Is there anything I need to know? Do you need a special license? I know some countries require you go through a process to get one. Is it cheaper to book beforehand or maybe once in Hungary? TIA
I have been traveling to Hungary several times a year for over a dozen years. I have never rented a car so I can’t give you much advice. I don't think its a bad idea, for what we do, we just haven't needed it or wanted to deal with it.
I do know all the major companies are there. I looked at AVIS and it appears a compact will set you back about $100 a day, then there is the gas and the tolls and parking. A trip to Pecs for instance is about 125 miles and if you did that sort of trip each day for 3 days the cost might look like this:
3 days x ($100 rental+$15 gas for a compact car +$25 parking + $4 tolls) = $432.00. A train ticket to Pecs is about $10, so three such trips might be $30 to $60.
The great inconvenience of the trains in Hungary is that for the most part you have to return to Budapest for every trip and that gets a little old. A car would overcome that, but the good roads like the trains only lead in and out of Budapest. But we have been on a lot of roads and highways in Hungary and by and large they are very, very good. So that's not an issue.
When I haven’t wanted to rely on the trains I have hired this guy: http://silverwings.hu/ his rate to Pecs wouldn’t be significantly more than renting a car. For instance, Vac about 30 minutes outside of Budapest is becoming a popular day trip and the train will get you there for about $3. But between Vac and Budapest there is this great bear sanctuary. You can actually feed the bears honey; but the train doesn’t stop there. So we took a morning train to Vac and had Laszlo pick us up after lunch and stop at the bear sanctuary on the way back to Budapest. On the way Laszlo told us he knew a lake near by where we could maybe do some fishing. We didn’t have any gear with us but Laszlo took us to meet the fishermen and we learned how incredibly different the did it over there than anything I had ever seen before. That sort of thing happens when you meet people and spend time with them.
Here are some of the details for driving:
U.S. driver’s licenses are accepted in Hungary for one year after arrival in Hungary, provided that a certified Hungarian translation is attached to the document. U.S. citizens who are in possession of an international driver’s permit do not need to have their state driver’s license translated, but must have both the state license and the international permit on hand when driving.
The International Driving Permit is valid in over 150 countries. The permit contains your name, photo and information translated into ten languages, and is usually valid for one year. This license is not intended to replace valid U.S. state licenses and should only be used as a supplement to a valid license. International Driving Permits are usually available at your local AAA office. However, if you are currently overseas, you can mail your completed application form to the AAA office closest to your place of residence in the United States. For office locations, please check the AAA web site. To apply for your International Driving Permit through the mail, enclose your completed application form (available on the AAA website), two passport-size photos (signed on the back), the 20.00 USD permit fee (check or money order only), and a photocopy of both sides of your current driver’s license.
For information on Tolls: http://www.tolls.eu/hungary
Just a small addition to what James said:
There is no "special license" to drive in other countries. What some countries require is an International Driver's Permit, which must be used with your current license. In your case, you'd get it from the CAA; you do not need to be a member. Here's the CAA's webpage on getting one: https://www.caasco.com/Travel/Travel-Information/International-Drivers-Permit.aspx
As for booking the car, it's cheaper to book ahead. But as someone said in another thread, just as "the cheapest airfare" is a moving target, the best deal for a rental car requires research. Look at AutoEurope, Kemwel, Gemut, and the individual car rental agencies. Be sure what insurance is and is not included in each deal, so you're comparing apples to apples. Double check the deductable, and what is excluded from the insurance.
So this permit is required? And we would have to get it before arriving? We rented a car a few years ago in Croatia and they just took a copy of the license and insurance.
Its $20 at AAA. Seems to be not much of an inconvenience. I actually got one for a trip to South Africa some years back. It was "required" but the rental agency didn't ask to see it. I just posted what the Embassy said. Have no idea if the rental agency will rent with out it. If yes, then you only have to worry if the cop that pulls you over is a stickler for the law.
Sorry, but what is AAA? Must be get it online before going? We leave in a week. And my apologies if I'm missing something!
Shyla, the AAA is the CAA in Canada, Canadian Automobile Association. Google for the locations in Toronto. The CAA offers lots of services to members, tows, travel info, etc., but you needn't be a member to obtain an Int'l Drivers Permit.
Ah, got you. Thanks!