Hungary //

Travel essentials

Costs

Daily budget Basic €30 /occasional treat €45
Drink Beer (large) €1–2
Food Goulash €3
Hostel/pension €10–30
Travel Budapest–Eger €8 by train; Pécs–Keszthely €10 by bus

Crime and personal safety

Tourists are treated with respect by the police (rendörség) unless they’re suspected of smuggling drugs or driving under the influence of alcohol. Most police have some German, but rarely any other foreign language. Always carry a photocopy of your passport.

Emergencies

Police 107; Ambulance 104; Fire 105.

Health

Most towns have at least one pharmacy, identifiable by their green cross signs. Opening hours are generally Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm, Saturday 9am to noon or 1pm; signs in the window give the location of all-night pharmacies (ügyeletes gyógyszertár). Tourist offices can direct you to local medical centres or doctors’ surgeries (orvosi rendelő); these will probably be in private (magán) practice, so be sure to carry health insurance. EU citizens have reciprocal arrangements for emergency treatment, but only at state hospitals.

Information

You’ll find branches of Tourinform (01/438-8080, http://www.tourinform.hu) Hungary’s national tourist office, in most towns. They don’t usually book accommodation, but do have information on rooms if you haven’t booked ahead. Ibusz (http://www.ibusz.hu) is the nationwide agency which can help you book accommodation online or on the spot. There are also local tourist offices in larger towns (such as Balatontourist around Lake Balaton), which can book rooms.

http://www.tourinform.hu National tourist office.

http://www.ibusz.hu Handy portal for viewing and booking cheap private rooms all across Hungary.

http://www.budapestinfo.hu Comprehensive site with up-to-the-minute listings.

http://www.funzine.hu Fantastic English-language site with information on gigs, nights out, culture and more in Budapest.

http://www.mav-start.hu Train timetables and information.

Internet

Internet access is widely available (usually 400–700Ft/hr) in most towns; many pensions, as well as cafés and bars, have wi-fi.

Mail

Post offices (posta) are usually open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, Saturday 8am to midday.

Money and banks

Currency is the forint (Ft or HUF), which comes in notes of 200Ft, 500Ft, 1000Ft, 2000Ft, 5000Ft, 10,000Ft and 20,000Ft, and in coins of 1Ft, 2Ft, 5Ft, 10Ft, 20Ft, 50Ft, 100Ft and 200Ft. At the time of writing, €1=265Ft, US$1=185Ft, and £1=300Ft. Standard banking hours are Monday to Thursday 8am to 5pm, Friday 8am to 2pm. ATMs are widespread, and you can use a credit/debit card to pay in many hotels, restaurants and shops.

Opening hours and holidays

Shops are generally open Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm, Saturday 10am to 1pm, and closed on Sundays and public holidays including January 1, March 15, Easter Monday, May 1, Whit Monday, August 20, October 23, November 1, December 25 and 26. Shopping centres operate later hours and are generally open every day, and Tesco – now seemingly everywhere in Hungary – is often open 24/7.

Phones

You can make local calls from public phones, where 20Ft is the minimum charge, or from cardphones; cards come in 50 and 120 units and can be bought from post offices and newsstands. To make national calls, dial t 06, wait for the buzzing tone, then dial the area code and number. You can make international calls from most public phones: dial t 00, wait for the buzzing tone, then dial the country code and number as usual.