Budapest is just a two and a half hour flight from the UK and direct flights arrive at Ferihegy, Budapest’s international airport which is located 28km from the city centre and has three terminals. There are a plenty of airlines serving this route including British Airways, Easyjet and Hungarian Airlines Malév, as well as a surge of new budget airlines (see below) which have made the journey extremely affordable.
British Airways fly into terminal 2B and have three daily flights departing from London Heathrow and four weekly flights from London Gatwick to Budapest from £84.50 return. Easyjet fly to Budapest from London Gatwick daily, London Luton twice daily, Bristol and Newcastle five times a week, with prices from £22.99 one-way (inc. taxes) and return from £40.98 (inc. taxes).
Malév (Hungarian Airlines) have a low cost 14 day advance purchase return ticket from £85 inclusive. Malév fly into terminal 2A twice daily from Heathrow. If you’re based in Manchester it is possible to fly to Budapest, via Prague but it’s not as cost effective as you will pay twice the amount of tax. Return tickets cost from £240 return (inclusive) with journey time around five hours.
The following budget airlines fly into terminal 1 and offer return flights from as little as £40. Try Sky Europe (from London Stansted), WizzAir (from London Luton and Liverpool) and Jet2 (from Manchester) and if you’re based in Ireland then Aer Lingus fly from Dublin with single fares from around €35. Though award-winning airline, Air Berlin (best low cost carrier by Travelchannel and best short haul airline by the Guardian in 2005) don’t operate a non-stop connection between London and Budapest they fly twice a week via their hub in Nuremberg from £38 one-way (including taxes, meals, newspapers). From Nuremberg, Hamburg or Hanover Air Berlin flies directly to Budapest for €29 or £19 inclusive. Keep an eye on Ryanair because from April 2006 they are set to launch flights from London Stansted to the Lake Balaton area.
From the airport a minibus shuttle goes to anywhere in the city and costs around 2,300 Ft. If you’re thinking of getting a taxi it is advisable to call a taxi from one of the suggested numbers at the airport pay phones and get a quote as the taxis at the entrance are notorious for charging more. The taxi journey should cost around 4,000 Ft, with journey time of around 45 minutes.
If you’re not a keen flyer then the other (albeit much longer) option is taking the train. Take the Eurostar to Paris or Munich and connect with an onwards train to Budapest from there, journey time will be around 22 hours. There are other ways of doing it, but they tend to involve more changes. The return fare from London to Paris starts at £59, and Paris to Budapest costs around £320 for a full fare standard class return including couchette. Contact Rail Europe on 08705 848 848 or visit www.raileurope.co.uk for more information.
The public transport within Hungary is efficient, reliable and cheap. Deák tér is the city centre from where the metro stations adjoin. The Eastern Railway is the main international station and there are several daily rail connections to Vienna and Prague from here as well as metro, bus and tram connections to the city centre while Western Railway and Southern Railway serve the domestic destinations. The main tourist attractions are spread over a fairly small area and are well served by the public transport system.
The average price for a three star hotel in Hungary is 12,000 to 20,000 Ft while a four star would be 20,000 to 40,000 Ft. (£1 = approximately 366 Ft). The three star Hotel Erzsebet in Budapest has rooms from €68 per night (www.danubiushotels.com) while the four star Radisson SAS Beke has rooms from €85 per night. While in Hungary it’s a good idea to take advantage of the rejuvenating and relaxing properties of the country’s many thermal spas by staying at a spa hotel such as the four star Margitsziget Thermal Hotel on Margaret’s Island. Single rooms cost from approximately £50 per night.
Photos courtesy of the The Photo Archive of the Hungarian National Tourist Office.
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