The Hungarian language is one of the hardest to learn since it's nothing like any other European language.
Hungary only has one time zone.
The country follows UTC + 2 hours in summer, so all cities in Hungary are 1 hour ahead of London, 6 hours ahead of New York/Toronto, 7 hours ahead of Chicago, and 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles/Vancouver.
To travel to Hungary, EU, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, and U.S. citizens only need a valid passport, recommended with six months validity.
- A visa is not required as long as the passport is valid for the entirety of the stay (usually up 90 days).
The largest airport in Hungary is Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) in Budapest. It services a majority of Hungary’s visitors and is still expanding. BUD services very cheap nonstop flights from European cities such as London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Milan and Athens.
Outside Europe, BUD services connecting flights from North American destinations such as Vancouver, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Miami. There are very minimal nonstop flights offered from New York and Toronto.
There are many options to travel around Hungary.
Budapest has a metro train system, with four lines. For more information, visit this site about the Budapest Metro.
The Hungarian State Railway or MÁV, provides train service all over Hungary, and into other countries as well. The price is affordable, and the connection hub is Budapest. The InterCity line is the best to travel within Hungary. For more information, visit Rail Europe.
Hungary also offers bus service from Budapest that travels all parts of the country. They are cheap and trustworthy, but often slow and cramped. The premier bus company in the country is Volánbusz, and more information can be found on their site.
Traveling by car is not advised. Taxis are an efficient way to traverse cities, however it’s important to pay attention to rates and not get charged more. Taxis can be found anywhere in city streets, but always check for a meter, license plate number, and taxi company name and phone number. In big cities such as Budapest, taxis can be distinguished through their yellow color. For good measures, your hotel can also book a taxi.
Hungary’s ride-share app is called Bolt.
Hungary is a safe country to visit. As a foreign traveler, be aware of your surroundings and follow the same procedures as any other country to stay safe.
In case of need, the phone number for the police, an ambulance, and fire is 112.
- Be wary of pickpockets and keep an eye on your belongings, especially purses, money, and phones in places with clusters of people and public transportation.
- Lock hotel rooms before sleeping at night and put extra important things in a safe.
- Always let someone know where you are when venturing into more mountainous or rural areas.
Safety Tips for Nighttime
- Do not walk alone at night, especially on empty streets.
- Avoid train station areas at night.
For Female Travelers:
- Female travelers should follow all the general safety tips mentioned above. Hungary is a safe place to visit for female travelers and outside distress should not be a problem.
Hungary as a whole generally experiences similar weather. It is landlocked and has a continental climate.
The year round average weather for Hungary is as follows:
Nov – Mar: Cool and dry, temperatures range from 35-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Snowfall occurs.
Apr – Jun and Sept – Oct: Can be rainy, temperatures average in the 60s and 70s. Weather is mild and pleasant.
Jul – Aug: This time brings some heat waves, temperatures average in the 80s, and can be rainy.
Visiting Hungary would be ideal in May/June or September, when the weather is mild and it’s not in the heart of tourist season.
Hungarian is the main language spoken in Budapest. However, since Budapest is a big city, English is spoken here, diminishing a language gap.
Here are several Hungarian phrases that may be useful for travelers:
Yes – Igen
No – Nem
Thank you – Köszönöm
Please – Kérem
Hello – Jó napot
Bye – Viszontlátásra
How are you? Hogy van
Do you speak English? Beszél angolul?
I don’t understand – Nem értem
Can you help? Kérhetem a segítségét?
Here are some etiquette rules you should follow during a visit to Hungary:
- Hungarians are very opinionated about their government and political state, so be sensitive during conversations with locals.
- Hungarians may appear colder at first, but they’re ultra sweet once the ice breaks.
- When visiting someone’s home, alway bring a gift, ideally a bottle of alcohol, or flowers.
- Shake hands for greeting, or another common greeting is a small kiss on both cheeks.
Budapest and the entire country of Hungary’s currency is the forint (Ft). 1 USD is equivalent to 290 forint.
There are forint coins that come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 forints. The forint bills come in various colors, and they come in 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 forints.
Exchanging money is highly advised to be done at banks rather than a currency exchange, with rates being more reasonable. Anybody who suggests they can exchange your currency is performing a scam, so make sure to decline. ATMs are frequently found as well.
Tipping should be done as a traveler, with 10% being reasonable for taxi service and at dining establishments. At hotels, 200-500 forints are reasonable, depending on the service. More information can be found here.
Hungary uses 230 volts of electricity, like the rest of Europe. Local plugs look like this:
Tap water is fine to drink in Hungary.
WiFi can be found in most public establishments in Hungary. Small towns even offer WiFi, though spots may be less. Big cities such as Budapest offer WiFi in places such as malls, airports, and hotels, among other places. It’s free for the most part. Be sure to confide in a local employee for any problems connecting.
The LGBTQ+ scene has made great strides since the 90’s, Budapest now offers tons of gay clubs, bars catering to the community. Thermal baths even have days specifically for gay locals and travelers. Gay Pride Fest is also a dynamic political event to attend every year, it’s less of a party than most cities but more of a march.
In 2007, the Hungarian Parliament passed a law that allows same sex couples who live together to legally declare as a “registered relationship.”
Hungary is still trying to jump onto the sustainability bandwagon as only 42% show moderate interest in sustainable development. People are more receptive to environmentally friendly practices if they incorporate them into their daily routines. Hungarians are currently most concerned with clean drinking water and protection of nature.
Green Getaways below:
ecohun hostel – In a tiny village in the South of Hungary, this traditional Hungarian farmhouse is perfect for those who want to spend some time in the country. The farm offers sustainable agriculture and alternative technology.
tour-central – Bike rentals for riding throughout the country! This tour also provides well-defined maps to ensure any destination is reached. Fresh organic produce is included: meat, honey, cheese and milk, and homegrown vegetables. Traditional dishes are made from these local ingredients. All products in the guesthouse are eco-friendly, from guest soaps to organic cotton bed linen.
Hungary is settled by the Maygars and Prince Arpad.
Arpad’s descendant Stephen I is the first Christian king of Hungary.
Mongols invade Hungary and wreak havoc, causing major damage.
Ottomans defeat Hungarians in Battle of Mohacs and take over the country.
The Austro-Hungarian Compromise sets Austria and Hungary as a joint monarchy.
Austro-Hungarian monarchy is broken after World War I; The Treaty of Trianon causes Hungary to lose much of its land.
Soviets invade and communism is enforced.
Communism ends in Hungary, the Soviets leave, and the Republic of Hungary, a democracy, is formed.
Hungary joins NATO.
Hungary joins EU.
Hungary’s new constitution is met with protests.