Hungary presently has no regular domestic flights. As Budapest lies in the center of the country and pretty much any point can be reached within three hours by train or bus, there isn't much need for scheduled domestic flights.
However there are many opportunities for people with a valid pilot's license to rent a plane and explore by air.
The Hungarian National Railway is MÁV (http://www.mav-start.hu/
) and GYSEV (http://www.gysev.hu/,
some lines in the west of the country). MÁV has online schedule and pricing site. See boxed text about how to use its online booking system, available only in Hungarian.
The train network is star-shaped (hub-and-spoke), fanning out from the centre at Budapest. This is caused by history because half of the once complete train system went to the neighbor countries after World War I. If neither the starting or ending point is Budapest, expect to travel for a long time often with change in Budapest.
Intercity (IC) trains are the fastest, and they're up-to-date, well maintained and clean. They link the major cities with Budapest. Expect to pay about 550 Forints (= 2 EUR) extra fee independently from the distance for the manditory seat reservation (not in international ICs, ECs). In some cases the extra charge can be lower. Compared to the majority of Western European ticket prices, Hungary's IC trains are amongst the cheapest, with an excellent record of speed and comfort. In almost all cases they also have a restaurant car. At the weekends many students use these IC trains to commute between Budapest and other cities, so an early advance booking is recommended on Friday afternoons for the trains leaving Budapest and on Sunday evenings for trains towards Budapest. Working with a notebook is generally safe, unless it's heavy overcrowded.
Other train lines usually are not that fast, and not always cleaned up to the high standards (even in the 1st class), and often vandalised (mostly in Budapest region); however quality standards are improving. During summer trains linking Balaton to Budapest are sometimes overcrowded with the IC usually being sold out. The next choice is the gyorsvonat, or the old fast train. Pricing depends only on the distance and on the car class. Cash desks assume 2nd class by default for non-IC trains (at least in Budapest for English speakers), so if you didn't catch your IC, consider asking 1st class, paying small extra for much more comfort. When in the train, keep in mind that there are smoking and non-smoking cars--check a sign over a door inside a car.
Young people (under 26 years) may travel with 33% reduction at the weekends (Friday afternoon included). Children (under 6 years) and retired (citizens from EU countries over 65 years) can travel free except on InterCity trains where the extra fee (reservation) must be paid.
It is possible to buy Inter Rail pass for Hungary. Check whether buying tickets for each journey is cheaper.
Hungary’s national bus network is operated by 28 state run companies, united in Volán Association (http://www.volan.hu/).Connections are frequent, prices are identical to those on non-Intercity trains. Bus lines often are more complete than train lines, the speed is quite similar. Long-distance buses are clean and safe, but often subject to delays. Buy your ticket at the station ticket desk before boarding; if you do not take your bus at a main station, purchase a ticket from the driver. Make sure that you validate tickets even when buying from the bus driver. The small orange boxes are used for validating tickets and are seen at several points throughout the bus. Ticket inspectors operate on the airport bus and if you have not validated your ticket, you are liable for a 7000 HUF on the spot fine. It is a good idea to reserve your tickets for national holidays, Friday and Sunday evenings beforehand. Online booking is available only in Hungarian.
How to check the domestic long-distance bus timetable
It's possible to plan your travel checking Volán’s online timetable (http://www.menetrendek.hu/cgi-bin/menetrend/html.cgi). It is available only in Hungarian, but easy to use: “honnan” means ‘from’, “hová” is ‘to’; write your departure date in format year/month/day after “mikor”; leave the other parameters alone and press “keresés”, ‘search’. The results appear on the next page. (“Autóbusz állomás” will mean ‘bus station’, “naponta” is ‘daily’, while “munkanapokon” is ‘on workdays’ ).
There are several scheduled riverboat and hydrofoil lines operated by MAHART PassNave Ltd. from the capital city Budapest to towns in the Danubebend, like Szentendre, Visegrád and Esztergom.
In the capital city there are several sightseeing and night cruises opereated by MAHART PassNave Ltd. and other shipping companys, like Legenda Ltd.
Although from May to September there is a good hydrofoil boat connection between Vienna and Budapest.
There are some ferries on Danube and Tisza but their undetermined working hours make them non-recommended. You can trust the ferry on Lake Balaton, though, for a modest price.
Most roads in Hungary are two lane apart from modern motorways. Main roads are mostly in good shape, however cracks, potholes and bumpy roads are common on minor roads and in major cities though they are constantly being repaired. Usually you can travel by using a map and the road signs.
Expressways are not free, but there are no other toll roads or tunnels. A vignette system is used, similar to that in neighboring Austria and Slovakia, but as of 2008 the vignette is stored electronically and checked for using gantries that read license plate numbers. You can purchase them in intervals of 4 days, 7 days, 1 month, or 1 year. The vignette is very important and it is a good idea to buy it even if you don't plan to use the highway. Control is automatic with videocameras and you will get a high ticket (70 000 HUF) automatically without any warning.
if you travel by normal roads the speed limit is 90 km/h between cities and 50 km/h inside, which slows you to the average around 60km/h. Roads often have high traffic (especially main roads like #8 to the west, #6 to the south and #4 to the east). On highways, travel is the same as in Germany, and on the inside lane it is very common to have someone speed by you.
When you cross the country from the west to the east (or vice versa), take into account that there are only a few bridges crossing the Danube outside Budapest. There are some ferries available though.
It is a legal requirement to drive with headlights on, even during the day -- a requirement that is becoming more common across the EU.
Hungary has a policy of zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol. If you are caught driving even after only having a couple of units of alcohol you are most likely to be arrested.
There is a fast growing highway network in Hungary (1,480 km in total). Each highway starts in Budapest.
M0 - Motorway ring around Budapest. The north-western section is under construction, planned to be ready at the end of 2012.
M1 - connection to Győr, Austria and Slovakia (west)
M2 - connection to Vác, planned to reach the border to Slovakia by 2015 (north)
M3/M30/M35 - connection to Miskolc, Debrecen and Nyíregyháza (east)
M5 - connection to Serbia, via Kecskemét and Szeged (south-east)
M6/M60 - Connection to Dunaújváros and Pécs(south)
M7/M70 - connection to Lake Balaton, Croatia and Slovenia (south-west)
M4 - will provide connection to Romania via Szolnok by the year 2015 (east)
M44 - will provide connection between the M5 at Kecskemét and the Romanian border via Békéscsaba (east)
M8/M9 - will cross the country east-west by 2015
A single vignette is required to use all highways, except for M0 and short sections around major cities, which are free. Vignettes can be purchased online with bankcard on (http://www.ppo.hu/
), at filling stations and at ÁAK (State Motorway Management Co.) offices. A 10-day vignette for a passenger car costs HUF 2975 (~EUR 10) during summertime, the 4-day ticket for car has been cancelled. Vignettes are controlled automatically through a camera system.
Inspect the change that taxi drivers give you. Cabbies commonly rip off tourists by giving them change in outdated Romanian currency, which looks similar to Hungarian currency, but is worthless and cannot be redeemed.
Within the city centre of Budapest, you will find there is local metro stations "BKV" throughout the capital and within proximity to many tourist attractions. Tickets are available at kiosks and at automatic ticket machines (which mainly require coins). If buying single tickets remember that they must be validated (punched) at the machines in front of the escalators, or if travelling on buses and trams at the machines inside the vehicle. Single tickets are valid for one journey on one service, so if you change trams, you have to use a second ticket. If you make only occasional journeys, save by buying a book of 10. However, be warned that many ticketing staff do not speak English and some times it is best to use the available ticket machine which has an English option. However, if you do plan to see a number of attractions on BKV, it is best to get a 24 hour travel card. It is valid for a full 24 hours from the time of purchase. There are also 3 day and weekly tickets. If you buy a three day Budapest Card, this includes public transport and entry to many museums. Many travellers will find that there are metro ticket checkers virtually at every stop. If you are caught with invalid fare, you will be asked to pay a fine of 6000 HUF on the spot or you'll will be taken to the police station. Alternatively, they may ask you for 40 Euros which is significantly more than 6000 HUF.
When you approach the ticketing machine, you will see a number of options. Short fare is intended for only 3 stops, regardless of which train you catch or change to. Regular fare instructions is as listed, but be sure to validate your fare or it'll be considered invalid.