By | 16th January 2018

Should you hire a car in Budapest?

Do you need a car in Budapest > Should you rent a car in Budapest Hungary > Budapest ( BUD )

Do you need a car in Budapest? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

When Carornocar first started looking at Budapest, our natural inclination was to suggest that this is an obvious destination where no car is needed at all. This is perhaps most easily influenced by the fact that after London, Budapest has the oldest underground network in the world, and in modern Budapest, public transport still comprehensively serves the city and its suburbs well.

We would also go further and point out that it’s very easy to combine a visit to Budapest with two other central European capitals which are both within a two-hour journey of the Hungarian capital, namely the Slovakian capital Bratislava and the Austrian capital Vienna. Both of these cities also have excellent public transport, so it would be easy to travel in some sort of triangle between them, or even to find low-cost airline flights into Budapest and then to travel onwards from one of the other cities.

However, it would be a shame only to focus on these obvious nearby large cities where public transport is widely available, just as it wouldn’t be doing the wider area justice if we just advised sticking to the city of Budapest itself, using local public transport, and not venturing out at all.

The first place that’s well worth visiting and in easy reach of Budapest is Lake Balaton, which has a huge range of outdoor activities. Beyond this, there are also any number of scenic areas at the eastern edge of the Alps are within easy reach of Budapest.

Why should you rent a car in Budapest?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Budapest?

Budapest Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]



Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




Free parking score

Total 759 - of which 31 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Many great places to visit within a day’s driving from Budapest – a hire car provides a great deal of flexibility, including for cross-border car rental.
  • Hungary is about much more than just Budapest – and a hire car is useful for smaller, more rural towns and villages.
  • Budapest car hire makes sense for driving around Lake Balaton and beyond.

Why not? Visiting Budapest without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Budapest public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score



Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Budapest. 


  • Public transport in Budapest is excellent – one of the world’s oldest metro systems.
  • Public transport is great value.
  • Trains in Hungary cover the country well – Hungarians use rail services more than any other EU citizens.

James says - a few trip notes:

Plitvice Detour

One particular destination which is around a 4 hour drive from Budapest is the absolutely stunning Plitvice lakes national park in neighbouring Croatia. Plitvice may be slightly closer to the Croatian capital Zagreb, and independent travellers might well prefer to get there by taking organised bus tours from either Zagreb or the coastal city of Zadar. However, Plitvice is still an easy day trip from Budapest, and it’s so impressive that we’d highly recommend getting a hire car in Budapest just to go and see it (check terms and conditions about driving out of Hungary). This might be something you’d prefer to do as a day rental from downtown Budapest, but some visitors might prefer to have a hire car for their whole trip and then to see other scenic areas at the same time.

A hire car still has the advantage of flexibility, and for a group travelling together, it tends to work out is better value than train fares. In terms of convenience, there are good motorway links between Budapest and neighbouring Austria and Slovenia, and these might well work out better than messing around with fractured train connections, depending on whether you are staying in suburban or central Budapest.


Car rental in - Budapest Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Budapest?

  • Based on comparison with transit and walking/cycling?

Is it worth hiring a car in Budapest?

  • Based on value for money?

Should you rent a car in Budapest?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Budapest if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

What about for families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Budapest if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

What if we are staying in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Budapest if I prefer not to drive?

What if we are easy either way?

What if I prefer to drive?



What is our final score for Budapest on the Carornocar scale?


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Should I rent a car in Budapest? In summary, our car hire advice for Budapest is that there is certainly no need to get one, and non-driving visitors will get around here absolutely fine. However, even if you just get a Budapest hire car for one day, the opportunity to visit Plitvice lakes is one that should really never be missed, and for this reason alone our verdict is a yes.

Would you hire a car in Budapest?

Have you driven in Budapest? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Budapest?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:



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