I’ll tell you about my personal experience and the pitfalls, give advice that will save you time and money. As a result, car rental in Hungary, in Budapest, will go smoothly, clearly, and without any unnecessary hassle. Those who rent a car on every trip already know everything. But when it’s your first time, I know how exciting and scary it can be, worrying about the deposit, the credit card, and having more questions than answers.

Car rental in Hungary: general points, pros, and cons

I’ll briefly tell you about the general aspects you can expect when renting a car in Hungary:

  • All roads in the country are of excellent quality. Driving here is a pleasure.
  • Drivers are very calm and reasonable. There are no road rage incidents here, no one will tailgate, flash their lights, and then scold you.

Interesting fact:

I often hear that Hungarians drive terribly. I don’t know who writes that. They drive slowly, obeying all traffic rules, as there are hefty fines here. But the driving culture is much higher here than in Mediterranean countries.
  • There are no traffic jams or very few of them. Yes, Budapest might have some evening traffic jams.
  • The country has a low crime rate. There are no car thefts, no breaking windows for a visible coin, as in Barcelona. There are no scams and tricks on the roads. In reality, even African refugees don’t linger here; they move on to wealthier European countries. All about safety in Hungary for tourists.
  • Traffic rules are similar to ours, with some exceptions.

Very important:

There is a comprehensive article about traffic rules, the police, toll roads, parking, how to pay, and what fines for speeding are in a separate article. If you plan to rent a car in Hungary, it’s a must-read. It contains a wealth of practical advice and essential information.
Car rental in Hungary
We usually rent an Opel Corsa. But the last time, instead of Opel, they gave us a Renault Clio. This is us during the car pick-up. I recommend taking a video around the entire car and close-ups of any damage during the vehicle inspection. It will make disputes much easier later on. Video is more convenient than many photos.

From the general downsides of renting a car in Hungary, I will mention only those that apply throughout Europe: expensive gasoline at 1.8 – 2 euros per liter, and paid parking everywhere. So, I recommend not renting large cars; any compact car will suffice, as you don’t need high ground clearance or all-wheel drive anywhere here.

Advice:

A car is not necessary for Budapest as public transport is well-developed, and parking is a challenge. However, a car is essential for exploring the country. With a car, you can see three times as many attractions as with trains or buses. There’s also an article about Budapest’s metro, buses, trams, how to buy tickets, make transfers, and more.

The usual plan for a one- to two-week stay in Hungary is to spend 2-3-4 days in Budapest, pick up a rental car in the morning on the last day, and head to the thermal baths, castles, and cities of Hungary. You return to Budapest only to return the car and fly on. That’s what most tourists do.

Rental conditions in Hungary

If we’re talking about official services and major rental companies in Hungary, everything is excellent.

  • High loyalty. They have no desire to take your deposit for every tiny scratch. Their business is car rental, not cheating customers.
  • All cars are provided with a full tank of gasoline, and you need to return them with a full tank. But there are exceptions, like a fuel deposit.
  • All have unlimited mileage. However, be attentive; there are still rental companies that include a limit of 300 kilometers, and anything beyond that must be paid for. Avoid such companies; there are almost none left.
  • Standard driver’s licenses, in the form of a plastic card with fields duplicated in English, are suitable for renting a car in Hungary.
  • All companies usually require a minimum of 1 year of driving experience and a driver’s age of 23 or 25. There are companies that can rent a car to drivers as young as 18, but there will be an additional fee for young drivers. Pay attention to the rules of each company; they vary.
car Rental rules in Hungary
Renting a car in Hungary for drivers under 25, sometimes 26 (as in the photo), may be slightly more expensive. On average, the surcharge for young drivers is 3-4 euros per day.

Very often, especially major international rentals allow a second driver for free. If you need this, pay attention when booking a car.

Useful to know:

I recommend not dealing with small private individuals when renting a car in Hungary, but choose large companies, preferably international ones. They have standard terms and high loyalty. They don’t cheat tourists. And remember, today all of this business has moved online, and you need to book a car in advance. You can’t just go out into the streets of Budapest and find a car rental office, as 10 years ago.

Where to rent a car in Budapest: the most reasonable rental services

I’ll list two major European aggregators where all the major players in the Hungarian car rental market are available. I prefer to work through such services because there are no scammers, and the service guarantees the safety of your booking. Even if for some reason, your chosen car is not available when you arrive, they will upgrade your class for free and give you a better car.

Two important points to consider in Hungary:

  • There are many manual transmission cars in the country and also at rental companies. Manual cars are slightly cheaper, while automatics are more expensive. Pay attention to this when booking.
  • When working with the services mentioned above, you book a car class, not a specific vehicle. For example, you reserve an economy-mini class, like an automatic Opel Corsa with air conditioning. You may not necessarily get that exact car; they could provide a Renault Clio or similar models, but it will still be automatic with air conditioning.
car rental experience hungary
Our Renault Clio from the last trip. All cars are a maximum of three years old and fully equipped. But they are manual transmission. There are many manual cars for rent.

Here are the two leading car rental providers in Hungary. Look everywhere and book where it’s cheaper or suits your conditions.

I always rent a car from either Alamo or Flizzr. Both companies are available through the links above. I’ve never had any issues, and they’ve always refunded the full deposit to the last cent. Flizzr is an economy sub-brand of SIXT, and SIXT is one of the world’s largest car rental companies. They offer great service and top-quality vehicles. However, SIXT is not a budget company; their rentals can be expensive, while Flizzr is 20-30% cheaper with the same car fleet and service.

rent a car in hungary
Here’s an example of renting a car in Hungary with a reputable company and a low deposit. But I’ll write more about the deposit below.

Useful to know:

With all major rental companies I mentioned, which are available through the links above, toll road fees are already included in the rental price for all cars. You won’t need to purchase a vignette for 20-30 euros separately. It’s a small detail but a nice perk.

Insurance or Full Coverage: Everything a Tourist Needs to Know

The insurance question when renting a car works the same way in all countries worldwide. If you’ve rented a car on previous trips, there’s nothing new here for you.

Insurance is also referred to as coverage. Essentially, there are two types of coverage, with some companies offering a third.

  • Basic insurance is always included in the rental price and covers all cases where you’re not at fault: theft, accidents where you’re the victim, natural disasters, and calamities.

However, if anything happens to the car due to your fault, you have to pay for it. Your fault can be as simple as minor damage: a scratched window, a flat tire, or even a minor incident like someone scraping the car with a shopping cart at a store. If you’re on the highway and a stone cracks the windshield, you’re on the hook for the repair unless you have full coverage.

renting a car in hungary no deposit
When booking a car, full coverage looks like the photo below. Whether to buy it or not is your choice, but I’ll discuss it further below. In the photo, the price for full coverage is only 7 euros per day. If you decide to purchase full coverage upon receiving the car, it may not have the same price, but they will certainly offer you this insurance.
  • There’s always full insurance, known as Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), or full coverage, or Full Coverage. Different companies may use varying terms, but they mean the same thing. This insurance is offered as an additional option. Essentially, it’s comprehensive insurance, and your only task is to return the car. If any new damage occurs, even to the tires, windows, or interior, you won’t have to pay for it. Buying this insurance significantly boosts the rental company’s trust in you. The car return process takes just a minute or two.
    • Prices for full insurance vary among companies and depend on the season, car brand, model year, and more.
    • On average, renting a car in Hungary with full coverage costs an additional 7-15 euros per day.
    • I always try to buy full coverage; an extra 100-200 euros in the travel budget doesn’t make much difference, but it provides peace of mind and guarantees the full deposit will be returned.
  • There’s also an insurance option, not available with all companies, that covers only glass and tire damage. It costs 4-6 euros per day.

Interesting to know:

Hungary is not a country where car damage is guaranteed to happen. It’s calm and safe on the roads here. Whether to purchase additional insurance or not is your decision. But with full coverage, you’ll definitely have more peace of mind, especially if the rental company holds a deposit of 1000+ euros. Unexpected situations can happen, too. Recently, I parked and didn’t notice a raised curb. The damaged part at the rental company is estimated at 400-500 euros, and a tiny crack in the windshield is 700 euros. It’s not guaranteed that the rental company will replace these parts, but they will definitely take the money from you. With full coverage, you won’t owe anything.

Car Rental in Hungary: Security Deposits

Short and to the point. It’s all easy and straightforward:

  • A security deposit is always required when renting a car in Hungary. I don’t know of any companies that provide a car without security deposit in this country.
  • The security deposit is either deducted or blocked on your credit card. You cannot pay it in cash. The card must be in the driver’s name.
    • Sometimes, the money for the deposit is on my wife’s card, so I add her as a second driver in the documents and provide her card.
  • If you return the car without new damage, you’ll get your deposit back. The security deposit refund period is 3-14 days and depends on your bank. Typically, in Hungary, the rental company unblocks the security deposit the day after you return the car.
car rental in hungary prices and deposit
Car rental in Hungary always involves a mandatory security deposit. This is an important detail to consider before making a reservation. For the same car, different companies may require deposits ranging from 3000 euros, as shown in the photo, to 500 euros. Yes, these funds will be returned later, but they will be frozen in your account for some time.

Important:

Fines for speeding, parking, and other violations that can be captured by cameras will be deducted from the deposit.

The standard deposit for a car in Hungary is quite high. In the screenshot above, it’s 3000 euros. However, Flizzr, Alamo, Carwiz, which are all available on major car rental platforms in Hungary, have low deposits: 400-700 euros for economy-class cars. When booking, always check the deposit amount because you need to have this amount on your card. Sometimes it’s better to pay 50 euros more for a car with a deposit that’s 2000 euros lower.

Random Thoughts:

The most common question from tourists about car rental in Hungary is whether they can get a car without a deposit. The answer is no. Put yourself in the rental company’s shoes: you’re letting someone borrow your expensive property, and that person might just abandon the car and go home. You’ll never find them through any legal means. The deposit is not meant to deceive tourists and earn more. It’s there to ensure that tourists treat someone else’s property with care and return it in the specified condition and timeframe.

Prices and Expenses for Car Rentals

Below are average prices for economy class car rental in Hungary today:

  • 1 day of rental – 30-35 euros. It’s usually cheaper in winter.
  • 1 liter of gasoline – 1.8 euros.
  • Full coverage – let’s say 10 euros per day.
  • All toll roads fee is already paid if you rent from major rental companies.
  • You pay for parking yourself. On average, parking costs about 20-30 euros over a week of travel. Note that many places offer free parking at night and on weekends, but not everywhere.
car rental in hungary price
Here’s an example of great car rental prices in Hungary for 7 days. The price is low because it’s not the summer high season, and I’m booking 3-4 months in advance. At 20 euros per day, it’s cheaper than using a bicycle! With full coverage, it would be 28 euros per day, which is also excellent.

In summary:

A week of traveling in Hungary with a small car, covering approximately 500-600 km, will cost you around 350-400 euros, including gasoline and parking. This is quite affordable, considering the cost of public transportation. Car rental can even be cheaper, especially if you’re traveling with a family of four. Booking in advance, around 3 months ahead, often comes with attractive discounts.

Car Rental in Hungary for Traveling to Austria, Slovakia, Croatia

You can take a rental car outside of Hungary. It’s very convenient to go to the mountains in Austria or spend a couple of days in Bratislava. Both are just a two-hour drive from Budapest, and there are no border issues.

Useful to know:

Although winters in Hungary are mild, and temperatures rarely drop below freezing, it can happen. There can be snow, which means winter tires are mandatory. This article covers more about Hungary’s weather and when it’s the best season to visit.

I also recommend an article for those who are driving through Hungary to another county by car. It provides many insights about parking and speed cameras. Take a look; it’s useful.

car rental in budapest where
Traveling by car in Hungary is a pleasure. This is a view from Visegrad Castle overlooking the Danube, 40 km from Budapest.

What You Need to Know About Taking a Rental Car Outside Hungary:

The most important thing is to inform the rental company about your plans to leave Hungary and specify the countries when picking up the car and before signing the contract. For destinations outside the EU, such as Ukraine, it’s typically not allowed, and there might be restrictions regarding Romania. This service comes at a cost because the car needs to have appropriate insurance and documents, which the rental company will provide you with, and you’ll need special permission. The cost of the service is fixed and doesn’t depend on the number of days, whether it’s 1 day or 10. Typically, it’s around 50-100 euros, but prices may vary slightly between companies.

Two great articles that everyone should read before renting a car in Hungary.

In conclusion, renting a car in Hungary is a straightforward process. Major rental companies are tourist-friendly, prices are affordable, security deposits are not too high, local drivers are careful. With a rental car, you’ll see much more than you would on buses and trains. If you’ve never rented a car in a foreign country before, Hungary is an excellent place to start.


IMPORTANT: Below are useful links that will help organize your trip to Hungary and Budapest:

  • Flight: Aviasales – compares prices for flights among 30+ airlines flying to Budapest.
  • Tours and excursions:
    • Viator and GetYourGuide – the best services for finding tours in Budapest and Hungary with the largest database of activities in Hungary. They offer river cruises on the Danube, tickets to baths, and 1000+ tours (available in different languages).
  • Accommodation, apartments, hotels, hostels:
    • Hotellook compares the prices among dozens of other booking services and offer the best price
    • Booking – the most popular booking platform
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Hungary
  • Car rental: DiscoverCars – the leading and largest car rental service in Hungary.
  • Travel Insurance: EKTA.
  • eSIMAiralo virtual SIM card in Hungary.
  • Taxi and airport transfers: Intui.Travel