With a population of over 1,700,000, the capital and the most populous city of Hungary is both a city and a country paradise for explorers. With a unique youthful atmosphere, a world-class classical music scene as well as a pulsating nightlife increasingly appreciated among European youth gives an exceptionally rich offering to locals and tourists. Budapest is one of Europe’s most delightful and enjoyable cities – Due to its scenic setting and its architecture it is nicknamed “Paris of the East” Keep your sense primed and you’ll discover something wonderful at every turn, especially the natural thermal baths
Where do I fly into?
BUDAPEST FERENCE LISZT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Address: Budapest, 1185 Hungary
Telephone: +36 1 296 7000
Summer is usually hot and dry, with day temperatures anywhere averaging 30-33 C/86-95 F. Refreshing showers do sometimes occur, but they offer a welcome relief in the heat, so it’s best not to worry too much about this.
Passport and Visa Information
Budapest Visa and Passport Requirements
|Passport required||Return ticket required||Visa required|
All citizens of Australia, Canada, Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. entering Hungary are required to show a passport that will be valid for their entire length of stay.
If traveling from one border-free Schengen country to another, however, EU nationals are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still recommended that you travel with your passport or ID card to prove your identity if necessary though. Note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the UK are not part of the Schengen area, so a passport or ID card is required if traveling to/from these countries. However, Romania and Bulgaria are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area.
EU nationals are not required to possess a return ticket or show sufficient funds.
A specific visa is not required for visiting Hungary for citizens of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K,, or the U.S. However, when you enter the country, you are technically entering on a tourist Schengen visa, though there are no preparations needed; it is automatic when you enter the country. All but the British are permitted to stay for 90 days on a tourist visa. The British are allowed a 6-month stay.
Short term Schengen visa: 60 EURO. Reductions are available for nationals of a few countries and for children. They are valid up to 90 days within a six-month period.
Applications are done in person at the consulate or consular section of the embassy; appointment required.
Health and Safety:
Violent crimes are rare in Budapest, though petty theft is common. Pickpocketing and bicycle thefts are frequent. As in any other metropolis, visitors should use caution and common sense when traveling on crowded streetcars and buses as well as in tourist areas.
Men are usually the subject of certain types of scams in Budapest. The common denominator in most scams involves beautiful women. Do not let seemingly helpful local women (or taxi drivers) lure you to an establishment they recommend. It is also advisable to avoid restaurants and bars that do not list prices or provide a menu with prices. The US Embassy publishes an up-to-date list of venues to avoid.
In an emergency the following numbers can be called free of charge:
General Emergency: 112
In addition, there is a 24-hour Tourist Police hotline, operated by the Hungarian Police.
Phone: (+36-1) 438-8080
Office location: Vigadó utca 4, Pest, District 5
If your passport is lost, you may contact the Directorate of the Office for Immigration and Citizenship at (+36-1) 463-9165 or (+36-1) 463-9181, open 24hours.
If your passport is stolen, you must report it to the police.
There is a 24-hour English-speaking hotline, where you can call for medical help. They can get you an English speaking doctor if needed. Phone: (+36-1) 200-0100
There are emergency pharmacies, roughly one in every district. If a pharmacy is closed it will have a note with the address of the nearest open pharmacy.
Public restrooms are practically non-existent in Budapest, with the exception of shopping malls. Both locals and tourists use the restrooms in shopping malls, cafes and restaurants (especially fast food). The fee for the use of washrooms and toilets is HUF 100-200, as more of them still have attendants.
Budapest Currency Exchange
Though Hungary is a member of the European Union (EU), Hungary’s official currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF). The Hungarian government hopes to replace forints entirely with the Euro, but this probably won’t happen until the 2020’s.
The Hungarian Forint is subdivided into 100 filler. The symbol for the forint is Ft and its code is HUF. HUF coins are no longer circulating because the value is so small, for currency under 500 forints, coins are issued in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Ft pieces. HUF banknotes (bills) are issued in denominations of 500,1000,2000,5000,10,000, and 20,000 Ft banknotes.
It is possible to pay using Euro in Hungary, but the conversion rates are often not very favorable Some larger hotels and tourist shops will even quote prices in both Euro and HUF, and the Euro price quoted might well be more expensive. If you don’t want to get HUF, you may try using your card. Small shops, restaurants, and cafes will only accept HUF. Other currencies won’t likely be accepted.
Visa, MasterCard cards are widely accepted at establishments throughout Hungary. Small businesses may not accept credit cards or may have a minimum purchase requirement.
Hungary doesn’t charge fees for using credit cards or debit cards. They’ll only charge within 1% of the interbank exchange rate. The fees you can expect come from your bank.
Be sure to notify your bank before you leave. Failure to do so may result in your credit card or debit card being frozen as your bank may flag suspicious activity on your account. Avoid the hassle of getting it unfrozen.
Traveler’s cheques are becoming rarer as ATMs are becoming more common. While they may serve as a safe backup, you’ll have difficulty finding a place to cash them.
Some banks in the downtown area of Budapest will cash them, but banks are known to vary in what they will charge to cash a traveler’s cheque.
Banks and taxes
Banks in Hungary serve all retail financial needs, such as money exchange, but may charge fees, and always charge a small 0.3% commission.
Major banks in Hungary: OTB Bank, MKB Bank, K&H Bank
International banks operating in Hungary: Erste Bank Hungary, Citibank Hungary, Deutsche Bank Hungary, ING Bank Hungary
Most bank branches offer currency exchange services. Currency can also be exchanged at the main railway stations and at the airport every day (Vienna West: 7:00AM-10: 00 PM; Vienna airport 6:30AM-11: 00 PM), and from Monday to Saturday in all travel agencies.
You can exchange money at a hotel, airport, bank, or exchange bureau. The good news is that Hungary is a bit different than in other countries – exchange bureaus often charge fair prices. Bureaus charge a mandatory 03% commission but largely won’t charge additional fees. They often offer you the interbank (mid-market_ exchange rate, or the rate at which banks exchange currency with one another.
If you are traveling to Budapest, you will have no problem finding ATMs in Hungary. You are better off using ATMs owned by large banks. Look for ATMs with big brands on them. If you approach an ATM and its lacks these symbols, it’s probably, independently owned and therefore likely to charge exorbitant fees and high-point exchange rate.
Your bank may also charge a fee for using a foreign ATM. Often this fee is a percentage (e.g 2%+) of your withdrawal. Check with your bank to see if they affiliate with Hungarian banks that own ATMs. This may save you money in fees.
Be sure to withdraw money in forint to avoid getting a high-point exchange rate. The offer to let you get charged in your home currency is called “Dynamic Currency Conversion” and it means that local ATM will actually give you a more unfavorable exchange rate. Best to avoid this option – always choose to be charged in local currency.
In Hungary, there is a 25% tax on goods (12% for some items) called AFA (VAT) which is included in the sales price. Foreign visitors are entitled to a refund of the VAT on the purchases they take out of the country with them when departing. Like in other European countries there is a system for a swift safe cash refund of the VAT called Europe Tax-free Shopping. Most shops which are of interest to tourists are affiliated with this service.
Your purchase in any one store must amount to a minimum of HUF 25.000 (approx. USD 160). Upon concluding your purchase ask the shop assistant for your Fiscal Receipt and VAT Reclaim Form which is your export and tax refund document. You will have it completed along with a Tax-free Envelope which will show the refund offices where you can get your refund in cash. A service charge is deducted when the refund amount is calculated.
If you paid cash in the store be sure to keep your receipts from changing money to Hungarian Forints along with your Fiscal Receipt and VAT Reclaim Form. If you paid with a credit card keep the credit card slip along with the Fiscal Receipt and VAT Reclaim Form.
As you depart from Hungary have your documents stamped at the border by Hungarian Customs.
You may receive your VAT refund in cash at Budapest Airport and at all border crossings at IBUSZ Travel Agency Offices. If a cash refund is not possible you should send all your documents in original to our office in the Tax-free Envelope and you will receive the refund to your credit card or bank account or a bank cheque to your home address.
Further information on Tax-free Shopping is available in shops and in Europe Tax-free Shopping information leaflets and Shopping Guides distributed in hotels tourist offices airports and business centers. Shopping in Hungary over 50.000 HUF invoice value entitles foreign tourists to claim VAT refunds. Don’t forget to ask claiming form in the shop! They refund you 18% of invoice value.
Older generation Hungarians tending to opt for more of a conservative yet classic flairs such as three-piece suits and formal hats, whereas the younger generations are more western in the way they dress, having a much more comfortable and casual attitude to style.
In the rural areas of Hungary more traditional clothing is apparent, such as women in peasant babushkas (scarves) and men wearing floppy brimmed hats.
To blend in with the locals while in Budapest consider becoming more modern and avoid wearing loud clothing such as neons and contrasting bold prints that will draw unwanted attention.
Budapest frowns upon:
- Dirty Shoes, Bright Sneakers
- Yoga Pants, Sweatpants, Tracksuits
- Baseball Caps
- Colorful Winter Coats
For Hungary, there are two associated plug types, type C and F. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins and plug type F is the plug which has two round pins with two earth clips on the side. Electricity can vary from anything between 100V and 240V.
Austria operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.
If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rate, the single voltage appliances will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 230v)
North American’s will need to bring a voltage converter and/or travel adaptor, which is a device that simply allows you to plug any USA electrical appliance into a foreign electrical socket.
It’s important to understand that some travel adaptors are not suitable for any appliances that require an earth connection. These types of travel adaptors should only be used with double insulated equipment, which will be clearly marked with the symbol shown below.
In sit-down eateries in Hungary, it is standard to tip about 10% of the total for decent service, or up to 15% for an outstandingly helpful server. Many restaurants include a 12.5% “service charge” in the total, so make sure to check for this either on the bill itself or o the menu. There will be no need to leave any extra tip in addition to this amount.
If there is a band plays at your table if you request a particular song and they can play it, you will be expected to provide a tip for the musicians; a 500 forint bill should suffice.
At more casual eateries, a tip jar will often be next to the cash register, or guests can round up to the next highest forint-bill denomination when paying the server. However, no matter what type of restaurant it is, tips should never be left on the table when you leave – all tips should be given directly to the server or into the tip jar.
In bars, typically customers leave about 30-50 forints for each drink ordered, usually rounding up to the next 100-forint denomination above the total charge. At fancier clubs or cocktail lounges, guests are expected to be more generous with tips, although a 200-forint-per-drink bonus will suffice at almost any upscale bar nationwide. A 50-forint coin is enough to leave for the cloakroom attendants.
Cabs/Taxis: 5-10% of the total fare, or to round up the charge by about 100-200 forints for a typical ride of ten minutes or less.
Airport/Hotel Shuttle: 200-500 forints, especially if they assist with loading and unloading your luggage
Limo: 5-10% of the total charge.
Hotels: Tips are given commonly to employees. Large tips are not necessary in Vienna hotels since 10% has already been included in the price; however, you are expected to give a tip to the porter and chambermaid.
Doorman: 200-300 forints
Bellman: 500-forint bill for service
Chambermaid: 200-300 forints for each day of your total stay.
Room Service: 5-10% of the bill
Thermal Baths: 100 forints at the conclusion of the spa visit.
Parking Valet: 200-300 forints
Concierge: 500-1,000 forints as a bonus for all the assistance offered during the course of your visit, particularly if guests present them with considerable logistical challenges.
Tap water is safe in Budapest, but it can taste like chlorine. Mineral or bottled waters are very easy to buy at almost every corner of Budapest. The related lingo to learn quickly is: viz (veeze), meaning water.
Some popular Hungarian bottled waters or mineral waters are
Imported popular brands
- San Pellegrino
Language & Time:
The only official language of the country is Hungarian. It is the first language of some 98.9% of the total population. German is spoken by the minority. English is spoken in Budapest briefly in restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Budapest timezone is GMT +1 (CET)
Budapest has one of the richest public transportation systems of all European capitals. The Budapest Cardholder can travel without restrictions and for free within the city limits on more than 200 bus, 32 tram, 15 trolley, and 4 metro lines, on the HÉV Suburban Railway and with boats. You can also take a free trip to the hills of Buda with the cogwheel railway.
Single Ticket: 350 HUF
Airport Shuttle: 900 HUF
Budapest Train, Bus, Tram Info, Routes, Prices & Purchase Info:
What to pack for a trip to Vienna
- Comfortable shoes (plenty of cobbled shoes)
- Dress & Light Cardigan (ladies)
- Jeans & Suit Jacket (men)
- Shorts & Skirts
- Dress Shirts & Blouses
- Hats & Bag
- Sun protection
- Some medicines are delivered only with a medical prescription. Bring your own medicine.
- Bring electrical outlet adapter and Voltage Converters
Things to carry on with you
- A copy of your passport and driver’s license.
- Money If you are going to make a purchase or go out to dinner, take more and take a credit card as well. Use the card only if you don’t have enough cash.
- Your emergency telephone list of phone numbers from back home.
- A business card showing the phone and address of your hotel.
- Credit cards only if you plan to go to the bank.