Available right when you get off the plane (check out their kiosks at Ferihegy Airport), the Budapest Card is either a 8000 Forint ($50 USD) or a 6500 Forint ($40 USD) investment that will last you for 72 or 48 hours. Not only does it give you free transportation on all buses, trams, and metros, it will also get you free entry to most of this Hungarian capital’s museums.
While there is great value here in free public transportation (which you’ll come to appreciate as this is a city that is best viewed in a combination of walking and public transport)–if you buy in the airport you can also travel for free into the city via a bus and an underground–you buy the Budapest Card for its list (re: mini gudebook listing) of other perks. 60 of its main museums are free, sightseeing tours are half-price, there are discounts for restaurants and Budapest’s famous baths, and you also get both travel accident insurance and a break on car rental prices. If that seems like too much to digest in one blog post, don’t worry: each Budapest Kartya comes with a 100-page color booklet.
Let’s face facts, however: most of us don’t need the extra bells and whistles on a travel card. The restaurants covered are, for the most part, very high-end (which translates into not neccessarily being authentic), driving in Budapest (or Hungary for that matter) is not something we’d wish even on Rachel Ray or Renee Fleming (opera’s Rachel Ray), the baths are already pretty cheap, and chances are you won’t need travel accident insurance for hiking around the hills of Buda. So unless you plan on cramming 10 museums into three days (hint: Budapest doesn’t have that many interesting museums to fit into three days), you can do better on the various individual discounts and reductions offered by individual places. And public transportation here is pretty cheap if you go on the metro cards. Granted, the cards used to be cheaper so there was a better value, but now thanks to some recent price hikes, we’ve lost that loving feeling.
Verdict: Go Directly to Jail.
Thanks, Peter initram5!