Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport (formerly Ferihegy Airport) is located 16 km from the city centre, which is about 40 minutes away by road or train.
Private transfer from Budapest airport to your hotel
The main advantage of hiring a transfer between Budapest airport and your hotel is that it is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week (so no matter what time your flight arrives).
With this service, you will have a professional driver waiting for you on arrival with a sign with your name on it, you will not have to wait in queues and you will make the journey in comfort and with space for your luggage with a maximum of 15 passengers. The vehicle is also adapted for pushchairs and wheelchair users.
How it works
Booking is online and cancellation is free of charge up to 24 hours in advance. Once you choose the day you want to hire the service, you will have to provide via email your flight details (so that the driver can adapt if there are delays) and your hotel details (so that the driver knows the address to which he has to take you). Once you confirm your booking you will be given instructions on how to meet your driver who will be waiting for you with a sign with your name on it at the departure of your flight.
Return service from the city to the airport
This transfer service is also available to get you from your hotel to the airport at the end of your trip. The way it works, the prices and the booking process are the same: you will have to leave your hotel details so that the driver can pick you up at the time of your choice. If I may give you a tip, allow plenty of time to arrive without (same conditions except you will need to be available early enough to avoid missing your flight).
Ana's Traveler Tip
If your flight arrives in the early hours of the morning you will find it particularly difficult to get to the centre by public transport; private transfer is available 24 hours a day.
3. Transfer from Budapest train station to your hotel
If you are arriving in Budapest by train because you have been visiting the surrounding area, you will need to get to your hotel. For me, the most comfortable way to do this is with a private transfer from Budapest train station to your hotel. With this service, a driver will be waiting for you (you and your group) on arrival and will take you directly to your hotel, no waiting.
As with the airport transfer service, you will need to provide your arrival details to the station so that they can arrange for you to be picked up. The driver will be waiting for you even if your train is late.
Return service from your hotel to the station
You can also arrange a return transfer from your hotel to the Budapest train station at the end of your journey. After a long journey, and especially if you have a lot of luggage, I recommend this option.
4. Other options for getting from the airport: public transport or taxi
If you use public transport to get to the centre of Budapest you will save money. It is a more inconvenient option as it does not take you directly to your hotel and you are likely to have to wait at the airport, but it is available if you arrive in Budapest during the day (at night, particularly between 11 and 4 o'clock, schedules and combinations become more complicated).
Bus 200E + Train
The 200E bus takes about 25 minutes and costs around one euro. It is the cheapest option, but it will not drop you off in the centre but at a train stop (Köbánya-Kispest) from where you can get to the centre (Western Railway Station), also for one euro for another 25 minutes.
Shuttle bus 100E
From 5am to 1.20am, this bus leaves every 20 minutes (approximately) and drops you off in the centre of Budapest (either at the Kálvin tér and Astoria M stops in Pest or at Deák Ferenc Tér in Buda). It costs about 3 euros and takes about 40 minutes. If you choose this option, remember to always check the distance from the stop where you get off the bus to your hotel to see if it's a walkable distance or if you have to find another means of transport.
Bus 900 (night bus)
Between one and four o'clock in the morning this line is available and goes to the Bajcsy-Zsilinsky Street stop. From there there are two other night buses 950 and 950A which will take you to the centre of Budapest.
If you arrive in Budapest and have not booked a transfer to your hotel, there is also a taxi rank at the airport (always make sure that the taxi you take is an official one). This may not seem like much, but it is one of the most expensive options compared to the average price of a taxi ride in Budapest. Taxis are safe and convenient, but at certain times it can be difficult to get one.
Ana's Traveler Tip
If you want a transfer to your hotel, book in advance. There are minibuses at the airport that will do this, but they don't have a fixed price and you'll have to wait for them to fill up.
5. This is Budapest Airport
Budapest airport is quite well run and, for a European city, it's not a very big airport, so it's easy to find your way around. There are two main terminals: Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Both are connected and, whether you exit from one terminal or the other, you'll arrive at a main concourse where family, friends or private drivers await passengers.
As well as shops where you can buy water or snacks (the prices are acceptable), you'll also see ATMs on your way out. Although Hungary is part of the European Union, its currency is still the Hungarian Forint and not the Euro, so these ATMs are there for you to change or withdraw money. The fees at these ATMs will be higher than at others you might find in the city centre.
6. First tips for your arrival in Budapest
The airport is also your first contact with the city. A city that, if you like it as much as I do, may become your favourite. It is important to know how to get around the airport, what kind of services you will find and how to get to your hotel in the centre, but there are also some first tips to keep in mind when planning your trip. Before you get out your guidebook and camera...
When to travel to Budapest
Budapest can be enjoyed at any time of the year. The peak season is in summer when, except in heat waves, you'll have a very pleasant temperature for sightseeing in the city. For example, many hotels do not have air-conditioning because it is not necessary. If you travel to Budapest in winter you'll find temperatures of several degrees below freezing, so it's essential to pack warm clothes and make short stops during sightseeing tours to keep warm.
Getting around Budapest
The city has a metro and a well-functioning public transport network, but the sheer size of the city makes it easy to get around on foot. Taxis are very cheap and operate on metered fares: my advice is to walk the short distances and don't rule out using a tourist bus to get between the main sights (read more here): Budapest Hop on Hop off Bus Tours).
How to change money
The currency in Budapest is the Hungarian forint. One euro is 350 Hungarian forints. You can change money at the airport, but the exchange offices in the city centre will give you a more favourable exchange rate. In any case, prices in the city, if you travel with euros, are very low, so you'll be able to indulge yourself as much as you like during your trip.
Where to stay in Budapest
If you book your accommodation in advance, you'll be spoilt for choice without paying exorbitant prices (although you can also go 'big' by staying in one of Budapest's luxury hotels). The river is the city's landmark; it divides the banks of Buda and Pest, with Pest being the most modern part of the city. Any accommodation near the river will be a good choice for your trip.
Special transfer requirements
If you are hiring a private transfer and have special requirements such as bulky or delicate luggage, remember to tell the company you are hiring the transfer from. You won't have a problem, but they will take it into account when it comes to whether or not you need extra space in the vehicle.
What to pack
If it's winter, take plenty of warm clothes, including thermal T-shirts. I also recommend that you carry an application on your mobile phone that allows you to find your way around the city without having to spend data. Street names can be confusing when you first get to know the city and this will make it more difficult to get around than it is in other European cities.
What to eat
Hungarian food is delicious and very cheap in most restaurants. Don't leave the city without trying spoon dishes like goulash, but don't forget to try street snacks like langos, a hot fried bread with different toppings on top.
If you go on a guided tour in Budapest, always ask your guide for a restaurant where the city's workers go for a set menu. Last but not least, don't forget the sweets, as Hungary has some real treats that are very different from what you'll find elsewhere in Europe. In fact, if you're thinking of taking a guided tour of Budapest, here's a list of some of the best: 16 Best Day Trips and Tours from Budapest.
About the train station
Budapest's main train station is Keleti and is located on the Pest side of the city in the centre of the city, although it is a bit far from the river. From here you can catch trains to neighbouring countries such as Vienna and Prague as well as trains to towns close to the Hungarian capital. If instead of arriving at the city's airport you arrive at the train station, you'll also have the option of a private transfer to your hotel or public transport.