Hungary has no regular domestic flights. As Budapest lies in the centre of the country and pretty much any point can be reached within three hours by train or bus, there isn’t much need for scheduled domestic flights.
However there are many opportunities for people with a valid pilot’s license to rent a plane and explore by air.
- A Pilot’s Academy of Malev Flying Club T:+36 20 565-6467, Dunakeszi. Lightweight gliders and other stuff.
The Hungarian National Railway is MÁV and GYSEV (some lines in the west of the country). MÁV has online schedule and pricing site. You can purchase domestic and some international train tickets on the web in English. Read and follow the instruction here.
The train network is star-shaped (hub-and-spoke), fanning out from the centre at Budapest. This is caused by history because half of the once complete train system went to the neighbor countries after World War I. If neither the starting or ending point is Budapest, expect to travel for a long time often with change in Budapest.
Intercity (IC) trains are the fastest, and they’re up-to-date, well maintained and clean. They link the major cities with Budapest. Expect to pay about 550 Ft (= €2) extra fee independently from the distance for the manditory seat reservation (not in international ICs, ECs). In some cases the extra charge can be lower. Compared to the majority of Western European ticket prices, Hungary’s IC trains are among the cheapest, with an excellent record of speed and comfort. At the weekends many students use these IC trains to commute between Budapest and other cities, so an early advance booking is recommended on Friday afternoons for the trains leaving Budapest and on Sunday evenings for trains towards Budapest. Working with a notebook is generally safe, unless it’s heavy overcrowded.
Other train lines usually are not that fast, and not always cleaned up to the high standards (even in the 1st class), and often vandalised (mostly in Budapest region); however quality standards are improving. During summer trains linking Balaton to Budapest are sometimes overcrowded with the IC usually being sold out. The next choice is the gyorsvonat, or the old fast train. Pricing depends only on the distance and on the car class. Cash desks assume 2nd class by default for non-IC trains (at least in Budapest for English speakers), so if you didn’t catch your IC, consider asking 1st class, paying small extra for much more comfort. Smoking is prohibited on all trains, as well as on the station platforms.
Young people (under 26 years) may travel with 33% reduction at the weekends (Friday afternoon included). Children (under 6 years) and retired (citizens from EU countries over 65 years) can travel free except on InterCity trains where the extra fee (reservation) must be paid.
It is possible to buy Inter Rail pass for Hungary. Check whether buying tickets for each journey is cheaper.
Check the MAV site for a station list where you can buy a train ticket with a debit or credit card. A gépi menetjegykiadás is a staffed cashier desk; jegykiadó automata is a vending machine.
You can buy tickets with euro. It is possible to purchase an international ticket and supplement at every Hungarian railway station which has an international cash desk. Cash desks do not accept euro bank notes of values above €50, and you will get the change in forints.
A station list with ticket vending machine usually to destinations which are not enlisted by the vending machines, tickets will be issued without extra charge by the conductor on board. These ar working with a short midnight break.
International bike transport on the train also possible on selected trains cost €4-10 (vary), first price to Vienna, the highest to Hamburg (via Berlin).
List of e-ticket acceptance points like a vending machine. Buy the ticket on the Net and find at the station the pre-purchased ticket issuing machine to validate and print your ticket.
Here can be find some info about Luggage rooms or lockers (Hu: csomagmegörző) in train station. Lockers cost (since 2010): small 400 Ft, or bigger 600 Ft per 24hours. More than one day cost 600 Ft per each started day. An incomplete list of stations with Luggage rooms or/and lockers: Budapest-Déli, Kelenföld (Budapest), Budapest-Keleti, Budapest-Nyugati, Debrecen, Győr, Miskolc-Tiszai, Nyíregyháza, Siófok, Sopron, Szolnok, Szombathely.
Hungary’s national bus network is operated by 28 state run companies, united in Volán Association.Connections are frequent, prices are identical to those on non-Intercity trains. Bus lines often are more complete than train lines, the speed is quite similar. Long-distance buses are clean and safe, but often subject to delays. Buy your ticket at the station ticket desk before boarding; if you do not take your bus at a main station, purchase a ticket from the driver. Make sure that you validate tickets even when buying from the bus driver. The small orange boxes are used for validating tickets and are seen at several points throughout the bus. Ticket inspectors operate on the airport bus and if you have not validated your ticket, you are liable for a 7000 Ft on the spot fine. It is a good idea to reserve your tickets for national holidays, Friday and Sunday evenings beforehand. Online booking is available in English. And here can you check the domestic long-distance bus lines in English, French, Hungarian and Romanian.
Some important words in Hungarian that may be helpful are:
- “honnan” – from
- “hová” – to
- “Autóbusz állomás” – bus station
- “naponta” – daily
- “munkanapokon” – on workdays
There are several scheduled riverboat and hydrofoil lines operated by MAHART PassNave Ltd. from the capital city Budapest to towns in the Danubebend, like Szentendre, Visegrád and Esztergom, and also a good hydrofoil boat connection operated by the same company between Vienna and Budapest from May to September.
In the capital city there are several sightseeing and night cruises operated by MAHART PassNave Ltd. and other shipping companies, like Legenda Ltd.
There are some ferries on Danube and Tisza but their working hours are undependable. You can trust the ferry on Lake Balaton, though, for a modest price.
Most roads in Hungary are two-lane, apart from modern motorways. Main roads are mostly in good shape; however, cracks, potholes and bumpy roads are common on minor roads and in major cities, though they are constantly being repaired. It is usually not difficult to travel by using a map and following road signs.
Expressways are not free, but there are no other toll roads or tunnels. A vignette system is used, similar to that in neighboring Austria and Slovakia, but as of 2013 the vignette is stored electronically and checked for using gantries that read license plate numbers. You can purchase them in intervals of 10 days (called “Weekly vignette”), 1 month, or 1 year. The vignette is very important and it is a good idea to buy it even if you don’t plan to use the highway. Control is automatic with video cameras and you will get a high ticket (20,000 Ft) automatically without any warning.
If you travel by normal roads the speed limit is 90 km/h between cities and 50 km/h inside, which slows you to the average around 60 km/h. Roads often have high traffic (especially main roads like #8 to the west, #6 to the south and #4 to the east). On highways the speed limit is 130 km/h, travel is the same as in Germany, and on the inside lane it is very common to have someone speed by you.
Expect the Police to use speed traps of all kinds: fixed ones on all motorways which are signed, and mobile ones from bridges, cars standing on the shoulder or behind bushes and trees. Beware that some policemen hide around speed limit signs, especially when the sign visibly useless or if it’s extremely slow for the given road type. Police corruption is widespread especially around Budapest (generally 10,000 Ft solves usual problems if you don’t get arrested for it).
When you cross the country from the west to the east (or vice versa), take into account that there are only a few bridges crossing the Danube outside Budapest. There are some ferries available though.
Outside urban areas, it is a legal requirement to drive with headlights on, even during the day—a requirement that is becoming more common across the EU.
Hungary has a policy of zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. If you are caught driving even after only having a couple of units of alcohol you are most likely to be arrested.
There is a fast growing highway network in Hungary (1,480 km in total). Each highway starts in Budapest.
- M0 – Motorway ring around Budapest. The north-east and south sections are ready.
- M1 – connection to Győr, Austria and Slovakia (west)
- M2 – connection to Vác, planned to reach the border to Slovakia by 2015 (north)
- M3/M30/M35 – connection to Miskolc, Debrecen and Nyíregyháza (east)
- M5 – connection to Serbia, via Kecskemét and Szeged (south-east)
- M6/M60 – Connection to Dunaújváros and Pécs(south)
- M7/M70 – connection to Lake Balaton, Croatia and Slovenia (south-west)
- M4 – will provide connection to Romania via Szolnok by the year 2015 (east)
- M44 – will provide connection between the M5 at Kecskemét and the Romanian border via Békéscsaba (east)
- M8/M9 – will cross the country east-west by 2015
- A single vignette is required to use all highways, except for M0 and short sections around major cities, which are free. Vignettes can be purchased online with bankcard on web (and several private online companies), at filling stations and at ÁAK (State Motorway Management Co.) offices. A 10-day vignette for a passenger car costs 2975 Ft during summertime, the 4-day ticket for car has been cancelled. Vignettes are controlled automatically through a camera system.
BY CAR POOL:
The Hungarian oszkar.com social car pool network/website will allow you to find cheap transport around the country and from (and to) many European cities (especially Vienna, but many German cities are also well “serviced”).
In case you’re not familiar with the idea: people who travel by car and willing to take passengers post their itinerary. You can hitch a ride by booking it on the website and then contacting the driver, whose contact information the website furnishes you with. People wishing to travel by car pool can also post and hope to be found by a prospective driver. Passengers are expected to contribute to the cost of the trip, but “fares” are typically much lower than bus/coach or rail fares (e.g. as of 2013, a trip from Vienna to Budapest may cost 2,500–6,500 Ft). A significant downside is that the site is in Hungarian (although you might be able to navigate it with a service Google Translate) and that booking (but not searching) requires registration, which is free. Drivers as well as passengers can rate each other after trips, much like at auction sites.
Drivers are typically young adults (young enough to be familiar with the Internet and old enough to own their own cars); this also means they’re slightly more likely to speak a foreign language than the average Hungarian, but you still shouldn’t depend on it.
Some commercial “shuttle operators” use oszkar.com to offer rides too; their postings are visually distinguishable from “amateur” ones.
Oszkar.com is a buyer’s market: there are generally many more passenger seats available than passengers.
Inspect the change that taxi drivers give you. Cabbies commonly rip off tourists by giving them change in outdated Romanian currency, which looks similar to Hungarian currency, but is worthless and cannot be redeemed.