money and planner

Money and costs in Budapest

Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian forint (Ft/HUF).

Notes come in six denominations: 500Ft, 1000Ft, 2000Ft, 5000Ft, 10,000Ft and 20,000Ft.

There are coins of 5Ft, 10Ft, 20Ft, 50Ft, 100Ft and 200Ft.

I recommend always having some cash in Hungarian Forints with you during your walks.

Prices in shops and restaurants are always quoted in forint, but many hotels and guesthouses state their prices in euros. In such cases, you can usually pay in either euros or forint.

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Credit Cards in Budapest

credit card in hand

Credit cards are widely accepted.

You can use them at restaurants, shops, hotels, car-hire firms, travel agencies, taxis and petrol stations, etc.

Some small businesses, eateries may not have a credit card system, but it is quite rare.

Contactless payment, when you just touch your card or handheld device over a reader at the point of sale terminal without inserting your card or entering your pin, is widespread in Budapest. (The limit is set at 5000Ft.)

Tell your bank before you leave home that you will be traveling to make sure that your payments will not be denied because some banks see a foreign charge as a reason for alarm.

ATMs in Budapest

To get the best exchange rate, use credit cards when you can.

Use ATMs to get cash if you need.

ATMs are everywhere, including the airport and train and bus stations.

All major banks have ATMs and most ATMs accept cards issued outside Hungary.

In Budapest you will find a lot of ATMs, but also in smaller towns they are more and more frequently to be found.

Pay attention to rigged ATMs when withdrawing.

Luckily, this does not happen too often in Budapest, but caution is better than sorry later!

Therefore, I would also advise you to use ATMs where cameras are used (e.g. in supermarkets etc.) or directly in or next to the bank branches.

In addition, you have another advantage directly at banks during opening hours. In the event that your credit card is blocked by an ATM, you can get your credit card back immediately.

You should also be careful if you want to withdraw several times in a row. This could cause the bank to disable your card.

Changing money in Budapest

Usually, changing at home doesn’t worth it.

Also at the airport I advise against changing money or at least only a small amount. They have worse rates and higher exchange fees than in the city.

Visit the exchange offices, which are directly connected to a bank or belong to those.

These usually offer the best rates, although of course there are exceptions.

Recommended Exchange Offices in Budapest’s City Center

Northline

They have several bureaus in district V.:

Váci street 86 (near Great Market Hall)

Kígyó street 2

Petőfi Sándor street 1 and 12

Sas street 10 (near Basilica)

Financial Security in Budapest

The aspect of security should not be forgotten. Pickpockets unfortunately can be everywhere.

The less you show your valuables, the lower the risk.

If you have a lot of cash with you, you can keep it in the hotel safe.

(At least they are still better than to carry the money around with you all the time.)

If your credit card gets stolen, immediately call the emergency number of your bank to block it.

What to do when everything is gone?

Fortunately, there is also something that can help you.

Two services I can recommend are TransferWise and Western Union.

TransferWise: you can transfer money to a foreign account

Western Union: allows you to send money directly to you via the website and collect it in cash at a Western Union branch or at a bank that also processes Western Union payments.

Tipping in Budapest

euro coins and banknotes

Gratuities in Hungary are commonplace.

  • Bars: For drinks served at table, 10% of total.
  • Hairdressers: 10% of haircut price.
  • Hotels 500Ft for luggage, 200Ft to 300Ft per day for housekeeping.
  • Petrol stations & thermal spas: Attendants expect some loose change.
  • Restaurants: 12.5% service is often included in the bill nowadays, if not, 10%-15%;.
  • Taxis: Round up the fare.

Costs in Budapest

shopping in a supermarket

Budapest is unique and historic while remaining quite cheap by most standards.

I recommend budgeting $20-$45/day if you’re on a budget — you can easily spend more and you might be able to spend less, but this is a good range for planning purposes.

Minimally per day and per person I would count with these:

Accommodation: from 20 Euros (about 23 USD)

You can find a hostel or an Airbnb for this price.

Breakfast is usually included in many hotels, but if not, no problem: there is an abundance  of cafés and bars where you can eat breakfast for about 4-5 Euros/USD. Or just buy something in a supermarket or farmer’s market.

Lunch can be as cheap as 5 Euros, while dinners in a more chic restaurant is bit more expensive, of course. Plan for about 20-30 Euros.

 

Price examples (at the time of writing)

Exchange Rate at the time of writing: 

1 USD = 286 HUF

1 EUR = 321 HUF

1 GBP = 374 HUF

supermarket from above

Food items and groceries

  • 1 kilo loaf of bread: 200-300 HUF 
  • 1 liter milk: 190-280 HUF
  • 1 bottle of beer: 200 HUF 
  • 1 bottle of table wine: 500-3000 HUF 
  • Capuccino 440 HUF
  • Coke 300 HUF
  • Water 220 HUF
  • Eggs (a dozen) 550 HUF
  • Apples 350 – 550 HUF
  • Eating in restaurant: 3500-5000 Ft 
  • Eating in fast food restaurant : 1000-1500 Ft 
  • McMeal at McDonalds 1800 HUF

Transportation prices

Budapest is walkable, so you don’t need to spend a lot on transportation, but if you would like to use the metro and/or buses, trams, buy a 1-2-3 day pass. Single tickets always have to be validated!

You might consider getting a Budapest Card, which prides you unlimited use of the public transportation and entry (or discount) to museums.

I would say that 40 Euros/45 USD is enough for sure if you are on budget.

If you hire a tour guide, take taxis, shop a lot or pamper yourself in expensive restaurants and spas, the sky is the limit.

See my post about some practical information.

Budapest has a load of great attractions which are all affordable or free.

  • Single Ticket: 350 HUF 
  • Book of 10 Single Tickets: 3,000 HUF 
  • Unlimited Day Pass: 1,650 HUF 
  • Train Ticket Between Airport and City: 400 HUF 
  • Taxi: 250-300 Ft /km 
National Museum Budapest

Prices of museums and other entertaining facilities

  • Cinema ticket: 1500 Ft 
  • Museum entry fee: 500-1200 Ft 
  • Hungarian National Gallery: 1,200 HUF 
  • Museum of Fine Arts: 1,800 HUF 
  • House of Terror Museum: 2,000 HUF 
  • Pinball Museum: 2,500 HUF ( includes all you can play pinball)
  • Pool entry fee: 1500 – 3500 Ft 
  • Thermal Baths: 2,900-4,600 HUF 

I hope that the above information helps you.

If you have any questions, just write a comment! 

Have a great time in Budapest! 🙂

 

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