Convenient Bus & Boat Sightseeing in Budapest
The Hop On Hop Off tours offer you practical and convenient city sightseeing by bus, showing you the most famous Budapest’s sights.
From the air-conditioned, cool double deckers you can see and learn about the city’s most important historical and cultural monuments.
Guiding is provided through headphones or live guiding where you can select from several languages to listen to the guide.
No matter what’s the weather like, you’ll be sitting comfortably in the specially designed sightseeing bus and enjoying the city’s panorama.
In nice warm weather you can enjoy the sunshine on the open-top, cabrio buses while in bad weather you’re protected from the cold and rain in the closed vehicle.
You can hop on and hop off at any stop you like.
Here are the most popular bus tours that we tried and recommend to everyone wanting to quickly, efficiently see all the famous landmarks.
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Details: Tour Companies, Itineraries, Duration, Tickets
Currently three companies operate hop on hop off bus and boat tours in our city each with 48 hours ticket validity:
- Big Bus Tours – an international company with tours in several European cities. Offers two bus tours (a daytime and a night tour), 27-stops, audio commentary in 23 languages, departing at every 15-30 minutes with a boat tour, a night tour and walk tours included. Ticket validity: 48 hours, Price: 27.76 EUR – Offers the best value for the price: clean buses, friendly, helpful staff, good quality audio guiding.
- Giraffe Hop on Hop Off by the Citytour Hop On Hop Off Ltd. – their office is located at 2., Andrássy út district VI. and is open: Mon-Sun: 8.30-18.00. The company was founded in 2008 by the merge of two big local travel agencies: Eurama and Budatours. Today Giraffe offers several tours of various lengths (bus, boat, walk) in and outside the Hungarian capital. They have two daytime hop on hop off bus tours (red line and yellow line), a boat tour, and a night tour. Ticket validity: 48 hours, Price: 22 EUR/20 EUR.
- City Circle Sightseeing Tours by Program Centrum: two different bus tours (green & pink line), a night bus tour, two boat tours, free gifts and discounts to cafes, museums, galleries. Ticket validity: 48 hours, Price: 22 EUR/18.80 EUR.
Each Hop On Hop Off city tour lasts approx. 2 hours, you can hop on and join the tour or get off at any of the stops during the ticket validity.
You can see the major landmarks of Budapest form the dark red, open-top Big Buses. The daytime tour stops at 27 places covering all the important sights in both Buda and Pest.
The first bus departs from Heroes’ Square at 9.06 in the morning. Buses run at 15-30 minute frequency. The audio guiding (in 23 languages) on the history of the various sights can be clearly heard.
You can also go on a 1.5-hour river excursion with your ticket. A 1-hour night bus tour departing at 19.30 from Deák Ferenc Square is also included.
You can also go on two 1.5-hour guided walking tours,: one explores the Pest side and starts at 11.00 from Andrássy út 3., the other takes you around Buda and departs from Szentháromság Sqr. in Buda Castle, every day at 14.30.
You can choose from 4 city tours: 2 during the day, a river tour, and a night tour.
You can choose from 22 languages to listen to the audio guiding:
English,German,French,Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Finnish, Swedish, Dutch, Russian, Arabic Japanese, Korean, Hebrew, Czech, Romanian, Polish, Chinese, Turkish, Croatian and Hungarian.
You can join the tour or leave at any stop you want. They also offer a walk tour.The three colour-coded bus tours are:
- Red Line – 16 Stops: Departs from József Nádor tér in the city centre, every 30 minutes between 9.30 and 14.00, then at 15.00 and 16.00 – it covers all the major sights in 16 stops. Duration 2 hours.
- Yellow line – 20 Stops: The yellow line departs from Erzsébet Square in downtown, every 30 minutes between 10.00 and 12.00, then at 12.000, 13.00 and 14.000. Includes 20 stops, duration 2 hours.
- Night Tour: The night tour departs every day at 19.15 in May, September and October, every day at 20.15 in June, July and August. Duration: 1.5 hours. Departure from Dock8 at Vigadó tér (Pest, city centre, Danube Promenade).
- Boat Tour – tours depart at every 30 minutes between 11.30 and 16.30 then at 19.00, 21.00, 22.00. Four additional tours on the weekends (Friday, Saturday, Sunday): at 14.00, 15.00, 16.00, 17.00The tour lasts 1 hour.
- Walk Tour: the 2-2.5 hour tour is every day at 10.00 departing in front of the Opera House on Andrássy Av, No. 22.
Your ticket will be valid for 48 hours.Tickets: full price: 22 EUR, students: 20 EUR.
1. Start:József Nádor tér
The tour starts in downtown Budapest, near most major hotels near the river Danube.
2. Stop: Erzsébet Square – You can change for the Yellow Line.
A small, centrally located park with a lake and a popular club, concert venue and bistro underneath it: Akvárium Klub.
People bask in the sunshine in good weather sitting on the benches around the lake.
The square is also a frequented by skateboarders – you can view their breakneck stunts all year round.
Budapest latest and most spectacular attraction, the Eye also stands there.
The gigantic Ferris wheel operates almost all year round, every day from 10.00 to 24.00 and offers a stunning view if you dare to take a ride on it.
The park regularly hosts festivals, one of our favourite is the WAMP Gastro & Design Fair on Sundays.
Landmarks: the City Centre, St Stephen’s Basilica
3. Stop. Andrássy út – You can change for the Yellow Line.
At the beginning of Andrássy Avenue, near St. Stephen’s Basilica.
It’s full of dazzling buildings (Opera), mansions and former palaces (mainly Art-Nouveau).
4. Stop: The Opera House – You can join the walk tour starting at 10.00 every day.
The neo-Renaissance 19-century building awaits culture lovers with a rich ballet and opera program in two seasons each year. You can explore the interior on guided tours.
5. Stop: Liszt Ferenc Square – You can change for the Yellow Line.
Liszt F. Square, just off Andrássy út, is more of street packed with restaurants and bistros.
It has a lovely plaza with wooden benches and some greenery with the statue of Franz Liszt in its centre.
Landmarks: Music Academy, Budapest’s ” Broadway” (Theaters).
6. Stop: Heroes’ Square
Hősök tere is a sprawling plaza at the end of Andrássy avenue, next to City Park.
Numerous statues of Hungarian historic figures and the Millennium monument dominate the square.
Landmarks: two large art museums: Hall of Arts/Műcsarnok and Museum of Fine Arts (currently closed until 2018 due to a major reconstruction project), City Park, Holnemvolt Adventure Park (the former Amusement Park), Hungarian Circus, Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden
7. Stop Keleti Railway Station:
The stop is located near one of the three main train stations, the Keleti Railway Station in district VII.
8. Stop: New York Cafe
The legendary coffee house on the ground floor of the New York Palace, stands on Grand Boulevard and is often referred to as the most beautiful cafe in the world.
In its heyday, during the turn of the 19-20 centuries, it was a centre of literary life.
Today it belongs to a luxury hotel, the Boscolo Budapest Autograph Collection, but you can drop by for a coffee and scrumptious cake to ogle the lavish interior.
9. Stop: Astoria – You can change for the Yellow Line.
Not much to see here, Astoria is a busy transportation centre at edge of the inner city in district VII where Rákóczi út and the Small Boulevard meet. It received its name after the Astoria Grand Hotel that once stood on the corner (today it is the Danubius Hotel Astoria).
Landmarks: The Great Synagogue in Dohány Street is just a few steps from here as well as the Hungarian National Museum on Múzeum krt (on Small Blvd.)
10. Stop: Váci utca
Although the street is known for its many shops, cafes and restaurants (altogether around 500) it also offers some historic sights.
The wall of medieval Pest stood once here.
There’s a lovely baroque church, the Church of St. Michael that hosts organ concerts. Most of the buildings were built in the 19. century though.
Váci útca ends at one of Budapest’s most famous squares, Vörösmarty tér. The marble statue of Hungary’s famous poet, Mihály Vörösmarty dominates the square.
An iconic coffee house and confectionery, the Gerbeaud can also be found here. The square hosts Budapest’s main Christmas fair as well as a spring fair around Easter.
Do stop for a cappuccino (today they prepare coffee from freshly roasted, specialty beans supplied by a local roaster company, Casino Mocca) and a slice of cake (Dobos, Sacher, or Gerbeaud: layers of yeast-based pastry with home made apricot jam, ground walnuts with a chocolate icing on top) or dessert. Somlói galuska, a classic Hungarian dessert is really nice here.
11. Stop: Várkert Bazaar
A Várkert (Castle Garden) at the foot of the Castle Hill in Buda is a relatively new addition to the city’s top landmarks.
The series of buildings designed by architect Miklós Ybl at the end of the 19. century had been completely restored in previous years.
Today the former palaces house exhibitions, events, there’s a nice Renaissance-style garden and an escalator that takes you up almost to the Royal Palace.TIP: You can take some great photos of the Pest side from many points as you explore the area.
12. Stop: Funicular, Clark Adam Square – You can change for the Yellow Line.
The Funicular (Budavári Sikló) is a special normal gauge railway vehicle at the foot of Castle Hill that will take you up to the Royal Palace.
The construction was initiated by Ödön Széchenyi, son of the Greatest Hungarian, Count István Széchenyi between 1868 and 1870.
It carries passengers every day between 7.30 and 22.00.
Fares: one-way full price: 1 200 HUF, return: 1 800 HUF, children-one-way (ages: 3-14): 700 HUF, children return: 1 100 HUF. You’ll find more information on the Funicular here.
Landmarks: the “0” km stone on Clark Adam Square, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge
13. Stop: Castle district
One of the oldest part of the city dating back to the early middle ages.
Landmarks: the Royal Palace that houses the History Museum and the Hungarian National Gallery, Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, Szentháromság Sqr., lots of Gothic Medieval and Baroque buildings, charming cafes and bistros. A couple of smaller museums.
14. Stop: Gellért Hill
A dolomite rock in Buda with the Liberty Statue and the Citadel perched on its top.
Lots of parks, winding footpaths and wonderful panorama.
Landmarks: Statue of Bishop St. Gellért, the Gellért Baths, fantastic view from the top of the hill, the Citadel fortress
15. Stop: Március 15. Square – You can get on the Blue Boat Line at Dock 8A.
Március 15. Square is one of our favourite places in the city.
This small plaza along the Danube Promenade offers wonderful views of the Danube with the white graceful Erzsébet Bridge spanning it.
The two-towered Inner City Parish Church is the oldest building of Pest. The first temple was built on Roman ruins of Contra Aquincum in the XI. It was rebuilt and expanded in the following centuries for many times.
The remains of Contra Aquincum, a Roman fortress from the II. century were moved to a glass covered,underground room during the square’s reconstruction in 2010-11.TIP: KIOSK restaurant is a fine place to have lunch or a drink while admiring the panorama form its terrace.
16. Stop Eötvös Square – You can change for the Yellow Line.
Eötvös tér is where the Danube Promenade (Dunakorzó) and a strip of luxury hotels (Sofitel, Marriott, InterContinental) start. This is the heart of the inner city.
The Chain Bridge, the Shoes on the Danube, Parliament on Kossuth Square are all within walking distance.
You’ll also find many restaurants and cafes in the area.
The yellow line covers slightly more stops but the duration is the same as the red line’s cc. 2 hours. We only describe the ones that are not in the Red Line’s route.
1. Stop – Erzsébet Square – You can change for the Red Line.
2. Stop – Városháza Park
A tiny square near Deák Ferenc tér (M1, M2, M3 metro) that frequently hosts fairs around major holidays (Easter, Christmas).
3. Stop – Central Synagogue in Dohány Street
Budapest’s great synagogue, the second largest in the world and the largest in Europe, is a beautiful work of architecture built in the middle of the 19. century.
It is the place of worship and the most important religious monument and symbol of the city’s Jewish community.
The Holocaust Memorial Garden is in the courtyard: the metal willow tree commemorating the victims of the Nazi holocaust.
Landmarks: Hungarian Jewish Museum & Archives, Jewish District: a fastly developing area with ruin bars, restaurants, designer shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes (My Little Melbourne, My Little Brew Bar, Warm Cup) and two more synagogues (Kazincy Synagogue, Rumbach Street Synagogue).
4. Stop – Astoria – You can change for the Red Line.
5. Stop – Eötvös Square – You can change for the Red Line.
6. Stop – Vigadó Square – You can go on a boat tour at Dock8A
The elegant building facing the Danube is the Vigadó hall (formerly Redoute) a concert hall and cultural centre that was build in the 19. century.
It was once the venue of grandiose balls and concerts by famous composers and musicians.
It was renewed a couple of years ago and it’s worth your time to take walk inside and admire the dazzling interior.
7. Stop – The Whale/Bálna
The Whale/Bálna is a monstrous steel and glass building on the Pest riverbank.
It was meant to be thriving shopping and cultural centre, with a but unfortunately it still feels quite abandoned.
There’s a Sunday flea market and the New Budapest Gallery.
It frequently hosts events and festivals (Cheese Festival, Belgian Beer Festival). Nice view of the Danube and the Buda side from the cafe and pub terraces
8. Stop – Zwack Unicum Museum & Visitor Centre
The factory of the famous Hungarian digestive, the Unicum is in district IX.: Dandár utca 1.
The museum introduces how the herb liqueur is made but you can also get an insight in the tumultuous history of the Zwack family. Opening hours: Mon- Sat: 10.00-17.00.
9. Stop – Gellért Square
It’s a lovely square in front of the Gellért Hotel and Thermal Bath.
The newest metro line, M4 has a stop here.
You can take a hike up to the Citadel frotress for some awesome photos or have a dip in the pools of the Gellért.
10. Stop – Funicular/Clark Adam Sqr. – You can change for the Red Line.
11. Stop – Batthyány Square (M2/red metro)
It’s a small square north of Castle Hill in Víziváros/Watertown, dotted with churches (the two-tower Church St. Anne regularly hosts organ concerts), historic buildings and statues.
It also has a Food Market, not as impressive as the Great Market at Fővám tér – where you can shop for local produce and food stuff.
12. Stop – Margaret Bridge – (trams 4, 6)
It’s one of the most beautiful bridges of the city and the second oldest that was refurbished a couple of years ago.
You walk to the island, a refreshing green park with many leisure activities, from the tram stop in the middle of the bridge.
13. Stop – Nyugati Train Station (M3/blue metro, trams 4, 6)
Nyugati is one of the three major railway terminals in the capital city. Built by the Eiffel Company in the second half of the 18. century it boasts striking architecture.
The square, that is also called Nyugati is a major transportation hub where the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút), Váci út and Bajcsí-Zsilinszky út intersect. There’s a large shopping centre, WestEnd, accessible from the underway or from Váci Road.
14. Stop – Jókai Square – You can change for the Red Line.
15. Stop – Andrássy Avenue 2. – You can change for the Red Line.
The stop is at the western end of the elegant boulevard, close to the Basilica and Erzsébet tér. Lots of opportunity for luxury shopping, taking a coffee break or just stroll and admire the marvelous buildings.
16. Stop – Széchenyi Square/Chain Bridge (tram2) – You can change for the Red Line at Eötvös tér, just a short walk to the south of Széchenyi tér.
17. Stop – Petőfi Square (tram 2) – You can go on a boat tour at Dock8A.
Petőfi Square is part the Danube Promenade next to Március 15. tér and Erzsébet bridge.
The statue of the revered national poet Sándor Petőfi (hero of the 1848-49 Revolution and war of Independence) stand here.
There’s a drinking well should it be a scorching hot day. The Hungarian Orthodox Cathedral also stands here. Nice spot to admire the Buda side and the Danube.
18. Stop – Fővám Square/Central Market (M4/green metro, tram 2).
This is the southern end of Váci utca and the location of the Central or Great Market Hall, the first covered food market of the city. You can shop and eat at three levels.
Ideal place to pick up some Hungarian paprika spice, wine, honey, sweets, have a piece of strudel or a more heartier dish on the gallery.
19. Stop – Kálvin Square (M3/blue, M4/green metros, trams 47, 49)
Kálvin tér is part of the Small Boulevard.
The city’s New Main Street (partly pedestrian) begins here with charming squares, ample cafes, bistros and beautiful architecture.
Landmarks: the graceful, white building of the Hungarian National Museum is close by on Múzeum körút should you want to immerse yourself in the history of the country.
Egyetem tér is a favourite place of mine with the charming and quaint baroque University Church. There’s a Starbucks (in the place of the charming Cafe Alibi that sadly closed in February 2016) if you love overpriced, bad coffee and cakes.
Central Coffee House, just a few steps from Egyetem Sqr. on Károlyi Street is a fine example of Budapest’s historic cafes (coffee and cakes are much better elsewhere though: try one of the two specialty/3rd wave cafes on Múzeum krt: Budapest Baristas or Fekete Espresso & Brew Bar.
Dynamobake in Képíró utca, at No. 6., a small street just off Kecskeméti utca and a short walk from Egyetem tér is also a great choice: quality home-style cakes, biscuits, natural fruit syrups, fresh coffee and a friendly owner, Bea.
20. Stop – Király Street
The most interesting and the busiest section of the 1,6 km long street stretches between Károly körút and the Grand Boulevard in district VI.
As the firewall painting says on the photo Király is “the most Pesti” street in the city. It is packed with restaurants, cafes apartments for rent, hostels clubs and bars.
It is worth getting off here and explore the neighbourhood on foot. If you take detours to side streets of Király you can explore the buzzing party district, which is also the historic Jewish quarter.
Gozsdu Court – lots of restaurants and cafes, Akácfa utca, Kertész utca, Dob utca, Kazinczy Street (there’s a synagogue), Rumbach Street (another synagogue).
Remember to look up and admire the colorful firewall paintings that transformed the look of the area in recent years.
See all the wonderful landmarks of Budapest on the City Circle Bus Tours: in the extra package included are
- Green Line Tour: a 2.5-hour, extensive bus route with 20 stops, audio guiding in 25 languages, departing from the Basilica on Szt. István Sqr. every 30 minutes between 9.30-17.30, every day from 01. April till 02 November.
- Pink Line Tour: a 1-hour bus tour with 12 stops, live guiding in English and German, departing from Clark Adam Sqr./Buda, every hour between 10.00-17.00, every day from 01. April till 02 November.
- 2 One-Hour long Boat Excursions: one at night the other during the day, departs hourly between 10.45-20.45 every day from 01. April till 02 November, and at 21.30 and 22.30 in June, July, August.
- Your ticket is valid for 48 hours from the time of your first departure; you may hop off and hop back on the buses at any stop and whenever it suits you during the 48-hour period.
- Night Bus Tour: a 2-hour sightseeing once every day: departure at 20.00 in April-May and September-October, at 21.00 in June-July-August.
- A 1-hour bicycle tour on Margaret Island (during summer season): a green island in the middle of the river conveniently accessible from Margit Bridge, it is full of historic sights, monastery ruins, a rose garden, fountains, small zoo, a playground, tended walkways and paths ideal for biking. You can rent a bike on the island, from the staff stationed behind the musical fountain (southern tip of the island, near Margaret bridge).
- A 1-1,5 hour walking tour around Kossuth Square and the Parliament, Szabadság Square, the National Bank building, Ronald Reagan’s statue and the Basilica.
- A Booklet with Discount Coupons to cafes, restaurants, attractions, free goulash soup, a free glass of beer, a free shot of hard liquor.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Date & Time: every 30 minutes from 10.00 – till 17.00, daily between 01. April – 02. November
Guiding: audio in 25 languages, You’ll receive a headphone upon the first boarding that you can keep till your ticket is valid (48 hours).
2. Széchenyi Square (Pest end of the Chain Bridge): 09.35 – 17.35 (every 30 minutes). The striking Art-Nouveau Gresham Palace – today houses the Four Seasons Hotel Budapest is the must-see sight here. – You can change for the Pink Line.
3. Andrássy Avenue 1.: 09.40 – 17.40 (every 30 minutes): It’s full of dazzling buildings (Opera), mansions and former palaces (mainly Art-Nouveau).
4. Opera House: 09.42 – 17.42 (every 30 minutes)
5. Liszt Ferenc Square: 09.44 – 17.44 (every 30 minutes): A busy side street of Andrássy Blvd. with lots of green, and plenty of youthful restaurants, cafés and many people.
5. Heroes’ Square: 09.55 – 17.55 (every 30 minutes): Hungary’s biggest square with the Millennium Monument: historical statues and famous museums.
6. Széchenyi Bath/City Park: 09.59 – 17.59 (every 30 minutes): The Széchenyi is the grandest spas of the city with interior and open air pools, saunas, massages and other wellness treatments. In the vicinity, the Zoo, the Gundel restaurant, the Vajdahunyad Castle and many more attractions await visitors.
7. Grand Hotel Hungaria, Rákóczi út 90., near Keleti Train Station: 10.07 – 18.07 (every 30 minutes): two historic hotels built in the middle of the 19. century used to stand here, the buildings were destroyed in the bombings during WW II, the building today houses the Hotel Hungaria City Center
8. New York Palace: 10:13 – 18:13 (every 30 minutes)
9. Astoria: 10:19 – 18:19 (every 30 minutes). In downtown Pest, near the National Museum and the Synagogue.
10. Károly körút 23. – The Orczy House: 10.22 – 18.22 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Pink Line.
11. Dohány Street Synagogue: 10:25 – 18:25 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Pink Line.
12. Astoria: 10:30 – 18:30 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Pink Line.
13. Ferenciek tere: 10:32 – 18:35 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Pink Line.
14. Clark Adam Square (Funicular/Sikló): 10:39 – 18:39 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Pink Line.
15. Castle Dirstrict/Royal Palace, Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church: 10:44 – 18:44 (every 30 minutes)
16. Citadella/Gellért Hill: 10:57 – 18:57 (every 30 minutes): The highest point of downtown Budapest, with breathtaking views of the city and its river.
17. Március 15. tér/Elizabeth Bridge, Danube Promenade: 11:12 – 19:12 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Pink Line, and go on a Boat Tour.
18. József Nádor tér: 11:22 – 19:22 (every 30 minutes)
19. St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István tér): 11:25 – 19:25 (every 30 minutes).
1. Clark Adam Square/Buda end of the Chain Bridge (Sikló/Funicular: takes you up to Buda Castle): 09:20 – 15:50 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Green Line.
2. Margaret Bridge: 09:35 – 16:05 (every 30 minutes)
3. Parliament/Kossuth tér: 09:38 – 16:08 (every 30 minutes): The Parliament is Budapest’s most revered building in the government district.
Kossuth Square got revamped in 2013: it is a more compact and greener place now with some statues of prominent Hungarian figures, a visitor center with museums and exhibitions, underground parking, and a pool in which the facade of the building reflects nicely.
4. Széchenyi Square (Pest end of the Chain Bridge): 09:43 – 16:13 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Green Line.
5. Petőfi Square (near Erzsébet bridge on the Pest riverbank): 09:46 – 16:16 (every 30 minutes). You can go on a Boat Tour, at Dock No. 10.
6. Whale Shopping, Cultural & Entertainment Centre: 09:50 – 16:20 (every 30 minutes)
7. Fővám Square (Great Market Hall/Vásárcsarnok): 09:55 – 16:25 (every 30 minutes)
8. Kálvin tér (National Museum/Nemzeti Múzeum): 10:00 – 16:30 (every 30 minutes)
9. Károly körút 23. – The Orczy House: 10:06 – 16:36 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Green Line.
10. Városháza tér/City Hall Square: 10:09 – 16:39 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Green Line.
11. Ferenciek tere: 10:14 – 16:44 (every 30 minutes).You can change for the Green Line.
12. Clark Adam Square/Buda end of the Chain Bridge (Sikló/Funicular: takes you up to Buda Castle): 10:20 – 16:50 (every 30 minutes). You can change for the Green Line.
Related: Budapest Walking Tours – Sightseeing Tips – Budapest in 1 Day – World Heritage Sites