Hitchhiking from Hungary to Romania

I was in a hurry to get out of Budapest (even though I love the city) since the Sziget festival was starting the following day and so all the Hostels were booked fully. I had arrived in the early evening after hitchhiking from Bratislava.

I quickly caught the metro line 3 and caught the bus to the airport, I figured this would drop me at the edge of the Eastern side of the city and I would find a hitchhiking spot. I was wrong, the motorway can’t be walked and the nearest reachable petrol station really only served local traffic. To people looking to hitchhike east from Budapest I can’t recommend starting at the airport.

Overall Rating : Waist of time.

Waiting Time : Dont care to remember.

Since it has gotten late by the time I got back into town from the airport I merely dumped by bag at an Irish pub I used to frequent when living in Budapest and hit the clubs. Luckily they are open until the early morning. I partied through the night then headed off again hitchhiking the next morning without any sleep.

My new tactic to get east was to head to Nyugati train station and catch a train right outside the city. A 2 euro ticket got me to Üllő in about 30 mins, from here I walked through the village until reaching the main road and heading left (east) until I came to a roundabout (past two small petrol stations). There is a petrol station by the roundabout but its clearly never busy.hitchhike budapest romania

From here I began hitchhiking with the thumb out, I figured the fact I was away from a motorway meant I would be better off hitching with my thumb for some farmer type guy to pull over probably mistaking me for a local.

I got picked by Andras, a farmer (I presume) with no English. Nice guy in a banged up old car, the worst moment was when he stopped the car to share a shot of his homemade Palinka with his new (extremely hungover) Irish friend. Somehow I managed to hold in last nights largers and kebab and smiled gratefully before tanning a shot.

Overall Rating : OK, but local traffic mainly, could be good for Debrecen and Romania with patience and not looking hungover.

Waiting Time : 30 mins with thumb out.

Unfortunately Andras was only driving locally as most of the banged up cars usually are. He dropped me off at Pilis a village on route to Szolnok. I didn’t see a petrol station so just kicked back on the pavement for a while watching the traffic. I was contemplating taking a nap in a nearby field but decided to give hitchhiking an hour.

I decided to make a sign from cardboard and wrote RO for Romania, I tought my chances were unlikely since I was still far from the border but I needed to rest badly and a long car trip seemed ideal. One or two Romanian registration cars passed amongst the Hungarian cars without paying me attention. The traffic is quite slow here seen as it’s not a motorway so they definetly saw my sign. I was getting depressed

After a while I spotted a Romanian taxi approaching (I knew the yellow Dacia taxis from being in Romania before). I started waving the sign and smiling estatically. He nodded and pulled in down the road.

Overall Rating : OK again not much different to the previous spot, possible to get to Romania or Debrecen with a sign and patience.

Waiting Time : 40 mins thumb out then 30 mins with sign.

The taxi driver had no English but he spoke Italian like most Romanian men, which wasn’t much use to me but he understood I wanted to get to Romania and he was destined for Oradea. From what I understood of his story he had been at the Budapest airport that morning dropping off a wealthy Romanian and was returning home. I don’t care to imagine what a taxi fair from Oradea to Budapest is (over 300km) but I bet the guy would be pissed off if he knew I got back that way for free in his taxi. The taxi driver managed to get lost on the journey too, seriously Romanians have to be the most random drivers.

Hungary and Romania have a border as Romania isn’t Schengen, it’s relaxed enough although the possibility of getting a quick search on either side is high.

I want to mention an odd Hungarian town I passed through near the Romania border called Berettyóújfalu. Nowhere else was like this place because everyone was cycling here, I didn’t even see a single regular pedestrian on foot. Thought that was weird to be honest, maybe it’s just me.

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Free Things to do in Budapest

I made a more detailed blog about my time spent studying in Budapest Here.

Free Walking Tour

Budapest is a large city so if you need some guidance take a walking tour. These tours are given daily, last about two and a half hours and the guides work only on tips. Link!

Chill on Margaret Island

A great place to spend the day relaxing with some friends during the summer months play football, Frisbee, go for a jog etc. I’m not sure if drinking is allowed on the island but I was never stopped whilst living in Budapest so I don’t think the locals really care, but obviously don’t litter.

There is another park nearby heroes square also but it’s not as busy. There is also some eagles on the island and deer (both caged).

Fruit Market

Located on the Pest side of the Liberty Bridge, the Great Market is housed in an ornate 19th century building. Covering three floors, the market is a vast array of sounds, smells, colours and tastes, should you decide to sample some of the local foods or palinka there is lots to offer. Upstairs is full of cheesy souvenir shops.

Wander the Jewish Quarter

Enjoy something different with a nice walk through the streets of the Jewish quarter

Explore Kerepesi Cemetery

The resting place of many Hungarian influential people, the cemetery is truly huge and you could get lost here for hours exploring.

Shoes on the Danube

Shoe sculptures by the River Danube, marking the spot where a group of Jews were shot before being pushed into the river. An emotional spot, highly recommended on trip advisor.

Climb Gellert Hill

A very rewarding walk with magnificent views at the top from the fortress, my favorite place to walk to in Budapest.

View the Hungarian Parliament

From outside is free, I believe tours of the inside can be arranged for EU citizens.

Heroes Square

A square full of statues in honor of Hungarian heroes, worth a visit also there are museums, a bath and a zoo nearby here.

Walk the Chain Bridge

Stunning piece of architecture, enjoy a breath-taking walk across Budapest’s first Bridge.

Visit Buda

Walk up the hill and visit the Fisherman’s Bastion, there is a stunning view of the Parliament from here.

Janos Hill

A Budapest gem which is rarely visited by tourists, getting here requires more effort than the other sights but the amazing view on top of the lookout point is definitely worth it, Budapest’s highest point.

 

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Capital : Budapest (The Paris of the East, A popular bag-packer destination for culture and night clubs on the cheap)

Population : Around 10 Million

Languages : Hungarian (Unique, spoken in parts of Transylvania also)

 English (Mostly Students and Younger People),

 German (Older People and especially near the Austria Border)

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking. Petrol Stations recommended for fastest travelling by the motorways.

Money : Hungarian Forint (300 to 1 Euro), Much cheaper then Western Europe however inflation is high here since joining the EU. Don’t exchange money at the airport or train stations but in the little exchange shops around the city.

I particularly enjoy hitchhiking in Hungary because it’s the first country other than Ireland I ever hitch-hiked in. I moved to Budapest in January 2013 to study engineering for six months on Erasmus (A European student exchange programme) and it’s where I found a new passion for travelling.

Up until then I always appreciated the idea of travelling but never saw it as something to base my life around, but the enchantingly beautiful and cheap city of Budapest could turn any “couch potato” into a “Wandering Aengus”.

hitccchhiking hungaryMap showing the routes I hitchhiked in Hungary.

 You will improve your chances of getting around Hungary tenfold by learning basic phrases such as “cheers” (egészségedre), “thanks” (köszönöm) and “good day” (jo napot).

Hungarians have great pride in their strangely unique language and love to hear tourists have a try at the pronunciation. Just by learning “egészségedre” you go from dumb tourist to centre of the party. When in the car with male drivers it is useful to compliment Hungarian women’s looks (they are indeed beautiful and Hungarian men are proud of this.)

To really get the conversation flowing mention that delicious Goulash Soup you ate earlier. Don’t praise Romania or mention it at all unless you want to kill the conversation. Hungarians are extremely proud and still feel an emotional connection with the part Hungarian speaking area of Romania called Transylvania.

There isn’t any hatred towards Germans following WW2 but Russians aren’t very popular, or Turks for that matter but violence is completely unlikely.

Overall hitchhiking in Hungary is straight forward, the country can be considered as part of Central Europe and the roads share more in common with Austria and the Czech Republic then more eastern neighbours such as Ukraine or Romania. It still maintains a bit of the Eastern comrade tradition though so don’t be surprised to be offered the local alcohol Palinka around 40 -60% when hitchhiking on countryside roads.

Hitchhiking from Romania to Germany

Hitchhiking from Romania to Germany

hitchhke romania munich

I was hitchhiking from Romania to Germany because I needed to get to Memmingen Airport quickly for my return flight home to Ireland. I had began this journey in Istanbul and will describe my journey from the Romania/Hungary border at Nădlac to Memmingen Airport via the lovely Budapest.

I walked across the border at Nădlac after hitchhiking a ride there with a local Romanian guy. I should of approached the car’s at the border queueing to cross but I reckoned I could just stand with the thumb up on the other side. A bad decision really as this border proved to be a difficult one to hitchhike.

Upon crossing the border by foot (no issues or search) I began thumbing on the other side immediately. There was a long line of truck drivers queued to cross the border into Romania and a few crossing into Hungary but all of them waved me off. I suppose it was getting late (around 6pm) and they were planning on napping. Many car’s with German registrations passed but none would stop, most occupants looked Turkish also and I have had luck travelling with Turks but people seemed wary here.

The reason for this must of been the amount of Gypsys at the border in French and Spanish registration Tranist vans. They were collecting kids and sending kids back to Romania it seemed but for some reason the adults weren’t going to cross the border. From here in Hungary they could get back to France or Spain without crossing a border so the likely-hood was that they were iillegal living in the Schengen area. This created an air of suspicion around the border. There is also a petrol station a kilometre from the border but it was relatively quiet. So I stood at the border for 3 hours with a sign reading BP for Budapest.

hitchhike nadlac

 

Nadlac (Romania) and Nadylak (Hungary), the red marker is my hitchhiking spot, the yellow marker shows the petrol station. It’s worth a try at the station but I had no luck.

Eventually a Hungarian guy pulled over, he was in his late thirties and was happy to bring me to Buda, he told me all the stories of his life as a hobo travelling the world. He had worked in Israel, Spain, England and France just to name a few. Don’t know what I would of done if it wasn’t for him.

Overall Rating : Bad spot, dosen’t see much useful traffic. I reckon I got lucky considering I arrived late.

Waiting Time : 3 Hours (Budapest)

Once I arrived in Budapest late I rang a Hungarian friend of mine, she agreed to meet up and I stayed a couple nights.

When it came time to head for Germany I was hungover, like every time I wake up in Budapest. I headed for the petrol station/Mcdonaldshitchhiking budapest. This was my second time hitching here and by far the more successful. The more you hitchhike the easier it gets. Description on how to get here.

After about 10 minutes of standing around a Hungarian kid approached me of around 13 years of age. He asked of I spoke IMGA0398English and chatted a while. He asked his Dad to take me to Gyor with them, I was impressed with the kids confidence.

Overall Rating : Best option for hitchhiking from Budapest to Vienna, Bratislava or Balaton direction.

Waiting Time : 10 mins (Gyor)

I got dropped off beyond Gyor at the first petrol station (my second time here), a spot frequented by hitchikers. I soon found another ride  with a Hungarian man who spoke English. He told me the story of the time he Hitchiked across East Germany to Berlin as a teenager in the seventies. He lived in Austria now so his kids would learn German aswell as Hungarian and English (from him) growing up. He believed his effort to make them trilingual was a gift to them.

Overall Rating : Good, there are no busy petrol stations after the Austria border so getting a direct lift to Vienna is highly recommended and worth a wait.

Waiting Time : 20 mins (Austria)

My Hungarian driver took me past the Austria border and to an area where truck drivers park off the motorway about 25km from Vienna. Put “ASFINAG Raststation Fischamend, 2401 hitchhike viennaFischamend, Austria” into Google maps and you will find the exact spot. It was dark now and I couldn’t see anywhere to camp, it was a little car park beside the motorway with toilets and a couple Gypsys. Not sure what I could do I struck some luck when a Swizz car pulled in, and out got a man in his forties.

I asked him as nicely as I could to take me further because I didn’t want to be stuck here. I was lucky he spoke English given the fact he had his two young kids with him and a car full of luggage. He asked if he could see my passport (never happened before) but then its rare people with young children collect hitchhikers. Once he checked over it and was satisfied he rearranged his luggage so I could fit in, we chatted for a while but I soon fell asleep.

I woke up outside Memmingen Airport. Seen as the guy was driving to Zurich he was passing by Munich and Memmingen anyway. I really struck lucky here. If anything this highlights the importance of knowing what registration cars to approach right away.

Overall Rating : OK spot, not recommended as such but it has potential if you want to skip Vienna. Arrive early as there is nowhere to camp.

Waiting Time : 20 mins (Germany)

IMGA0400
My lift to Germany

 

 

 

Hitchhiking from Bratislava to Budapest

Hitchhiking from Bratislava to Budapest

Getting out of Bratislava is probably the only slightly difficult part of hitchhiking from Bratislava to Budapest.

hitchhiking bratislava

The method I choose was to use Google maps and Hitchwiki to locate a petrol station on the edge of the city and get there in the early morning. By using bus 93 or 95 from the city centre, I got 93 (without paying) and jumped out at the last stop called Vyšehradská.

Keep walking south and cross the big road Panonská Cesthitchhike slovakiatowards the fields and away from the city. Then cross the immediate field towards the motorway as shown in the second map. Follow the black line and you will find a hole in the fence by the motorway and a manky pair of old shoes, a bit further south is a bridge to cross the motorway.

The very first car I approached at the station had a Hungarian registration so the odds were stacked in my favour. It turned out to be a Hungarian couple both fluent in English. They were expecting a child soon  and had been visiting a Doctor in Austria. They were happy to drop me off at a petrol station near Gyor. Once I explained my situation hitchhiking from Bratislava to Budapest, even though they seemed a bit nervous at first. A little bit of conversation and flaunting my basic Hungarian phrases did the trick though.

Overall Rating : Great spot but not so easy to get to. The best for heading South East to Hungary.

Waiting Time : 5 minutes (Hungary)

I got dropped off at the last petrol station before Gyor on the M1. I ended up here again a few months later again hitchhiking from Budapest to Vienna.

You can expect to meet other hitch-hikers here from Germany and Poland as its the last station for quite a while. It is a good spot but not very busy, have a  little patience and a direct lift to Budapest is very likely. I caught one with a Hungarian business man and girlfriend.

Overall Rating : OK spot, the truckers are usually sleeping here since its close to the Austria and Slovakian borders. Approaching is necessary.hitchhike gyor budapest

Waiting Time : 30 minutes (Budapest)

I didn’t however take the lift all the way to Budapest. I decided to jump out at the last petrol station before the city’s suburbs on the motorway.

I was hoping for a lift directly to Romania instead of just hitchhiking from Bratislava to Budapest in one day. I had seen some Romanian registration cars on the motorway. My attempts were futile though. Two Romanian registration cars pulled in, one was a man who wouldn’t take any hitchhikers and the second guy was very friendly. A young guy who had made his money working in construction in London driving a nice BMW. However he was driving his family home to Romania so had no space.

In the end I took a lift to Budapest instead of waiting around any longer. Getting a lift to Budapest was simple, a young Dutch couple took me, they were driving to Budapest for the Sziget Festival.

Overall Rating : Good for getting to Budapest centre, bad for travelling beyond Budapest, especially on a Sunday (no truckers).

Waiting Time : 2 hours and fail (Romania), 15 mins (Budapest).

Before : Hitchiking from Wroclaw to Bratislava

After : Hitchhiking from Budapest to Romania

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana

Hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana.

Hitch-hike budapest to slovenia

Hitchhiking in Hungary is not very difficult and I began hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana at a petrolhitchhiking budapest station in the capital of Budapest. It’s an OMV station located beside a Mc’Donalds so it see’s plenty of traffic. Not just local traffic but also Vienna, Lake Balaton, Croatia and Slovenia. I actually used it again on a separate occasion to go in the Vienna direction.

To get there take a bus (8 I believe) from Astoria in Pest (in the city center, tickets can be bought from the ticket dispenser machines for about one euro) and get off at Sasadi ut. Keep walking in the direction of the bus for a minute or two to get to the station. Located on the map by the red marker at Garibaldi Utca.

I never encountered any issues from the petrol station staff the two times I used this spot (although I have heard they can be less than friendly to hitch-hikers).

The best idea is to stand at the exit onto the main road so as to catch the driving traffic aswell as the Mcdonalds and petrol station traffic. You can expect to not be the only one hitch-hiking here so to get an upper hand try asking any of the people in the car park where they are heading. A smile and a sign will give you an advantage especially when there is various traffic here.

When I was hitchhiking to Slovenia I stood at the exit (alone) with a small sign saying M7, this was my first time hitchhiking so it took just over an hour (I was shy and never approached people walking around the car park).

Twice I got asked questions questions by local traffic in Hungarian, I guess I can be mistaken for a local easily enough. Eventually a man around forty years of age stopped in a SUV, no English but he took me past Lake Balaton.

A friendly Hungarian who had long hair suggesting he was once a bit of a hippy. Any people heading for Croatia or Slovenia should take any lifts that bring them along the M7 further and ask to be let off at petrol stations (say Benzien). This provides a better chance of catching truck drivers etc. once outside of Budapest’s suburbs.

Overall Rating : Good, Sign Recommended and also approaching

Waiting Time :  1 hour (Balaton)

My next spot on the way to Ljubljana was a petrol station the Hungarian man dropped me off at as he was leaving the motorway. I only waited maybe 10 minutes here because I ran around quickly asking every person where they were going.

One Polish van driver offered me a lift to Ljubijana when he realised I was hitchhiking from Budapest to Ljubljana. He was a skinhead who listened to Polish rap music for the whole journey. Unfortunately he got a call to take a nap and wait for orders the following morning so I ended up at another petrol station (the second red marker) and the last before the Slovenia border I was told (don’t quote me).

I found a lift to Ljubljana quickly enough when a Romanian guy I smoked a cigarette with went and convinced a group of Moldovans driving a van to Italy to take me. They agreed and dropped me off on the outskirts of Ljubijana. They spoke Russian the whole way and generally didn’t talk to me (language barrier) but seemed like decent guys even if they looked dodgy. Don’t know if this route would of been as good for going directly to Croatia as most traffic seemed to be Slovenia bound. Slovenia has no border control with Hungary.

hitch hike balaton

  Overall Rating : Good in both instances but the ability to approach strangers is necessary since the hitch-hiking is done at petrol stations and not on the motorway. A second language would be useful, Italian especially since Slovenia is on the road from Eastern Europe to Italy for travelling workers. A lot of the traffic might not speak Hungarian.

Waiting Time : Under a half-hour in both instances

After : Ljubljana to Zagreb

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Hitchhiking in Slovenia Tips