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Arriving by flight
The main terminal of the Budapest Ferihegy Airport (BUD) is connected to various European airports by several flights a day including various low-cost ones. All flights arrive at “Ferihegy Terminal 2”, with Terminal 1 having been closed a few years ago. More information is available on the homepage of the airport: http://bud.hu/english/transport.
For getting to the city from the airport, there are two main options:
- If you are travelling alone, the best choice is the door-to-door Shuttle Bus called “Airport Minibus”, also known as “Airport Shuttle“. The company has a desk at terminal 2 where you can buy tickets. Please see the official website for detailed pricing information. The company operates Ford Transits and other similar vans. Transport by the shuttle bus can be somewhat slower than by taxi, as the shuttle bus makes several stops to serve typically 3-5 passangers travelling to / from the same general direction.
- For those travelling together, sharing a taxi may be a better option in some cases: “Főtaxi” is the officially licensed company taking passengers form the airport to the city. The company also has desks at the arrival side of both terminals. The price of a ride depends on the destination zone. From 1 September 2013 a new Taxi Decree was introduced in Hungary regulating the price of the taxis at a fixed tariff of 280 HUF/Km (0.95 EUR/Km) in addition to the one-off basic fee of 450 HUF (1.50 EUR) and waiting fee. A ride to the city center should typically cost around 6500 HUF (22 EUR) depending on traffic conditions. Please beware of unauthorized taxi services operating at the airport and decline any offers you may get in the arrivals lobby. Always take a taxi labeled “Főtaxi” from an official taxi stand.
- The cheapest solution would be to use public transport, but it is not recommended as the airport is not particularly well-connected, and the trip will take quite some time. You can take bus line 200E from the airport to its other terminal Kõbánya-Kispest, and board the Metro line M3 there. M3 will take you to some of the central areas of the eastern bank (Pest). In particular, at Corvin-negyed (formerly Ferenc körút) you can transfer southwestward (in the direction of Móricz Zsigmond körtér or Újbuda-központ (formerly Fehérvári út)) to the trams 4 or 6 to reach the university (see below).
Taxi companies usually accept Euros, just as the shuttle bus company, therefore getting from the airport to the city is possible without having HUF. Public transportation tickets, however, are to be paid in HUF. There are teller (ATM) machines at the airport where you can buy HUF at a better exchanged rate than in banks.
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Arriving by train
When arriving by train at the Western Railway Station (Nyugati pályaudvar) take tram number 4 or 6 in the direction of Móricz Zsigmond körtér or Újbuda-központ (formerly Fehérvári út) directly. The Western Railway Station is a major hub for public transportation with the Metro line 3, trams 4 and 6, and many bus lines.
When arriving at the Eastern Railway Station (Keleti pályaudvar, main railway station for international trains) or at the Southern Railway Station (Déli pályaudvar), you can take the Metro line M2, go to Blaha Lujza tér and change to the tram lines 4 or 6 as above.
Please note that there are special reduced fares for various trains from Vienna, Munich, and many other cities.
General remarks about public transportation in Hungary
Budapest has an excellent public transportation system. Recently a ticket costs HUF 350 (EUR 1,00 to 1.20) but different combined and daily tickets offer a good “go as you please” opportunity. Many major lines operate until approx. 23h-24h in the night, and a network of night buses serve the streets afterwards. For finding your way, the site utvonalterv.hu provides invaluable help in planning routes in Hungary (especially in Budapest) by public transport, by car, or by other means of transport. Alternatively, we recommend the pages of the Budapest Transportation Company (BKV) to find bus, tram or subway connections within Budapest.
For public transport outside Budapest, the ELVIRA service is helpful in finding domestic train connections, and for the schedule of the national coach services please visit the official timetable of the Volán company. (The latter site speaks only Hungarian, but the search function is almost self explaining: The first 3 fields are “from”, “to”, “via”, then the date in year/month/day order. Leave everything else as default.)
In Budapest, you have to purchase a ticket before taking a public transportation vehicle, fares cannot be paid on board (excluding taxis, of course). Ticket vending machines or cashiers are usually available at railway stations, coach stations and stops of the subway system. On many lesser tram or bus stops, however, you will need a pre-purchased ticket or resort to newsstands and other miscellaneous ticket vendors. For coach or train services connecting towns, you have the option to buy the ticket on the vehicle, but only if you board it at a lesser stop where no tickets are sold. Be careful that many coaches and cheaper trains have no visual or audible announcements indicating which stop is next, therefore travellers have to watch out for signposts, trust the timetables for accuracy, rely on their familiarity of the surroundings or ask for help from other passengers to decide when to get off. Fortunately express train services like InterCity and EuroCity usually do have a stop indication, but they require a more expensive and pre-purchased reserved seat ticket.