Budapest on Bike – An Essential Guide to Exploring Budapest on Two Wheels
Over the past decade, Budapest has become increasingly bike-friendly, resulting in a surge of people choosing two wheels as their primary mode of transport. This is largely due to increased investment in infrastructure, with a network of bike lanes enabling cyclists to get around the city with relative ease. Finally making cycling a viable alternative to driving or using public transport in Budapest. From road safety, do’s, don’ts, cycling routes and more. In this guide, we’ll cover all the things you need to know to successfully navigate Budapest on bike.
Bike Lanes in Budapest
One of the golden rules to know before you even jump on a bike is the “No riding on a pedestrian sidewalk”. This is illegal and pretty impossible to pull off, especially in the peak summer season. However, Budapest’s bike lane network is quite extensive, so you’ll be able to explore the city on two wheels with ease. In this section, we’ll get you up to speed on all the different type of bike lanes and their rules, so you can ride safely.
Shared sidewalk Bike Lanes – These type of bike lanes involve a shared pavement area for pedestrians and bikers, separated by poles or a rail. They offer a safer option for cyclists, especially those who don’t feel confident about sharing the road with cars. Just watch out for pedestrians, as you’ll no doubt get some idiot walking right down the middle of the bike lane.
Shared bus and cycle lane – This lane is the latest addition to the network, shared by both buses and bikes. They’re pretty wide and a good way for bikers to seperate themself from the crowds of cars. However, bus drivers don’t quite share the same sentiment as bikers. So, to not piss them off further, avoid hogging the lane and stay on one side leaving enough room for them to pass.
Bike paths on the side of the road – Some lanes run along the main roads, either on both sides or only one side of the street. These are. very well signed and clearly separated bike paths are good options to quickly cut through the city.
Roads shared between cars and cyclist – These lanes are shared between cars and bikers. A painted yellow bike sign marks these options and as you expect, the bike lanes get very close to cars so be careful. Other than that, certain one-way streets are marked for bikes as two-way, so you can go in from either direction.
Exploring Budapest – The Best Cycling Routes
Aside from being used as a mode of transport for commuting, the bike is an excellent way to explore Budapest and the surrounding areas. As you can imagine, the list of biking routes in and around Budapest are endless. So with the help of local bikers, we’ve narrowed down a handful to get you inspired and also which tools to use to find other routes if these don’t quite float your boat.
Budapest City Tour
This is a relatively short and easy biking route that loops through the heart of Budapest on both sides. Along the way, you’ll get the opportunity to see all of the iconic sights. From the modern Balna and the neo-Gothic masterpiece that is the Budapest Parliament building. To the 0 km Stone sculpture, Margit Bridge and the majestic Gellért hill. Make sure to stop by some of the great local cafes on the way if you need to fuel up.
Distance: 12 KM | Approx Time of Completion: 1 Hour| Difficulty: Easy Peasy
Starting from the Buda Castle area, this looping snake-like route will take you on a journey to explore some of the most breath-taking views in Budapest and beyond. It’s a 30 km long bike tour, which is ideal if you want to spend your day out on the road. where birds are singing and not many cars are riding. As there are a few ups and downs on the way, you might want to take short breaks after every hill and appreciate the beautiful views in front of you. And we truly recommend you to do that!
Distance: 30 KM | Approx Time of Completion: 3 Hours | Difficulty: Intense
Route along the river
Starting from Rákóczi Bridge, this route crosses the city and takes you on a trip along the river to the mystic Népsziget. You’ll be riding on the Danube embankment, crossing Margaret Island and arriving at the wide, romantic trails of Népsziget. It’s unknown and relatively seedy, but the sandy shores and untrodden lanes make it a special place for those wishing to cycle in nature’s lap and explore hidden gems. And on the way there, you get to pass many brilliant buildings and spots locals love in the city.
Distance: 28 KM | Approx Time of Completion: 3 Hours | Difficulty: Intense
A Trip to Szentendre
Szentendre is a popular and very classic day trip from the city where galleries, tiny handicraft shops and historical buildings are waiting to be explored. As following this 15km long route from Óbuda, you’ll be riding all the way along the river with amazing views and arrive at a super cute, authentic little gem of a town that most tourists miss.
Distance: 15 KM | Approx Time of Completion: 1:15 hours| Difficulty: Easy
An extended version of the Szentendre track is the official EuroVelo 6 tour. It’s called the “River route”, as it runs along with some major cities and rivers of Europe. This includes the Danube and Budapest, with the route concluding in the mesmerizing landscapes of East Hungary, right next to the Slovakian border. What makes this journey even more exciting is the two ferries crossings of the Danube river. There you can take a few moments to relax for the sound of the water and take in the beautiful nature you’re surrounded by. As the route is quite long, it’s advised to take the train back to Budapest.
Distance: 84 KM | Approx Time of Completion: 5 hours| Difficulty: Extreme
Lake Kavicsos tour
This route takes you to Kavicsos tó, to a picturesque lake in Szigetszentmiklós. However, it’s manageable to complete during a few hours, it’s worth a stop for a picnic by the lake. The route itself is quite basic but the area of the lake is so charming – there’re 5 tiny islands on the lake with cute weekend houses. Get on your mountain bike and ride there, it’s a unique place, only from a few kilometres from the centre.
Distance: 33 KM | Approx Time of Completion: 3:30 hours| Difficulty: Intense
Other Cycling Routes
There are so many more amazing cycling routes around Budapest, that this list could go on forever. So instead of listing each one, with the help of locals, we’ve compiled a list of tools and tips to help you find what’s best for you.
- Bike Citizen App – This is a super useful app that has a massive selection of cycling routes. It used to be free but now will set you back £3.99 (1500HUF or €4.5) for the full map of Budapestwhich can be downloaded.
- Bike Map App – Similar app to bike citizen, but one which uses community-generated route recommendations and is completely free.
- Bike Map of Hungary – Although it’s in Hungarian, it’s an excellent map which covers all of the major routes across Budapest.
- Hungarian Bicycle Association – This is a non-for-Profit organisation that arranges organises bike tours to help people get used to riding a bike in Budapest and beyond.
No Bike…No Problem
If you want to start cycling but haven’t got any wheels, then there are plenty of options whether you’re looking to buy or borrow a bike. Once again, we picked the brains of passion people from Budapest’s bike scene to find you the best options where you can get your wheels and be on your way.
Renting a Bike in Budapest
There are plenty of options for bike rentals in Budapest, whether it’s for a 20 minutes city tour or a longer trip to explore the magical Magyar landscapes. Here is a list of the most popular and highly recommend bike rental option for Budapest.
Donkey Republic is a global ridesharing service that uses an app-based smart rental system, allowing you to pick up a bike 24/7 from a few taps of your smartphone. There’s no deposit to pay and you can rent up to 5 vehicles with one account. It’s a cool and very straightforward system, and there’s plenty of places where you can pick up on the iconic orange donkey bikes. The best thing is that it’s relatively cheap, with a number of payment options. You can get a bike to just ride, or, if you’re a local then they also offer a monthly membership option.
Price: Vary so check the app | More info
Mol Bubi Bikes
Bubi is a Budapest’s public bike-sharing system, allowing people to rent bikes which are perfect to commute in the inner city. Registration can be made on their website in a minute and the cycles can be picked up from any of the 76 docks spread all over the city. The pricing is totally fair, but we don’t recommend renting Bubi for longer trips as the accessing time is 30 minutes only, which means even if you purchase a 24-hour card you must switch bikes and return them to a port every half an hour, otherwise you can expect penalties from your 25 000 Forint pre-payed deposit.
Price: Starting at 500 HUF for 1 Hour |More info
Bike Base Budapest
If you want to reserve a cycle for more than a short commute, you should check out Bike Base Budapest. The company offers a selection of bikes for both children and adults, which are available to rent over 24, 48 & 72-hour increments. They include a lock with the rent and extra accessories such as child seats and panniers are also available for a small charge. Their service is ideal if you want to take a trip to the countryside or travel with family. The prices vary depending on the bike but are pretty reasonable and the overall service here is great.
Price: Starting at 2400 HUF for 5 Hours | More info
Buying a bike in Budapest
If you’re seeking to buy a cycle in Budapest, there are plenty of good options where you can get some wheels. Whether it’s a single-gear city bike to explore your neighbourhood or a heavy mountain bike to the hills, the Budapest’s bike shops have everything you need, all offered at fair prices and with extremely helpful service. Below are some of the ones that come reccomended by local-bike heads.
- K2 Bike shop – High-quality bikes and equipment
- Pajtás Biciklibolt – Good for bike repairs
- Speed Bike – More than 3000 brand new bikes
- Mesterbike & Coffee Project – A speciality café and bike store
If you’re looking to explore Budapest and discover its green side by biking, this guide will definitely help you to get around. And if you would need some more useful tips to plan a fantastic day in the city, download the Like Locals app for free. Available on both iOS and Android devices.