An article about mobile communication and the internet in Hungary. You will learn about the quality of the network, which operators are available, where and how to purchase a SIM card in Hungary. Most importantly, if you’re wondering if you need it, I’ll explain why it’s essential for everyone and why expensive roaming data with your home SIM card won’t take you very far.

General Information on Mobile Communication and Internet in Hungary

In summary, here are the key points that will give you a comprehensive overview:

  • Despite Hungary being a small country both in terms of land area and population, there are four active mobile operators:
    • Yettel
    • Vodafone
    • T-mobile
    • Telecom HU – the national operator
hungary mobile operators
The image shows a T-mobile store. You can see how Vodafone and Yettel stores look in the photos at the beginning of the article.
  • Some general points to note are that all four operators have already deployed a commercial 5G network. It’s available in all major cities like Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged, Győr, and more. You’ll also find a guide to cities and resorts in Hungary that are popular among tourists. Yes, it’s not just about Budapest!
  • Coverage by these operators is excellent, with LTE available across 95% of the country. It’s challenging to find a place in Hungary with no network coverage.
  • Moreover, free Wi-Fi is available in many restaurants, all hotels, and apartments where you stay, and it’s often found in major shopping malls. So, even if you don’t want to purchase a SIM card, you won’t be completely without connectivity.

However, I strongly recommend reading the last section of this article to understand why you need a consistent internet connection in Hungary. Life without it is not the same.

Plans for Tourists

Today, all operators offer tourist plans. You can purchase them at any mobile store in any city. All of these plans are prepaid, meaning you can’t go into debt with them. When you leave the country, you can simply discard the SIM card, and there won’t be any outstanding charges.

It’s essential to know that

almost all parking in the country is paid. In 95% of cases, you can pay via parking machines, but sometimes you can pay with an SMS. To pay via SMS, you need to have a balance on your local Hungarian SIM card, as the price for one SMS is equal to one hour of parking. On average, parking rates in the country range from 0.8 euros per hour to 1.5 euros per hour. Paying through a parking machine is more straightforward, and they are available everywhere. However, you should be aware of the details regarding SMS payments. If you plan to purchase SIM card in Hungary and travel around the country by car, either your own or a rental, you can top up your balance at the time of purchase.
internet in hungary price
Here’s an example of where you can pay for parking via SMS, but only with a Hungarian SIM card. Such situations are rare but can occur.

I recommend buying a SIM card for internet in Hungary from either Yettel or Vodafone. These are the largest operators in the country, offering the broadest 5G network and considered to have the best coverage throughout Hungary. They also have the most subscribers and stores.

For current prices, plans, and store locations, visit the official websites. Plans abd prices can change two to three times a year, especially for tourists, and I don’t always have the opportunity to update the article in real-time.

where to buy sim card in hungary
A standard internet package looks like this, including a universal SIM card with micro and nano slots and instructions in Hungarian.

The prices and plans for tourists are more or less the same. The latest trend is that these packages include very few or no minutes, focusing primarily on internet data. In today’s context, minutes are often unnecessary.

best mobile operator in hungary
Here’s a range of tourist plans from Yettel: 5GB for approximately 3300 Hungarian forints, which is roughly 9 euros. Prices at other operators are similar, with a difference of 1-2 euros being negligible. Internet in Hungary is reasonably priced. You can find packages with more data for around 20 euros per month, but more on that below.

Useful to know:

While there are plenty of mobile stores where you can purchase a SIM card in Hungary, they’re not on every street corner. It’s best to check the map on the official websites in advance to find the one closest to you. Otherwise, you might spend a couple of hours of your trip fruitlessly searching for a SIM card. Is that what you want?

Virtual eSIM card

And here’s the option that I consider a game-changer, a marvel of the 21st century and high technology. They genuinely simplify all aspects of life, making the internet in Hungary more accessible. Let me briefly explain the most convenient option, according to the author (well, you’ve probably figured out it’s me).

Important!!!

This option is suitable only for those whose phones support eSIM. All modern iPhones and top Android models undoubtedly support eSIM technology. But if you’re in doubt, it’s better to clarify this in advance.

In simple terms, eSIM is a virtual SIM card technology that can be added to your phone with just a QR code in two steps. It’s incredibly simple and intuitive. If your phone supports eSIM, it’s the best option for your journey in Hungary. There are several mega-important advantages:

  • To buy eSIM, you don’t need to go anywhere. You can do it even before your trip, while you’re still at home. And right there, while you’re at home, you can activate it from the comfort of your couch.
  • As soon as your plane touches down in Budapest, you’ll already have internet. No need to run around looking for a mobile store. You can immediately call a taxi or order a transfer, check the bus schedule, and so on.
  • And most importantly, if you have a single SIM phone, like an iPhone, you don’t need to swap out your primary SIM. The phone will work in dual SIM mode, and both your physical and virtual eSIM will be active.

These eSIM cards in Hungary are sold by a virtual operator called Szia. They don’t have mobile stores, shops, or advertising in cities. They only have a website and plans packages for tourists. Furthermore, their range of tariffs is wider than other Hungarian operators.

  • You can purchase and check the prices and packages on the Airalo website. They also provide instructions on how to activate it.
  • For new customers a 15% discount is available until April 30th using the promo code APR15, and for existing customers a 10% discount can be applied with the promo code APR10 (limited to the first 10000 orders).   
esim in hungary
Using eSIM for internet in Hungary is both simpler and more convenient. The range of plans is broader than those offered by regular operators. You can find packages with as much as 20GB of data.

Decide for yourself, but for the past couple of years, I’ve switched to eSIM for all my travels to countries where it’s available. It’s significantly more convenient for the same cost, at a minimum.

Why Having Internet in Hungary Is Critically Important: For Those Still Contemplating

There’s a category of tourists who don’t need to be online all the time, either for work or other reasons. They’re satisfied with having internet access in their hotel room in the evening. Or perhaps someone doesn’t want to bother with buying a local SIM, prefers roaming, buys a 500MB package from their home operator, even if it’s more expensive. Yes, this approach might work in any European country, but not in Hungary.

The Hungarian language is one of the most challenging in the world, and it doesn’t resemble any other European language. You need to know what a tourist should expect regarding the Hungarian language, what to prepare for, and which apps to have on your phone.

To give you an idea, when reading any sign, there are no associations to rely on. You won’t even understand what it’s about, and its meaning won’t be apparent. Moreover, Hungarians themselves have limited English proficiency, and you’ll often encounter people who don’t speak it at all.

where to buy esim in hungary
The usual menu of an ordinary cafe. Dishes are written in bold in Hungarian, below in English. What if they brought the menu only in Hungarian? Try to read and at least understand what kind of dish it is and what it’s made from?

Internet in Hungary is a vital necessity. Everyday situations where you’ll need internet, even a small part of them, include:

  • Menus in restaurants and cafes. English menus aren’t available everywhere.
  • Price tags in stores. You won’t even discern which tag belongs to tomatoes and which to cucumbers if they’re placed together. And there are no price tags in English. This article covers everything about markets, stores, prices, and intricacies.
  • Any informational sign, announcement, or inscription.
  • Buying a metro or bus ticket in Budapest, or an airport shuttle, is faster and easier online. This article covers all aspects of transportation in the capital of Hungary.
  • Checking work hours, finding an address, or planning a route – without internet, you’ll be in a tight spot. And in Hungary, all stores, markets, and establishments close quite early. This article includes everything about time in Hungary, how catering and commerce operate, daylight saving time and more.
  • Simply asking people on the street – it won’t be easy without an online translator.
can i go without sim card in hungary
Or, consider this example at the bottom of the menu. Try to intuitively understand what it says. Maybe it mentions that VAT will be added to the dish price (in reality, it doesn’t). Without an online translator, it will be challenging.

In conclusion: today, internet in Hungary isn’t just for gaming or watching YouTube; it’s vital for a tourist’s “survival” in a country where the language is unlike any other. Without internet, you’ll constantly encounter misunderstandings and unfamiliar situations. The choice of which SIM card to purchase is yours. Internet in Hungary, offered by all operators, including eSIM, is fast, provides good coverage, and has roughly similar prices.


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