The inexpensive, efficient Budapest public transport system is managed by Budapesti Kõzlekedési Vállalat (BKV) (Tel: (1) 317-5518. Internet: http://www.bkv.hu/english/) and includes the underground, trams, Buses, trolleybuses (a cross between bus and tram) and trains. In the summer run on the Danube also the BKV – ferries. Public transport operates from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. A limited number of night buses marked with an É are also used.
The four subway lines(the yellow M1, the red M2, the blue M3 and the green M4) cross at Deák tér. The M1 was built for the 1896 World’s Fair and is the oldest line. Trains run every 3-6 minutes on weekdays, every 5-8 minutes on weekends (less often before 6.30am and after 8.00pm).
Tickets are available at the subway stations, some tram stops and newsstands. They are valid for a journey using only one means of transport and must be canceled on the bus or tram or when the subway line is changed. Single tickets, tickets for ten, tickets for 20s and day tickets are available, as well as a three-day tourist ticket and a weekly ticket, for which a passport photo is required.
The cog railway (fogaskerekû) runs every day between 05.17-23.30 p.m. every 15 minutes from Városmajor to Széchenyi mountain.
The children’s railway (gyermekvasút; Internet: www.gyermekvasut.com) from Hûvösvölgy to Széchenyi mountain (hourly from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in summer and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter) used to be under the direction of the communist youth group and is still largely operated by children aged 10 to 14 years.
A chairlift (libegõ) runs daily (mid-May to mid-September from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; mid-September to mid-May from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) from Zugliget to János Hill – the highest point in Budapest. The 100 m long cable car (sikló) runs daily between Clark Ádám tér and the castle district (07.30-22.00).
The HÉV trains are commuter trains that are widely used by commuters. Two routes in the north are connected to the Batthyány tér underground station, while the four routes from the east and south can only be reached by tram. The route to Szentendre near Batthyány tér (see excursions under sightseeing) is the best of the six routes and probably the only one used by tourists.
Taxis without a (legally required) yellow license plate, the logo of a respected taxi company and a price list on the dashboard should be avoided.
Among others, Rádió Taxi (Tel: (1) 377 77 77. Internet: www.radiotaxi.hu), one of the cheapest and most reliable taxi companies, offers considerable discounts on telephone reservations. Also recommended are Fõ Taxis (Tel: (0680) 222 22 22. Internet: www.fotaxi.hu), which can be recognized by their red and white checkered doors, and City Taxi (Tel: (1) 211 11 11).
The tariff consists of the basic fee, the number of kilometers and a waiting tariff. There are statutory maximum tariffs. At night (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.) the basic fee costs more than during the day and every kilometer and waiting minute are also more expensive than during the day. Tips of around 10% are common.
Driving in the city
In the city center there is often sluggish traffic due to road improvements, the cobblestones make for a bumpy ride, and tram tracks and the unusual driving style of the Hungarians make driving a hair-raising affair. There are numerous traffic restrictions in Budapest. Only taxis and cars with a specific permit are allowed to drive in the castle district; the Várbusz (Castle Bus) runs between Moszkva tér and Szent Gyõrgy tér). Margaret Island can only be reached from Árpád híd (to the hotel parking lots); bus line 26 crosses the island. There is also limited driving on the Óbuda islands, in Népliget, in the city center, in Városliget and in the Római area.
In Budapest you can only find a parking space with ingenuity and a bit of luck. Parking in the center’s parking lots may not exceed three hours, and parking claws (see phone numbers on parking meters) and towing (high fees) are used. You can also inquire about the towed car by telephone (Tel: (1) 307 5208). There are four large parking lots: V. Aranykéz utca 406; V. Szervita tér 8M VII. Nyár utca 20 and VIII. Kálvin tér. Cars should be locked and have an alarm system. It is recommended that valuables and radios are not visible in the car.
Budapest visitors are best advised to arrange car rental in advance, as this can save costs and avoid language problems. You should also check whether the price shown also includes the Áfa (sales tax). There are only a few automatic cars in Budapest. The national driver’s license, i. A. Requires a credit card for the deposit and a minimum age of 21, although some companies require drivers to be over 25 years of age. Liability insurance is compulsory in Hungary and is partly included in the rental price.
Cars can be rented at Ferihegy Airport or at Volán, Express and the Budapest Tourist Information Offices as well as at the larger hotels. The well-known rental car companies include
Avis,V. Szervita tér 8 (Tel: (1) 318 42 40. Internet: www.avis.com) and
Budget, I. Krisztina körút 41-43 (Tel: (1) 214 04 20. Internet: www.budget.hu) and
Sixt, I.Vaci ut 45 / b (Tel: (01) 451 4220. Internet: www.sixt.com).
There are some bike paths, but Budapest is not a city that is good for cycling. Cyclists should purchase the Budapest on Bike Card (Kerékpárral Budapest), which lists all of the city’s bike paths.
Bringóhintó, Hajós A. sétány (Tel. (1) 201 17 96, 202 64 57), on the (car-free) Margarethen Island rents bicycles and tandems in summer. A deposit and a passport or ID card are required. Bicycles can also be hired from Charles Apartment House, I. Hegyalja út 23 (tel. (1) 201 17 96, 202 34 14).