Budapest has some of the most efficient public transport we have ever experienced. Virtually the entire city is accessible by trains, trams, buses, metros, and boats. There is no need at all to take a taxi anywhere and the public transport is on time and inexpensive.
Our family of four ended up purchasing a one-month pass that covers all of the public transport within the city. The cost of this was approx. $45 CAD each (30 USD). The unfortunate part about that was that our children SHOULD have been about half of that price, however, since we homeschool and had no student ID cards for them, the ticket ladies REFUSED to sell us student tickets. Trust us when we tell you that we tried, we even had three amazing ladies from Budapest go out of their way to argue on our behalf! But alas, no discounted tickets. If we ever come back we will make up some fake student ID cards because paying an adult price for a child because of an arbitrary rule is just plain ridiculous.
Anyways, rant over. We really love the transport here, especially the above ground yellow trams. They are so cheerful and are a fantastic way to see the city. Indeed, many days we just hop on a tram without really knowing where we are heading. Then, when we see something that looks interesting, we hop off! We have found many a playground with this strategy!
There are several metro lines in Budapest. Some are old…the very first metro line in mainland Europe is in Budapest! We watched a documentary on the history of Budapest and learned that back in the day the metro trains were pulled by horses. So fun! This line is also one the shallowest in the city, it lays just below street level at only 15 ft! There are also some incredibly deep metro lines, some of them are over 98 ft deep! The escalators to those ones make us dizzy because they are SOOOOO long.
Transport passes also include the public river boat. Forget paying a whole bunch of money for the tourist boats, just hop on the public boat for the same ride! You can even purchase juice, soft drinks, and beer on the public boat so you can pretend like you are being pampered on the tourist traps. The ride up or down the Danube is stunning! Remember to bring a coat because it can get quite cold on the water!
One of the things people like to do is take the funicular up the hill to see the Buda Castle. This is not included in a transport pass. We did stop by to see how much it would be but the price tag for the less than two-minute ride would be $20 CAD for our family. We gave it a pass and walked up the hill instead. Funny enough, this walk up the hill was one of my children’s most memorable memories as they raced up and did some rolling down.
- Do buy a pass!
- Bring a student ID card for your kids or get one made up if you homeschool.
- Take the public boat and try to get on at the first stop so you can be guaranteed a good seat.
- Remember to always have your transport pass and ID with you. We have not been checked yet but we hear it happens frequently and the fines are steep.