When traveling on Hungarian motorways you need to pay for a Matrica (toll ticket), that you put on your windscreen, prior to using the motorway system.
A toll ticket can be valid for 1 week, 1 month or 1 year and can be bought at petrol stations.
If you need to hire a car whilst in Hungary, I can recommend Olcsó car hire in Ferihegy, Budapest.
We paid 84,200 HUF (£240) for 13 Days car hire, with Child Seat, Sat-Nav and 13 Days Motorway Toll cover.
This road sign means you are entering a village, town or city. In this case a village called Szeged-Szőreg.
And this road sign means you are leaving a village, town or city. In this case the village called Szeged-Szőreg.
In Hungary this sign means a cyclist can ride down a no-entry street - NO ENTRY except for cyclists.
Other bicycle signs permit a cyclist to travel down, in the opposite direction, of a one-way street.
After driving to, in and around Budapest over the last week, and trying to find a parking space, my Hungarian girlfriend (Tünde) and I have to conclude driving in and around Budapest is a nightmare!
Fortunately Budapest is a city, just like other major cities around the world, where Public Transport is so good it means you do not need a car to visit its main attractions, amenities and government offices; among other places.
Budapest's lack of road parking spaces and car parks, and one-way streets all over the place, to the point you cannot park anywhere around the place you actually want to visit can lead to a frustrating experience. On most ocassions we either had to park 1-3 blocks away from the place we were visiting or just not take the car.
Ignorant, impatient, drivers did not help the situation either. If you are in the wrong lane for example, which is easy to achieve on budapest one-way roads and inner-city roads that force you onto the wrong lane, other drivers will not give you the time and space to change lanes. They are very impatient and do not want to give way, even in cases where the traffic lights are on red and they have nowhere to go anyway. So why not create space for others.
One thing you should do before driving in Hungary is update your Sat-Nav. Here is an example of a non-updated sat-nav (we were unaware that our car rental sat-nav had not had its sat-nav database/software updated for a while. Something in hindsight we should of checked with the car rental company or updated ourselves):
We were driving from Szeged to Budapest whereby we had just passed Kecskemét, only to be met by Police and detour signs due to a motorway accident further ahead. Taking the detour route (an extra 20Km) meant going through a village that must of had the worst 15km stretch of road I have ever travelled on. Talk about bumpy ride. This was Pothole Hell. To make matters worse, the detour only shaved off a couple of extra Km (i.e. only took off the equivalent of one junction with the detour).
We hired a car from Olcsó Autóbérlés Magyarországon (Cheap Car Rental in Hungary), a car hire company close to Budapest Airport, for 13 Days at a total cost of 84,200 HUF (£240); which included a Child Seat, Sat-Nav and 13 Days Motorway Toll cover. The car was around 12 years old, but in excellent condition. We could of got a more modern car, but we were on a budget.
The car hire company picked us up from Ferihegy Airport and drove us to their office, in the car we were hiring, where Tünde then showed her Passport, Driving License and Address Card (which were photocopied) before signing the paperwork and driving off in the hire car. We returned the hire car 13 days later with no problems from the car hire company. We were (and still are) very satifised with the car hire company and highly recommended them. In fact Tünde has since booked them again.
Be aware of the night-time motorway drivers with expensive cars, and Romanian license plates, as they have a nasty habit of flashing their headlights at you to mean "Let me pass you in the fast lane". Some drivers might not be phased by this, but Tünde gets really frustrated by these drivers because they do it too frequently. Tünde is a very relaxed, patient, alert driver with 20+ years driving experience, but when she drives to Budapest and within Budapest traffic you will hear her curse so many "Id-Dee-Ots" with a harsh Kurva Anyádet!! As an example:
Tünde is in the slow lane but then needs to change to the fast lane in order to pass a lorry, so she speeds up to 120Kmph. She stays in the fast lane for a while after that, maintaining her speed of 120Kmph, because she sees many lorrys up ahead. All is fine at this point, until some "Boy Racers" start flashing their headlights and clearly pass her at 160Kmph, if not more, just because they want to get to Romania or wherever faster. Although the flashing headlights are annoying, the "Boy Racers" are dangerous of course because you now have to watch out for their potentially fatal accidents ahead of you.....
The above are reasons why Tünde hates driving up to Budapest and driving within Budapest traffic; because of impatient, ignorant, drivers. So my advice to you is: Watch out for these fast driving, flashing headlights, maniac drivers who tend to drive dangerously in the late evening and late night hours. In Buda you can also hear and see expensive cars such as BMWs, Audis and Porsches screeching up the hills.
Personally I have never seen any police on the Hungarian motorways, motorway sidings or residential streets trying to spot and catch speeding drivers per se. I can only assume they drive unmarked police cars?
Budapest is split into five Budapest Parking DistrictsParking Zones with hourly tariffs ranging from 175 HUF to 525 HUF (175, 265, 350, 440 and 525), depending on which zone you are parked in. The most expensive zones, 525 HUF per hour, include the City Centre, Margaret Island and Buda Castle. The least expensive zones are mainly in the surburbs (outer city regions).
The five parking zones in Budapest together with their hourly parking rates
Within Budapest street parking is charged on week days only, during 8am and 6pm, whereby certain areas have extended parking hours (until 8pm). They include Grand Boulevard, the Danube area, District V (5) and parts of District VI (6), District VIII (8) and District IX (9).
Examples: Zone #1 covers most parts of downtown Pest (the areas between the Danube and the Grand Boulevard) and the Castle Hill areas of Buda (the areas between Erzsébet Híd and Margit Híd). You can park there between 8am and 8pm for 440 HUF per hour. Maximum parking time is 3 Hours. Zone #2 covers most parts of Buda and areas outside Grand Boulevard. You can park there between 8am and 6pm for 265 HUF per hour. Maximum parking time is 3 Hours.
Street parking on a Saturday, Sunday and on National Holidays is free, except in District IX (9), on Csarnok Tér (7-22) and at the Citadella. In fact, there is no parking at the Citadella any time of the year.
The minimum street parking time is 15 minutes and the maximum street parking time is 4 hours, although certain districts that do not impose time limits; such as Districts I (1), VI (6), VII (7), VIII (8) and XIII (13).
NOTE WELL - Parking tickets must be purchased from the nearest parking meter and must be visibly displayed on your windscreen/dashboard.
NOTE WELL - Parking meters accept HUF (Cash) or Credit Card payment with some accepting Mobile Phone payment too (the parking meter should have a 'MobilParkolás' (Mobile Parking) sticker on it).
With mobile phone payment: You start paying (your time starts) by texting your license plate number to the SMS Number shown on the 'MobilParkolás' sticker. When you have finished with parking you simply text the word STOP to the same 'MobilParkolás' sticker SMS Number. Be sure to check with your mobile phone provider that they support the 'MobilParkolás' sticker scheme and if so, how much do they charge; if anything.
If you are unlucky enough to be fined, perhaps because you did not understand the meter system properly or forgot to top-up your meter, you will receive a parking fine of at least 5,500 HUF; which is the base fee plus 2 Hours of parking added. In many cases, depending on your parking location and situation, your parking fine will more than likely start at around 11,500 HUF (£32).
In Budapest multi storey car parks are open 24 hours a day. You can also park in the underground car parks located with large hotel grounds; for a fee.