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Budapest has more thermal springs than any other capital city in the world, 70 million liters of thermal water rises to the surface everyday.
Budapest follows UTC + 2 hours in summer, so it’s 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 (not including daylight savings.)
To travel to Budapest, 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).
Budapest’s airport is Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD). It is Hungary’s largest airport and services a majority of the country’s visitors. It is still expanding.
The Hungarian State Railway System offers service to downtown Budapest, and other options to reach the city include taxis or shuttles.
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.
Budapest is a safe city 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.
- Avoid the 8th district.
- If a woman or taxi driver approaches you and tries to take you to a restaurant they suggest, this is likely a scam.
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. Budapest 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 Budapest:
- 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.
- Use proper titles, like Mr./Ms./Mrs. unless told not to.
- Don’t begin to chow down on a meal before the host of the meal.
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.
Budapest uses 230 volts of electricity, like the rest of Europe. Local plugs look like this:
Tap water is fine to drink in Budapest.
WiFi can be found in most public establishments in Budapest. The city offers WiFi in places such as malls, airports, and hotels, among other places. It’s free for the most part. You can purchase SIM cards at airport kiosks.
Taxis are an efficient way to navigate Budapest, 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 Budapest, taxis can be distinguished through their yellow color. For good measures, your hotel can also book a taxi.
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.”
Budapest offers a variety of eco-friendly amenities/sights within the city.
There is the option to rent a bike from several rental companies in the city that can help avoid the usage of motorized transportation. To promote biking as an eco-friendly activity, Budapest hosts an event called “I Bike Budapest,” a bike centered event that brings attention to the importance of riding bikes in the city. Another eco-friendly alternative is to explore the city through guided tours on a segway.
There is also an eco-hotel called the Budapest Museum Central Hotel. This hotel’s core values revolve around being eco-friendly. Thus, solar panels, alternative energy, and chemical-free bio-degradable cleaning instruments are just some of the techniques utilized in this center city lodging establishment.
If you are in need of relaxation, consider checking out the multitude of thermal baths sprinkled throughout Budapest. It’s an effective technique to ease your body of any stress/exhaustion. For more information on the baths, visit Offbeat Budapest.
For underground adventure seekers, look no further than the extensive hydrothermal cave system right under the city. Cave tours are open to tourists, and this is a way to escape the noise of the city by exploring mysterious, underground natural rock formations. Two of the more popular caves to visit are the Pálvölgyi and Semlőhgyi caves, and more information can be found on Visit Budapest.
As in any other city, reusable items, recycling, and walking are good practices.
As a means to amplify being eco-friendly, Budapest has opened zero waste shops in the city such as Ligeti Bolt and Ne Pazarolj. These shops don’t use plastic bags, sell natural products, and allow customers to bring their own reusable bags to shop. For specific locations and more information on these zero waste shops, visit BudNews.
Budapest also participates in global eco-friendly events such as Earth Day and Earth Hour, an event designed to save energy by turning off your lights for an hour. The next Earth Day is on April 22, 2020 and Earth Hour is on March 28, 2020.