Good to know before you travel to Budapest

Good to know before you travel to Budapest

Travelling to Budapest or just planning to visit the capital of Hungary? I know how stressful the organisational process can be. You need so many information, so many questions to answer. How can you pay? Where can you change money? What about ATMs in Budapest? Let me help you a little bit. Here comes the tour guide advises: good to know before you travel to Budapest.

How can I pay in Budapest?

Although Hungary and Budapest is part of the European Union, the official Hungarian currency is the Hungarian Forint (Ft, HUF). But no need to worry about money, you can pay by credit card almost everywhere. However it’s good to know that paying with American Express is not everywhere possible. Better to prepare a visa / mastercard to avoid any inconveniences. How to calculate with Hungarian currency? One EURO is about 325 HUF, one USD is about 290 HUF at the moment.

Good to know:

In the city centre you might have the option to pay with EUR cash but they change it on a horrible rate. Don’t be surprised they give you back in Hungarian cash. While paying with Hungarian cash, be careful with the zeros: 10 thousand or 1 thousand is a big difference.

How to pay in Budapest
Hungarian bank notes. 1.000 HUF is around 3 EUR/USD while 10.000 is around 33 EUR/USD at the moment.

Where can I change money in Budapest?

Arriving to Budapest airport, never ever change money at any of the exchange counters at the airport. You might be ripped off, they change on a really really bad rate. In the city centre you will definitely get a better rate. The money exchange offices are open mostly until 8.00 PM. 

Good to know:

Try to stay away from Western Union, their rate is horrible and they advertise themselves with no commission fee. On hind side, paying the commission is far better when you can get a good exchange rate!

Can I find ATMs in Budapest?

For sure there are many ATMs in Budapest, but be careful which one you use! There are many ATMs on street charging with a quite big amount of commission fee or they call as a transaction fee. They may do the conversion on a really bad rate so try not to use EURONET ATMs (blue ones, with yellow sign). How to be sure which ATM is safe in Budapest? Stick to the Bank ATMs like OTP, Erste, Cib, Budapest Bank. They have bank offices around the city.

How not to be ripped of while using ATM in Budapest
This is how a local bank office looks like, where you can easily use ATMs inside.

Is it safe to drink tap water in Budapest?

I know water is always a big issue. Can I drink tap water or not? Let me tell you the truth: in Budapest drinking tap water is not just safe, but healthy! However I always recommend to my guests to try it first. The reason for that is not the cleanness but your body might get to used to a different biochemical composition. If you prefer bottled water, you can easily find it in stores around the city. There is no other country in the world richer in fantastic mineral water than Hungary. Szentkirályi (Holy King’s), Kristályvíz (Crystal Water), Natur Aqua are one of the best among the countless Hungarian brands.

Good to know:

Looking for a still water don’t forget about the colours! In Hungary it’s really tricky, still water can be found in bottles with pink cup, while sparkling has blue one.

Tap water is safe in Budapest
Tap water is not just safe but healthy in Budapest.

Can I smoke inside in Budapest?

The answer is no, you cannot. Good to know before you travel to Budapest that smoking has been restricted for several years on public transportation, in hospitals, airports, in public and national buildings. Budapest has prohibited smoking in public transport stops and all inside public spaces including workplaces, clubs, pubs, restaurants, underpasses.

Good to know:

In Budapest you cannot buy cigarette anywhere only in tobacco shops (National Tobacco Shop or Nemzeti Dohánybolt in Hungarian). Only people over 18 years can buy products related to smoking, as it is a violation of law to sell these to younger customers. 

Where to buy cigarette in Budapest?
Looking for cigarette this is how a tobacco shop looks like in Hungary, Budapest.