Hungary Travel Tips
Business Offices: 08:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday
Banks: 08:00 to 14:00, Monday to Thursday; 08:00 to 13:00, Friday
Post Offices: 08:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday (large branches open until 20:00 and Saturday mornings).
Shops: 09:30 to 18:00, Monday to Friday; 09:00 to 13:00 Saturday (supermarkets and small independent stores may open later).
Hungary is a relatively safe destination, although visitors should be aware of the presence of petty criminals in busy destinations, particularly in Budapest. Pickpockets and bag snatchers are known to operate in bus and train stations and around popular tourist attractions. Be sure to keep your cash and valuables in a secure place about your person, avoid flashing expensive jewellery or personal items in public places and never leave bags unattended in bars or restaurants.
If you plan on renting a car during your holiday in Hungary, then be sure to park the vehicle in a safe location and avoid leaving anything of value on display inside.
Hungary is a low-risk destination as far as threats to health are concerned. Tap water is entirely safe to drink and risks of bacterial poisoning from public dining and drinking establishments are minimal. Vaccination against hepatitis A is the only recommended immunization for overseas visitors.
As Eastern Europe goes, the standard of health care in the country is high and visitors unfortunate enough to become ill or sustain injuries requiring medical attention will benefit from well-trained doctors and nursing staff and modern equipment. English speaking physicians and nurses may be difficult to come by, although there are certain establishments that do employ bi-lingual medical staff.
Citizens from EU countries carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), are eligible for free emergency treatment at hospitals and local healthcare centres.
Hungarian, ormagyar as it is known by residents, is the official language of the country. There are various dialects, although they are not extreme enough to prevent cross-regional communication. English is not widely spoken, accept in hotels and other locations commonly frequented by tourists.
The Hungarian Forint is the country’s official currency and is a unit comprised of 100 fillér. Notes are issued in denominations of Ft20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500 and 200, while coins come in Ft100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1.
The vast majority of banks offers currency exchange services and the best rates are generally available there. Bureau de change can be found in popular tourist areas and at airports, while cash and traveller’s checks can usually be exchanged at travel agencies and at large reputable hotels. Budapest and other tourist areas also have auto exchange machines.
Customs allowances differ depending on whether you are an EU resident who is bringing goods into Hungary from another EU country or you are a non-EU resident travelling in from outside of the union.
In the former case, individuals may bring or take out the following: 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1000g smoking tobacco; 110 litres of beer, 20 litres of fortified wine, 90 litres of wine and 10 litres of spirits plus an unlimited volume of gifts and souvenirs provided they are for personal use only.
In the latter case, customs allowances are as follows: 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250 gms tobacco; 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% volume or 2 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs, 2 litres of still table wine; 50 g of perfume, 250 cc/ml of toilet water;€175 worth of all other goods including gifts and souvenirs.
Globalization and membership of the EU have brought Hungary into the 21st century as far as conventions are concerned, with the social traits of a developed country fairly evident in the big cities. Among the older generation, especially out in the rural areas and small villages, cultural traditions are still strong and visitors venturing into such area need to be sensitive to this fact.
If meeting locals for the first time, a handshake is the normal form of address and is accompanied by‘Jó napot’ (pronouncedyor na-pot), which is the formal way of saying hello. Both Christian and surnames are used initially until a time where relationships become less formal, then Christian names only are fine.
If invited for dinner at a Hungarian home, it’s polite to bring a gift as a token of your appreciation; something from your home country, flowers or a bottle of wine are appropriate. At the dinner table, it’s common for toasts to be made (usually by the host first) and in such instances, all diners are required to raise their glasses and say‘egészségünkre’ (pronounced ‘ay-gash-ay-gun-gre’), which means ‘your health’.
Loud and anti-social behavior is not well tolerated, nor is extreme drunkenness in public places, so remember that you are a guest during your holiday in Hungary and comport yourself accordingly.
Punctuality for a dinner date is expected, whereas being fashionably late is considered rude in Hungary. You may bring a gift for your host/hostess to show your appreciation for your invitation; flowers, chocolates, wine or something from your home country is appropriate.
During the meal, manners are continental so keep elbows off the table and hands above the table at all times. A knife and fork crossed on your plate means you have not finished eating, while utensils laid parallel on the right side of the plate means you have finished.
It’s polite to try something of all the dishes prepared and to accept second helpings if they are offered. No significance is attached to a clean plate or food left uneaten by individuals.
Toasts are common and are initiated by the guest of honour or host first, after which it’s okay for other diners to make salutations. A diner’s glass is automatically refilled if he/she empties it, so keep it half-full if you do not want anything more to drink.
Visa and Passports:
Hungary now observes the Schengen agreement for both air and land arrivals into the country, meaning that visitors from countries that are party to the agreement can enter with a valid passport (minimum six months of validity from the date of entry) for stays of up to 90 days. Australian, Canadian and US citizens may also enter without a visa. Other visitors will need a tourist visa to accompany a valid passport for entry into the country. Visas can be applied for at Hungarian consulates in major cities around the world.
Tourist Information Offices:
Budapest has a total of six tourist information offices in different parts of the city, most of which are open seven days a week from 08:00 to 20:00 (variations apply).
Hungarian National Tourist Office
Phone: +36 1 438 80 80