In terms of public transit coverage and ease of use, Budapest takes the cake. It was delightfully simple to get around the city and navigate buses, trams, and metros. In the summer, there are also ferries shuttling tourists and locals alike across the Danube River.
If you’ll be in Budapest for a full day or longer, we highly recommend buying the Travelcard.
A single fare on public transport costs 350 HUF, which is about $1.25. Cheap! However, we were moving around so frequently that we quickly saved money by purchasing a Travelcard.
24-hour Travelcard: 1,650 HUF ($5.80)
72-hour Travelcard: 4,150 HUF ($14.80)
24-hour Group Travelcard: 3,300 HUF ($11.70)
7 Day Travelcard: 4,950 HUF ($17.70)
If you’re in a group of 3 or more, the group Travelcard is a great deal. Each group card can be used for up to 5 people. The only downfall is that you’ll have to buy a new 24 hour card each day of the trip.
If you’ll be in Budapest more than 3 days, the 7 Day pass is a fantastic deal!
Where to Buy a Travelcard in Budapest
We purchased our Travelcards at a customer service desk in the airport. There are also customer service centers at several of the popular metro stations in the heart of the city- Deák Ferenc tér, Keleti pályaudvar (which also houses the Keleti Train Station), and Móricz Zsigmond körtér, to name a few. You may also purchase a Travelcard from an automated kiosk available at many metro and bus stations. Use www.bkk.hu/salespoints to help find a location near you.
Caveats to the Budapest Travelcard
The uber-useful Travelcard does have a few limitations. It is not valid on the 100E airport bus, the funicular near the castle, and special Heritage Transport Vehicles. The Heritage Transport lines only run from May to October during the weekends, and are obviously marked. The Travelcard is available on boats during weekdays. On the weekend, you must buy a separate ticket for all boat routes except D14.
Using the Budapest Travelcard
Getting around Budapest is simple. We typically use Google Maps to determine which routes to use. For more info on how we do this, click here.
You will see plenty of signs reminding you to validate your ticket. However, if you hold a Travelcard, you do NOT need to validate your ticket each time you board. Instead, your card will be validated upon the start time you chose when you make the purchase, and will expire after the designated 24 or 72 hours.
Other than these minor rules, the Travelcard will give you the ability to see any popular destination in Budapest. It’s a great value, and navigating the public transit system is simple! We would strongly recommend getting one of these passes as soon as you arrive in Budapest.
The Budapest Travelcard is NOT the Budapest Citycard!
The Budapest Card should not be confused with the Travelcard. The City Card can also be used for the same free use of public transportation. It also provides entry to several museums and guided walking tours. We did not find the Budapest City Card to be useful to us, as it is much more expensive (About $50 per person for 72 hours, which is an additional $35) and we were not planning on making use of many of its perks. We would recommend checking out their website and deciding if your travel plans would make use of the added features.