Driving in Budapest | Driving in Hungary 2024

Hungary Driving Side

Before moving into the discussion of driving in Budapest, Hungary, it is important to mention that Budapest has an excellent public transport system and even without getting a car you can easily navigate around the city.

Planning to come by car to Budapest in 2024, you would be wondering how is it driving within the city of Budapest. Is it a good idea to come to Budapest by car? Check our posts about Hungarian traffic signs and Hungarian Speed limit tolerance .

Driving in Hungary
Driving in Hungary

Is it safe to drive in Hungary in 2024? What are the challenges for driving in Hungary? How is the Budapest driving experience?

Do you plan to rent a car on your arrival to Budapest?Do you want to know it is easy or difficult to drive in the city? We try to cover the driving experience in Budapest as well as in Hungary.

Budapest driving
Driving in Budapest

Budapest by car

Budapest by car
Budapest by car

If you are in doubt whether to visit Budapest by car,train or Air, we think if your plan is to just stay within Budapest city and not go to any other city or country, the best option is to not come by car.

In reality Budapest is a city which is pretty walk-able and you can access top attractions by either walking or using public transport.However, coming by car to Budapest has other challenges of finding the parking and identifying the right parking spots and paying high fees for parking.

The positive side of coming by car has the flexibility that you can drive along Danube during the day as well as night to have a memorable drive.However, challenges of finding cheap parking may be something you dont like in Budapest.

On the other hand, if you plan is to have a Euro trip where you plan to visit multiple countries included Hungary, it is still advised to park your car in a P+R place outside the city and explore the city with public transport. Coming to Budapest city center or any other attraction by car is risky in a way that there are parking traps where your car can be clamped if you are are parking at the wrong place.

Hungary Driving Side

Hungary driving side
Hungary driving side

Just like any other EU country, it is not difficult to identify what side of the road do they drive on in Hungary. In Hungary the driving is done on the right hand side.i.e. if you are driving a car, you should drive on the road on your right side.

So if you are coming from UK,Australia,India or any other country where they drive on the left hand, you would be looking for the answer to the question,i.e.does Hungary drive on the left? The answer is no.

Hence, it can be challenging to drive in Budapest if you are used to drive on the left side of the road. If you plan to rent a car in Hungary, it is a good idea to have an automatic car to make life a bit easier,though you will still have challenge to adapt to the road signs and directions.

Specially if you have never driven on the right hand before,and you come from a city where they drive on the left hand, it is better to use public transport or taxi.

what side of the road do they drive on in Hungary
What side of the road do they drive on in Hungary

Hungary traffic

Hungary Traffic
Hungary Traffic

Traffic in majority of Hungarian cities is not so congested. However, the biggest traffic problem exists in Budapest.

So if you are on a Hungary road trip,except for Budapest,Debreccen and Szeged, you will not find much traffic in the cities.

On the other hand, traffic jams in Budapest city are quite normal,either you are in city center or coming from a smaller town to Budapest.

Although the peak hours in Budapest inner city are between 0700 to 08 30, there is slight reduction in traffic untill 1600 to 1800.

Hungary Traffic Rules

Hungary Traffic Rules
Hungary Traffic Rules

While driving in Hungary, there are certain important traffic rules that you need to keep in mind. This will ensure a smooth driving experience.

  • In Hungary, you should drive on the right side of the road and overtake from the left side.
  • No matter, you are the driver or passenger on the back seat, the seat belt must be worn by every occupant of the vehicle in Hungary.
  • If a child is less than 1.5m tall, they cannot sit in the front seat of a car without an appropriate child seat restraint. The use of child restraint seats is mandatory for children under three years old in Hungary.
  • In Hungary,It is illegal to drink and drive because there is zero alcohol tolerance. The police can randomly check vehicles on the road and pose heavy fines if they detect that you are driving with alcohol intake.
  • It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in Hungary, however, hands free option can be used.
  • If you are driving on the Hungarian motorways,make sure to turn on your headlights. You can also notice this when using apps like WAZE which reminds you of turning your headlights when on a motorway
  • The use of full-beam lights at night in the normal streets and lit up environments is illegal.
  • In Hungary, Unless you are driving on a priority lane road (identified by yellow square with white boundary), if you are approaching an intersection of two streets, you need to give way to the cars coming from right. This is true even when driving in the streets where a car coming from the right side of the road will have the right of way,therefore you need to stop your car and do due diligence before crossing the intersection.
  • Public transportation involving buses and trams need to be given the right of way if encountered on the roads. It is also not legel to drive on bus lanes as you may be fined if caught. Don’t get tricked by the fact that taxis are driving on bus lanes quite fearlessly.
  • Winter tyres are mandatory to be used during the winter season in Hungary as November,December and January can be quite cold.
  • If you are driving to the mountains in winters in Hungary,make sure to use a snow chain.
  • At railway crossings in Hungary,make sure to check the signs and obey the speed limits.

Hungarian Highway Code

Hungarian Highway Code is called KRESZ.KRESZ inherits many rules and regulations from the Vienna and Geneva Convention,which is followed by other EU countries.

Hence, if you have driving experience in other EU countries, you will not encounter challenges when driving in Hungary.

The road signs in Hungary are pretty much same as in other EU countries.

Budapest Roads

Budapest Road Hungary
Budapest Roads

You will experience for yourself that Budapest’s roads are not in good shape.Budapest roads are bumpy and hence don’t give a smooth experience to locals as well as tourists.

There is traffic jam on major roads of Budapest even if they are 4 lane roads.On top of the patchy roads, in 2022, a major change was brought to all the main roads in Budapest.

In 2024, you will find each 2 lane Budapest roads for cars converted into single lane car roads, whereas the other lane is reserved for bicycles. Many roads in Budapest have been upgrade with barriers to protect the cyclist from the cars,hence, be careful not to move your lane to the cycle lane.

Hungarian road signs
Hungarian road signs

At some Budapest roads, where the 2 car lanes are left intact, the parking places are removed, and they are converted into bicycle lanes.

In addition to the lane conversion, there are lot of construction and repair work ongoing at different roads, and you will see a lot of yellow lines, arrows which are overwriting the white lines and arrows on the roads.

In general, driving in Budapest is quite safe as drivers are quite cautious,however, you must experience the taxi drivers are sometimes doing harsh driving.

Budapest driving tips

Budapest Driving
Budapest Driving

There are certain things you should keep in mind,while driving on Hungarian Roads.

  • Driving around Budapest city center,or Districts V,VI,VII,VIII,IX which are somehow central to Budapest, you can hardly cross speed of 40 km/hour.
  • Whenever you try to increase the gear from 2nd to 3rd,you will be stopped by a red sign.
  • Pedestrians are Kings on small roads in Budapest.i.e.If you are driving on a single lane,one way road within the city, unless there is a priority lane,you must always wait for the passengers to cross the lane, irrespective of the zebra crossing.
  • At some places, it even happens that while you are going straight, and the yellow line/marking on the road will take you to the other side of the road, where the vehicles are coming from the opposite side, this usually happens whenever there is construction on the road.
  • Additionally, in Budapest while you are driving straight on a two lane road, the roads will undergo a considerable turn and then go straight again.
  • Taxi drivers in Budapest are the most impatient,you will see them driving on the bus lanes,and crossing red signs pretty often,but that does not mean, you should do it too.
  • If you want to move right or left on a Budapest road with an indicator, the other cars will respect that and allow you to change your lane in most of the times.Make sure to check the signal from the other car.
  • Close to the city center, many roads have been blocked and addition of diversions will increase your journey time.

Looking for a budget accommodation in Budapest,check out Boomerang Hostel and Avenue Hostel.

Driving rules in Hungary and pedestrians

Driving rules in Hungary
Driving rules in Hungary

In 2024, one of the special experience while driving in city of Budapest is that, pedestrians walk like kings.

If there is a zebra crossing, without any traffic lights, the pedestrians will walk without looking whether the car is coming at a speed or not.

In addition, the drivers also respect the pedestrians crossing the street, even in small single way streets where there is no zebra crossing.

One more positive experience you will notice in Budapest is that if you want to change your lane on a fully packed road, you will find most of the drivers giving you the way to come in front of them, by giving you space.

Hungary Traffic info

If you are looking for traffic patterns in Hungary, there is a website dedicated to provide such info. It is called utinform gives a live update of the traffic info in Hungary. Although the website is in Hungarian, you can use google translate to get the info in your desired language.

Another important website to get info about the accidents taking place in Hungary is https://baleset-info.hu/. This website is also in Hungarian but worth to check if you are looking for current accidents all around Hungary.

Road To Budapest

There are 7 main highways in Hungary which connect to neighboring countries,hence, there is not a single road to Budapest. However, this terminology was crafted for the World Athletics Championship in Budapest.

The World Athletics Championship in Budapest was held in August 2024 and the event was hosted from 19th to 27th of August.

Driving to Budapest

Driving to Budapest
Driving to Budapest

Being at the border of Eastern and Western Europe, Budapest has its unique importance. Either you are traveling from eastern Europe to the western Europe or Vice versa, Budapest is a city which cannot be skipped. Hence, many visitors coming by car would be interested in knowing how is the experience when driving to Budapest.

The best way to drive to Budapest is using a motorway. These Highways are numbered as M0,M1 … up to M7. You have to check which Hungarian highway is ending at the country’s boarder from where you plan to enter Hungary. Do not forget to buy a Hungarian Highway vignette before entering Hungary through a highway.

Road tax in Hungary

Road tax in Hungary
Road tax in Hungary

If you are visitor coming by personal car to Hungary, there is no road tax to be paid.

Normally there is a nominal tax to be paid by the owner of a personal car if the car is registered in Hungary. This tax is to be paid in 2 installments to the Hungarian tax authority by the personal car owners in Hungary,however, the visitors coming by personal car do not need to pay any such road tax.

Only road tax that everybody needs to pay in Hungary is the Hungarian Vignette which is mandatory to be purchased if you are using the motorways M0,M1,M2,…M7.

Hungary alcohol driving

Hungary Alcohol Driving
Hungary Alcohol Driving

Driving in Hungary with alcohol intake is forbidden. Hungary has no tolerance for driving with alcohol. Budapest is a party place and famous for drinking alcohol and people come here to try wide range of alcoholic drinks. However, there are pretty strict rules about drinking alcohol in certain public places,i.e. if you are caught drinking alcohol in certain parks, you will be fined.

Similarly, it is strict forbidden to drive in Hungary after intake of alcohol.

Are there traffic jams in Budapest

Traffic jams in Budapest are quite normal thing,specially in morning and evening,during the weekdays.

The high traffic in the morning and evening is due to people moving in/out of Budapest due to work.

Specially around the Budapest city center,near Deak Ferec ter,Basilica,and Jewish quarter, the road blocks can be longer.

On Friday Evening, the major traffic jams are seen on the roads connecting to highways,when people are going on vacations to other countries.

Is it difficult to drive in Budapest?

Is it difficult to drive in Budapest
Is it difficult to drive in Budapest

It is definitely challenging for a new driver to drive a car in Budapest.The reason is that Budapest roads on major occasions will just take a 45 degree turn at certain occasion and you have to be very active when driving.

Such tricky turns in Budapest can be seen through the traffic signs with inclined arrows pointing to the ground.

Is it easy to drive in Budapest
Is it easy to drive in Budapest

Additionally, there are dedicated bus lanes,which may change on the same road,and you have to keep your eye on the signs on the right hand side of the road.

Normal personal vehicles in Hungary can be fined heavily if driving on the bus lanes,as these are only allowed for public transport buses,ambulances,taxis and motorcycles.

On some 2 lane roads in Hungary, there will an instance that if you want to turn left, suddenly there will be a 3rd lane introduced closer to the traffic sign. So, if you want to turn left, you will have to move to extreme left lane.

In some roads in Budapest the cycle lanes have made it difficult for cars to drive due to limited space assigned to bicycle lanes.