Car Rental Budapest
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Why rent a car in Budapest?
Budapest is a lovely place to explore by car. Historically important and magnificent, yet hospitable and accessible, its many different areas and neighborhoods are best explored with the freedom that having your own wheels gives you. The city can also serve as a great base for visiting other regions of Hungary and even some of the neighboring countries.
Top ways to enter Budapest
- Budapest Airport. By far the largest airport in Hungary and among the 50 busiest in Europe, Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport has two terminals with a third expected to open in 2021. The airport is located about 16 km (10 mi) southeast of downtown Budapest.
- Debrecen Airport. Serving Hungary’s second city, Debrecen Airport has flights by six different airlines offering flights to Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Russia, Israel, and other countries. Debrecen Airport is a tad more than a two-hour drive east of Budapest.
- Vienna Airport. With more than 27 million travelers served annually, Vienna Airport is among the largest in Central Europe. Just 225 km (140 mi) northwest of Budapest, it takes a short two-hour drive to reach it. Do keep in mind, though, that you’ll have to cross a national border between Austria and Hungary, so first, ask your car rental provider if they permit it.
- By rail. If you arrive in Budapest by train, you can conveniently pick up your rental car at Budapest Deli train station.
Useful city facts
Budapest enjoys a continental climate. Winters vary from mild to relatively cold, while it can get quite hot in the summer. The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is 0 °C (32 °F) while the average temperature in July is 22 °C (71 °F) with some summer days getting significantly hotter. Summers generally see more precipitation thanks to short, but very rapid rain showers.
Budapest has a population of about 1.7 million inhabitants, but the city’s larger metro area is nearly twice as populous. This means that around every third inhabitant of Hungary lives in the capital city’s region.
Although many inhabitants of Budapest and people working in the service industry speak English, the native and official language of Budapest and Hungary is Hungarian. Unlike most other European languages, this unique tongue is not Indo-European. A member of the Uralic family, instead, it is distantly related to Finnish and Estonian that are spoken in Northern Europe.
Top destinations and activities
- Castle Hill. This palace complex built for the Hungarian kings is arguably the most famous part of Budapest. Its biggest attraction is the Royal Palace, but other landmarks like the Horseherd Statue, Disz Square with its many historic buildings, and the Fisherman’s Bastion shouldn’t be missed, either.
- Margaret Island. Known as Margit-sziget in Hungarian, Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube, is one of the nicest areas of the city. Its many gardens and natural areas, the Palatinus outdoor baths, ruins of ancient churches, and the many festivals and events frequently held here create a relaxing atmosphere. Although you cannot drive around the island with a car, you can park nearby in the city and easily access it on foot.
- The Parliament. Located on Lajos Kossuth Square on the bank of the Danube, the Hungarian Parliament is the tallest building in the city. The beautiful neo-gothic house was built by more than 100,000 people, and nowadays not only serves its main purpose but is also open for tourists (although do look up entry times before coming as they can change). The parliament is as impressive from inside as it is from outside and the Hungarian crown jewels are exhibited under its cupola.
Traffic and parking tips
- Unless specifically indicated otherwise, the speed limits are 130 km/h (80 mph) on motorways (autópálya), 110 km/h (68 mph) on rural expressways (autóút), 90 km/h (55 mph) on rural highways (országút), and 50 km/h (31 mph) in populated and built-up areas (lakott terület).
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.00% for both experienced and novice drivers. Exceeding the limit can lead to large fines, an EU-wide licence ban, or imprisonment.
- Like many other capitals, Budapest sees heavy traffic jams during the morning and evening rush hours. Plan your travel times to avoid them, if possible!
- Proof of insurance and the car’s registration needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
- If you’re the driver, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- The emergency number, like elsewhere in the EU, is 112.
There are a number of toll roads in Hungary. To use these roads, first, a vehicle needs to be registered; then, an electronic vignette, or sticker, needs to be purchased. The electronic sticker can be purchased either online or by mobile phone. You can also buy it in person using cash or credit cards. Find out more about the ways of purchasing the electronic toll road sticker on the Hungarian toll road website.
Many rental cars will come equipped with an electronic sticker. Some car rental providers might charge a fee for this service in addition to the cost of the sticker. Do not purchase a sticker yourself before asking your car rental provider about it and also ask them about any additional fees that might be in place.
The exact toll fee will depend on the category of your car and the validity time of the e-stickers. E-stickers are valid for a pre-set period of time, such as 7 days, a month, etc.
Find out more about the toll roads in Hungary on the European toll road website.
Ideas for a day-trip
- Gödöllő. A beautiful green town with many parks, Gödöllő is also a historical tourism destination. Here you can find relics and of such ancient tribes as Avars, Schytians, and Sarmatians that once inhabited the Hungarian planes, as well as more recent sites connected to Austro-Hungarians and the Habsburgs. Gödöllő is just a short 40-minute drive east of central Budapest.
- Lake Balaton. Often called the Hungarian Sea, Lake Balaton is one of the symbols of the country. It offers everything from beaches and national parks full of hiking trails to historic villages, spas, and opportunities for water sports. Siofok, one of the nicest towns on its coasts and sometimes called the unofficial capital of Balaton, is just an hour’s drive southeast of Budapest.
- Eger. Famous for its wines, thermal baths, churches, and even Ottoman minarets, Eger has surprisingly varied attractions for a town of its small and cozy size. It is located less than two hours drive northeast of Budapest. After visiting Eger, venture a bit further and you’ll reach the Bükk Mountains. While not very high, they are really accessible and picturesque, offering many beautiful views of the surrounding areas.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental car in Budapest is the Suzuki Swift. Many travelers also go for the Fiat Punto and the Suzuki Celerio. The most popular rental car types in Budapest are mini, economy, and compact. While not flat, Hungary is less mountainous than most of its neighbors, so smaller cars are well fit for traveling across it.
- Vienna. Just two hours drive away, the beautiful Austrian capital should be a tempting destination for anyone visiting Budapest (and vice versa). Famous for its culture, architecture, and delicious cuisine, Vienna is one of the famous cities in Europe for a reason. Another charming capital city, Slovakia’s Bratislava, can also be visited during this trip as it is practically on the way. Keep in mind that you’ll be crossing a national border, so first, make sure your car rental provider permits it.
- Novi Sad. Located in neighboring Serbia, beautiful Novi Sad has not yet been discovered by too many travelers. With its impressive fortress, many historic areas, and beautiful Danube beaches, it can feel like a smaller, cozier Budapest. After visiting the city, go on to explore the villages and natural areas of the Vojvodina region that surrounds it, a hospitable melting pot of different cultures and religions. Keep in mind that by going from Hungary to Serbia, you’ll be crossing a national border, so first, make sure your car rental provider permits it. Also, remember that, unlike Hungary, Serbia is not a member of the EU. Novi Sad is just three hours drive south of Budapest.
- Szeged. Known as the city of sunshine for having the best weather in Hungary, Szeged is a fun destination. With a youthful atmosphere thanks to its large student population, but also a touch of history that can be seen in its churches of different denominations, palaces, and towers, Hungary’s third largest city leaves no one disappointed. If you’re still not convinced, drive to Pick Salami and Szeged Paprika Museum, and then go straight to a local restaurant to sample local delicacies. Szeged is a less-than-two-hour drive southeast of Budapest.
How can I save money on my rental car?
There are a number of things you can do to get a good rental car deal in Budapest. Start with:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Budapest is the cheapest in October when renting a car is about 50% cheaper than the yearly average and a whopping 72% cheaper than renting a car in April. Come visit Budapest in early autumn!
Top Cities near Budapest
Debrecen Car Rentals from $66.99 per day177.5 km / 110.3 miles away
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