cars & bikes



Parking in the Belvaros is no more pleasant than looking for a spot near Wall Street in New York, on Charing Cross road in London, or in the Marais in Paris…well, perhaps it’s not quite as bad as any of these, but it’s close.  And it’s been made much worse of late by a combination of massive infrastructure construction projects, ranging from the building of a fourth Metro line, to the closing of one of the major bridges over the Danube for a 2-year renovation, to a range of new water, sewer, and cable-TV projects that have all the city-center streets torn up.  And of course there's the fact that the signs are all in Hungarian...

Having said all that, the good (?) news is that there are 24-hour indoor  parking garages scattered about (and the unequivocally bad news is that parking garage rates have soared recently to at least 25 Euros/day in the ones I have checked.

Http:// does a very nice job of providing interactive maps and directions in Budapest, and if you click on the P icon it identifies a list of 30 parking garages. Parking in Budapest is volatile, and the rates change swiftly (as does the ownership of the garages), so don't consider anything from any source absolutely trustworthy (including this).  At present, parking within the Vth District in the center of Pest seems to be costing roughly 250 HUF/hour and up, though there may well be garges not far outside the Vth that charge as little as half that.

During the day (8:00am to 18:00 pm) street parking is theoretically not available without a residence permit on almost all streets in the very center of the city (in the area roughly between the Elizabeth and Chain bridges); on-street parking elsewhere requires payment (230-265 HUF/hour) at a Muni-Meter, whose instructions are (a) in Hungarian and (b) unintelligible.  Parking is free from 6:00pm to 8:00am and on weekends.  There is a map with prices and restrictions at:

This is part of  a decent English language website with detailed information and instructions on the use of the machines:

Car Rental

Car rental is, of course, available at the airport.  It is also available at a lower cost in the city itself.  The Avis office is in the parking garage on Szervita ter.  Internet reservations with Avis can sometimes be a bargain but be certain to print out the exact terms of your reservation and take into account Avis’ exchange rate for the local currency of European reservations (8% or so the last time I checked).  And bring your printout with you.  And then keep it until you receive your bill when you get home.

We use Fox Autorent, which is lest costly and which operates out of the lobby and garage of the Intercontinental Hotel. You call and make your arrangements, and then go sit in the lobby until a Fox representative finds you and takes you to the garage.  It’s a bit like trying to buy letters of transit at Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca, but the service is good and the cars are fine, and the hotel is extremely centrally located.

Europcar is also nearby, but more costly and less pleasant to deal with.

Greener Options -- Pedaled and Otherwise

Bicycles can be rented just of Deák ter at Yellow Zebra, next to the McDonalds. They also offer bike tours of the city, daily (twice daily in July and August).  A bit more outré, there is an outfit called City Segway Tours (owned by the same folks, who, by the way, are very highly recommended by Rick Steves),  which unsurprisingly offers tours of the city on rented Segways, including a training session:


Local residents spend almost as much time complaining about traffic and parking as they do about politics.  For a New Yorker, driving and parking in Budapest seems almost like a holiday in its own right.  And yet, they do have a point: downtown parking garages are suddenly very expensive, and the traffic jams at rush hour have been made intermittently interminable by some of the major infrastructure construction projects.  Walk, walk, walk ...