Depending on the length and depth of your stay, you can buy various tickets and passes for Budapest public transportation.
1 Day In Budapest
If you are staying only 1 day in Budapest and intend to take a look at 2-3 Budapest attractions, a ten ticket bundle may be your best option (the 10 ticket booklet costs 2,800 HUF). Assuming you are staying at a hotel in the city centre of Budapest, with 10 tickets you should be able to go to the Castle district on the Castle Hill, and to the Heroes’ Square & City Park. On the Castle Hill you can see several attractions close to each other, like the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, Wine Tours, the Rock Hospital under the hill, etc.
Note: The daily pass won’t include the price of the cable car ride on the 19th century panoramic Funicular Railway. Another group of Budapest attractions is around Heroes’ square: the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts, the City Park, Szechenyi Spa Baths (4 min walk from the Heroes’ Square), the beautiful Art Nouveau Budapest Zoo, the world’s biggest Hour Glass (monument for Hungary’s joining the EU in 2004), the Vajdahunyad Castle, etc. This will probably be a lot of walking for one day in these two highlighted areas of Budapest, so you won’t be able to see all the attractions in details, just a light touch upon the surface. However, the ten BKV public transport tickets will be enough to pay a quick visit to both the Castle Hill and Heroes’ Square.
2 Days In Budapest
If you are staying for 2 days in Budapest, Hungary, and wish to see most of the major attractions in a quick rush, the ten ticket bundle may be enough, but it is more convenient to buy 2 one-day passes for Budapest public transport: while the 10 ticket booklet costs 2800 HUF, a one-day pass is 1550 HUF so for 2 days it is 3100 HUF, and gives you unlimited access to all Budapest public transport vehicles, metros, buses, trams, trolley buses (electric buses), and so on. The difference is only about 1 euro, and this will definitely allow you more freedom, less hassle: you can flexibly change your routes, include less touristy options, use the best tram and bus routes for sightseeing, etc. Your two days in Budapest (supposing it is you first two days) will very likely concentrate on two historic spots in Budapest, the Castle Hill on the Buda side, and the Heroes’ square on the Pest side (built for the 1000th birthday for the Hungarian state in 1896). So if you stay in a Budapest hotel in the city centre, and you cram these two major groups of attractions in your two-day stay, you may be OK with a ten-ticket bundle. But if you want to go to the Central Market Hall to buy some gifts, or Rudas Spa Baths or Gellert Spa Baths instead of Szechenyi Spa Baths, or to Budapest Ludwig Museum at Lagymanyos Bridge to see some contemporary art exhibitions, etc. you will be better off with a one day public transport pass for the first day and another one for the second day.
2 days in Budapest for families gives a very favourable option: the Family Pass costs only 2,200 HUF for the whole family (mind you, not the extended family, just the parents and the kids, excluding aunts, uncles, grandparents if there are 2 parents already, and nephews, nieces, etc.). The Family Pass “can be used by 1 or 2 adults (18+) travelling together in the same carriage with at least 1 but up to 7 children maximum age of 14. Children have to possess a valid student card or a passport.” So the family pass is super cheap, but you really need to have kids with you, you cannot just buy it for 2 adults and no kids under 14.
3 Days In Budapest
If you are staying in Budapest, Hungary for 3 days, the most convenient option is to buy a three-day pass for Budapest public transport. The 72 hour travel card costs 3,850 HUF
4-7 Days In Budapest
If you are staying in Budapest for more than 3 days, the most convenient option is to buy a seven-day pass for Budapest public transport, which costs only 4,600 HUF. But if you are a student (anywhere in the world), and have a student card with you, you can buy a monthly pass cheaper than the 7 day card. The monthly student pass costs 3,850 HUF. There are two conditions on using a student pass:
- you must be a ‘full time student’ in a higher education course – to put it more simply, correspondent students are disqualified, but students of day and evening courses are welcome.
- you need to bring a passport photo as the pass can only be used with a special travel card issues by the Budapest public transport company
- the number of the international student card or the passport has to be written on the pass
- if you are a student under 18 from an EU or EEA country, you don’t need a student card, your passport will be fine
10-14 Days In Budapest
If you are staying in Budapest for more than 3 days, the most convenient option is to buy a two-week pass for Budapest public transport, which costs only 6,500 HUF. For this two-week pass you will need to have an ID photo as any passes over 1 week is only valid with a photo pass. The travel pass is issued by BKV Budapest public transport, and you can either provide the passport size photo (what a really well-prepared tourist you are!), or you can use one of the photo booths at metro stations (most major metro stations have a photo booth, like Deak square, Nyugati train station, or Batthyany square, etc.).