducing me to new things.... never too old ...........