Riding on two wheels in Budapest has become very popular in the last couple of years, and while the Hungarian capital is not the most bike-friendly city in Europe, the cycling infrastructure continues to develop as more and more bike lanes are opened every year. Today Budapest has approximately 200 kms of cycling paths and the EuroVelo6, or the Rivers’ Route, spanning through 10 countries crosses the Hungarian capital as well. As the local cycling community continues to grow, exploring Budapest on a bike has never been so easy. Intrigued? We’ve collected the most important information on Budapest biking for you below.
Where to find a bike?
Budapest public bikes
Budapest has a public bike sharing system called MOL Bubi. Bubi is a short term for Budapest Bicycle. MOL Bubi bikes can be picked up at the various docking stations across the city center and are easy to recognize by their distinctive lime-green color. The aim of the BuBi bikes is to offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to public transport, therefore the system is continuously being expanded. As of May 2019, 1846 public bikes are available for usage at 143 docking stations within the Hungarian capital. These Budapest public bikes have three gears, adjustable seat posts, automatic front and rear lights, and a small storage space in the front. The docking stations are relatively close to each other, and are conveniently located near major hubs and tourist sites. The usage of MOL BuBi bikes is free for 30 minutes – but only if you are a MOL Bubi user, meaning you have bought a 24-hour (500 HUF), 72-hour (1.000 HUF) or weekly ticket (2.000 Ft) beforehand.
MOL BuBi tickets can be bought via MOL BuBi touchscreen terminals, by using the MOL BuBi application (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) or online at the website: molbubi.bkk.hu. Please note that a deposit of 25.000 HUF will be locked on your bankcard when you purchase a ticket. The ticket price plus any usage fees for additional time will be charged from this deposit.
MOL BuBi monthly or yearly passes for the Budapest public bikes can only be purchased in person at the BKK Customer Service Centers, but it is recommended to register at the MOL Bubi website first. Please note that even if you purchase your pass via your smartphone, you are required to go to a BKK Customer Centers in person to sign the contract and receive your card – which is quite inconvenient, we know.
Be aware that the MOL BuBi bikes are meant for a short use (30 minutes) only. If you use them longer than 30 minutes, they can become quite costly as added hourly usage fees gradually increase with time (500/hour for the first 3 hours, a 1000 Ft/hour after that etc.). So, if you need a bike for longer than 30 minutes, you either have to ride from docking station to docking changing your bike every 30 minutes, or choose another Budapest bike rental option.
Bike rental in Budapest
Donkey republic is an international 24/7 bike rental company that operates in Budapest as well. All you have to do is download their app, find a bike near you at a pick-up location and unlock the bike using your smartphone. The advantage of the Donkey bikes is that you only pay at the end and – as opposed to the BuBi bikes – the longer you ride, the cheaper the hourly fee becomes.
Prices: 635 HUF (about 2 EUR) for 30 minutes, 955 HUF (3 EUR) for 1 hour, 2200 HUF for 4 hours, and 3800 FT for a day. For more information on rental and pricing, visit the Donkey Republic website.
Buda Explorer doesn’t only offer bike rental in Budapest, but bike tours as well. Their rental costs for city bikes are about the same as the Donkey, 3 EUR per hour, 12 EUR for a day, but they offer mountain bikes, trekking bikes and e-bikes as well which are a bit more expensive. All bikes have an easy to use gear system and come with a bike lock and helmet free of charge. They also offer a Budapest to Belgrade 12-day all-inclusive package which claims to include everything you need for the tour, even the pick-up or delivery of the bikes in Belgrade.
Guided sightseeing bike tours in Budapest
If you are not confident enough to ride on your own, or simply want to explore with city in the company of a local bike enthusiast, there are plenty of Budapest bike tours you can choose from. The most popular guided bike tours are organized by Bike & Relax Budapest, BudaBike sightseeing tours, Yellow Zebra bike and Segway Tours and Rentals, Budapest Bike breeze and I like Ebike. The already mentioned Buda Explorers offers various bike tours as well. You don’t have to be a very experienced cyclist to join a Budapest bike tour as they are usually slow paced and have plenty of breaks in between for taking photos or having a snack. There is also a possibility to choose between shorter and longer tours, and if you don’t want to over exhaust yourself, there’s always the option of choosing an electric bike. Some of the organized sightseeing tours will take you cruising on both sides of Budapest, while there are tours that specifically concentrate on one area like the Buda hill bike tour for example.
You may have noticed that Hungarian drivers are not the most patient and attentive drivers in the world. Add to this that Budapest traffic is often hectic and that sometimes bikers have to share the bike lanes with pedestrians. So, if you are only cycling for recreational purposes, it’s best to avoid the city center and choose the more relaxing areas like the City Park or Margaret Island. If you intend to explore the city, however, make sure that you wear a helmet and cycle at a speed where you can stop at any moment. It’s also good to know that bikers don’t have priority over cars at a pedestrian crossing. According to the Hungarian traffic rules, bikers only have priority at a pedestrian crossing if they get off their bikes and push it otherwise they have to give way to the cars. Bike lanes that cross the street can be tricky as well as bikers often arrive at a high speed into the intersection not giving cars enough time to see them when turning. So again, please make sure you can slow down your bike and that you are always visible to drivers. It’s best to avoid using headphones or making phone calls and keep your eyes on the traffic. Don’t cycle too close to parking cars to avoid being hit by a door. As streets without bike lanes can be quite dangerous for bikers in Budapest, try to stick to the bike lanes. Always use your front and rear light when it gets darker or visibility is poor. Finally, to avoid your bike getting stolen, please make sure you lock it well when you park it.
Bike routes in Budapest
Easy: Parliament – St. Stephan’s Basilica – Andrássy Avenue – Heroes Square – City park
If you are not an experienced cyclist, this route is for you. Start by the Hungarian Parliament building, then cycle across Kossuth square into Alkotmány Street. Then take a right into Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Road and after passing by the beautiful Basilica, arrive at Andrássy Street and head towards Heroes’ square. Andrássy Street is an elegant, broad avenue which leads from the city centre to the City Park and is known for its upscale shops and Neo-renaissance palaces. It’s often being referred to as the Champs-Élysées of Budapest. You will ride past the stunning 19th century building of the Hungarian State Opera House on your left, then arrive at Heroes’ Square, Budapest’s largest square commemorating the most significant Hungarian historical figures. After checking out the square, cycle past the boating pond, or visit the fairy-tale-like castle called Vajdahunyad Castle.
Route: Parliament Building – Alkotmány Street – Bajcsy Zsilinszky Road – St. Stephen’s Basilica – Andrássy Street – Hungarian Opera House – Heroes Square – Vajdahunyad Castle
Intermediary level: From the city centre to Margaret Island
Start at Deák Ferenc square and ride along the bike lane at Bajcsy Zsilinszky Road. Then take a left at Alkotmány Street, and ride until Kossuth Square. After checking out the Parliament building, continue towards the Danube on Széchenyi embarkment, and cycle all the way until Jászai Mari Square riding along a very scenic bike lane near the Danube river bank and enjoying the beautiful view. Then turn left to Margaret Bridge. The entrance to Margaret Island is located in the middle of the bridge. From here on just enjoy the island, which is popular chill-out place for the locals during the summer months. Lay down in the grass, or check out the Musical Fountain, the free petting zoo with deer, bunnies, and various birds, the Japanese Garden with a fishpond, or head to the Palatinus Beach & Outdoor Pools for a nice swim.
Route: Deák Square – Bajcsy Zsilinszky Road – Alkotmány Street – Kossuth Square – Parliament Building – Jászay Mari Square – Margaret Island
Intermediary level: Ride along the Danube bank on the Buda side to Kopaszi gát
This route is also very beautiful as it follows the river Danube on the Buda side between Árpád Bridge and Rákóczi Bridge. On the way, you get to enjoy a great view of the river Danube, the Buda Castle and Gellért Hill, the House of Parliament, Chain bridge, and you can ride all the way to Kopaszi-gát, a narrow peninsula next to Rákóczi Bridge. Kopaszi-gát is a great place to visit if you enjoy charming bistro-restaurants and outdoor venues. It’s also a popular picnic spot, so you can bring a bottle of wine and a blanket and just lay out on the grass and watch the boats and kayaks go by.
Route: Árpád-Bridge – Margaret Island – Buda lower embankment – Margaret Island – Bem embarkment – Chain Bridge – Várkert Bazaar– Elisabeth Bridge – Szent Gellért rakpart – Pázmány Péter Avenue – Rákóczi Bridge – Kopaszi gát
Advanced: From Árpád Bridge to Roman shore
This route is probably the most difficult one as you have cycle about 20kms from the city centre to Római part (Roman shore), but it’s well worth it. Roman shore is a special place on the Buda side at the Danube waterfront. It’s very popular by local as it has a great number of great outdoor venues where you can get a Lángos and beer for peanuts while enjoying the peaceful view of the river. You’ll feel like you are on a beach holiday. To get there, take the bike lane from the Buda side of Margaret Bridge and follow the route of the suburban rail (HÉV) all the way to Római part.
Route: Margaret Bridge Buda end – Árpád Bridge Buda end – Buda lower embankment – Római part – Újpesti Railway Bridge – Váci Street – Árpád Bridge