Budapest – Spotting at the Visitor Terrace

As part of my stay in the Hungarian capital I had intended to visit the Budapest Aviation Cultural Centre, an aviation museum located adjacent to the airport and so travelled out of the city centre to the Ferihegy district. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to check the museum’s opening times and so, having found it closed, decided to make the most of my trip to the airport and do some spotting.

The Aviation Cultural Centre at Budapest

Like many European airports, Budapest has an official visitor’s terrace with this located upstairs in Terminal 2A. The terminals at Budapest are a bit of a maze but are fairly well signposted so it didn’t take me long to find the entrance to the terrace. Entry costs 500HUF which is about £1.40 and a ticket can be bought from the machines adjacent to the barriers. The barriers are automatic and there is a wide access gate (along with lifts to this part of the terminal) providing accessible access to the terrace.

In terms of facilities the terrace is rather sparse, with just a small café that may or may not be open when you visit (there are no times online, and it was closed during my visit). There are no toilets, so make sure you use the terminal facilities before heading through the gates as the tickets are single entry only and so if you head out you have to pay again. Given the risk of the café being closed, I’d also suggest taking some drinks and snacks through with you if you intend to spot for a while.

A Lufthansa flight arriving at Budapest

The terrace’s location on top of Terminal 2A provides an excellent view of aircraft parked on stands 42-45 along with a view of pretty much all aircraft during either their arrival or departure taxi. Unfortunately, part of the terminal building blocks the view across to the Terminal 2B stands whilst Pier 1 (another part of Terminal 2A) blocks most of the view of runway 13L/31R and the parallel taxiway.

In terms of aircraft movements Budapest isn’t the busiest of airports but does have a reasonable mix of airlines. Since the demise of Malév in 2012, Hungary hasn’t had a national airlines, however Budapest is the home base and hub for Wizz Air, along with also being a base for Ryanair, with these two airlines being the largest carriers by far at Budapest.

Cargolux’s LX-VCM taxiing for departure to Luxembourg

In addition to Ryanair and Wizz, there are another 39 airlines that operate passenger flights to Budapest along with 7 cargo airlines also utilising the facilities. There is the usual mix of European flag carriers, along with a mix of Asian, Middle Eastern and North American carriers. Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, Aeroflot and Ural airlines both connected Budapest to a number of Russian cities, however these flights have ceased following the ban of Russian carriers from European airspace.

I stayed at Budapest for a few hours and was lucky enough to see a relatively good mix of the airlines that serve the airport. My personal highlight was LOT’s retro liveried Embraer 175, whilst Cargolux’s ‘Cutaway’ livered Boeing 747-8F also departed to Luxembourg during my visit. All in all I saw 13 of the 46 airlines that serve the airport, which I feel is a good mix, and for £1.40 the terrace really can’t be faulted.

LOT’s Embraer 175 retrojet

If you’re planning on going spotting at Budapest I’d recommend going during the peak period of late spring to early autumn and not during the height of winter like me. A number of the airlines that serve Budapest are seasonal and most of the others increase their frequency during the peak period which will make your visit much more worthwhile. If you tie your visit in with one to the Aviation Cultural Centre then you could easily spend a day in the area around the airport, with there also being some other spotting ‘mounds’ around the airport perimeter.

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