Our virtual tour across accessible Europe, this time, leads us to Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, also known as the “Danube’s pearl”, a place rich in fascination, history and culture, whose signs are still visible in the city districts. There’s always a good reason for a quick stop (or a longer stay) in Budapest (by the way, it is one of the cheapest European capital cities): but what about accessibility?
If you’re planning a journey in Budapest (maybe for the next New Year’s Eve… but cover yourself properly!) and want to make sure that everything goes smoothly once there, I advise you to directly contact the main reference point in the city for disabled people: MEOSZ, the National Federation of Disabled People Associations, which, if needed, can also arrange for you a fully accessible transport service to reach the city from the airport or the railway station. To contact MEOSZ from outside Hungary, the best way is sending an e-mail (better in English) to firstname.lastname@example.org. However, if you want to leave with an idea about what you’re going to find, once you arrive in Budapest, keep on reading!
As usual, let’s start from public transport. The Ferenc Liszt airport (also known as Ferihegy) has been built quite recently, so you’ll find everything’s needed to ensure full accessibility for all the visitors. From here, to get to the city, you can use the cabs (the average cost for a route to the city centre is about 35 €) or the shuttle service. But be careful: the cabs aren’t equipped for wheelchair transportation, unlike the shuttle. If the hotel you’re staying at offers it, you can also request the pick-up service, which will take you directly at your destination, usually at a cost that’s equal to the cabs. Once you arrive in Budapest, to move across the city, you’ll have 4 subway lines, buses and trams. Pay attention: while most of the buses crossing the city have ramps to allow access of wheelchairs and, in many cases, lowered platforms to allow access also to people who, even though they can walk, have motoric issues, trams and subway lines aren’t still fully accessible, since vehicles and stations are usually very ancient. Among the tram lines, the totally accessible ones, so far, are 4 and 6, the most recent. As regards subway lines, instead, if you use a wheelchair or must avoid stairs, keep in mind that only the 4 (green) line is totally accessible, while the red line (2) ensures full accessibility only for three stations and the remaining two, older but also more fascinating under an artistic perspective, unfortunately, are off limits. Things are decisively better when we look at the touristic buses, which are equipped to ensure accessibility to every kind of passenger. If you have just a weekend, they are the best way to see the most interesting places in the city: the ticket for a tour, with different routes, lasts for 48 hours (during which you can hop on and off whenever you wish) and costs about 25 €. Furthermore, some routes also include a boat tour on the Danube: even in this case, accessibility is granted both by platforms and by the presence of qualified staff, always available to assist you. After all, kindness is a typical trait of Hungarian people!
What to see in Budapest? You’re only spoilt for choice, among monuments, thermal baths, theatres, museums… And most of them are equipped to ensure full accessibility to visitors. Some examples? Let’s start from the thermal baths, a “must-see” for tourists visiting Budapest: the Gellért baths, the Dagály and Dandár baths and the Erzsébetliget swimming pool are fully accessible to people with motoric disabilities.
Are you more interested in monuments and museums? Budapest won’t get you upset! From St. Matthew’s church to St. Stephen’s basilica (which is accessible booking the assistance service by phone), passing through the Opera Theatre and the Fine Arts Museum and the Art Gallery (both on the evocative Heroes Square), passing through the National Museum, the biggest Synagogue in Europe, the Parliament (also in this case, you need to book assistance in advance) and even the suggestive Buda Castle (that can be reached both by bus or using the accessible -and free, for disabled people- elevator from Dózsa György tér), you’ll have the chance to enjoy the many treasures this city offers in full accessibility. Furthermore, buying the Budapest Card, you can have free access to many of these attractions (however, there are special discounts for disabled people and their companions, as for elderly and children). For more information, you can check this website.
Are you more attracted by culinary tourism? Well, with gulasch, the cuisines of the various cultures present in the city and the amazing desserts of the Austro-Hungarian tradition, you’ll find something to satisfy you. It would be a pity not to benefit from it, wouldn’t it?