Driving Tips - Hungary
Hungary is a small country but manages to have a diverse landscape; therefore driving there can be a bit of a challenge. A lot of the roads are expressways and there are many different aspects of the driving experience in Hungary to be aware of. Read on to find a simple driving guide full of useful tips and laws before you go venturing off into the unknown.
- A valid driving licence with photo (or IDP) which has been held for at least one year
- Vehicle insurance certificate
- Passport or ID card
- Vehicle insurance documents if you are renting a car
- The minimum driving age in Hungary is 18 (eighteen)
- Children under 12 (twelve) or 1.5m are not allowed to travel in the front
- Children under the age of 3 (three) must be placed and fitted in an appropriate car seat.
Police can stop any vehicle at any time to check they are not in violation of any of these laws.
Driving Rules, Laws and Regulations
- Driving is done on the right hand side of the road
- At intersections, you must give way to traffic on the right
- At roundabouts, you must give way to traffic on the left hand side
- Headlights must be used at all times on roads outside of town
- Public transport and pedestrians always have right of way
- Driving on expressways requires drivers to have bought a tax sticker that are available at post offices and most petrol stations
- It is forbidden to park in disabled spaces
- Mobile phones are forbidden unless they have headsets
Speed Limits and Fines
Speed limits in Hungary can change depending where exactly you are but keep these figures in mind as a general average and you shouldn’t go wrong:
- 130 km/hour (80mph) on freeways
- 110km/hour (68mph) on dual carriages
- 50km/hour (31mph) in towns and villages
- 30km/hour (18mph) in some residential areas
Be well aware of signposting to keep right in terms of speed limits. On-the-spot fines will be given to those who fail to adhere to the limits. These can be paid at post offices or by bank transfer and never in cash. Each offence will have a fixed fine attached.
Failure to accept an on-the-spot fine will result in the amount being doubled.
Vehicles may be impounded and withheld from drivers until the amount is paid in full.
Hungary operates a zero-tolerance policy on drink driving. This means that no amount of alcohol should be consumed before getting behind the wheel.
If a driver is found to have 0.5mg/l or more in their system the consequences could be a driving ban and/or time in prison.
A fine is automatically given to those found with lower levels in their system.
There are a lot of free zones for parking in Hungary’s tourist areas. However, you should expect it to be very busy, especially in Budapest and other city centres.
Paid parking in Budapest, and most other city centres, is between 08:00 and 18:00 Monday to Friday, 24 hours in some places, 08:00 - 12:00 on Saturdays and free on Sundays. Charges will be signposted where tickets must be purchased straight away and displayed clearly behind the windscreen.
Parking is permitted on the right hand side of a one-way street.
Parking fines are issued in a blue envelope containing a yellow bill. This must be paid at a post office or the car company office.
Illegal parking will result in a wheel clamp and a fine for it to be released.
Budapest Driving Guide
Budapest, Paris of the East. Despite the exquisite architecture of a centuries old city, Budapest has quite a youthful atmosphere and its nightlife (which some consider the best in Europe) draws in many travelers who only plan to go home when the sun comes up.
The locals may seem hard and cold, but just below the surface you’ll find them to be as warm as the thermal baths found in the city. The capital of Hungary is separated into Pest and Buda, divided by the often calm, River Danube.
Unlike some cities in Europe, major motorways easily connect Hungary’s capital to interesting surrounding towns and even its neighbouring countries, making driving the quickest and most convenient means of transportation. If a day trip out of the city sounds enticing, then driving is definitely the best way to go.
It is not difficult to find picturesque scenery in Hungary. The countryside, like Hungarian women, are known for their natural beauty, point your rental car in any direction and you will soon come in contact with scenic splendor.
Budapest to Lake Balaton:
1 hour 22 (135 km) to Lake Balaton via M7
Hungary may be landlocked, but you would hardly know it when standing on the banks of the immense Lake Balaton, affectionately referred to as the ‘Hungarian Sea.’ Travel south west along the M7 for about an hour and a half and you’ll find yourself on the south shore of Lake Balaton. Here you’ll find grassy beaches and a chain of quaint resort towns, the largest of which is Siófok, which is where you’ll want to go if you’re up for an all night party.
If you would prefer a slower pace, head a little further down the south shore to Fonyód, where a ferry will take you across Lake Balaton to Badacsony on the north shore, one of Hungary’s wine regions.
Between May and October, when the weather is warm, is when the beaches around Lake Balaton come alive. They are well equipped with playgrounds, showers and lockers as well as a range of water activities. The entrance fee for a day is equivalent to the cost of a dozen local eggs, and you’ll get more memories out of a day at the beach than you would from two omelets.
Budapest to Holloko:
1 hour 17 (95.3 km) via M3 and Route 21
Head north east out of Budapest for an hour and twenty minutes to Hollókó, a world heritage site. This little town is so well preserved that it resembles a movie set in that it looks like the surreal version of a town from the past.
The 18th century houses are actually replicas erected after a devastating fire destroyed the original village. The town still operates and remains Central Europe’s most intact community. The folk architecture here, that of quaint, white houses and other structures, is one of a kind and are a record of rural Hungarian life before the agricultural revolution. If that’s not enough to impress you then perhaps the inclusion of the medieval castle will.
Sometimes during a visit to another country, your plans change and you may decide that although Budapest has its own wonders, the countryside, or the beaches of Lake Balaton also appeal, and you would like to reorganize your trip to allow you to stay around there for a few days. That’s where our accommodation comes in, we have an extensive list of reasonable accommodation available throughout Europe, in and around all of the major cities, including the magical Budapest.
If like us, you don’t have the budget to travel extravagantly, then you probably follow our ethos of Spend Less, Do More. That is, rather spend less on your accommodation at Cheaperthanhotels and your rental car at Cheaperthancars, choosing a simple place to lay your head and a car that gets you there, and spend the cash you save on activities that might turn into memorable events. As it’s the things you choose to do that make a trip unforgettable, not the car you rent and when you sleep.
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