Budapest is a world of opportunities when it comes to transport options in the city, including refreshing boat rides and Danube river cruises, thanks to Europe’s second longest river splitting the city in two. The city consists of two sides, with a general view of the “Buda” side being calm and green, and “Pest” being the vibrant, exciting part of town – and of course a social lifesaver too. Regarding boat transport, back in the day, there were no bridges connecting Buda with Pest, so in 1820 the first regular public transport vehicle, the Danube steamboat was born. After this, there was no turning back, and with the growing demand for river-crossing, the naval golden-age of Budapest began.
To this day, river boating has remained a used form of transport between the two sides of Budapest, and is an exceptionally lovely way to get around and experience the city from a different point of view. When taking part in a Danube river cruise, you’ll be able to view many historic monuments that have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Places like the Hungarian Parlament, the Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Matthias Church, Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Gresham Palace.
For visitors looking to engage in a scenic and aquatic excursion in Budapest, there is a large selection of panoramic boat tours on offer. Read on to find out more about the different types of Budapest river cruises available.
The BKV Boat – Fast, Simple and Cheap
The cheapest way around Budapest via water is the BKV Boat. The service is part of the public transport network making it, basically, Budapest’s very own public sightseeing cruise! Although the boat itself is nothing fancy and definitely not fast, nevertheless, you’ll be able to float down a route that’s bordered on both sides with UNESCO World Heritage wonders. As there are many stops, there’s always an option to quickly hop-off if you see a sight you’d like to explore by foot. Just catch one of the three boats (D11, D12, D13) and take in the sights with the wind blowing in your hair. Check out the official BKK website for route and timetable information.
Cost: The ride is free of extra charge if you have a Budapest Card or a BKV pass.
BKK single tickets are not valid on the boats, however on the weeked there is an option to purchase a “single ticket for public transport boat” for 750 HUF.
Legenda Sightseeing Cruise – Day and Night Tours & Romantic Dinner Cruises
Legenda Sightseeing Cruises offer three types of cruises:
1) Daytime Tour – Duna Bella
Aboard Duna Bella, a panoramic boat, you’ll be able to sail in the spectacular embrace of Buda & Pest, with an optional disembarkment on Margaret Island. The cruise is a 1 hour, 10minute long daytime sightseeing cruise, just perfect for getting to know the capital of Hungary.
2) Nighttime Tour – Danube Legend
With the Danube Legend panoramic boat ride, you’ll be able to go on an hour-long evening Budapest River Cruise sightseeing cruise, and see the city come alive at night, with the Royal Palace, the Parliament, and other splendid sights all bathed in light.
Both tours include:
- A 30-language audio-guide
- 1 glass of drink – between a choice of champagne, wine, beer, soft drinks, and mineral water
- Free WiFi on board
3) Candlelit Dinner Cruise
Sail into love with an enjoyable candlelit dinner, and let the breathtaking scenery of evening-time Budapest crown your evening! Experience an À la carte dinner with the finest food, live music entertainment and professional service – perfect for a romantic evening in a picturesque city.
Cost: The cheapest sightseeing cruise is the Duna Bella (4,200Ft/Adult), next up is the Danube Legend (5,900Ft/Adult) and although the candlelit dinner cruise is more pricey (21,900Ft/Adult), it’s definitely worth the extra cost.
Redjet – An Adventure Cruise for Adrenaline Junkies
Redjet offers one of the most exciting Danube river cruises on offer. Get ready to experience Budapest with the 440 horsepower REDJET and let yourself go on a super-fast, 30 minute-long wild ride on the Danube! If you’re a fan of getting wet, high speeds and fun, make your way to Kopaszi-gát, Budapart Dock – a narrow peninsula in south Buda, next to Rákóczi Bridge.
Cost: The tour costs 8000 HUF per person or 25 EUR per person.
Budapest Party Boat – Experience the Shipwrecked Boat Party
If you’re looking for an authentic Budapest party boat experience, look no further! Take part in the original Budapest Boat Party, where a sightseeing cruise is more than what meets the eye. Buckle up, let your hair down and enjoy the fun with up to 400 people every night…
The Shipwrecked Boat Party on the Zsófia Event Ship is a blast, with Danube cruise parties every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting from 22:30 at Petőfi tér Dock 9 and ending at Olimpia Park. With a huge open deck, a weather-proof indoor party room, and an open bar serving drinks for three hours, you’ll get to party under stars. With unlimited beer, wine champagne and soft drinks, it’s a night in Budapest (we hope) you won’t forget!
Cost: from 20 EUR per person (entry + 2 drinks), 35 EUR (unlimited beer, wine and prosecco)
Cheers to a Craft Beer Cruise!
Calling all beer lovers, this is a Budapest River Cruise not to miss. There is an emerging craft beer culture in Budapest and this 90 or 120 minute cruise will introduce you to 5 of the best local brews. Sailing under 6 iconic bridges of the river, you’ll receive your beers one by one starting from the softer types, and gradually moving towards the more powerful ales. If you’re more of a wine or cocktail fan, don’t worry there are other drink options available onboard. Prepare your liver, and join the fun at the Danube Palace meeting point of the cruise!
Cost: The tour costs 25 EUR per person.
MAHART – A trip to Scenic Szentendre
Thankfully, Danube river cruises are not only limited to Budapest. There are a variety of nearby destinations you can explore from the capital and it’s definitely worthwhile going on a cruise to Szentendre. The beautiful riverside town is famous for its art museums, galleries and cozy cafés, and not to mention the beautiful, distinctive 18th century townscape.
MAHART offers all-day trips but you can also opt for an afternoon or evening outing too. Find out more on the official website of MAHART Passnave!
Cost: Prices start from 2.540 HUF, with discounts if you have a Budapest or Hungary Card.