In this post I share about my experience of driving in Hungary as a foreigner.
Car Rental – One of the biggest worries was if the car rental would be a smooth process. I rented my car with U-Save Car Rental from the Rentalcars.com website after reading some mixed reviews about the company. Upon arrival at the Budapest Listz Ferenc Airport, we were glad to see a lady from the rental company holding up a card with my name, as promised. We then got a lift from the airport to the U-Save premises just a 5 minute drive away from the airport. The required documents were (1) Your driving license (2) A credit card for your deposit. I used my International Driving Permit as I had this done for my trip to Japan the month before, but this would not be necessary as long as your driving license is in English.
Highway Tolls – In Hungary, highway tolls are collected via the E-Vignette system. The roads from the airport to Budapest are toll free, but if you are intending to venture out of Budapest, it would be hard to avoid purchasing a permit. This can be done at petrol stations near to the motorways, but the great thing for us was that our car rental company settled this for us and we did not have to worry about the administrative hassle of getting this done in an unfamiliar country with an unfamiliar language.
Driving on the Right Side of the Road – This was an interesting experience for me as someone who has driving on the left side for my whole life. It certainly takes some getting used to and you have to consciously check if you are getting your bearings right, especially when making turns. The great thing was that my Toyota RAV4 car was pretty smart and naggy. Whenever I started drifting too much to the right, the warning lights would flash.
Traffic Police and Speed Limits – You have to be a bit careful of this especially when driving on the motorway. The speed limits are not standard and can vary quite dramatically for different portions of the motorway. The traffic police are also very vigilant and in my 10 days of driving, I spotted no less than 5 traffic police speed traps stationed either on the viaducts above, at the central divider, or at the slip roads at the side.
Child Seats – I read that children would require age-appropriate child seats or booster seats. I decided to bring my own booster seat from home for my daughter as it wasn’t too heavy or bulky and easily fitted into my luggage.
Refueling – My first experience at the petrol kiosks was a bit uncertain, but the process was easy enough to pick up quickly. Just identity the correct fuel (the labeling was simple enough) pump it, and proceed to the cashier inside the shop to pay with cash or credit card. The price of petrol and diesel was pretty similar about S$1.75 – S$2.00 per litre. I was rather impressed with the fuel economy of my RAV4, which averaged about 6 litres per 100 km on a powerful diesel engine.
Parking Charges – Parking is chargeable at most of the major city and town centres. Look out for parking meters where you have to drop in your coins and to display the dispensed parking slips on your vehicle dashboards. Most of the parking meters have information in English, but not all, so you might have to get some help from the local people if need be. The good thing is that parking is free most of the time in the evenings and weekends. Do pay your parking though, as it is generally inexpensive and it is not worth the trouble of getting a ticket.
On the last night of our trip, I was unlucky and received a parking ticket just being 15 minutes away from my car when checking into my hotel, not knowing at first that the spaces in front of my hotel were public parking spaces and not owned by my hotel. I had to make my way to the nearest Post Office to pay the fine which worked out to be about S$11.
This is part 3 of my Hungary Winter Drive blog series, click HERE for Part 4 as I share about our first taste of Hungarian cuisine, delicious but salty!
- Part 1 – 2017 Hungary Winter Drive
- Part 2 – Sprain Pain and Piano
- Part 3 – Driving in Hungary as a Tourist
- Part 4 – First Taste
- Part 5 – Matra Mountains
- Part 6 – Szekesfehervar Forever!
- Part 7 – Museums Galore – Toy, Diocese & King Stephen
- Part 8 – St. Nicholas Day in Keszthely
- Part 9 – Festetics Palace, Keszthely
- Part 10 – Tihany, Completing the Balaton Loop
- Part 11 – From Siofok to Simontornya
My wife and I enjoy having guests over at our place for fellowship over a nice home-cooked meal. If you would like to drop by to try some of my wife’s wonderful cooking and to talk more about travel and life, do drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a dinner date! Everyone welcome!