Hungary is a country of stunning architecture, natural delights (like Europe’s biggest continental lake and glorious hill ranges), exciting cities with world-renowned nightlife, thermal spas, delightful folk tradition and art, a complex political history, and unique gastronomy. There are so many reasons why a road trip through it is a lesser-known trip that all motorhome drivers should take.
That’s why it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of traversing Hungary’s road network.
In this blog, we will describe how Hungary’s highway toll system works, which tickets to buy, when and where. This is crucial information for any road trip there. You’ll also find out how to access the Hungary toll calculator, so that you can work out how much driving on these routes will cost and better plan your trip. We’ve included some information about getting into Hungary during the pandemic, which is very straightforward, so it’s the ideal destination for a getaway whilst the weather is still good!
We have a blog with an itinerary for the best road trip through Hungary, so if you’re after more travel inspiration before you get planning, be sure to read that, too!
The Hungarian Toll Road System
Toll roads in Hungary were introduced in 2013, and cover 6,500 km of the road network of the Hungarian public road network, including its motorways, highways, and main routes. Driving on these roads requires the purchase of a pass. It’s a pre-paid ticket for the one-time use of a specific road in a specific direction. This ticket is called a matrica, or vignette in Hungary. This is a non-paper based system, everything is done electronically. The vignette can be purchased ad hoc from any fuel station; you’ll need to give the cashier the vehicle's registration plate details. Don’t worry - there really are endless opportunities for buying these passes before you hit the road in question and, after a recent rule change, the vignette for Hungary can also be purchased after you’ve hit the motorway, too. Nonetheless, take a look at this map to see where you can pick up your vignette.
It is crucial to purchase these passes, otherwise you will be subject to penalties of various prices depending on your vehicle and time spent on the road without payment!
Ad-hoc route tickets are valid from the time of purchase until midnight on the following calendar day.
The vignette for Hungary’s toll roads can also be purchased in advance online, but again, you will need the vehicle's registration plate. If you’re hiring a car, some companies require you to buy the matrica, some come with it supplied.
It might be worth registering on the HU-GO website if you are unsure about your route along the toll road in Hungary, but want to buy your prepaid tickets in advance, as this also allows you to refund prepaid route tickets if they don’t go used (which you can only do in the 24 hours before the term of validity begins).
You can calculate what your toll costs will be whilst driving in Hungary using the toll calculator on the HU-GO website, here.
To help you plan your route, have a look at the map of toll sections on Hungary’s road network here.
Other things to know before a road trip in Hungary
As well as knowing how to buy tickets for the toll roads in Hungary, there are some other vital things to remember when driving there.
1. You must have the vehicle’s documents with you, as well as your driving license, at any time whilst driving.
2. Use dipped headlights at all times outside of built-up areas.
3. Signs of settlements signify the start of speed limits for the built-up area. This is normally 50km/h, but look out for lower limits outside of schools etcetera.
4. Give way to the right, except on main roads. Where priority isn’t on the right, this will usually be indicated as you approach a junction, by a yellow diamond on a post.
7. Despite what you may see locals doing, concentrate on the road when you’re behind the wheel or you may find yourself facing a fine. No using your mobile, eating, sipping a drink from a can etcetera!
8. When turning right at traffic lights, a marked pedestrian/ zebra crossing may indicate that pedestrians have priority. So, for safety's sake, assume that they have.
9. A Hungarian friend recently attested to the quality of driving amongst his countrymen. So, assume that they may do something brash by UK standards.
10. Most importantly, the Hungarian drink/ drive limit is zero, and is strictly enforced. So, save the pálinka till you’re within walking distance of your bed!
Entering Hungary during the pandemic
At the time of writing, foreign nationals can enter Hungary by road, rail and waterway from all the countries neighbouring Hungary (Croatia, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine) without any epidemiological restrictions, regardless of nationality and coronavirus immunity. However, they must carry a negative PCR test conducted in the previous 72 hours in one of the following places listed on the government website (which includes EU member states and candidate countries and all OECD member states). The document proving the PCR result should be either in Hungarian or English, and contain the following data: date, type and result of test, and evidence of where the test was performed. You also, of course, have to meet other general conditions for entry (like a valid travel document).
Also, unless you are in possession of a Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, or arriving on land from one of Hungary’s neighbouring countries, you’ll be subject to a temperature check on arrival.
Unless in possession of a Hungary issued Immunity Certificate or a negative PCR test, or you meet one of the exemptions, people entering Hungary must agree to enter mandatory quarantine, usually at home. You must notify the authorities of the location. If you have a suitable device, you must download software for the police to monitor your quarantine. If on-site checks cannot be carried out in any other way, those in quarantine must allow police to enter their home. If you have no place of residence in Hungary and have no Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, you must enter quarantine at a government-designated location. Quarantine is legally enforced and a fine of around £375 equivalent is levied for breaking the rules.
With your travel documents, PCR test and prepaid vignettes in hand, you’ll be surely set for the drive of a lifetime!