Driving in Hungary

What to know about driving in Hungary

 

If you’re new to driving in Hungary, it pays to keep in mind that some things are different from home, wherever home may be. Most Hungarian signs are picture signs, not written signs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thing that gets most people when driving in Hungary, is the yielding rule. By default, you should always yield to the car coming from your right. Even if you arrived first at the intersection, the car coming from your right always has the right of way in an otherwise unmarked intersection.

 

No turning on red. Sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget that a red means red in Hungary. So no right turns on a red light unless you have a separate green arrow light.

 

Zero tolerance on alcohol. Can’t get away with having a beer or wine with dinner,  and then driving home. You can lose your license this way. It’s not just a fine, it’s losing your license.

 

Adults and children must wear a seat belt, both in the front and in the back. Children shorter than 150 cm and younger than 12 years old may not sit in the front passenger seat. Children under 12 and shorter than 150 cm should be seated in an appropriate car seat or booster seat in the back.

 

You must have your drivers license, car registration papers and proof of insurance with you at all times.

 

Only hands-free cell phones may be used while driving. You can’t have a cell phone in your hand while driving.

 

When using the highways (designated with an M, such as M1, M7, M5, M3, M0, etc), you must purchase a vignette or sticker before driving onto the highway. These “stickers” are virtual, so you don’t actually get a sticker to put on your windshield. You can purchase virtual stickers at gas stations, post offices or through your cell phone. They are available for 4 days, 1 week, 1 month and 1 year periods. Retain your invoice for the virtual sticker in the car for 1 year, as this is your proof of purchase. Exception: All of these highways have segments (around major cities like Budapest, Székesfehérvár or Eger) where the stickers are not necessary. So when driving around Budapest suburbs, you don’t need to get a sticker until you see the sign on the right.

 

Finally, invest in a good GPS system when driving around Hungary. Streets are not clearly marked in the countryside, and getting around often depends on an intimate understanding of local conditions. Directions from locals often sound like “and then you will see a red storefront on the right, bear left and when you come to the blue house, turn left. When you see a big tree, you are there. You can’t miss it.”

You will save yourself a lot of grief with a good GPS.