Parking in Budapest can be a real pain, especially in the very downtown. Since the public transportation is fast and effective, the best idea is to get around by using the metro, buses or trams or the emerging car-sharing options.
If you arrived by car you might leave it in any of the P+R parking lots. They are located at the edge of the outskirts but well connected by metro to the downtown. Some of them are free of charge; others do charge a symbolic amount of a single ticket. The list of Budapest P+Rs is available here:
They are usually crowded during working hours; you might want to arrive early in the morning or in the afternoon to find a space.
Since the price of building plots in Budapest keeps on rising, parking lots cease to operate and new apartment buildings arise instead. There are however a limited number of public garages, to ease parking in Budapest. You can use them on an hourly, weekly or monthly bases. Prices are understandingly high enough but you can be happy to have your car safe and nearby.
Parking in the street with tickets
In Budapest parking belongs to the reach of the districts. They regulate the parking fees and have own parking companies. Parking fees change according to different zones: the more central the location, the higher the fee. You can pay the parking ticket in cash by using the parking automates (Just be prepared to have enough coins). The maximum time is usually limited to 3 hours. You can alternatively use the text sending option provided on the parking automates, if you have a registered Hungarian phone number at any of the three service providers. This has a service fee but you don’t need to bother with changing money.
The enlargeable map of parking zones and parking times is available here.
In the inner districts one must pay from 8am to 8pm, outside the ring the free period starts at 6pm.
There are however special areas e.g. Margaret Island and the Buda Castle district where special restrictions apply and you do have to pay even on weekends.
The ticket printed by the parking automate must be displayed inside the car, easily readable by the controllers. If you paid for less than 1 hour there is an extra 5 minutes tolerance before leaving, while if your parking time exceeds 2 hours the tolerance is 15 minutes. There is no margin for buying the parking tickets.