As many cities as there are, there are also many habits and rules of public transport. Public transport in Budapest is relatively easy, but there are a few things you should pay attention to and prepare for before arriving here.
Many tourists ask whether they can buy a ticket from the driver on the bus or tram in Budapest.
It is possible to buy tickets on the bus and tram, but the tickets are more expensive there. Drivers are not prepared to give change from larger notes, and this can keep traffic up, so it is important to calculate the price of the tickets accurately in advance.
In the following section, I’ll show you the smoothest way to buy a ticket on public transportation, and I’ll also give you a few tips.
Trolley, bus, tram, metro: do you have to buy a different ticket for each vehicle?
You don’t have to buy different types of tickets for these. It is enough to buy just one line ticket, which costs 350 HUF.
The ticket costs 450 HUF if you buy it on the public transport, i.e. from the driver, but you can’t buy it on the metro—only on the bus, tram, and trolley.
What about HÉV (railway of local interest)?
What usually causes the most headaches, even sometimes for those who live in Budapest, is the HÉV transport. These run further out, beyond the administrative area of Budapest.
So the same line ticket (or pass) that is good for the subway, bus, tram, and trolley is only good up to a certain distance on these.
Let me explain with a simple example: let’s say you want to travel to Szentendre, which is a cozy little town outside Budapest, and the line ticket or pass you have is enough to get to Békásmegyer.
Békásmegyer is the administrative border of Budapest, so if you want to travel beyond that, you will need an additional HÉV ticket. In this case, this ticket would need to entitle you to travel between Békásmegyer and Szentendre.
How can I buy a bus ticket on the bus?
Almost everyone in Budapest uses a pass. This is due to the better price and the fact that it is more practical than buying a ticket from the bus driver on a regular basis and then having to validate it, because if you fail that the controllers will give you a penalty.
Of course, you can still buy a bus ticket on the bus, but drivers are not very happy about that. One reason for this is that they travel on a strict schedule.
One take-on and one take-off usually takes no more than half a minute. If everyone bought a ticket on the bus, it would make a complete mess of public transport in Budapest: we wouldn’t be able to keep the schedule, and we would even make drivers do extra work.
The other reason is that they do not have change. They cannot give change even from a smaller note.
4 easy steps to get a ticket on the bus
1. Calculate the price of the bus ticket in advance
If you buy a ticket directly on the bus, it will cost 450 HUF instead of 350 HUF. This is not a big difference, considering that one euro is currently worth almost 360 HUF.
The smallest note in Hungary is HUF 500, which can be seen in the picture below.
It is worth counting it as HUF 500 per person. So if two of us give 1000Ft for the two tickets, then the driver gets a 100Ft tip, which isn’t a big deal, but with a tip maybe he won’t grumble about the traffic.
When is it worth giving a tip in Budapest and how much? Read my article on this!
Important! You can’t pay by credit card!
2. Get on the bus first
Stand at the bus stop, wait for the vehicle to turn up, and get on first if possible.
3. Ask for a ticket
Walk up to the bus driver’s cabin and knock firmly. Smile at them. 🙂
Wave the banknote or the coins to ensure the driver you have the exact amount. (If you don’t have a small denomination, there’s a chance he won’t give you a ticket and you might get nothing.)
Say the following sentence:
“Egy jegyet kérek.” pronunciation: ædʒ jædʒæt keræk Which means: I need a ticket.
If you need two tickets, say “Két jegyet kérek” pronunciation: ket jædʒæt keræk
If you need three tickets, say “Három jegyet kérek” pronunciation: harom jædʒæt keræk
In the case of four tickets, ask, “Négy jegyet kérek” pronunciation: nedʒ jædʒæt keræk
4. Validate the ticket
Once you have received the tickets, look for the ticket validator machine. The newer ones look like the one in the picture.
Hold the ticket numbered side up, then push it into the hole. As soon as you hear a buzzing sound the ticket has been validated and you can pull it out.
You might also find an older ticket validation device during public transport in Budapest. This is what it looks like.
Hold the ticket numbered side toward you, then insert it into the black slot. Grasp the black lever and pull it firmly toward you. Then you are done, your ticket is validated. When the controllers come, you just have to show it to them.
Of course, with the process outlined above, you can buy and validate tickets not only on the bus, but also on the tram and trolley.
Where can I buy public transport tickets in Budapest?
Fortunately, we can find BKK vending machines in quite a lot of stops and busy junctions, where we can also choose the type of ticket and passes we want to buy in English.
The distinctive purple color of the vending machines can be recognized from afar. Of course, here we also have the option to pay by credit card.
It is worth watching the BKK (Budapest Transport Center) film about the ticket purchase process.
If we believe strongly in personal contact, then of course it is also possible to buy tickets from the ticket office, and these are usually located near larger metro or bus stations.
Main BKK ticket offices:
- Deák Square Subway
- Ferenciek Square Subway
- Eastern Railway Station Subway
- Liszt Ferenc Airport Terminal 2B
- Déli pályaudvar Subway
- Kelenföld Railway Station Subway
What kind of ticket or pass should I buy?
There are quite a few options, depending on how many days you’re traveling, how far you’re going, and how often you might have to change transportation.
If you only came for a few days, I recommend the “block of 10 tickets”, which contains 10 line tickets for 3000 HUF. This should be enough as long as you do not plan to go around the whole of Budapest.
You can also buy a 24-hour or 72-hour pass, which, if you plan to travel a lot in the city is definitely worth it plus if you don’t feel like validating tickets, it’s much more practical. The price of these is not bad either: the day ticket costs 1650 HUF, and the 72-hour ticket costs only 4150 HUF.
Then there is the 5/30 BKK travelcard ticket, which contains 5 coupons valid for 24 hours each. It is valid for 30 days from the given date and costs HUF 4,550.
If you are staying for a longer period of time, say a week, you can also buy a Budapest weekly ticket for 4,950 HUF, but it is worth browsing the BKK page to see which format will be worth using.
It is worth buying a 24-hour pass if you need to use a ticket more than 4 times a day. This way, we will be able to use public transport in Budapest much more practically and much cheaper!
Budapest tickets and season tickets prices
|Tickets and passes||Price|
|Single ticket bought on the bus||450HUF|
|Block of 10 tickets||3000HUF|
|Airport shuttle bus||900HUF|
I wrote a cool article about prices in Budapest. Whether it’s accommodation, hospitality, entertainment, food, drinks, real estate prices, etc., in a word you get an answer to everything, how much it costs in Budapest.