Traveling tips for Hungary – what you should know before traveling to Hungary

Do you have travel plans to visit a nation rich in culture, history, and scenic beauty located in the center of Europe? This article is for you if visiting Hungary is in your vacation plan. We are aware that each trip is different and that planning is essential to enjoying the most of it. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of crucial advice to assist you travel across Hungary with confidence and ease.

Known for its delicious food, thermal spas, and architectural treasures, Hungary is a landlocked nation in Central Europe. However, it has its traditions, laws, and quirks, just like any other foreign nation, some of which may differ greatly from your own. The purpose of this post is to provide you with the information you need to accept these distinctions and have a seamless, enjoyable journey.

This post will cover a wide range of topics, including the ideal time to visit Hungary, entry and visa requirements, Hungarian cuisine and dining etiquette, the essential packing list for Hungary, and much more.

The best time to visit Hungary

The best time to visit Hungary is during the pleasant months of April, May, and June. During this time, you can expect moderate weather and lots of events and activities happening. Tourists flock to Hungary from May to September, the peak season here, because this is when the weather is warmest and more conducive to sightseeing and outdoor activities like the thermal baths

However, from April to June, you’ll get the best of both worlds with warm temperatures that aren’t yet scorching (it’s hottest in July and August) and plenty of activities happening around the country. High temperatures in April range from 59F to 62F, warming up to 68F to 71F in May and reaching highs of 74F to 77F in June.

Another good time to visit Hungary is during the autumnal months of September and October. This period also provides a balance of pleasant temperatures, moderate hotel rates, and fewer crowds before the peak summer months, making it ideal for exploring Hungary’s attractions and festivals. So, depending on your preferences for weather and crowd levels, the spring and early autumn months could be the best times for your visit to Hungary.

Visa and Entry Requirements

Here are the visa and entry requirements for Hungary:

Passport Validity:

  • Your passport must have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive.
  • Your passport should have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave.
  • It is recommended that your passport has six months validity; three months validity beyond the planned departure date from the Schengen Zone is required

Visa Requirements:

  • Hungary is a party to the Schengen Agreement, which allows for free movement between certain European countries.
  • A tourist visa is not required for stays under 90 days.
  • If you plan to stay longer, you need to check with the Embassy of Hungary for the most current visa information.

Other Requirements:

  • One (1) page per stamp in your passport is required.
  • Amounts of more than 10,000 Euros (or equivalent currency) must be declared when entering or exiting Hungary

Must-visit places in Hungary

Hungary is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Here are some must-visit places in Hungary:

  1. Budapest: Known as the “Pearl of the Danube”, Budapest is famous for its stunning architecture, historic sites, and vibrant nightlife. Key attractions include the Buda Castle, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Széchenyi Medicinal Bath
  2. Debrecen: As the second-largest city in Hungary, Debrecen is a cultural hub with a rich history. Highlights include the Great Church, Déri Museum, and the Hortobágy National Park.
  3. Szentendre: This charming town near Budapest is known for its well-preserved old town, art galleries, and museums
  4. Eger: Famous for its castle, thermal baths, and red wine, Eger is a delightful blend of history and local culture
  5. Esztergom: Home to the largest cathedral in Hungary, Esztergom is a must-visit for its religious and historical significance
  6. Tihany: This historic village on the shores of Lake Balaton offers beautiful views, a famous abbey, and lavender fields
  7. Lake Balaton: Often called the “Hungarian Sea”, Lake Balaton is the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe, perfect for water sports and wine tasting
  8. Aggtelek National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Aggtelek National Park is known for its extensive cave system
  9. Lillafured: A resort town in the mountains, known for its beautiful palace and hanging gardens

Hungarian Cuisine and Dining Etiquette

Hungarian Cuisine: Hungarian or Magyar cuisine is characteristic of the nation of Hungary and its primary ethnic group, the Magyars. It’s been described as the spiciest cuisine in Europe, largely due to the use of their piquant native spice, Hungarian paprika, in many dishes. Traditional Hungarian dishes are primarily based on meats, seasonal vegetables, fruits, bread, and dairy products.

Some of the popular dishes include:

  • Pörkölt: A stew with a paprika-spiced sauce.
  • Chicken Paprikash (Csirkepaprikás): Chicken simmered in a thick creamy paprika sauce.
  • Gulyás: Known worldwide as goulash, it’s made of chunks of beef, potatoes, vegetables, paprika, and spices.
  • Töltött Paprika: Stuffed peppers filled with meat, rice, and vegetables cooked in a sauce.
  • Lángos: Deep-fried bread served with various toppings.

Hungarian Dining Etiquette:

  • Start to eat only when the host invites you to and everyone has received food on their plates.
  • The knife remains in the right hand, and the fork remains in the left.
  • It is considered polite to keep your hands visible while eating.
  • It is customary to finish all the food on your plate.
  • Pass all dishes at the table to your left.
  • The most honored position is at the head of the table, with the most important guest seated immediately to the right of the host.
  • In informal restaurants, you may be required to share a table.
  • The business lunch or dinner is generally not the time to make business decisions.
  • Usually, the one who does the inviting pays the bill.
  • A 10 percent tip is usually sufficient for restaurants

Safety Tips for Travelers

Here are some safety tips for travelers in Hungary:

Pickpocketing on Public Transport:

  • Be cautious when traveling on public transport, especially on metro lines one and three, tram lines two and four, and bus line seven.
  • Many of the metro stations are accessible by long escalators which give thieves the perfect view of the contents of your bag.
  • The main tourist attractions where your belongings are likely to be nabbed are the Chain Bridge area on both sides of the Danube, and on the bridge itself, the Royal Palace Museum, Basilica, Heroes Square, Fishermen’s Bastion, and Matthias Church.
  • American fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut are also danger zones.

Street Scams:

  • One common scam is the ‘money changer’ scam. You are approached by a man asking if you would like to change your currency, you say no and think that’s the end of it. A short time later a pair of plain-clothed men flashing police identification will ask to see your money.
  • If you are approached by these men walk in the other direction, try and find a police officer patrolling the area, or tell them you would like to consult your embassy

Taxi Rip-offs:

  • If you don’t speak Hungarian you are going to be completely ripped off.
  • If you can, avoid using taxis altogether

Essential Packing List for Hungary

Planning what to pack for your trip to Hungary is key to ensuring comfort and convenience during your stay. Here’s a checklist of essential items to include in your luggage:

  • Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Hungary experiences diverse weather conditions throughout the year, so pack accordingly. In summer, lightweight clothing is ideal, while in winter, warm layers are essential.
  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: With its cobblestone streets and hilly terrain, comfortable shoes are a must for exploring Hungary’s cities and towns.
  • Travel Adapters: Hungary uses the European plug type (Type C and Type F), so be sure to pack the appropriate travel adapters for your electronic devices.
  • Travel Insurance: Before traveling to Hungary, ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen circumstances.
  • Medications and Prescriptions: If you take any medications regularly, be sure to bring an ample supply, along with copies of your prescriptions.
  • Travel Documents: Don’t forget to pack your passport, visa (if required), travel itinerary, and any other necessary documents in a secure and easily accessible location.

Cultural Etiquette and Customs

Respecting Hungarian customs and cultural norms is essential for a positive travel experience. Here are some cultural etiquette tips to keep in mind:

Greetings and Communication:

  • Formal Greetings: When meeting someone for the first time, use formal titles and greetings, such as “Szia” for hello and “Viszlát” for goodbye.
  • Personal Space: Hungarians value personal space, so avoid standing too close or engaging in overly familiar gestures with strangers.
  • Dining Etiquette: When dining in Hungary, wait to be seated and use utensils rather than eating with your hands. It’s also customary to toast before drinking.

Respecting Traditions:

  • Festivals and Celebrations: Embrace Hungary’s rich cultural heritage by participating in local festivals and celebrations, such as the Budapest Wine Festival or the Sziget Music Festival.
  • Religious Sites: When visiting churches or religious sites, dress modestly and observe any posted rules or regulations out of respect for the local customs and beliefs.

Transportation within Hungary

Transportation within Hungary is quite efficient and varied. Here are some options:

Public Transport in Budapest: Budapest has an excellent public transport network operated by the BKK (Budapest Center of Transport). The city has an extensive metro, tram, and bus system. Here are some details:

  • Metro: There are four metro lines, and it’s the easiest way to get around the city for a first-timer. Single tickets cost 350 Hungarian forints, and you can change metro lines with a single ticket. Travel passes are also available for 24 hours (1,650 forints), 72 hours (4,150 forints), or a week (4,950 forints), which cover all modes of transportation.
  • Bus and Tram: Buses and trams are the primary forms of transport in Budapest. They are reliable and cover most parts of the city.

Transportation from the Airport: The airport is not yet connected by rail to the center of Budapest, but two regular bus lines connect the airport to the city. You will find the bus stop of line 100E between Terminal 2A and 2B.

Transportation in Other Parts of Hungary: For traveling outside Budapest, trains and buses are the most common modes of transport. The train network is extensive and connects most parts of the country.

Emergency numbers you can use in Hungary

Here are some emergency numbers you can use in Hungary:

  • General Emergency Number: 112
  • Ambulance: 104
  • Fire Service: 105
  • Police: 107
  • Emergency Tow Truck Service: 188
  • Health Advice 24/7 (Dr.Info): (40) 374 636
  • SMS Communication for the Deaf (Budapest): (20) 900 0107


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is Hungary expensive to visit?

Hungary offers a range of budget-friendly options for travelers, but costs can vary depending on your preferences and lifestyle choices.

Do I need to speak Hungarian to travel in Hungary?

While English is widely spoken in tourist areas, learning a few basic phrases in Hungarian can enhance your experience and interactions with locals.

What are the must-try Hungarian dishes?

Some must-try dishes include goulash, lángos, chimney cake, and stuffed cabbage rolls.

Are credit cards accepted in Hungary?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in major establishments, but it’s advisable to carry some cash for smaller transactions, especially in rural areas.

Is Hungary safe for solo travelers?

Hungary is generally a safe destination for solo travelers, but it’s essential to remain vigilant and take standard precautions to ensure your safety.

We hope that this article has been useful to you as you organize your travel to Hungary. Remember to bookmark us for additional tips and thoughts on traveling. Please feel free to ask questions in the comment box below if you need more information or if you have any queries. Enjoy your trip to Hungary and be safe!

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