Hungary has a highly developed air, road, rail and water transport system. Budapest serves as an important node in the public transport network. You can reach Budapest by air, train, car, coach and since the city lies on both sides of the river Danube you can even come here by boat. Budapest is a transport node between Western Europe and many Eastern European countries, such as the Balkan states.

Air traffic

Airport and flights

Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport (BUD, http://www.bud.hu/english) is the country’s largest airport, located about 16 km (10 miles) southeast of the city center. The airport is currently serving 143 flights a day. Budapest can be reached by direct flights from over 40 destinations. Budapest is located in the heart of Europe, so it can be reached from any European capital city within 2.5 hours. Thirty-six international air carriers have flights to the city and they operate offices there as well.  American and Asian destinations are served through connections like London, Munich, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Istanbul or Moscow where direct flights operate to Budapest from 4 to 5 times a day.

Major carriers in July 2014 (global air alliances are shown):

  • Lufthansa, (Star Alliance)
  • Brittish Airways, (oneworld)
  • Air France, (Sky Team)
  • SwissAir (Star Alliance)
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, (Sky Team)
  • Qatar Airways, (oneworld)
  • Aeroflot, (Sky Team)
  • WizzAir,
  • EasyJet

Other carriers are: Aeroflot Russian Airlines, Austria Airlines, AirBerlin, Czech Airlines, TAROM, LOT, Egyptair, Aegen Airlines, Turkish Airlines, TAP Portugal, etc.

Check partner alliance carriers for connecting routes to Budapest:

Budapest Airport handled between 500 000 to 900 000 passengers monthly in 2013, an increase of over 6% from 2012. Terminals (2A and 2B) serve both low budget carriers and intercontinental flights from Schengen and non-Schengen Area destinations. A new ultra-modern passenger hall called Sky Court opened in 2011, serving all the costumers with duty free stores (fashion, jewelry, alcohol, tobacco or sweets) and restaurants.

At Budapest Airport general security checks apply for passengers, including the screening of luggage, restrictions on liquids, etc. For more details: http://www.bud.hu/english/passengers/before_flight/security.

From the airport to Budapest

How can one get to the city centre or to the conference venue?

  • Taxi. Főtaxi is the only legal taxi operator from Liszt Ferenc airport. A ride to the city center should typically cost around 8000 HUF (25 EUR or 30 USD) depending on traffic conditions.  
  • Minibus service. Visitors may consider using the Airport Minibus service, which is a shared taxi operation that collects passengers going in the same direction and will take you to or from anywhere in Budapest. The service provides the transfer with a boarding capacity of 8 to 10 passengers. Reservations can be made in person at the Airport Shuttle-Minibus Desks or at least 12 hours before your flight departure via an online reservation system www.airportshuttle.hu. Transfer to the city centre (one way) costs about 3200 HUF (10 EUR or 14 USD) per person or 5500 HUF for a round trip (about 18 EUR or 24 USD).
  • Public transportation.  The airport bus service 200E and 100E runs about every 10-20 minutes. It connects airport with the Kőbánya-Kispest train and metro station and also with the Deák square city centre. Bus tickets are available at the airport terminals or one can purchase directly from the bus driver. http://www.bkk.hu/en/main-page/news/

Rail, road and other transportation

Coach

Probably the cheapest way to come to Budapest is by international coach service. United under the Eurolines brand, 29 of the most highly respected and established coach companies, including Transdev, National Express and Deutsche Touring, work together to operate and continually develop an unrivalled network of more than 600 destinations across 36 European countries (www.eurolines.com).  The international buses use Népliget Autobus station. By using the adjacent metro station one can reach city centre quickly. Please note that some of the ticket prices are almost equal to the low cost carrier flights! Check before you book.

Rail

Hungarian State Railways, known universally as MÁV, links up with the European rail network in all directions. Its trains run as far as London (via Munich and Paris), Stockholm (via Hamburg and Copenhagen), Moscow, Rome and Istanbul (via Belgrade). For fares check www.elvira.hu and www.interrailnet.com. There are big nationwide discounts of up to 60% for return (only) fares from Hungary to neighbouring countries. Students under the age of 26 with valid student cards are qualified for 30% to 60% discounts. From almost all European cities Budapest can be reached via railway within 16 hours.

Car

Drivers have to pay a highway toll in Hungary which is managed electronically (known as an e-vignette or e-matrica). It has to be registered in a computer system with its validity period and the car’s registration number (https://en-ematrica.autopalya.hu/). Tickets can be purchased at all large petrol stations and by phone via SMS service. Ten-day tickets can be purchased for 2975 HUF (10 EUR or 13 USD).

The main road system fans out from its center in Budapest and connects with neighboring countries: M1: Austria and Slovakia, M2: Slovakia, M3: Ukraine, M4: Romania: M5: Serbia and Romania, M6: Serbia and Croatia, M7: Croatia and Slovenia.

Citizens from those countries which recognize the International Vehicular Agreement of Vienna (mainly European countries and few African ones) can use their original driving licenses. Fuel stations sell Diesel, Unleaded (Euro 95) petrol, and gas. Fuel prices are around the EU average: about 1.4 EUR/litre or 1.9 USD/litre).

Distances and estimated travel times by car on highways from some major European cities:

DepartureDistanceTime
Amsterdam1.405 km ~   12-14 hours
Athen1.481 km ~   14-16 hours
Barcelona1.934 km ~   16-18 hours
Berlin 878 km ~   6-8 hours
Bratislava 200 km ~   3 hours
Bruxelles1.134 km ~   10-12 hours
Hamburg 1.352 km ~   10-12 hours
London1.732 km ~   15-18 hours  
Madrid2.530 km ~   20-25 hours
Milano972 km ~   8-10 hours
Munich710 km ~   5-7 hours
Paris1.490 km ~   12-14 hours
Praha535 km ~   4-6 hours
Roma1.238 km ~   10-12 hours
Rotterdam1.416 km ~   11- 14 hours
Vienna247 km ~   3 hours

Boat

Certainly the most romantic way to come here is by boat on the Danube. Hydrofoils run between Vienna and Budapest from April to early November. They take you to downtown Budapest in 5 hours. Return ticket is 125 €/adult (172 USD). (http://www.mahart.info/).

Public transportation within the city limits of Budapest

Public transportation in Budapest is operated by BKK (www.bkk.hu).  Passengers can use trams, buses, trolley buses, metro lines and local trains. Lines are mainly operated between 4.30am till 11.30pm, every few minutes. Some exception applies to late night buses and trams. Public transportation services are safe and reliable in Budapest. Passengers have to hold a validated ticket or pass, which must be held during the trip and disembarking.  Budapest Card is also available. It is a discount card for tourists, valid for 1 or 3 days. It offers more than 150 different discounts for visitors. It comes with free use of public transport system, free sightseeing tours, including free travel insurance, 10 – 100% discounts from some museum and thermal bath ticket prices.