Budapest (Hungarian pronunciation approximates to "boo-dah-pesht") is the capital city of Hungary. With a unique, youthful atmosphere, a world-class classical music scene as well as a pulsating night life increasingly appreciated among European youth and, last but not least, an exceptionally rich offering of natural thermal baths, Budapest is one of Europe's most delightful and enjoyable cities. Due to its scenic setting and its architecture it is nicknamed "Paris of the East".
In 1987 Budapest was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for the cultural and architectural significance of the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue.
Districts and quarters
Although Budapest is administratively divided into 23 numbered districts (always written in Roman numerals) it is colloquially often divided into parts, roughly corresponding to the two major cities of Buda and Pest, of which it is comprised.
Listings of restaurants and similar places can be found in the following articles:
Of course, quarters often offer their own atmosphere due to their history and inhabitants. Roughly speaking, areas near to, especially inside of Nagykörút (Great Boulevard or Ringroad, served by Tram 6) are considered central, even if some of these are in less than perfect condition and not typically frequented by tourists. In Pest, Kiskörút (Small Boulevard) is traditionally considered as the border of the centre proper, including some highly touristic areas.
Informally, quarters are known under their own historical name which are often referred to by the locals. The names are often linked to members of the House of Habsburg or - in fringe areas - the names of villages or towns which later became part of Budapest. Particularly interesting quarters are
Belváros (Inner City), Lipótváros (Leopold Town) With the latter being north of the Inner City, they together form the V. district, the heart of Pest, including a number of major sights but also beautiful squares and cafés. Including the Parliament, a number of ministries and banking houses, Leopold Town is also a major political and industrial centre of the country. The name refers to the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I whose coronation to the King of Hungary in 1790 gave rise to the name of the then-new quarter.
Újlipótváros (New Leopold Town) The inner part of the XIII. district, just outside of the Great Boulevard north of Leopold Town with the marvellous Margaret Bridge at its corner, was built between the 1910s and 1930s. It is considered as one of the finest residential areas in Budapest with a relaxed, inviting atmosphere and a number of restaurants, cafés and small shops. It also comprises the Vígszínház (Comedy Theatre) and a few tiny off-mainstream cinemas. The quarter is traditionally home to a population with Jewish background as the activity of people such as Raoul Wallenberg, Giorgio Perlasca, and Carl Lutz was linked to this area (see history).
Terézváros (Theresa Town) VI. district. Among others, it contains Nyugati pu. (Western Railway Station), an architectural sight, and areas neighbouring districts V. and XIII. The then-developing quarter was named after a visit of Habsburg Empress and Queen Maria Theresa in 1777.
Erzsébetváros (Elisabeth Town) VII. District. While parts of it are not yet renovated, it contains the famous Synagogue in the Dohány street. The quarter was split off from Terézváros and asked for permission to be named after the wife of Franz-Josef I, popularly called Sisi, in 1882.
Travellers are quickly recognising the appeal of Budapest, with tourism accounting for approximately 2.7 million visitors per year. Consisting of two cities with different flavours, Buda on the west bank of the Danube River and Pest on the east bank, Budapest offers travellers a unique atmosphere influenced by Viennese and Parisian architecture. Hungarians are proud of what their beautiful capital has to offer and its contributions to European culture, especially in the field of music, and sciences. They also take some pride in their language which is unrelated to languages of the Indo-European family such as English, French or Russian. While e.g. Finnish is a distant relative to Hungarian, these two branches of the Uralic family are estimated to have diverged a few thousands years ago, and no communication between them is possible.
While Buda has been the capital of Hungary - or that of the Osman-occupied territory - for the better part of a millennium, it has become a grand cosmopolitan city during the country's fast industrialisation in the late nineteenth century. The population of 2.1 million in 1989 decreased formally due to suburbanization.
The first settlement on the territory of Budapest is accounted to Celtic tribes. During the first century AD, the Roman fortification on the territory of present-day Óbuda (now part of Budapest) gradually developed into the town of Aquincum which became the capital city of the province of Lower Pannonia in AD 106. In the beginning Acquincum was only a Roman military settlement and then it gradually turned into a civil settlement. It was the main centre of the Pannonian Region, becoming the most important commercial point. Nowadays the area that was covered by Acquincum corresponds to the Óbuda district within Budapest. Acquincum is the main and the well conserved Roman archaeological site in Hungary. It was turned into a museum with inside and open-air sections. The Roman Ruins in Aquincum have been dated around the II and III century (a.d.). The archaeologists during the excavation works brought back to light a lot of objects and monuments. In the past the city had paved streets and lavish houses with fountains, courtyards and pavements in mosaic. At the north-west of the ruins is the civil amphitheatre in which are still visible the cells in which the lions were kept during the gladiators’ fights. The capacity of this structure was about 16,000 people. The Romans even founded a fortress known as Contra Aquincum on the other side of the river which is assumed to have developed into the later town of Pest. This was part of the Limes, marking the eastern border of the empire, and was gradually given up by Rome during the early fourth century, becoming part of the Hun empire for a few decades. (Modern historical research does not associate the Huns with Hungarians, albeit even the name of the latter expresses this once popular idea.)
Once the horse-riding Magyar (Hungarian) tribes arrived in the Carpathian Basin in 896AD, Óbuda served as the seat of the Magyar high-chieftain (or prince) Árpád. After a century marked by frequent raids on Christian western Europe, (prince) Álmos realised that converting to Christianity is the key to survival in Europe. The Christian Kingdom of Hungary was founded by the crowning of his son, Szt. István (Saint Stephan) on 1 January 1001 (or possibly Christmas day of 1000). As visitors will quickly realise, Saint Stephan became an omnipresent national symbol, as did the artefact known as Saint Stephen's Crown (the Holy Crown of Hungary) which was regarded as a legal entity de jure equivalent to the country itself during medieval times. It is still unclear whether the millennium-old crown used in this function for many centuries and shown in the Parliament today, was already used by St. Stephen.
In the following centuries Buda emerged as the most important royal seat. In 1241/42 the Mongol Empire conquered the territory along with large parts of Europe - this short but devastating conquest of the country is still remembered as Tatárjárás - the name reflecting the erroneous confusion of Mongols and Tatars at the time. Medieval Hungary reached its zenith under King Matthias (Matthias Corvinus), the vividly remembered renaissance ruler whose patronage of arts and sciences made Hungary, a notable power at the time, the first European country which adopted the renaissance from Italy. However, after residing in Buda for decades, he moved his seat to Vienna in 1485 for the last five years of his life after defeating the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III.
In 1541, Buda and Pest fell to the Ottoman Empire. The Habsburg Empire, centred in Austria, conquered the country on its way to becoming a major European power in 1686. Marks of these two cultures are still part of everyday life in Budapest.
The Turks, under their occupation, constructed many thermal baths and some of them are still in function nowadays (Rudas and Király). The citizens of Budapest customarily frequent these baths to this day.
After the Anti-Habsburg revolution in 1848–49 (defeated through the decisive help of the Russian Czar) the 1867 Compromise (Kiegyezés) with a weakened Vienna made Buda the capital of a near-autonomous Hungary, a large, multi-ethnic Kingdom comprising half of the newly created Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. In this peculiar double-state the Monarch was emperor and king ,respectively, of these two rather autonomous realms. The following half century marked by peaceful development counts among the most successful times in the history of the country as well as its capital. With the 1873 unification of Buda, Pest, and Óbuda, the city of Budapest was officially created. The two parts of the city were already connected by the first permanent bridge across the Danube since 1849 when was inaugurated the magnificent Chain Bridge. It saw a leap in terms of industrialisation, urbanisation, and the development of a capitalistic society as well as population. It even aimed at rivalling with Vienna - the Millennium in 1896, marking a thousand year of Hungary, offered the perfect excuse for large-scale projects such as the Parliament, Vajdahunyad Castle, or the Grand Boulevard (Nagykörút) - Budapest transformed to a world city during these decades, enriched by Austrian, Jewish, Slovakian, Serbian, Croatian Roma and other cultural influence. This age is remembered as the 'Monarchia' (or as 'K. u. K.' - abbreviation for Imperial-Royal - in Austria, and other parts of the Empire) and associated with the rule of Franz Joseph I. (I. Ferenc József) who died in 1916 after 68 years on the throne.
Neither the Habsburg empire nor Hungary survived World War I in their previous form - leaving Budapest as the capital of a now formally independent Hungary which lost two thirds of its territories and most of its ethnicities, as well as a few million Hungarian speakers, to neighbouring countries. The city`s population reached one million around 1930. During the interwar years under the rule of regent Miklós Horthy, a former Admiral of the Austro-Hungarian fleet, Hungary became an ally of Germany. Near the end of World War II, nazi Germany occupied Hungary after it attempted to negotiate separate peace with the Allies, and eventually installed a bloody dictatorship putting the hitherto fairly unimportant nazi Nyilaskeresztes (Arrowcross) party in charge. While practically all of 400,000 Jews on the countryside were murdered by German nazis and their Hungarian nyilas sympathizers, roughly 60% of Budapest's Jewish community was saved during the Holocaust. People we keep in our memory for helping the local Jewish community include Raoul Wallenberg, the famous Swedish diplomat, who organised the distribution of Swedish passports by his Embassy to as many Jews as possible, and the Italian Giorgio Perlasca, who - pretending to be a Spanish diplomat - rescued many thousand Jews. Air raids and a terrible three-month siege towards the end of World War II resulted in the death of over 38,000 civilians and destruction of much of the once lively city.
After the war, Budapest slowly recovered and became a showcase for the more pragmatic policies of Hungary's hard-line Communist government under the dictatorial rule of Mátyás Rákosi. The city was, however, also the main site of the 1956 uprising which was successful in installing a reform-oriented (albeit communist) government of Imre Nagy. This was swept away before long, as the Soviet leader Khrushchev felt Hungary slipping from Moscow's rule. The Soviets installed János Kádár as the leader of the communist state who, after over thirty years of controversial rule, was elected out of leadership 1988 by the central committee due to health issues. Kádár died of 1989.
One of the most dramatic historical events of the country was the October 23, 1956 uprising. This uprising lasted until November 11 of the same year. During the revolution, more than 2000 Hungarians lost their lives. A monument erected in 2006 commemorates this tragic event. The monument is in Iron and wood, and is found at the edge of City park. It symbolizes the Hungarian forces that eradicated the communist dictatorship.
Since the peaceful 1989 'system change' (Rendszerváltás) which was achieved as a compromise between reformist party forces and the opposition (notably including a younger self of the current PM, Viktor Orbán), Budapest transformed in appearance and atmosphere, a process further accelerated by the country's long-awaited joining to the European Union in 2004.
Quality of life
For those with a reasonable budget, Budapest offers a rather high quality of life. The offered range in terms of culture, cuisine, and general 'vibe' is comparable to other major European cities (see. dedicated sections), while prices are lower, influenced by salaries of the locals.
Local salaries are significantly lower than those in western Europe (a recent university graduate may earn about 150-300 thousand forint a month after taxes), so that living standard of the local population is somewhat lower, especially for those employed in lower paid jobs (official minimal salary is around HUF60,000 a month after taxes, as of 2012). A more serious issue is unemployment, especially in the face of the recent economic problems. This is also connected to the rise in the number of homeless people seen in metro stations doorways in both Buda and Pest in recent years. While this does trouble locals who often grew up without seeing explicit homelessness (before '89), this issue is still minor compared to other major cities and usually does not present a safety risk to travellers.
Official Tourism Information
Budapest Franz Liszt International Airport (IATA: BUD), Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér (pronounced "list-ferents"), formerly (and colloquially still) referred to as Ferihegy; is Hungary's largest airport, about 16km (10 miles) southeast of the city centre. The airport’s central telephone number for information is: +36 1 296-9696 or on +36 1 296-7000. Luggage services can be contacted on +36 1 296-5449 in connection with flights to and from Terminal 1 and +36 1 296-5965 for Terminal 2.
Outside Budapest, there are alternative international airports in Debrecen, Sármellék, Győr-Pér and Pécs-Pogány.
The airport has two terminals, 2A and 2B, being within a short walking distance from each other. The number 2 appearing in their names is due to the the former (originally opened in the 1950, reopened 2005) Terminal 1 closed recently.
Duty free stores are operated by Travel Value. Customs authorities in German airports may not allow you to bring duty-free items purchased at the airport in Budapest through Germany. In Terminal 2, Hugo Boss and Swarowski are the only dedicated brand shops. The alcohol-tobacco-sweets assortment shop has a choice of local wines, mainly by Gundel. You can find Caffè Ritazza eateries in Terminal 2A, both in the pre-check-in area and the in the boarding area. Terminal 2B pre-boarding area offers half a dozen cafés.
Hungarian low cost airline Wizz Air operates flights between Budapest and more than twenty European cities. Currently, there are no direct flight from the US to Budapest, American Airlines cancelled their NYC-Budapest flight in Feb 2012. Many low cost airlines also operate service to/from Budapest. London Heathrow is connected by a number of flights by British Airways (codeshared with American Airlines), while discount airlines fly to London Luton, Gatwick and Stansted (2012). Paris is connected by flights from Air France (Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle), and various low-cost companies (EasyJet from Orly, Ryanair and Wizz from Beauvais)
As of 2012, the following low cost airlines operate to and from Budapest:
There is a train station called Ferihegy next to former Terminal 1, from where suburban trains (called 'személy') run twice an hour to Budapest-Nyugati station in the city centre, taking 25 minutes. Although the trains are suburban trains, they are operated by MÁV and not included in the HÉV network. (Dedicated train tickets can be purchased from cashiers or vending machines next to the cashiers in the pedestrian underpass in Nyugati - press the button 'Ferihegy'; normally the machine can give change. At Ferihegy station there is a modern ticket vending machine at the platform towards Budapest. A single full-fare train ticket costs 370 HUF for this travel, but local public transport travelcards, called Budapest pass or Budapest travel card (more info here) are also valid. These can be purchased at the post office on the mezzanine level of the airport. If entering the train without ticket, you will pay an additional fine of approx. 2500 HUF , unless no cashier or vending machine was available at the station.)
Public transport between Ferihegy train station and Terminals 2A/2B is provided by the local bus 200E, running every 8-15 minutes, and travel time approx 10 min, see details here. The bus stop towards the Airport is situated directly next to the train station, but you have to pass a pedestrian bridge with elevators not always working. (Within the bus, this stop is called "Ferihegy vasútállomás" - i.e. train station - in case you want to get off there.) Alternatively you can pre-order a taxi by phone to wait in the bus-stop, to get to the Airport faster or at night. Single bus tickets are available in airport terminals for HUF 350 at the newspaper vendors, or can be purchased from the driver for HUF 450.
The same bus line 200E runs somewhat further into the city, ending at the end station of metro M3 Kőbánya-Kispest, a small local transport hub. Note that for transferring there to the metro, another 350 HUF-ticket is required. There exists a transfer ticket (átszállójegy) for 530 HUF which may be used all the way from the airport to the city center, but for unknown reasons these tickets are not sold in the machines. Get a transfer ticket from the BKK kiosk at the airport. If you return to the airport after your stay in Budapest, make sure you buy two transfer tickets (one from the airport to the city and the other from the city back to the airport). The trip from the airport to Deák Ferenc tér metro station takes about 45 to 60 minutes. During nighttime (11 pm to 4 am) the 900 Nightbus departs Terminal 2 every 30 to 60 minutes, providing connectivity with the 950 Nightbus stop at Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út. The 950 bus travels to Rákospalota via the City Center (Deák Ferenc tér) and Nyugati railway station.
In addition to személy suburban trains, Ferihegy also has long-distance trains (called 'InterCity' or 'gyors') to a number of other cities such as Szeged, Kecskemét, Debrecen´and Miskolc. (Warning: On the outbound platform there are some Intercity trains with Budapest-Keleti as destination - do not take this to get to Budapest as this is a ring service starting at Budapest-Nyugati and going through Ferihegy and eastern Hungary before terminating at Budapest-Keleti - taking some 5 h 45 min and costing 6660 HUF). Long-distance trains to Budapest require a seat reservation which costs a couple of hundred HUF so unless you're in a hurry, stick to the trains labelled 'személy'
Be very wary of the so called "Taxi Cowboys" who solicit passengers, they will quote you a reasonable fare then demand much higher payment when you arrive to your destination. Stick with the Airport Shuttle, Reserved private transfer, Public transport or the Taxi Stand in front of the Arrivals Hall.
Trains connect Budapest with almost all countries in central and eastern Europe. All trains arrive at Budapest Keleti station, unless stated otherwise.
Tickets from Germany are much cheaper if bought online , at least 3 days in advance.
The main railway stations (pályaudvar) are Keleti pályaudvar (Eastern Railway Station), Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) and Nyugati pályaudvar (Western Railway Station).
Most of international trains, as well as domestic trains to Miskolc, Eger, Győr and Szombathely leave from Keleti. Some trains to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lake Balaton and south-western regions of Hungary leave from Déli. From Nyugati leaves domestic trains to Debrecen, Nyíregyháza and Szeged.
The stations are well connected to each other and to the rest of the city. Keleti and Déli Railway Stations are located on Metro 2, Nyugati Railway Station is on Metro 3. A transfer should take less than 20 minutes during peak hours, slightly more on weekends and evenings.
Depending on where you are coming from, some outer stations can be useful to you; trains arriving from Vienna and Lake Balaton or other western locations stop at Kelenföld station, which is a good public transport hub for Southern Buda (All trains that departs or arrvive to/from Budapest-Déli station, stop at Kelenföld too.) Kőbánya-Kispest station is a good place to get to Eastern Budapest or to Ferihegy Airport.
Train stations in Budapest are not up to Western quality standards; they are hard to access for people with disabilities and their facilities are very limited. Be prepared for long queues at the ticket office. English is rarely spoken. Do not expect luggage trolleys or clean toilets. Food or a coffee purchased at the stations is unlikely to give you a gastronomic buzz; it is also difficult to find a good nearby cafe if you didn't research in advance. Do not accept any offers from taxi drivers waiting around the station entrance. For further information read also Stay safe section.
Hungary’s national bus network is operated by Volán Association . If you arrive to Budapest from another Hungarian city, bus is often the best option. For services, discounts, schedules and on-line booking possibilities check Hungary#Get_around.
International bus routes are operated by Eurolines +36-1 318-2122 . Most connections run two or three times a week; connections to/from Austria and Slovakia run daily. Orangeways  36-30 830-9696, offers cheap tickets to and from Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, Poland and Slovakia.
Budapest’s long distance bus stations are located outside the city centre, but are very well connected to the rest of the city. The main stations are:
Hungaria Koncert 00361 317 1377 firstname.lastname@example.org  operates cruises with lunch or dinner daily at 14:00, 19:00 and 20:00. This service is 90 minutes with hot buffet lunch or dinner. During the cruise, the Parliament, Chain Bridge, Royal Castle, Palace of Arts etc. can be seen.
Crossing Hungary and arriving to Budapest is easy as Eurovelo 6  links to Vienna and Belgrade. Following the Danube, the road is flat and separated from cars. Spring will offer the best weather to travel by bike through Hungary.
Orientation is not a big problem in Budapest. The river Danube splits the city into two areas: Buda and Pest. Aside from the very center, the city's structure is quite logical. Landmarks in Buda as the Royal Castle or Citadella Castle also help you to find your way. Besides the Danube itself, the best reference points for orienting yourself are the bridges crossing the river. From North to South, they are:
Many of Budapest's highlights are easy to approach walking, and in the center you find more pedestrian zones from year to year. Car drivers tend to respect pedestrians and often give advantage on a cross-walk even if there is no traffic light. Due to the lack of bike lanes, cyclists have to weave around pedestrian traffic; be prepared. Don't wear high-heeled shoes in the downtown as there are lots of stone pavements, especially in the Castle Hill.
If you are a short term visitor, you may find the following lines particularly useful:
Tickets and passes
Public transport in Budapest is run by Budapest Transport Limited Company (BKV). Their English-language website provides information on current schedules and fares. If you intend to travel a lot, travel cards are far less expensive than single tickets. In the evenings and nights finding a place to buy tickets can be hard, because ticket machines are usually out of order, and vendors are also closed. Tickets must be validated on the vehicles (on the subway you must validate your ticket before entering the platform). Though most places you'll find regular ticket validating machines, some older vehicles only have mechanical ticket validators. When using these, you must pull the black lever on the top of the validator after putting in the ticket. It validates the ticket by punching holes in it. Certain groups, such as 65yr+ or blind people travel free of charge if the required proof is provided, see here. Some available tickets and passes for public transport:
When using the public transport, you should always have a valid ticket or pass. The fine was recently raised to HUF8,000-16,000, depending when you pay. Sooner or later, you will run into ticket inspectors, especially in trams and buses on Sunday; they are also guarding the entrance and exit to many metro stations. They rarely speak English and some were reported to be keen on controlling tourists. There are at least two ticket inspectors on every single entrance to the Metro, as well as on the platforms and sometimes, mostly along the 3rd Metro line, inside the trains. Quite often they also check at the exits of the Metro, but this is announced on the loudspeakers, when you exit the train in both Hungarian and English. Also note that they can be rude at times and they may refuse to give you directions to the nearest point where you can buy a ticket, even if their English is fluent. They can ask for your ID, however they are not considered police officers under Hungarian law. If you do pay a fine on the spot, ask for a receipt!
Beware that not all the tickets are available everywhere to buy. The best options for groups, for example, the 24-hours-group-ticket, is available only at the BKK service centres near the biggest railway stations, as well as the airport, and on the newest ticket machines on the 2nd and 4th Metro lines. They are, however, not available from the old machines, or the kiosks, so do keep this in your mind. If you cannot find a place to buy it, you can always stop at keleti pályaudvar and buy the ticket for the next day there. Since the distances in Budapest, covered by the Metro, are not big, a trip to Keleti would take maximum 20min within the 2 Metro line.
The public transport fleet
The underground network consists of four lines (Metro 4 opened March 2014), connecting several centrally located sights, railway and autobus stations with suburbs. The lines cross only at Deák tér station in central Pest with the exception of line 4. Many stations have been recently renovated and usually have small shops, bakeries and various other businesses.
The historic Metro 1 or Millennium Subway (yellow), connects the Városliget (City park) with touristy Vörösmarty Tér in Pest center, passing the Opera and Heroes' square, as it mostly follows the majestic boulevard Andrássy út. Notably, the line was the first underground on continental Europe (preceded by London) constructed as part of the Millennium celebrations in 1896. Although the stylish vehicles are not original, the renovated, tile covered stations retain a historical atmosphere. Metro 2 (red line) connects Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station, in Buda) with Eastern Pest, passing Széll Kálmán Tér (former Moszkva tér, Buda's top transport hub), Kossuth tér (the Parliament) and Keleti Pályaudvar (Keleti Railway Station). Metro 3 (blue line) can assist you in reaching the Airport as you can change to Bus 200 at Kőbánya-Kispest terminus. A notable station is the historic Nyugati Pályaudvar (Western Railway Station).
Metro 4 (green line) connects Keleti railway station in Pest with Kelenföld railway station in Buda. Important stops include Gellert ter for the famous Gellert Baths and Fovam ter for the Central Market Hall.
Tram Budapest's 25 tram lines offer a slower but more scenic way of getting around. Lines 4/6 runs 24 hours a day.
The dense bus network connects the suburban zones with several metro and train stations and the city center.
Trolley-bus Budapest's 13 trolley-bus lines run in Northeast and Central Pest. Some of them pass through the City Park (Városliget) and cross Andrássy avenue (Andrássy út), giving you beautiful views while using this eco-friendly mode of transport. Line 70 connecting Kossuth square (Parliament) to City Park (Városliget) also passes through the lively Nagymező utca, Budapest's "Broadway". The reason why the numbering starts with 70 is a historical one: The first trolley line started on Dec. 21, 1949, the 70th birthday of the soviet dictator Stalin.
Suburban rail Green suburban railway lines (called HÉV) connect central Budapest with several suburbs. Note that your tickets and travel passes are valid only within the city boundaries, otherwise you should purchase a supplementary ticket (kiegészítő jegy) at a ticket office.
Some more exotic means of public transport may help you to escape from the hustle and bustle to the lush green hills surrounding Budapest.
Budapest is covered by 34 night bus lines. Numbers are triple-digit, starting with '9'. Buses run every 15-60 minutes from around 11PM until 4AM. The main linking points of the night bus network are Széll Kálmán square (former Moszkva tér) tér in Buda and Astoria (junction of Kossuth Lajos utca–Károly körút) in Pest. Daytime tickets and passes are valid. On line map and schedule are available on BKV's home page . Most useful night buses are:
On Friday and Saturday nights ticket inspectors gather around the stops and don't let you hop on the bus without a valid ticket or pass. They also sell tickets for HUF 450.
Apart from the summer holiday, Budapest has heavy traffic, especially in the morning, and in the late afternoon. If you don't want to spend your visit to Budapest in a traffic jam, leave your car in the hotel's garage, and use the public transport. Driving across the centre requires some local know-how to be efficient. For example you cannot turn left in most of the crossings of the great boulevard (Nagykörút) or on the main avenues like Andrássy út, Váci út, Üllői út or Rákóczi út.
When you get to the airport be aware of taxi touts waiting in the arrivals hall. They will usually overcharge you. So unless you enjoy bargaining with taxi drivers the best thing you can do when arriving to Budapest is to exit the arrivals hall and look for the taxi booth directly outside. (Főtaxi currently has the airport contract.) Tell the English-speaking dispatcher where you need to go and receive a voucher with the destination address, and number of the taxi line. The driver will ask to see this and then return it. There are no fixed priced airport transfers, every trip is priced by the distance of the destination.
In normal traffic conditions, you can get around in the central areas in 10-25 minutes by car. Taxi rides cost a 450 HUF base price and 280 HUF for every kilometer. Time-based fare unit 70 HUF per minute.
Budapest's taxi drivers are not always prepared for English speaking clients, but it does not necessarily mean that they intend to overcharge their foreign guests – you can call one of the major taxi companies with English speaking switchboards to avoid problems. Most companies' websites now have pages in English.
Do not accept offers from taxi drivers waiting in the airport terminals or railway stations. Use your common sense, sit only in taxis carrying logos of bigger companies.
Many taxis parked in the downtown areas do not belong to radio taxi companies and charge much more than the usual HUF 280 per km. Ask about their price in advance or call any of the taxi companies below. If you are forced to take a taxi from the street, try to pick one with the meter in a place where the driver can't fiddle with it while driving. (While the fare per kilometer stays the same, it may sometimes be possible to "bump" the price by adding extra basic fees.) Asking the approximate price in advance may be a good idea in such cases. Note that calling your own taxi is usually cheaper than having one booked for you in a hotel. Tell the driver in time if you need a receipt. A new ruling requires all taxis to have a universal yellow colour, but this is not obligatory until September 1st 2014. You can book taxi in advance:
Budapest may not yet be a perfect cyclist paradise, when compared to some Western-European cities, but is slowly getting there. The growing network of bikeways can be checked e.g. here . The cyclist subculture has been increasingly present for few decades now, moreover, Budapest has been home to Europe's biggest cycling demonstration, Critical Mass , where in 2008 more than 80 000 people participated.
Bikeways are separated from the road in the downtown, but they may be used as car-park or pedestrian zones. Be aware that pedestrians are not quite as used to the bike lane idea as in cities with older biking tradition, so bike carefully.
Bikes and public transport Bikes can only be taken on the HÉV (suburban train) and the Fogaskerekü (the mointain cog railway starting at Városmajor), and, on many long distance trains, the latter also having a few stations within city limits. Extra tickets are necessary. This enables the city-dwellers to undertake day biking trips outside the city. Some nearby destinations such as the town of Szentendre make for a pleasant day trip.
For renting a bike, expect to pay around HUF 2000-3000 per day. Some bike rental companies are
Although not as fancy as in Rome or Paris, scooters are becoming more common in the streets of Budapest. Inside the city scooters can be driven on the tram and bus ways, often buzzing in between traffic. Although most car drivers are quite used to the scooters around them, some can still be slight irresponsible. Ignore their pushiness and drive conservative and you should not experience any problems. The best roads are the main ring roads as these have plenty of space and good asphalt. The smaller in between roads and roads in hilly Buda can be of lesser quality with some unexpected potholes or tough to see speed bumps.
A limited number of companies offer scooter rental and scooter tours inside the city center. Expect to pay around HUF 6000 for a day. Some companies that offer scooter rental are:
In Hungary scooters with an engine up to 50cc can be driven without license plate and only a regular car drivers license. However these 50cc scooters cannot be driven with a passenger. Helmets are compulsory. For scooters and motorcycles with an engine size above 50cc a license plate and motorcycle drivers license is required. If you are experienced with driving a scooter, it is a great way to experience the city
Pest is ideal for skateboarding. Sidewalks are wide and smooth without too many pedestrians to avoid. Police won't pay you any attention as long as you are using your skateboard for transport and not trying to do tricks. Longboards are ideal because of their stability and bigger wheels.
The main sights on Castle Hill are:
The courtyard got its name from the four stone lions that guard its gate. The two formidable lions at the gate try to deter one from entering, while the two on the inside roar furiously at those who dare walk past the gates. They where created by sculptor János Fadrusz in 1902. As we walk past the gate lighter stripes in the grey cube veneer show the excavated, the re-buried remains of the medieval palace walls. The 4300 m² courtyard is bordered by the building complex containing the Hungarian National Museum, the Budapest Museum of History and the National Széchenyi Library. 
The Hunyadi Garden was a market place during the reign of Sigismund of Luxemburg. The group of bronze statues known as the Mátyás Fountain is the work of Alajos Stróbl from 1904. The work features Matthias Corvinus in the company of his henchman, his hunter, his Italian chronicler and his hunting dogs. On the left side is Szép Ilonka, a young woman from a humble background, who knowing nothing about Matthias’s status falls in love with the king during a hunt. The busy fountain is a popular rest stop for tourists. This is Budapest’s answer to the Trevi Fountain in Rome: visitors wishing to return to the city toss shiny coins into the fountain, of which thousands shimmer under the water.
One of the most representative areas of the Buda Castle, the Savoyai Terrace boasts the best view of the city. Standing on this spacious square we can see the graceful Danube dividing the two sides of the city, the limestone walls of the Parliament, the Gellért Hill, our capital’s bridges, the Monument of Liberty, and on a clear day you can see the sites of Pest. The Terrace is in front of the Hungarian National Museum and on it you will find the neo-baroque bronze statue of Austrian Prince Eugene of Savoy military strategist made by the sculptor József Róna which has been there since the beginning of the 1900s. Eugene of Savoy is an important figure in Hungarian History because he was the general who irrevocably freed Hungary from the Turkish occupation.
Other museums on the Castle Hill:
The Danube Bridges (see Orientation above), especially the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) are really attractive and make it worthy to promenade along the river bank. Lánchíd (pronounced “laance heed”) means chain bridge and the suspension structure of the bridge is made of chains whose links are huge dog-bone shaped metal bars linked by pins at their ends. Make sure you stop by after dark to take a picture as the bridge is beautifully light up.
You can have a superb glimpse over the bridges from the Citadella on the top of Buda's Gellert Hill (Gellérthegy).
Riding a boat is ideal as you can enjoy both riverbanks at the same time. For romantic views of the city, go at night.
Margaret Island (Margitsziget) and its large parks (see Buda) are a very pleasant place to relax and wander. Perfect for a sunny afternoon. The island can be reach by both side (Buda and Pest) by the Margaret Bridge that has a curious shape because it is connecting with the island with a 30° angle.
Downtown (Belváros) of Pest is the administrative and business centre of Budapest and the whole of Hungary. The main sights here are:
The old Jewish Quarter of Budapest is the neighborhood bordered by Károly Boulevard, Erzsébet Boulevard, Király Street and Rákóczi Road. Several guided and non-guided tours are available for exploring this historic area of Budapest.
The main sites include:
The Tree of Life
The Temple of Heroes
Carl Lutz Memorial
Kazinczy Street Synagogue
The memorial honors the memory of the victims who were shot into the icy Danube by the Arrow Cross army. The 60 pairs of cast iron shoes faithfully represent the attire of that age. There is a 40 meters long, 70 centimeter tall stone pew behind the shoes attached to the stone of the bank edge. This particular monument was made by Gyula Pauer in 2006 and it is placed just to the south of the Parliament building, on the Danube bank.
Museums in at the city centre:
The Andrássy út boulevard in Pest stretches from Downtown (Belváros) to the City Park (Városliget). It is a 2.5 km long tree-lined avenue. It is listed on UNESCO World Heritage List and has some important sights along it, including:
Music related Museums: Music lovers, beware that all four museums are closed in August.
Budapest offers a multitude of fairs and festivals. A few of them are
Performing arts - Classical music
Apart from a renowned music scene, Hungary has a surprisingly rich theatre and art scene and, not surprisingly, Budapest is the epicenter of it. Season begins in mid-September and ends in June. Productions range from classic dramas and traditional operas to post-modern dance performances. The following venues can be particularly interesting for non-Hungarians. Tickets are bookable about one month beforehand at Interticket, the Hungarian theaters' official booking engine for a small (10% + HUF 50) booking fee: 
Serves as a venue for the Danube Symphony Orchestra, the Danube Folk Ensemble and the Rajko Gypsy Orchestra and Folk Ensemble.
The HHH is the historical building also known as the "Vigadó" (Entertainment Hall) of Buda. The building is located in Fő utca (High Street), between Batthyány tér (Batthyány Square) and Clark Ádám tér (Adam Clark Circus).
The building was designed in Eclectic style by Aladár Árkay and Mór Kallina. It was constructed between 1898-1900. The relative simplicity of the façade is contrasted by the rich Art Nouveau ornamentation in the interior. The building was designed to serve the multiple cultural needs of the contemporary middle-class citizens of Buda. It was a cultural complex comprised of a theater, a library, a café and a restaurant.The most impressive parts of the interior are the hall with its columns and wide marble staircase, the ornamented lounge, and the adjacent auditorium.
Features performances by the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble.
In spite of increasing funding difficulties, quality cinema has remained alive in Budapest. For contemporary non-mainstream European and Hungarian titles turn to Budapest’s excellent art house movie chain, Art mozi , most of their branches are provided with a café or pub and offer pleasant atmosphere to spend your evening. A few selected cinemas of this chain:
Mainstream cinemas mainly show subtitled (or dubbed) Hollywood films and Hungarian romantic movies. After the shopping center revolution in the late 90s, more than two thirds of the city’s cinema screens are run by international chains and franchises. Two examples are:
Budapest offers a truly exceptional density of thermal springs and its fame is still rising as a major European Spa location - so go "bathing". The baths are among last vestige of Turkish culture in Budapest; some baths indeed date back to Turkish times. However, Hungarians have modified and moulded this tradition into something of their own during the last four centuries.
Thermal baths contain several thermal pools. They are usually complemented with multiple steam baths (in later decades also denoted by the Finnish word 'sauna'), massage services and other therapies including drinking cures. Unlike in some Scandinavian or German baths, Budapest baths mostly require you to wear your bathing suit! Among foreigners, Russians seem to be most frequent visitors to Budapest's baths, followed by Italians and Americans.
In recent decades a tradition of night bath parties has evolved, often revolving around various branches of electronic music, see e.g. .
As of Feb 2014 all baths in Budapest are now co-ed in all areas, and you are required to wear a swimsuit. Towel may be rented if you don't have one, but usually costs extra.
Traditional public baths
Traditional public baths used to have a slightly outdated but nowadays improving service and admission system and allow an authentic bathing experience with locals around you. At the cash desk, you sometimes have to select treatments in advance (often they are offered in distinct places of the building). Bathing time is not restricted, and, depending on the system, if you're finished earlier, part of your fee is repaid. Towels and sometimes bathrobe can be rented either at the entrance or inside. Changing clothes can be done either in a common area with lockers (gender segregated) or in cabins (kabinok) which may come in different size and is highly useful for families. While newer systems may be introduced, according to the proper ancient ritual you're handed a token with a number, which is also written on a chalkboard inside(!) the cabin door as a security code - you must remember cabin number. To access your cabin again, show your cabin and a token to attendant, and s/he'll open the door and check the number inside. Note that in swimming pools, swimming caps are sometimes obligatory (and often available for sale or rent).
There are also very modern baths (like Danubius Grand Thermal Hotel) which are usually called spas, although their central component are thermal pool and multitude of steam baths/saunas, which is not always typical for spas in the rest of the world.
The Pál-völgyi–Mátyás-hegyi cave system is recommended for the adventurous (and non-claustrophobic) who wants a great taste of "proper caving" instead of the more "tourist friendly" alternatives. The tours lasts between 2.5-3 hours and much of the time is spent crawling or climbing, so some degree of physical shape is needed. The guided tour includes a helmet, headlamp and overall so bring good shoes! Guides are very professional. English guided tours are usually on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays late in the afternoon, but can be pre-booked by groups at other days as well. For booking you need to be with at least 4 people.
Please do not litter, write your name on the cave wall or damage the cave in any other way! Part of the experience is the feeling of being in unspoiled nature.
There are a number of universities and other tertiary institutions in Budapests. Many of them offer degrees or courses in English, German, or French. Particularly popular, even though not cheap, are the medical university courses offered in German and English.
Generally speaking, finding a full-time job is fairly difficult unless you speak Hungarian. You should also be prepared that Western standards at job interviews regarding personal life and diversity issues do not always apply. Do not be surprised if you are asked about your smoking habits. Also, companies are not always prepared to fully understand and accept people from diverse backgrounds. You should be prepared that most places wont hire you until you speak at least a little Hungarian. Restaurants with a specific countries cuisine (such as Italian restaurants and pizzerias) tend to hire people from that country for making the food more authentic.
Most of the visitors from far away end up shopping in Pest in the middle of the city: Váci utca and nearby. It is historically the most expensive part of the city. You'll find Hungarian linens and lace, pottery, and other items, in souvenir shops.
You definitely want to visit the Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) at Fővám tér the recently renovated markethall with essential atmosphere (it's at the south end of Vaci). Prices for the same items vary a lot between sellers and aren't set in stone so be sure to compare and bargain.
Also, chain stores can be found along the Váci utca (C&A, H&M, Clinique, Estee Lauder, New Yorker, etc).
The shopping malls locally known as "Plazas" are usually good for buying clothes, but prices may vary wildly even in shops next to each other. For electronics, the cheap supermarkets like Electro World and Media Markt are good targets, but the quality is on par with the prices. Due to the low cost of labour, a tradition in repairing mobile phones and other appliances exists, and buying second hand electronics is normal. This service is usually offered in smaller private shops.
Absinthe is available for purchase at common liquor stores, a must-have purchase for the European traveler. Many brands available in the Market Hall and liquor stores are of poor quality (or not even "real" Absinthe).
For young local designers' items there are plenty of shops around the city. Big range of design souvenirs can be found in Fregolishop next to Kalvin square or Printa between Deak square and Astoria. On fliers of 'Stylewalker' you can find listed all the local design stores, best hair dressers cafés of Budapest's 5th district.
Local specialities often revolve around meat (pork, beef, veal, or poultry), often involve liberal use of paprika, however not necessary of the hot kind. Note that - due to a historical translation error - "goulash soup" is indeed a soup, not the "goulash" that visitors may be familiar with from home which is known as "pörkölt".
Major specialities include (google image search can aid your imagination):
From the desserts, you may not want to miss
Coffeehouses (kávéház) are a traditional Budapest institution, somewhat resembling Viennese lifestyle. A visit to one should be on every traveller's agenda, these are places which are great for spending some time enjoying a cup of coffee and a delicious cake. Some of them (especially in the higher price range) offer meals as well.
With dozens of places in the city, the best known landmark coffeehouses (and among the priciest) are:
In recent years there has also developed a number of artisan "Third Wave" barista coffee shops offering a more modern take on coffee.
Hungarian cuisine and restaurant experiences are happily remembered by visitors, even if the Hungarian diet may seem rather meat-based to many western visitors. The city has large variety of great places to eat at prices quite reasonable for western-Europeans. Like in some other cities, a number of restaurants see tourists as scapegoats. It is a good idea to avoid restaurants in the heart of the most touristic areas like Váci utca, especially if all customers seem foreigners - here you'll more likely than not be served mediocre food with a high bill padded with number of bizarre charges. In some restaurants anything you don't explicitly ask for, but appears on your table, is likely to be charged for. Don't take restaurant tips from suspicious individuals on the streets, ask your local friends instead, and check online reviews first.
A wide variety of decent food for not reasonable prices can be found at the lively Raday utca, venue of a number of cultural events, near Kálvin tér. But simply strolling the more central areas - e.g. near the Great Ringroad (Nagykörút), or the Pozsonyi út - will be enough to bump into nice places to test local cooking skill (though not necessarily with a menu available in English). Top-notch quality food (1st category restaurants) charge a wide range of prices (from starters around 1000 HUF, main courses around 3,000-10,000 HUF, and menus from 5,000 HUF). Perhaps the most reputed among top restaurants is the Gundel  near Városliget - check the prices before you decide to go, but it offers a good value Sunday brunch for some 5000 HUF.
Walking along the Danube on the Pest side, you see a lot of restaurant and bar boats. Most of them serve traditional Hungarian and international dishes, some of them are function more as bars. Thanks to the beautiful panorama across the Danube and the castle, these places provide an unforgettable experience.
Only cross-district chains are listed here; see district articles for individual restaurants.
Govinda has two restaurants see maps at 
Sightseeing ships on the Danube that serve meals are quite popular with tourists. It's a way to enjoy a view of the city from the Danube while enjoying a meal of authentic Hungarian cuisine.
This cruise is available everyday. The meeting point is at the Danube Palace (1051 Zrinyi Street 5.) at 18:30. Tickets may be booked ahead on the website, by phone (+36 1 317 1377; +36 1 317 2754) or may be purchases at the cash desk at the Daunbe Palace.
Needless to say, if you want to take home some Hungarian paprika, Pick szalámi, or Tokalyi wine, grocery shops are naturally cheaper than specialised souvenir kiosks. In the central areas, you will find smaller grocery shops such as the Hungarian chains GRoby, CBA, (sometimes Rotschild's) as well as the usual European suspects Spar, Kaiser's, Plus, and Tesco Express.
Further from the centre, you can find foreign-owned hypermarkets like Auchan, Tesco and Cora with the usual range of goods.
Halal food is not traditional for Budapest but a number of places are available recently. Check this Muslim site for Meat shops (húsboltok) and restaurants (Éttermek) .
A version of Döner Kebab (as known e.g. in Germany) is sold under the Greek name Gyros (often by Turks!). Translated from Turkish Döner, Gyros means "rotate" or "spintop" in Greek - a reference to the meat being rotated on a stake. One good moderately priced Turkish Halal place is Szeráj on Szt. István körút opposite to the theatre building of "Vígszínház", between Nyugati tér Margaret Bridge.
Hungary is famous for its wines produced at Balaton area and Eger. Among red wines the best are Kékfrankos, Egri Bikavér „Bulls Blood” and white wines the Szürkebarát and Chardonnay are popular. You should try not to miss out on the Hungarian spirit, palinka, made from fruits such as, plum, apricot, cherry or williams pears.
Unique Hungarian soft drinks to try are Traubi Szoda (a white grape soda) and Márka (a sour cherry soda).
Arriving trains are often met by touts offering free rides to hostels, as well as little old grannies offering their apartments for rent. Try to figure out exactly where you're going before you choose - or, better yet, visit any of the many travel agencies to browse the many options in a more comfortable environment.
The most expensive digs are on or near Castle Hill,dozens of reliable backpacker hostels are mostly across the river in Pest. However, Buda has better air quality due to the closeness of the hills and the forests lying to the west from the city.
Apartments may be a cheap alternative for those making extended stays. Another great way to stay in Budapest is to rent an apartment directly from a local. Wimdu offers a wide variety of apartments which could be rented directly from locals.
Calling outside Budapest press city code (Budapest is 36-1) or mobile (06 -30/ 70 /20 ) Calling international press 00 + country code + area code + local number (Hungary country code is 36).
Mobile phones work in the metro, even in tunnels between stations.
Some phone booths take coins (including € coins), but others only take pre-paid cards. The posted number for credit card calls will lead to unexpectedly high charges ($1 for a one minute call to the US) and is to be avoided. Unfortunately, you cannot trust T-mobile to charge reasonable prices on their pay phones. You can make international calls from callshops and internet cafés at more reasonable prices.
Budapest is one of the most WiFi enabled cities in Europe. You can find hundreds of free WiFi hotspots all over the city - in cafes, restaurants, shopping malls and hotels, or even parks or busy streets.
In VII district (Erzsébetváros), which is surrounded by Károly körút, Király utca and Rákóczi út, free WiFi is provided by the government all over the district - in the cafes, shops, in the streets.
However, there are still some hotels and restaurants using offering paid Wi-Fi usage, including the following:
There are many internet cafes throughout the city. Prices average 200 HUF/hour.
Hungary in general is a very safe country. According to the 2012 study of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Hungary had an intentional homicide rate of only 1.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. This is lower than the European average intentional homicide rate of 3.5, and also lower than the North American average intentional homicide rate of 3.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.
As a visitor to any other big city, having your pockets picked is the most common crime against tourists. The rate of picked pockets is relatively low by Western European and U.S. standards, and you're unlikely to have any problem if you follow some basic rules you wouldn't forget in Paris, Brussels or Vienna. The most important rules are that you never wear a backpack or purse on your back in public transportation or other places with a lot of people, and make sure that you have your wallet in one of your front pockets. Some similar scam tricks that have been used in other European big cities can be found in Budapest as well, such as two men pretending to be undercover police officers who are doing investigations on street drug dealers. They will show their fake ID very quickly you don't get a chance to read it. They will ask to see your passport and your wallet or go through your back to look for illegal drugs. Do not give your passport or wallet to them or let them go through your stuff.
Hungarian policemen rarely speak English. Tourists have no reason to be afraid of them unless breaking the law.
During the peak tourist season, police patrolling major tourist areas are accompanied by bilingual or multilingual students who assist with problems or complaints. Police have also opened a 24/7 TourInform office in one of Budapest's busiest areas. It is located at Suto Street 2, District V, and they are able to receive complaints and render assistance in English and German.
Luckily, Budapest has no off-limit zones, particularly not in the touristy areas or nearby. As a traveler, you should take only normal precautions: don't show off your money and don't wear flashy jewelery. Magyars tend to be friendly with foreigners; racism or xenophobia against tourists is practically unknown. Violent crimes are rare, and the main concern for locals is to protect their home against break-ins rather than worry about having their purse robbed.
Mostly there's no reason to have concerns about Budapest by night. In practice, the whole city, including all the touristy areas, Pest within the inner ring road (the line of Szent István körút–Teréz körút–Erzsébet körút–József körút–Ferenc körút, popularly known as Nagykörút), and Buda are safe even before dawn. Most locals avoid walking alone by night in outer zones of districts 8th and 9th in Pest, as these are shady and relatively dangerous areas. Areas in 8th district behind Népszinház utca - József körút can be risky, even if the district is CCTV monitored by the police. If you don't have special thing to do there, try not to have a walk at night at Lujza, Dankó, Magdolna Streets and their surroundings: also, it's not a very attractive area.
Some big panel areas outskirts of the city (parts of Újpest and Kőbánya, residential areas unknown by tourists) also not the best places to have a walk without knowing where to go. Area of Keleti pályaudvar is also not very friendly, but usually nothing happens. Avoid homeless people asking for money or selling something in the big underpasses. The subway at Nyugati tér collects different types of people; it is generally not risky because of heavy traffic day and night, but try not to look very "lost" there.
Beautiful during the day, bigger public parks like Városliget, are better avoided at night. Don't take a healthy walk at Népliget after dark. The famous 'chill-out' place at Római part (3th district) can be deserted especially after 1AM and in the winter season, although it's usually safe. Don't go to the dark paths alone around Citadella at night.
Night buses and the tram no.6 passing through the city center can be very crowded at peak socialising times on Friday and Saturday nights. You may come across aggressive drunk youngsters on the vehicles or at the stops. Keep a low profile or avoid the public transportation system on weekend nights. Major night lines are now guarded by security staff.
Like in several cities of the world, in Budapest the major scams for the inexperienced tourist are taxis and restaurants. Much of the following would apply to a number of touristic cities in Europe.
Less than a decade ago, Taxis used to be a traveler's nightmare, mainly for those arriving from or going to the airport. Luckily the situation is getting better: Főtaxi - contracted partner of the airport - is so far reported to be reliable and works according to advertised prices; for details read the Airport transfer chapter. Főtaxi has a stand outside the terminal building, enjoying the exclusive right to wait there, though other companies can come to pick up passengers if called by phone. Sometimes scam taxi drivers will still solicit services inside the terminal to take you for a ride with a very hungry meter. (Főtaxi replaced Zóna Taxi as contractor in 2010, hence some information on the internet may still name Zóna Taxi as airport taxi).
Alternatives to Főtaxi include to call another trusted cab (saving €5-10), or to use the Airport Minibus service. Airport Minibus has a booth inside the terminal and they will allocate you to a minibus with several other travellers who are going to the same area of town. Depending on how lucky you are, yours may be the first destination or the last. However, it is only cheaper than a taxi if you are travelling alone. If you travel the from the city to the airport, pre-order your taxi on the chosen company's phone number or call for the Airport Minibus.
Unfortunately, the situation around railway and bus stations is still not regulated. The worst is probably Keleti Pályaudvar: never trust drivers hanging around the arrival side; rather, order a taxi by phone (Some cars display their company's number). If that's not possible, take only taxis with a logo of the bigger companies, and with a proper sign on the roof and taxi licence plate. As a general rule, make sure the taximeter is on (and not set to the special "extortionate rate for unwary tourists") or agree the price with the driver beforehand. Many cases have been reported in which taxi drivers have extorted hundreds of Euros from unwary visitors. Smaller crimes include being given change in worthless, obsolete Romanian or other currency, which is not instantly recognizable by tourists as non-Hungarian currency. Other drivers take a longer route, which means a higher price, if you don't have an agreed price. If you have an agreed price, you can be sure to arrive to your destination in the shortest route possible. A typical taxi drive within the central zones should be in the range of 1000-3000 HUF (ca. 3-10 EUR) as of mid 2012.
Similar abuses have also happened in restaurants and bars, almost all of them in the vicinity of Váci utca in the touristy heart of Pest. You should avoid the eateries and bars of the zone. However, these are not typical, the majority of restaurants and pubs in Budapest are reliable. In Hungary it's compulsory to put the menu card outside the entrance; if it's not the case, don't enter. A good strategy is to eat and drink where locals do.
Don't take any tip on the streets, especially if the person is apparently a gift from heaven and is being very, very nice to you.
Don't befriend the girls hanging around Váci utca, and never accept any invitation for a drink from them: you can be sure that they will lead you to fake Champagne, but you will be left only with the bill, and it's unlikely that a small conversation with them will be worth the hundreds of euros. You'll find the same sort of girls in erotic and topless bars; avoid them unless you're ready to pay your monthly salary for a glass of wine. Currently the standard trick is to produce a menu with small print at the bottom stating that the first drink costs HUF 15,000 and consumption is compulsory. This modified menu might be produced only when the bill is presented. Most of the erotic bars in Budapest are tourist traps. As of February 2014 it looks like all those places have been closed by authorities.
A common scam now (06/2008) is for attractive women to walk up to men and ask for directions to a particular bar. If you respond "I don't know", they will ask you if you have a map and say "let's go together" they commonly tell you a story such as "I just got in from Bratislava and am just looking for a good place to get a drink..."
The most popular scam  involves a blond girl and a shorter girl with dark hair. They always act together and ask for a cigarette or the time. Next, they invite single men for a drink, in a bar at Váci utca only accessible by an elevator from the street. Once there, each drink costs around €50, but you only find that out at the end when you receive the €500 bill. So never go to the elevator bar (Városközpont) at Váci utca.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of blacklisted erotic-clubs and restaurants: .
Money conversion: Like in other places, even if a restaurant or bar accepts euros, it is better to have forints since their conversion rate is usually way worse than the rate at exchange offices. It is better to avoid exchange offices inside airports and railway stations, those in the center of the city offer a much better exchange rate.
If you see people gambling on the streets, usually in popular tourists' destinations like Buda Castle, stay away! The modus operandi usually involves a guy playing the classic game of "hiding the ball". This involves covering the ball (or small trinket) with either a bottle cap or a match box and swirling it around with two other bottle caps asking people to guess the position of the ball. The game is set in a way that you can easily see the ball's position. This is done to lure the unsuspecting person into placing a wager. There are usually two main players and, between them, they will lose and win money back and forth to give the appearance that it is a fair game: do not be tricked! They are from the same gang. Once you get greedy and get lured in, you will surely lose your money! The person in control of the bottle caps will remove the ball from their position through sleight of hand and you will never see your money back. Besides the two or three other players involved, there are usually at least two lookouts: one on each side of 'stage'.
Currently used coins: 5 HUF, 10 HUF, 20 HUF, 50 HUF, 100 HUF, 200 HUF
Currently used banknotes: 500 HUF, 1,000 HUF, 2,000 HUF, 5,000 HUF, 10,000 HUF, 20,000 HUF
Be sure when receiving change that all 1,000 HUF notes contain a vertical silver strip. Older notes without the strip are no longer valid. 200 HUF banknotes are also no longer valid, look out for these too!
Also, when receiving change from a taxi journey, make sure that the money is actually Hungarian. Some taxi drivers have been known to give unsuspecting passengers obsolete Romanian banknotes (lei).
Many reliable exchange shops can be found at the city center near Deák Ferenc tér metro station. For example, there are two shops next to the tourist information an some at Váci utca. These shops as well as other shops in the area offer a better rate than other banks at tourist spots such as international bus stations, railway stations and the castle hill. The rate might be even better than getting cash from ATMs. For example, in February 2014, you can get as high as 307 HUF/EUR from these shops while you will get 260 HUF/EUR at international bus stations and 285HUF/Euro from ATMs. The shops with better rates will have some charges, but you can find something near 300 HUF/EUR free of any tax.
Important phone numbers
Police 107 Fire:105
Ambulance: 104 Central Emergency: 112