Traveling in Budapest
What documents do I need to carry around in Hungary?
Hungary joined the Schengen Area in late 2007 and consequently the country has tightened its security within its borders. Foreigners in Hungary are required by law to carry with them proper identity document and show it to the local authorities upon request.
So please ensure to carry your passport at all times: the Police can fine anyone up to 150.000 Ft for failing to show a valid passport (or a national ID card in case of EEA citizens).
How do I travel the simplest and cheapest way in Budapest?
If you regularly travel by means of public transport, the best arrangement for you would be to buy a monthly transportation pass. Here are the details:
While traveling on Hungarian public transport you are requested to buy either
- Single tickets (from January 1, 2013: 350,- HUF.), or
- a Seven Day Travel Card (4.950,- HUF) or *a 14-day pass (7.000,- HUF),
- or a Budapest monthly transportation pass (10.500,- HUF). The monthly pass allows you to travel day and night on any vehicles run by BKV (Budapest Transport Limited).
One single ticket is valid for one uninterrupted journey of up to 60 minutes, whereas a pass is good for unlimited travel in Budapest.
Tickets and passes can be purchased at major Metro stations, such as Deák Tér. Tickets can be validated by means of meters on board of buses and trams or at entrances of metro stations. The validated tickets should be kept till the end of the trip and handed over to the controller on request. It is cheaper to buy a 10-piece discount coupon book ("gyűjtőjegy" - from January 1, 2013: 3000,- HUF) than buying the single tickets separately.
You must have a ticket or a valid pass before boarding the vehicles. The tickets should be validated by the punchers before starting your trip on the Metro lines, or right after embarking other means of transport. BKV is authorized to check the validity of your ticket or pass any time during or after your trip. Passengers without valid ticket or pass are to pay a heavy fine - 16.000,- HUF (approx. 55 euros) on the spot.
For more detailed information please visit: http://www.bkv.hu/en/
Hungarian Student Cards
The Hungarian Education Ministry introduced in 2012 a new law related to Hungarian Student Cards ("Magyar diákigazolvány"). Holders of this card are entitled to buy the monthly Budapest student travel pass at a reduced rate (3850 Ft). Other discounts in selected shops in Hungary and abroad are available on http://eyca.org/discounts/search
According to these new regulations only students in CEU programs accredited in the US and Hungary, are eligible to opt for the Hungarian Student Card. The application process is administered by the Student Life Office.
Additionally, students in programs accredited only in the US (but not in Hungary) – and who are citizen of the European Economic Area (including Switzerland) – have also the possibility to apply for the Hungarian Student Card. In these cases the application process is not done at CEU, but at the Customer Service of the Education Office. Details on this procedure are available in the Student Life Office.
Students who are not eligible for the Hungarian Student Card, are advised to buy regular tickets or passes for traveling in Budapest.
Safety in Budapest
Public safety is fairly good in Budapest, though just like in any other popular destination there are some common tourist traps and inconveniences that you have to know about and take some precautions to ensure your safety in Budapest.
If you're prepared for them, chances are higher that you'll fully enjoy your stay without any unpleasant events or bad experiences.
Pickpockets, scam merchants
Pickpockets are most active on public transport vehicles, on escalators leading down and coming up from the metro, in crowded shops and popular touristy places.
- Carry only as much cash as you need for the day, and try not to keep money, cards and other valuables in one place.
- Keep your money, documents, mobile phone safe and secure; in a belt bag at the front of your body or in an inside pocket. Keep your camera in a bag with a strap wearing it across your shoulder.
- Always pay attention, look out for possible pickpockets. If they see you're on the alert they will likely not choose you as their next victim.
- Pickpockets and scam merchants usually work together to distract people's attentions. If you're approached by a group of dubious people attempting to gain your attention just turn your back and walk away.
- Be aware of people around you when using cash machines; it is not usual for others to stand too close.
Do not change money in the streets! It is against the law and you can be easily cheated or end up with counterfeit money. You are advised to exchange your currency in any major banks or at exchange bureaus.
Areas to avoid at night in Budapest
Downtown Budapest (Castle District, districts V., VI., part of district VII. along Grand Boulevard) is fairly safe at night.
As a general rule of thumb avoid poorly lit streets and underpasses. Avoid walking on your own, you are much safer with friends.