Hungarians collect winter fuel for their cars and other vehicles are filled across borders in neighboring countries to avoid high inflation at home.
Hungary’s government blames 25% of the inflation on EU sanctions against fossil fuel exporter Russia.
Euronews traveled to Slovakia and Romania to see if there was any truth to claims that both countries benefit from fuel tourism along with another Hungarian neighbour, Croatia.
Párkány in Slovakia is the closest city to Esztergom in Hungary. The two cities are separated by a bridge over the Danube River and Euronews saw dozens of cars with Hungarian registration plates while there.
One motorist said, “We cross here because petrol is cheaper here again. When the bridge opened twenty years ago, it was the same too.”
But for another visitor from Hungary, the price difference wasn’t as high as he had hoped.
“It’s not much better,” said the driver, “the difference is 30-40 HUF (about 10 euro cents).” They added: “I filled in with diesel. Obviously, the euro exchange rate is a little better now compared to the Hungarian forint, and that makes it more favorable.”
Inflation in Slovakia was 15.4% in December 2022 compared to 24.5% in Hungary for the same month.
With Hungarians discovering that they can save around €20 each time they fill up in Slovakia, shopping for fuel in neighboring countries is proving popular for those living close to the border.
For people living in Kübekháza in southern Hungary, a trip across the border to Romania could save even more money. The town’s municipality takes its minibuses across the border to fill up on fuel.
Mayor Robert Molnar said: “As a mayor, I can’t waste money like our government does. So we decided to go from Kopjeza to the gas station next to a small town in Romania to refuel, because there is 100-120 HUF (€0.25) cheaper per liter. For fuel, and we have to refuel two to three times a month, so it matters.”