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Practical information on money issues in Hungary

By bencel
October 1st at 3:04pm

In this article I am going to discuss some practical information about money issues which might be useful for the ones who plan to travel to Hungary. The official currency that is used in Hungary is called Forint. Although many places especially in Budapest might except euros, the rate can be really low, so it is advised to change forints as soon as possible and have it on you. Please note that changing money on the street is very risky and is an illegal activity. In addition due to low rates the airport and the hotels are not advised. As such international currencies can be exchanged at most of the banks, however the rate is the best at the exchange shops in the city center.
Also obviously forint can be withdrawn from the ATMs. The fees are calculated by your own bank and can be really high in some cases. The withdraw limit also differs by the issuing bank but we have been able to withdraw 300.000 HUF per day. The banks are open from 8:00 to 16:00 on the weekdays. The coins in use are: 5, 10, 20, 100, 200, 1 and 2 coins are no longer available, be aware if you receive such a coin. In addition it is better to remember the shape and the design of each coin, since it might happen the you are given a less valuable foreign coin as change. The bank notes are: 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000 notes. The widely accepted credit cards are the following: AMEX, Diner Club, Cirrus, EnRoute, Euro/MasterCard, JCB, Visa. Usually the places that accept credit cards, have logos of the cards that can be used. The Gold Exchange on Blaha Lujza tér although they have some commission their rates are quite reasonable. The address is: 1073 Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 8

How much money would I need?

I can say that in general Hungary is one of the cheapest European country, if we compare it with Western or Norther European countries such as France or Sweden. Therefore if you are not planing a luxury holiday, considering dining three times a day and visiting one attraction per day, 30-40 Euros equivalent in HUF will be enough. This obviously excludes accommodation and transportation costs. I advice you to stay in the city center as much as possible and since it is quite small you can easily avoid taking any public transportation. Eating is also not necessarily needs to be done in fancy restaurants, there are many local foods that you can try in regular supermarkets or markets. These are not only cheap, but sometimes the quality is even better than some of the main restaurants. As such feel free to have your breakfast in a local bakery for a couple of Euros with some diary product. Don't feel embarrassed, since we do it as well!

What are the regular consumer prices in Hungary?

As I have already mentioned, you do not have to be prepared for sky rocketing prices. As such a general meal in even the best restaurants, should not cost more than 10 Euros ( 3500 HUF approximately). However the price can really vary by about 10-20 percent. If you are lucky and find some afternoon set lunches, you can easily have a complete meal for that price including drinks and desserts. Alcohol is also quite reasonable in the capital, a pint of beer usually cost about 2-4 Euros, depending on the quality and location. Transportation can be a bit costly, if we consider how short the distance is. A single ticket as of 2015 September costs 350 HUF ( 1.2 Euro ), which you have to purchase upon every single use.

What about the countryside?

The interesting thing comes, when you leave Budapest and travel to other smaller cities in Hungary. In such a case you can experience a 10-20 percent price drop both in food and transportation costs. Obviously this only applies for the parts that does not have too much effect from tourism. As such, don't expect this when going to lake Balaton or Keszthely for example. More fun is to go to very small villages, where you can easily negotiate with the locals, so the prices are far from fixed!

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