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Straddling the historic river Danube, Budapest is faded opulence and modern grit. Ornate spires rise into the sky and the magnificent Heroes’ Square adds grandeur, but head into the quieter streets and you find a creative soul and signs of a dramatic past. The capital city of Hungary boasts traditional baths and saunas and plenty of spicy goulash. It is just over an hour’s drive from the border with Slovakia so there is plenty to see. Get a car hire in Budapest and explore the surrounding Pest country and the Transdanubian mountains, or follow the Danube up and over the Slovakian border to Bratislava, which is three hours and 20 minutes by car.
Budapest Airport is 15 miles from the city centre, a drive of about half an hour along Route 4. There is also a train that links the airport and the city centre, which runs every 30 minutes and is a journey of 20 minutes.
Organise a hire car in Budapest city centre from Hertz, Europcar or Avis. There are a number of collection points in the Terezvaros district on the banks of the Danube. From here the M3 and M1 roads out of the city are within easy reach.
To arrange a rental car in Budapest Airport try Budget, Europcar or Avis. Hertz, Sixt and Buchbinder are also available.
Once you have picked up your hire car at Budapest Airport then head east to Eger, a picturesque town 80 miles from Budapest in Hungary’s wine region. Driving is the easiest option for getting there, take highway M3 to Fuzesabony and continue north on route 25. Situated just south of the Bukki National Park, there is plenty of opportunity to go exploring with your car. In town the walled Eger Castle dates back to the 11th century and a tour around it gives a great insight into the area’s bloody history. There are also a number of wine cellars around the town that open to visitors for tastings and tours. Szepasszonyvolgy has numerous cellars and adjoining restaurants.
Alternatively you could head to Baja, which is 120 miles south of Budapest, or a drive of two hours. The Danube flows to the west of this picturesque town and the surrounding floodplains and Gemenc forest are home to large areas of protected plants and wildlife. If you feel hungry in Baja opt for the fish soup - it is the area’s speciality, so much so that they hold a fish soup festival every summer.
If you are using motorways in Hungary you will need to buy a pass, which is available online. Video cameras span the highways so cars without the right ticket will be spotted. Check your route before you go and look out for road signs.
Start planning your trip to Budapest and other parts of Hungary by using the Expedia search tool to help you find bargain deals on flights, car hire and hotels, as well as researching the best attractions and activities in the area.
There are a range of car hire companies at Budapest Airport, such as Hertz and Europcar, which you can browse using the Expedia search tool. Arrange to pick up your car when you land and you’ll be able to start exploring Budapest straight away. Driving to the centre of Budapest from the airport takes around 40 minutes, depending on the time of day. If you're staying in the Buda side of the city, you'll get to cross one of the bridges that join Buda and Pest over the Danube river and catch your first glimpse of the impressive Buda Castle.
Taking advantage of Europe’s rail system or don’t fancy driving after your journey? You can arrange to pick up your car rental once you arrive in Budapest instead. There are several car rental companies which are based centrally and on both sides of the river. The easiest way to travel from the airport is by arranging an individual transfer, but cheaper options such as public transport and a door to door minibus are available.
Driving a car in Hungary is a little bit different to driving in the UK. Firstly, there’s a zero-tolerance policy on drinking and driving, which means that getting behind the wheel after even the smallest drop of alcohol could land you in trouble with the law, so stick to soft drinks if you’re the designated driver. Secondly, the tolls on motorways must be paid in advance. You can do this by buying a toll pass at a petrol station when you need it. Some car rental companies will also allow you to purchase one from them when you hire your vehicle.
When you get the urge to to explore a little further, take advantage of your car rental and take a trip beyond Budapest's city centre. The Memento Park is approximately 25 minutes by car out of the city centre and a great way to learn about Hungary’s communist past, featuring a collection of Soviet-era statues which were removed from the districts of Budapest after the Fall of Communism. Spend an hour or two at the park, and then head to the capital of Austria, Vienna. The drive takes just under two and a half hours, and when you arrive, you’ll be able to enjoy Austria’s historic architecture, delectable cakes and green spaces before returning to Budapest.