Getting there and around Hungary

Hungary is a member of the Schengen Agreement. There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty: the European Union (except Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs check but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).


Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.


Nationals of EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry - in no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries will generally need a passport for entry to a Schengen country and most will need a visa.


By plane:
p1160292 20120409 1590006350Budapest Airport receives a number of flights from the major European cities and from outside Europe. There are some low cost carriers offering cheaper flights. You can get in the city by taxi or bus.

By train:
Budapest is an important railway hub for the whole Hungary and large part of eastern Europe, with frequent trains from Austria, Germany, Czech and Slovakia. There are at least one train daily from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine, as well as Poland and seasonal sleepers from Bulgaria and Montenegro. You can search for international train connections at official schedule site of MÁV, national train company, or at German Railways website covering almost whole Europe.


International (and many domestic) trains require seat reservation. Sleepers are almost always available on long hauls. You can buy tickets at the three main train stations in Budapest, but it's easier at the MÁV international information and ticket centre. They accept credit cards. For fares, check www.elvira.hu.

By bus:
The national carrier is Volánbusz which covers domestic and international lines, while Orangeways offers an affordable alternative to some destinations. In Budapest, all international buses arrive at and depart from the Népliget bus station. The coaches are as comfortable as can be with on board rest room and coffee machines.

By car:
To enter the country, ensure that your International Motor Insurance Card is valid for Hungary (H) along with the Vehicle Registration and a Power of Attorney from the owner if the car is not yours. The border guards are very strict about allowing cars through without these documents. Also, make sure to pay the neccessary highway fees before driving on any highways. Entering Hungary from a Schengen country is fast and painless but from other directions you can expect a bit slower procedure.