The Hungarian railroad system has a website with an English link at www.mav-start.hu. To change to English, look at the top right corner. Another site is more informational, but also has an English link at www.mav.hu.
Budapest has three main train stations. Pályaudvar meaning station is usually abbreviated as pu. Déli pu located in district I is the smallest of the three and the only one on the Buda side. It's reachable by Metro 2 (Red line). Of the three stations, it is the farthest distance from downtown Pest -- by metro, it would take about 15 minutes to reach it. Keleti pu, the largest of the three, is in district VIII and also on the Metro 2 (Red line) and is only one metro stop or two bus stops on the 5 or 7 bus to reach the center of Pest. Nyugati pu in district VI was built by the Eiffel Company and sits on the Metro 3 line (Blue). It is on the major ring road, so it is in downtown Pest. Trains from the airport arrive at this station. The trip is 30 minutes.
Within Hungary, Eger, Szeged, and Siófok are a manageable 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Sopron and Pécs are 3 hours away. To travel to Budapest from Vienna will take 3 hours or Bratislava, Slovakia is 2 1/2 hours away.
Just like the train stations, Budapest has multiple bus stations as well. Some national and most international destinations arrive or leave from Népliget bus station (tel. 1/219-8080) on the Metro 3 line (Blue: Népliget). Information available 6am-8pm. Other domestic buses will pull into and leave from the Árpád híd bus station (tel. 1/329-1450). The information office is open 7am-4pm daily. This is also serviced by Metro 3 (Blue line: Árpád hid). If you plan to travel domestically by bus, your only option is Volánbusz (tel. 382-0888; www.volanbusz.hu/en). Volánbusz also offers international travel in cooperation with Eurolines bus company. For international travel alternatives check out the newer company OrangeWays Bus (tel. 06/30-830-9696 mobile phone only; www.orangeways.com/en). They have new buses, inexpensive fares and provide a number of on-board services. Both companies allow you to book your tickets online if you have access to a printer.
To rent a car the driver must be 21 years old with no upper age limit. Only the renter is the authorized driver. The driver's license must be at least 1 year old. Some agencies require an international driver's license, so check their website for rules and regulations. Some agencies will require you take their insurance coverage even if you're covered by your credit card company.
You are legally required to carry your passport and your driving license at all times. In addition you must be able to produce your car documents and insurance green card (which is proof of your international insurance) when asked to do so by a police officer. Failure to produce those documents, even if you have them at your hotel, results in an on-the-spot fine. When leaving your car you should also take your car registration documents with you. Renters should note that insurance and VAT taxes are almost never included in quoted rental car rates, so be sure to pay attention when doing an online booking or ask at the rental agency about additional fees. They can add a significant cost to your car rental as insurance is charged per day. Crossing borders within the E.U. is normally sanctioned with car rentals, but some still have restrictions for Romania and Bulgaria. It is best to check if you plan on leaving the country to see if a special permit is required.
All motorways are marked with a letter M and international roads with the letter E. Motorways are gradually spreading throughout the country but the main ones are:
*M0 the ring road round Budapest
*M5 Budapest-Szeged/country border
With the exception of motorways in the Budapest suburban areas it is necessary to buy a Motorway Permit before you enter a motorway. There are many garages that display a sign saying that they sell Motorway Permits. You will receive a receipt, which you have to sign and it shows your car registration number. It is very important to retain this receipt for at least 3 months after using the motorways just in case the garage has put the wrong registration number down.
The system of checking car registration number plates is very efficient on Hungarian motorways. Fines are expensive (even for foreign visitors) and you may not know you have a problem for several weeks after returning the vehicle. Rental companies will not become involved with any dispute you may have with motorway authorities.
In the unfortunate event of a breakdown on the motorway, it is of utmost importance that all of the car's occupants move out to wait on the bank of the motorway. There have been a number of accidents where people have been killed while waiting in the car.
You are also required to display a warning triangle (found in the back of the car) approximately 20m (65 ft) from the car. The driver and passengers are also required to wear the luminous yellow jackets that are also provided.
If you do not have a mobile phone there is usually an emergency phone within a kilometer either way.
Be wary of parking within cities. It is best to find a parking garage or lot. Street parking is often time-limited and they love to put the metal clamps on the wheels to prevent you from leaving.
Most destinations within Hungary can be reached within 2 to 3 hours by car. Vienna or Bratislava are about 3 hours each. The number for the Hungarian Automobile Club is tel. 188.