Budapest – The pearl of the Danube

Budapest has a splendid location – the hills and mountains of Buda, the flat plain of Pest and between them the river Danube.

The Parliament building facing the River Danube is the symbol of the city, while the Castle of Buda on the opposite side is a symbol of history and condition of our identity. It is also a World Heritage site. The surrounding castle district offers the most romantic walks in Budapest. Some of the main sights you can find there include the Holy Trinity Square, the Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion.

General information

Budapest – one of the most beautiful cities in the world – has come a long way from where it started, and not by accident. For starters, take a look at Gellért Hill, right next to the River Danube as it flows majestically through the centre of the modern city.

The capital city of Hungary, Budapest, was created through the unification of the separate historic towns of Buda, Pest and Óbuda in 1873. Although the area had been inhabited from early times, it was from this date that the city’s expansion into a world capital really began. Budapest is divided by the River Danube, with the city as much a natural geographical centre as it is the country’s transport hub. Covering an area of two hundred square miles and divided into 23 administrative districts, it is home today to a population of 1.8 million people.

Buda and Óbuda, comprising roughly a third of the total, are situated mainly in the hills to the west, with commercial Pest on the plains to the east. There are three islands – Óbuda Island, Margaret Island and Csepel Island – and ten bridges, two of which carry railway lines.

Budapest possesses a rich and fascinating history as well as a rich cultural heritage. Recognizing the unique value of its traditions it has managed to maintain its magic and charm, and is rightly known as the Queen of the Danube. It has also been called the City of Spas, as there are a dozen thermal bath complexes served by over a hundred natural thermal springs.

Public transport

Public transport services in Budapest include, trolleybuses, trams, underground trains (Metró) and over ground suburban trains (HÉV). Buses, trams and trolleybuses run daily from 4.30 a.m. until 11.0 p.m.

In Budapest there are 3 metro lines that meet in the centre of the city, at Deák Square. Line nr. 1 (yellow) – a 100-year-old subway, reconstructed in its original form in 1995, line nr 2. (red) and line nr 3. (blue). The HÉV runs to and from Csepel Island and Ráckeve in the South, Szentendre in the North and Gödöllő in the East.

Tickets have to be bought before boarding. They are available at underground stations, tobacconists, newsagents and from vending machines at many bus and tram stops in the city centre. They are valid for one single journey of any length (without changing) on all routes (including the Cogwheel Railway, but excluding those parts of the HÉV that lie outside the metropolitan boundary of Budapest). Special tickets can be purchased that allow a change of route, and that cover the HÉV outside Budapest. There is also a range of pre-paid books of tickets and value-for-money passes (e.g. 1-day and 3-day). A new ticket has to be validated at the beginning of each journey and must be retained until the end of your journey and shown to inspectors on request.

Budapest Card

„The whole city in your pocket” is the motto of the Budapest Card.

The Budapest Card is a tourist card which makes life easier and cheaper for anyone visiting Budapest.

  • unlimited travel on public transport for 48 or 72 hours
  • free or discounted entry to 60 museums and to several sights
  • sightseeing tours with extra reductions
  • reduced price tickets for cultural and folklore programmes
  • discounts in restaurants and spas
  • discount for car rental, sports facilities and in many other places
  • travel accident insurance
  • the card is valid for one adult and one child under 14 years old.

The services of the card are detailed in a 100-paged, coloured publication in Hungarian, English, German and Italian languages. This publication introduces the use of the Budapest Card and the servicing enterprises (with photo, address, opening hours, entrance fees and discounts).