PRIOR TO traveling on Hungarian motorways and toll sections you need to buy a Matrica (motorway and toll ticket), that you keep as a 'Licence Plate' receipt.
A toll ticket can be valid for 10 Days, 1 Month or 1 Year and can be bought at petrol stations.
PRIOR TO traveling on Slovenian motorways and toll sections you need to buy a Vinjeta Sticker (motorway and toll ticket), that you put on your car windscreen.
A toll ticket can be valid for 7 Days, 1 Month or 1 Year and can be bought at petrol stations. A 7 Days car vinjeta is: €15 (£13.53).
PRIOR TO traveling on Austrian motorways and toll sections you need to buy a Vignette Sticker (motorway and toll ticket), that you put on your windscreen.
A toll ticket can be valid for 10 Days, 2 Months or 1 Year and can be bought at petrol stations. A 10 Days car vignette is: €9 (£8.12).
Below I have detailed our family car journey (summer holiday, 2018) from London (UK) to Szeged (Hungary) - travelling through European countries: France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Austria and Hungary (and briefly through the Nederlands) - and back; which included stopping at Sirmione (Italy) for one week, a one night stop-over in Germany and six days in Hungary (Szeged, Kecskemét and Budapest).
The idea behind this trip was NOT to travel in as many countries as possible, but to save on expensive toll charges. It sounds cheapskate, but when each major 'toll tunnel' charge is over £35 and each section of 'toll road' is around £20 whereby you have to travel through many of them.....
We were also saving approximately £2,000 on airfares just by using our car and the ferry. Although this meant an overall journey time of 60 hours from London (UK) to Szeged (Hungary) and back, which included the ferry time, meal stops, petrol stops and not being able to drive at higher speeds all the time due to roadworks and rain, the savings versus time was worth it. Our return journey was less driving time as we took a more direct route through Europe.
NOTE - Although our journey was in August 2018, the information below is still relevant simply because the main roads (route) we took still exist of course. The toll charges may have changed, but it is up to you to check they are correct, by visiting the relevant websites for example, prior to taking your own car journey to Hungary (EU).
Weeks, if not months, before you leave the UK you should familiarise your European route and more importantly its motorways (known as highways or autoroutes) and toll sections simply to get an idea of their charges, rules and regulations. Example:
The borderline between France and Italy has four tunnels you can pass through, each with their own 'tunnel toll charges' that are paid in addition to their standard Autoroute Franceautoroute (motorway) charges. So unless you want to travel through France entirely via its 'A' roads, or want to drive around a mountain instead of through it, you will be forced to use the French autoroutes (motorways) and one of their tunnels going through to Italy.
Heading from Tolls In FranceCalais to the south of France (towards Straussberg for example) will cost you €22.10 for using the autoroute and an additional €44,40 if you pass through the Mont Blanc (France) Toll ChargesMont Blanc Tunnel to Itay.
Paying standard 'road toll' charges and/or 'tunnel toll' charges can be costly, especially if you do not check your route beforehand to see if a tunnel can be avoided for example.
Our journey began at 7:50pm from Stratford (London, UK) whereby it took us exactly 2 hours to reach the ferry port of Dover (UK), 30 minutes to clear customs (the queue was not too long) and 1 hour waiting for the ferry to leave. We arrived at the Calais ferry port at 12:40am, so 1 hour 20 minutes on the ferry, where we then put our watches forward 1 hour.
At 1:40pm (European Time) we headed towards Lille (Northern France) from Calais on the A16/E40. Along that route, which had so many road name changes (i.e. D625/E42 and A25/E42) even though we were still technically on the same route heading for Lille, we exited at Exit 57 (still heading towards Lille, France). It is in scenarios like this that we were grateful we had a Sat-Nav. We could not have done this journey with a traditional paper map, that is for sure.
The next part of our route meant us leaving the A25/E42 for the A27/E42 road leading to Bruxelles (Belgium). So at this point we were following the E42. At Exit 33 we had to change for the A16/E42, heading towards Tournai, Liege and Mons, which meant we were now on a different part of the A16 but still on the E42! As you can see: All these road name changes get confusing. Hence why you need a Sat-Nav or at least a good, up-to-date, Europen road map. Our next exit lead us to the A15/E42 towards Liege, which meant that we had been heading East (North-East) up to this point.
It was now time to head South, so we branched onto the A6/E25 towards Luxemburg (Europe). Along this route we took the A3/E25 towards Metz (Northern France), the A13/E29 towards Saarbrücken (Germany) and the 8/E29 - Exit 9 towards Karlsruhe (Germany), Exit 33 424 towards Bitche (North-Eastern France) and then onto the D660, D662 and D1062 heading for Haguenau (North-Eastern France). We then took the 5Km drive on the D1340 in order to change for the A4 towards Strasbourg (Eastern border of France). Note: The A4 changes/turns into the A35, which is the same road.
The next part of our journey took us towards Mulhouse (France - A35/E25) and then towards Basel (Switzerland - A35) before heading towards Bern (Switzerland), Zürich (Switzerland) and Malan (Italy) on the 2/A35. At this point we came to our first Toll Booth (called: Como Malan) whereby the police there where spot-checking vehicles only. We were not stopped, so we did not need to show any paperwork or pay a toll charge.
Now we were on the A9 (Autostrada Del Laghi) whereby we had to pay a £3.70 toll charge - £2.13 on entry and £1.57 on exit. The toll starts on the A9 (where you have to insert your credit/debit card to register your starting point) and ends on the A8/E35 (where you have to insert your credit/debit card to register your end point). You can get a receipt if you wish by pressing the GREEN button but we did not bother.
An example of toll gates and tunnel sections of road in Europe
NOTE - I would highly recommend using a card, just so you are not messing around with notes and loose coins (the right amount). With a credit/debit card: You simply inset it into the card slot, wait for the amber lights to change to green (about 5 seconds), take your card out and go though the now opened barrier. No PIN CODE is required. Our toll machine only spoken in Italian.
After coming from the toll we headed towards Venezia/Venice (Autostrada Milano Brescia) on the A4 before arriving at Sirmione (Northern Italy) - Our holiday destination.
After our 1 week holiday we headed for the Italian/Slovenian border where we took the A4/E70 going towards Milan/Venice, meeting a toll straight away (costing £18.72 / €20.70), before heading north-east towards Trieste. 300 meters or so from the Italian/Slovenian border there was a small shop where we bought a Vignette toll ticket (costing £13.45 / €15), for passage through Slovenia on the H4 motorway.
After the H4 we were on the A1/E61 heading towards Ljubjana (the capital of Slovenia). This route lead us onto the H3 towards Maribor, which turns into the A1/E57. It was then onto the A5/E653 towards Murska Sobota (Northeast Slovenia) and Budapest (Hungary).
Just before arriving at the Slovenian/Hungarian border we bought the Matrica (motorway and toll ticket), costing 2,975 HUF (£8.16), at a motorway petrol station. A few miles later we were crossing into Hungary on the M70/E653, which leads us onto the M70/E71 towards Budapest (Hungary). We past along Lake Balaton until we almost reached Budapest city centre.
A stopover at the The Mizse MotelMizse Motel for some goulash and homemade cherry sponge cake
Exit 16, E71, towards Szeged saw us on the M0/E60; which then leads onto the M5/E60. After that it was on the M5/E75 almost to Szeged - Exit 159/M43 towards Szeged, M43/E68 towards Szeged North, and then Exit 8 into Szeged.
The toll and motorway systems in Europe work either on a Pay-As-You-Go system or a Membership (pre-pay) system with some countries, such as Hungary, having one ticket that allows you to use their motorways and toll sections of road with other countries, such as France, having separate tickets for each section of toll road and each section of motorway.
Just to clarify: A toll section of road is usually a piece of motorway that gives you faster access from A to B and/or gets you across a border quicker whereas a motorway section of road normally means you can use a shorter and/or faster section of motorway; as opposed to using a longer 'A' road or longer section of motorway.
With the P.A.Y.G system: When you arrive at a toll booth (the start of a toll section of road) you normally pay by credit/debit card or cash there and then (at the toll gate/barrier) or at the end of your toll section of road (end toll gate/barrier). In cases where the toll section of road is free, you may still need to be issued a blank ticket at the start of the toll section whereby you insert it at the end of the toll section (it gets swallowed by the machine and you pay nothing).
If you are on a Membership scheme, such as the French Toll Tag Scheme - FranceToll Tag (Tele-Peage) scheme, where you pay €10 for the Tag (which is mailed/posted to you) plus a €6 annual maintenance fee, you simply use a toll gate (barrier) with the letter T on it; which should ideally be quicker than a card/cash toll gate (barrier), although I never saw evidence of this as our toll gate machines only took seconds to process.
Membership in general is not really useful unless you travel through many European countries, or even one European country, many times throughout the year.
Lookout for A Boards/Signs stating the sale of Vignette/Matrica/Vinjeta Toll Tickets
Above is an example of me passing through Austria from Hungary. Before the border I looked for the Matrica sign at a petrol station. Once I knew the petrol station was selling the Matrica (Vignette) ticket for use of the Austrian Toll Ticket WebsiteAustrian motorways I paid for a 10 Days ticket.
If a toll gate (the area) is clearly unattended, especially if the toll gate (barrier) is up, you should assume you do NOT have to pay and can drive straight through. Do NOT hesitate though unless you want a long queue of traffic behind you blowing their horns!
On the way back to London (UK) we decided on a more direct route via Germany. Our journey started from Szeged (Hungary), going towards Budapest on the M5/E75; as normal. However, the Sat-Nav diverted us to Kecskemét (on the 54 towards Cegléd and then the 541 into Kecskemét) before taking us onto the old motorway 5 towards Budapest and then back onto the M5/E75 into Budapest. After that we were on the M1/E60 heading for Győr and Mosonmagyaróvár.
As we got to the Austrian border we had a 1 hour queue, just because the police decided to do spot checks; even though we are supposed to be entering an EU borderless country. Wait til Brexit!
Once over the border we were on the A4 (Ost-Autobahn) heading towards Wein (Vienna). Exit 8 took us onto the S1/E60 towards Linz (Upper Austria). The A2 (Süd Autobahn), A21/E60 and A25 (Welser-Autobahn) then took us past Wels and Linz and into Germany. From there it was onto the A8 (Innkreis-Autobahn) and then the 3/E56 towards Passau (Germany) and Nürnberg (Nuremberg, Germany) before going on 6 towards Nürnberg. Exit 58 - and onto the 73 towards Nürnberg then saw us on local roads heading towards our stop-over hotel ((Arotel - GermanyArotel).
The following morning we headed towards Frankenschnellweg on the 73 before taking Exit 34 (3/E45) towards Würzburg. From there we took the 3/E35 towards Köln (Cologne) and then left it on Exit 28, onto the 4/E40 towards Aachen. Exit 4 then saw us on the road to Aachen-Laurensberg, which lead us onto the A76 into the Nederlands; towards Antwerp. This was only a short road as a few miles later we were in Belguim, on the A2/E314 heading for Genk. The R0/E40 then took us towards Gent before Exit 10 took us onto the A10/E40 towards Gent and Brugge. We stopped over in Brugge (E403/N31/N397) for dinner and chocolates! before taking the A18/E40 and then A16/E40 into Calais (France). The P&O Ferry took us to Dover (UK) where we then headed for London.
As said above: Rain, slower speeds, weather, roadworks, etc add extra time to your overall journey, so do not believe the times quoted by Google Maps and Sat-Navs for example.
With Motorway Tickets: Always buy in the currency of the country you are in as it works out cheaper. Example: Buying a 2,975 HUF motorway/toll (Matrica) ticket in Hungary is charged at €10.56 on websites, even though the exchange means it should actually be €9.22. It is a small difference, which I do not mind paying, but the prinipal is 'every penny counts' and 'why should I pay more?'.
If you travel towards Antwerpen (Belgium) via the Liefkenshoek Tunnel, passing through that tunnel will cost you €6.