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Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in Budapest

Alex Grande

Alex Grande

8 min read

Hop on Hop off Bus Tours in Budapest

©Albert Lugosi

There are many ways to get around Budapest. Although much of the city is easily covered on foot, there are other points of interest away from the center and the tourist bus is an optimal way to get to all of them saving time.

1. The best tourist bus routes in Budapest

Big Bus Tourist Bus | ©megabus13601
Big Bus Tourist Bus | ©megabus13601
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Booking a trip on one of the tourist buses that travel around the city is very simple and there are several options:

2. City Sightseeing Bus tour with free stops

Atubús turístico City Sightseeing | ©Albert Lugosi
Atubús turístico City Sightseeing | ©Albert Lugosi
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In many European cities you will have seen the red double-decker buses with the top area uncovered. They belong to one of the most popular companies for sightseeing bus tours of large cities like Budapest where the distances between different points of interest can be too great to walk.

These buses are based on the "Hop on Hop off" concept. This means that there is a route fixed in advance with several schedules throughout the day and buying pass for the tourist bus of Budapest: for one or two days, you can take the bus at the point you want and get on and off as many times as you want.

This allows you to do two main things: take a guided tour of the city and move between the different monuments quickly with 360-degree views.

How it works

Choose your pass for 1, 2 or 3 days (you can buy it online). For a supplement, you can add a cruise or an overnight excursion and once you activate your pass you will have 24, 48 or 72 hours to get on and off the bus wherever you want, as many times as you want.

Advantages of this bus

  • In Budapest the public transport works well, but to go through certain areas can be complicated (the stops correspond to the names of the streets and it is difficult to relate them with the points of interest for the traveler) or insufficient (the city has only three subway lines). The tourist bus is therefore an option designed for the traveler and adapted to their needs.
  • With your pass you will get a card with which you will get discounts at different points of the city.
  • From the bus you will have panoramic views of all the sights of Budapest.
  • During the tour you will have at your disposal audio commentary on the main stops and WIFI on board.
  • My advice is to go through each of the routes at least once during the time of your pass and choose beforehand at which stops you prefer to get off to see the monument or point of interest in more depth. For that you will have to take into account the route of each of the routes.

Yellow Route Itinerary

  • Andrassy Avenue
  • New York Palace, The Dedica Anthology
  • Chain bridge
  • March 15 Square
  • Fővám Square
  • Kálvin Square
  • Corvin Plaza
  • Hotel Corinthia
  • Liszt Ferenc Square
  • Opera

Itinerary of the Red Route

  • St. Stephen's Basilica
  • Chain Bridge
  • March 15 Square
  • Central Market
  • Kálvin Square
  • Anker Palace
  • Andrassy Avenue
  • Opera
  • Liszt Ferenc Square
  • Heroes Square
  • Keleti Train Station
  • New York Palace, The Dedica Anthology
  • Astoria
  • Párizsi Street
  • Citadel
  • Castle Garden Hotel
  • Castle Hill Funicular
  • Batthyány Square
  • Margaret Bridge
  • Westend Shopping Center
  • Hungarian Parliament

Itinerary of the night tour

  • St. Stephen's Basilica
  • Chain Bridge
  • Opera
  • Liszt Ferenc Square
  • Heroes Square
  • Budapest-Keleti Railway Station
  • New York Palace, The Dedica Anthology
  • Astoria
  • Ferenciek tere
  • Citadel
  • Margaret's Bridge

Alex's Traveller Tip
Be sure to take advantage of the night tour bus route; it is the best way to see the city illuminated.

3. Tour with free stops on the Big Bus tourist bus.

Rouring Budapest
Rouring Budapest

The Big Bus buses belong to another tour bus company operating in Budapest, which also has free stops along the route. You can buy, also online, a ticket valid for one, two or three days in the tourist bus Big Bus: and during that time you can use the buses at your leisure getting on and off where you want or doing the whole entire route. If you buy the pass for two or three days you will have services included that will complete your trip.

What is included in the Big Bus Tourist Bus Pass?

  • Panoramic views of Budapest's main points of interest
  • Audio commentary and WIFI on board
  • Guided walking tour in English
  • Danube Cruise (with the 2 or 3 day pass)
  • Panoramic night tour (with the 3-day pass)
  • Shuttle service to Buda Castle (with the 3-day pass)

Path

While the red route is designed to get off at the main stops to visit the points of interest and then continue the tour, the blue route and the night route function as a closed tour where the goal is for you to enjoy the ride while listening to the audio commentary available in several languages.

Itinerary Red Route

  • Heroes Square
  • Keleti Railway Station
  • New York café
  • Hotel Astoria
  • Váci Street
  • Castle Garden
  • Buda Castle
  • Batthyany Square
  • Margaret's Bridge
  • Nyugati Station
  • Hungarian Parliament
  • Basilica
  • Chain Bridge
  • River Cruise / Dock 11
  • Great Market Hall
  • National Museum
  • Király Street
  • Andrassy Avenue
  • Opera
  • Liszt Ferenc Street

4. Guided sightseeing bus tour and cruise on the Danube River

Cruise along the Danube as it passes Budapest | ©Adam Jones
Cruise along the Danube as it passes Budapest | ©Adam Jones
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If what you are looking for from the tourist bus is a guided tour as complete as possible: and with which you can visit the whole city without having to change routes, this is your best option. The bus works here as a means of transport to be able to cover everything you need to see in Budapest.

The tour lasts three hours, includes an expert guide for the entire tour and you can add an additional one-hour cruise on the Danube. You have several dates and times to choose from and you can book your place online; a voucher will be sent to your email which you can then redeem at the meeting point with your guide to start the tour.

Plaza de los Héroes

It is located at one end of Andrassy Avenue and is one of the most emblematic places in the city. The statues in this square commemorate the seven leaders of the tribes that founded Hungary. The guide will tell you the history of the founding of the city during the tour.

Fisherman's Bastion

You will know it because if you have been in the city for several days you will surely have been recommended its views. From the hill where it is located you can see an unbeatable view of the city.

Hungarian Parliament

It is the largest building in Hungary and the main guardian of the Danube River. You should see it both during the day and at night when it is illuminated. Your guide will take advantage of this stop to tell you curiosities and interesting stories about Hungarian politics.

Hungarian State Opera

One of the fundamental buildings of Budapest representative of the Hungarian architecture of the 19th century. This Renaissance opera house is the second largest theater building not only in Budapest but also in Hungary.

Gellert Hill

If the name sounds familiar, it's because you've heard of the Gellert Spa, one of the two most famous in the city. You can't leave Budapest without trying the Hungarian bathing experience, but for now admire the views of the city as you pass by this stop.

St. Stephen's Basilica

This church located on the edge of Buda is beautiful on the outside, but inside it is a spectacle of mosaic that is worth seeing since in few cities you will be able to visit similar temples.

Great Market Hall

It is the soul of the city: food, souvenirs, clothes... in the covered market you can buy everything and you can walk around for hours. Your guide will give you some tips to find curiosities and souvenirs, but remember to write down the location to come back and enter as soon as you have the chance.

5. Why take a sightseeing bus tour in Budapest?

Budapest views | ©Pavlo Petrenko
Budapest views | ©Pavlo Petrenko

If you visit the city in winter

Tourist buses operate all year round and have an indoor and outdoor part, both of which offer panoramic views of the city's surroundings. If you travel to Budapest in winter the below freezing temperatures can slow down your walking route, so a good time saving option is the tourist bus.

If you are traveling with children

Children get tired while walking around the city, however, they are distracted by the views and by its totally safe and conditioned outdoor area.

If you want a general overview of the city

As much as you get to know the city by visiting specific monuments and museums, taking a stroll through it without worrying about anything other than its sights is always a luxury and with the tourist buses you have it available at an affordable price. In addition, this way you can discover places further away from the downtown area that you would not normally visit on your own.

To visit remote places

As an alternative to public transportation, a tourist bus with free stops can be a great solution. Although public transport works well, it will not always be easy to find your way around because the stops do not correspond to the parts of the city that you as a visitor want to see. If you want to get out of the downtown area during your visit, this service is a good option.

To learn more about what you see

When we arrive to a new city, we are amazed by the beauty of its main buildings or the charm of its corners, but many times we don't know their true meaning or the history behind them. This type of service is designed for you to learn the meaning of each building in the city while you visit it from the bus.

Alex's Traveller Tip
Even if you use the free stop option, set aside time to enjoy the city during a ride where all you have to worry about is the view.

6. If you are interested in a sightseeing bus tour of Budapest, you will also be interested in...

Church of San Matías | ©Emma Fabbri
Church of San Matías | ©Emma Fabbri

There are three main ways to see the city of Budapest while learning about its monuments and sights. One is from the tourist bus and the other two are:

Guided walking tour through the center of the city

By hiring a pass for some of the Budapest sightseeing buses, you can also have access to these two experiences. On the guided walking tour you will be accompanied by a professional guide who will explain the history of the city from the perspective of someone who lives there and knows its customs and legends beyond the historical data you might find in a travel guide. In this article I have written about Day Trips and Excursions from Budapest: you can read all about guided tours of the city.

Danube river cruise

The Danube cruise, meanwhile, is another popular experience for travelers visiting Budapest and offers a different perspective of the city with audio commentary included in several languages. You will also have the option to complete this experience with dinner or live traditional Hungarian music during the cruise. I have written a guide about Danube River Cruises that may interest you if you are thinking of trying this experience.