Cruising on the Danube is a must if you visit the Hungarian capital! It’s an amazing experience to see the Parliament, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Buda Castle, the beautiful bridges and the Gellért Hill from the river.
Wanna cruise for free? It’s possible! If you already have a Budapest monthly pass (public transport by BKK), you can board this round trip with it, and in 70-75 minutes you can admire the well-deserved world-famous view of both Pest and Buda from the Danube. But the day ticket is also very affordable for one of Budapest’s newest services: 1500 HUF. It’s the cheapest way to take part on a Danube cruise in Budapest, and ideal for everyone travelling on a budget!
The boats of the BUDAPEST CIRCLE LINE (Budapesti Körjárat) operated by Mahart depart from Vigadó tér station. There are not many people on weekdays at lunch time. We were about to leave the 5th point when, at around 1 pm, two people just bought their tickets. The cashier speaks to the ticket manager, who runs back to open the gate on the platform. At this point I am satisfied with the service.
The route: we head north, the ship stops at the Akadémia port, passes in front of the Parliament, and then ends up again at the Buda side of Margitsziget. Then we turn around, stop at Batthyány square next (we won’t stop anywhere else), and we run smoothly all the way to the National Theater. Turn here again and head back to Vigadó Square. The total journey time of the round trip is approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes.
During the cruise, we pass under 5 Budapest bridges a total of 10 times: first comes the Chain Bridge (Lánchíd) then the Margaret Bridge (Margit-híd), we turn back, the Margaret Bridge and the Chain Bridge again, then the Elisabeth Bridge (Erzsébet-híd), the Liberty Bridge (Szabadság-híd), and finally the Petőfi Bridge. In the last stage Petőfi, Liberty and Elisabeth once more.
The seats are quite comfortable, the route is spectacular; if I want to look for something negative, it can be the retro music heard from the speakers, but other people seem to still like Marina, Marina, Marina…
The deck is open at the top, the lower part is closed, so by hard wind blow you can go down here, and you can only sit here in the bow in the first place.
There is also a buffet on this level, the current (May 2023) offer and prices: press coffee HUF 700, americano 700, cappuccino 800, latte 900. Half a liter of mineral water (carbonated or non-carbonated) 500, also half a liter of Coca-Cola or Fanta 700, Soproni also 700, Heineken 800. There are also two types of short drinks, 4 cl Jäger for 1000, 12-year-old Chivas for 1500, and various chips for 700. The boat also has free Wi-Fi and clean toilets.
The boat runs every two hours from Tuesday to Sunday: at 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm, departing from Vigadó tér.
The ticket price is considered particularly low on the cruise ship market: HUF 1,500 (4 EUR) for a day ticket, which means that you can get off at any port and get back any other Circle-boat on the same day. Under the age of 7 free, and you can bring a dog and/or a bicycle with you, each for an extra fee of HUF 1000. These prices are currently guaranteed until June 30, you can check all the current informations and schedule here.
You can board the cruise ship free of charge from Tuesday to Friday with a valid BKK monthly pass. Important: the Budapest Round Trip is not a public service, the Budapest transport discounts (e.g. free of charge for those under 14 or over 65) cannot be used here, and the BKK pass is accepted only on weekdays, so you have to buy a ticket on Saturdays and Sundays.
If you are an expat in Budapest, you know this: local people use sightseeing boats as often as the expensive hop-on-hop-off buses. Never. (Why would they do it?) Integrating cruising into urban public transport – it was a nice try when the BKK-boats were launched, but they were too slow to travel and inadequate for sightseeing. They worked for a few years, then drifted away with the tide (or the covid).
To get from A to B with Budapest Circle is still a slow solution, but perfect for relaxing. And Danube cruising is a unique experience, a little escape from the everyday life.
Date of visit: May 10, 2023