Budapest annoyances – tourists beware

My wife and I just returned from a wonderful vacation in Budapest. The city was sizzling hot, but the view of the river was gorgeous as always. Ferihegy airport is busy, the new building is already overcrowded and the season has just started.

Taxi

Our Frankfurt flight leaves early and we have to be at Ferihegy well before 5:00AM. How do we get to the airport from the city in this ungodly hour?

I remember well that forty years ago there was an express bus service from downtown Budapest (Deák Square) directly to the airport. It was fast, cheap and efficient. Today, Budapest is one of the few cities in the world where there is no 24-hour airport bus service. Expensive taxi or shuttle services are the only choices. We choose the taxi which costs about 8,000 Ft or 30 USD; a small fortune for the average Hungarian. In addition, a couple of years ago Budapest eliminated the so called „airport transfer” negotiated cab fare which was significantly lower.

We also visited Edinburgh this summer and used the city’s 24 hour Airlink service. The double-decker was wonderful with separate storage bins for large luggage, free WiFi and a superb view of the castle. The cost is 4.5 pound or about 2,000 Ft. How come Budapest doesn’t have a similar airport bus service?

Edinburgh has a cheap and efficient Express bus service to the Airport.

A friend explains that it is because of the Hungarian „taxi mafia.” City officials banned Uber and government cronies make millions from the inflated cab fares. Every day hundreds of yellow cabs jam the narrow road to Ferihegy. Everybody knows that Express buses would significantly reduce congestion and pollution yet corruption rules.

Water

I like to have a bottle of water with me on the plane and I always fill up my empty bottle with tap water after passing airport security. Every airport in the world has free drinking fountains; the Amsterdam airport even advertises them.

English language sign at Amsterdam Airport:: Refill your bottle here with our fresh and clean tap water.

The new Budapest Airport building has no drinking fountains beyond security checkpoints! None. After passing security there is absolutely no free water. Tourists can buy water for Euros or Forints, about 400 Ft for a small bottle.

Water at Ferihegy for Euro

In front of the second-floor women’s restroom there is a long line forming; people are standing with plastic bottles. Only the woman’s restroom has cold tap water, the man’s restroom provides hot water.

Water mafia. Hungary still has a long way to go.

György Lázár

11 Comments

  1. Christopher Adam says:

    I have also noticed the complete lack of water fountains at Ferihegy. In fact, I also note that in Hungary there is no culture of offering cold tap water at restaurants for guests. You are instead forced to purchase bottled water to almost any restaurant you go, while in Canada and in the US, it is customary to bring a glass of ice water to patrons before they order their food. It’s not only a matter of money, but also that of preserving the environment. Budapest has good tap water, so there is no reason not to make it more widely available to people.

    One more annoyance to add to the list: if you travel to Budapest, double and triple check that your hotel actually has functioning air conditioning. Temperatures in Budapest can stay above 30 C for weeks at a time in the summer months. This year, I made the mistake of staying at Hotel Budapest, run by Danubius as a four star establishment, and I was really looking forward to my stay in this landmark establishment, which advertises “full air conditioning.” In fact, the AC was not working at all in any of the rooms and I suffered through this for 9 nights, before flying off to Romania and Bulgaria. I cancelled my second reservation at this hotel for the second part of my stay in Budapest this summer and I have submitted a complaint to Expedia. The American travel booking firm is advocating for me to receive compensation from the hotel.

    Budapest is a fantastic city on so many levels–geography, architecture, a and a truly vibrant cultural life. But there are some really basic things that need to be ironed out.

  2. From next week there finally will be a direct bus between Budapest airport and the center. Costing 900 HUF (3 euros).
    https://welovebudapest.com/budapest.and.hungary/a.new.direct.airport.bus.will.soon.serve.central.budapest

  3. György Lázár says:

    Hmm.. Edwin, about a dozen budget flights leave Ferihegy between 5:30 and 6:30AM. The new bus service will start at 4:00AM and having only 2 buses between 4:00 and 5:00am will be minimal help to budget travelers… Eg. Wizz Air asks passengers to be at the airport 2 hours before the 5:55AM Moscow flight., that is 3:55AM. How can one make that if the first bus leaves downtown at 4:00AM? There should be 24 hour service every 15 minutes just like in Edinburgh, not a lip service.. What do you think?

  4. You just gave me a very good reason why not to visit that place;))

    That’s what I keep saying, Hungarians are lacking the basic commonsense at business.

    When I went to Moscow, an army of private drivers with their cars were storming the newly arrived passengers. Not to mention the “mini-buses”.
    All were eager to make some money.
    Why no such business spirit in Hungary ?

  5. Robert Morrison says:

    Average Hungarians do not take cab to the Airport. They take the metro and 200E bus. For mush better off US Ex-pats 8,000 HUF is less than a lunch in California. So just stop whining. If you want to compare every city by the price of every service your best bet is to stay home and enjoy your lousy life there. Travelling is not for penny-pinchers.

    Regarding the water problem it is half true. The water in the washrooms are drinkable therefore if you are so poor that you cannot or so cheap that you do not want to spend 1.30 Euro than perhaps you would look around a bit more and find the kiosk where I bought a 1L bottle Obuda water for 180 HUF. So just because you are lazy to walk around to find what is acceptable for you and found everything bad in Hungary you might be better staying silent rather than maliciously bashing our Homeland. I would like to read from you about what if anything you enjoyed there.

    And on the last line of your “article?” you must be the member of the left-lib mafia that wants to destroy Hungary with their keyboard. You have a long way to go György Lázár

  6. Robert Morrison says:

    @Christopher Adam you have removed my comment for no apparent reason. Would you please contact me through my E-mail address with explanation?

  7. Robert Morrison says:

    @Christopher Adam I stand corrected. It is waiting for moderation but it did not appear on my screen when I checked it. No it is shown. If it stay pls ignore my previous note.

  8. Curious George says:

    In Budapest rigjt now- can’t compare to Bucharest – which I used to knock regularly as : old, decrepit, poor – surprise!!!! I can’t wait to leave this decrepit,peeling, fat peoples city! Enjoyed Mad in the wine country for the only reason: the Jewish 2nd generation came back fixed up the synagogue – served a soulful mind and body experience and enjoyed the countryside. Will not return to this humid, uncomfortable city ever again.

  9. Hi. Just got back to Budapest from Glasgow. Also visited other parts of Scotland. Lovely but often quite cold and it is the end of JUNE. Seems that complaints about heat are one thing and complaints about cold another. But this is what travel entails and is part of the experience.

    The bus price in Edinburgh you mention, compared to a taxi to the airport in Budapest, is misleading. A taxi taking two people costs perhaps the 8,000 forint you mention in Budapest (mine cost 7,500 forint, including a 12% tip). The Edinburgh bus for 2 people would cost 9 pounds (2 x 4.5 pounds) plus the bus fare to get to the departure point, adding another 3 pounds for 2 fares. In the end the “low cost” bus actually costs about the same as the Budapest taxi for two. Nothing to whinge about.

  10. Robert Morrison says:

    @ Brian … thank you for sharing the truth vs. left-lib twisting it. Mr. Lázár is a frequent contributor to this blog with not much respect for facts and reality. He is one of the people who hate Hungary and uses his keyboard as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

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