The public transport system in Hungary is comprehensive, and expats will find it relatively easy and affordable to get around in the country. Most cities have far-reaching bus and tram systems, and Budapest also has a metro system. Alternatively, cycling is a popular means of getting around most cities, while taxis and select ride-sharing services allow expats even greater freedom of movement.
Public transport in Hungary
Hungary has an extensive public transport system that is both efficient and affordable. Monthly passes covering all modes of transport are available for frequent commuters, which can be bought at all main transport hubs. Discounted rates are available for students and pensioners.
Budapest is the central hub for Hungary’s train network. All rail lines fan out from the city’s three railway stations, Keleti, Deli and Nyugati. Major cities in Hungary and other European cities are linked to Budapest by intercity and express train lines.
Budapest’s city centre has a metro system with four lines in operation. This includes the historically significant Line 1, mainland Europe's oldest underground railway.
Hungary has a developed and comprehensive bus network spanning the entire country. Some bus routes reach further than the railway lines, making bus transport a viable means of getting around Hungary. The bus network consists of both inner-city and intercity routes, including routes to other European cities. City-to-city tickets can be bought directly from the driver.
Several Hungarian cities have tram and trolley-bus lines, including Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged and Miskolc. Budapest is home to route 4/6, the busiest tram line in the world, with trams arriving at 60- to 90-second intervals during peak time.
Taxis in Hungary
Taxis offer a fast and reasonably cheap way of getting around Hungarian cities and towns. There are numerous operators, and fares vary depending on the company and time of day. Expats should note that Hungarian taxi drivers are notorious for trying to overcharge foreigners, so it’s important to ensure that the meter is turned on and running correctly. Otherwise, it's best to agree on the fare before embarking on a journey.
Local legislation and an established public transport network have limited the expansion of ride-share services in Hungary. However, app-based transport services such as Fotaxi, City Taxi and Bolt (Taxify) flourish in Budapest. Ride-sharing services are often preferred to taxi services, as they give expats more control over routes and service prices.
Driving in Hungary
Hungarian highways and urban roads are generally in excellent condition and, thanks to the country’s compact size, most domestic destinations can be reached within two to three hours. Be that as it may, driving in Hungary can be a stressful experience because of the erratic nature of Hungarian drivers, who often ignore the rules of the road. Traffic is heavy in Budapest and other cities, and parking can be a problem. With the country’s extensive public transport system and urban transport links, it may be unnecessary for expats living in Hungary to own a car.
EU citizens can drive in Hungary with their national driving licence. Non-EU nationals can drive in Hungary for a year with an international driving licence and their national driving licence, after which they will need to apply for a Hungarian licence.
Cars in Hungary drive on the right-hand side of the road. The country has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drinking and driving, and the traffic police frequently set up road blocks and checks.
Tolled motorways connect cities and towns. Expats driving in Hungary need to have an e-vignette to use motorways. These can be purchased online and are valid immediately. Such e-vignettes are available for four-day, one-week, one-month or one-year periods.
Cycling in Hungary
Cycling is a popular pastime and mode of transport in Hungary, with the country's high volume of daily cyclists comparable to that of global cycling capitals such as Amsterdam and Denmark. There are plenty of dedicated cycle paths as well as a widespread bicycle rental scheme, both of which make cycling an easy and convenient way to get around.
Walking in Hungary
Most parts of Hungary are relatively flat, making it highly pedestrianised, but expats should take proper precautions when it comes to staying safe. Opportunistic crime does happen, so pedestrians should be sure to stick to areas that are known to them and keep valuables well out of sight. Drivers in Hungary often behave erratically, so extra caution should be taken when walking near traffic.
►For more information on travelling in the capital, see Getting Around in Budapest
"Public transportation is very good. There are lots of buses and a central tram line that runs the length of the city. You don’t need to own a car but we have one." Read more about Irish-American expat Colm Fitzgerald's experiences in Hungary.
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