This is an extension of the FAQ topic in the Forum, to be updated as information and prices change.

If your question s general, it has probably already been answered, so it's a good idea to try to search the forums before posting it. New questions tend to start up great discussions, so going back to the original will get you a lot more (and often more impassioned) information.

So, here is a list of the most commonly asked questions on the forum, along with links back to some good posts on the subject and some general information.

1. Money

As of Feb, 2008, Hungary does not use the Euro and will not start any time soon. Hungarian currency is the Forint, the current exchange rate can be easily found at here. Yes, Hungary has ATMs and they probably take your bank or credit card.

Try:

Good ATM Thread

When booking at a B&B or Apartment, you may be quoted in Euros (or GBP or USD) for your convenience.

In some cases, they will also take payment in those currencies, though I usually pay in forints.

Accommodations are one of the few places weher you probably will get an honest exchange rate on these foreign currencies.

The point is, however, that they are still *foreign* currencies. You will not generally be able to pay for marketing, shopping, meals, entry fees, etc in anything other than forints. Or, if they do offer Euro/pound/dollar prices, it is not a good rate for you.

It's like how in NH, VT and Maine, you can often use Canadian coins or bills, with a posted exchange value. However, you are still in the United States, where the currency is USD.

Search for "exchange" or "ATM" for more.

2. Airport transfer and transportation

Most people on the forum recommend using the official taxi company, Fo Taxi, which has a stand right at the airport terminal exit, or the Airport Minibusz (shuttle bus, goes day and night, all night), which has a desk in Terminal 2B, just as you step out to the airport hall after arrival. Search either term for loads of posts.

To use Fo taxi 

You walk out of the arrivals building (both terminals)

Fo taxi booth in front of you

Give them your destination address

They give you a card with the price (varies slightly according to district)

You get in the first available car

Show the card to the driver (MOST IMPORTANT)

Get out at the other end

Pay the driver (be generous with the tip)

Keep the card

When you want to return to the airport ring the number *

Give your address and tell them you want to go to the airport, and when (make it clear whether morning or evening)

Tell them its a return trip

When the driver comes, show him the card (IMPORTANT)

Get out at the airport

Pay the driver (be generous with the tip)

Get on your plane

Go home

* YOU ring the number, or your hotel may charge for doing this for you.

Total cost will be about 11k ft, 5,500k each way. The fare including the tip is usually about 6k, about £17, not a lot between 4 of you for a 30 minute drive. The journey from the airport is a bit more expensive, cheaper coming back to encourage you to use them again.

ATMs in the arrivals hall to get cash.

The showing the driver the card bit IS IMPORTANT !!! if you simply walk up to a Zona car, he will charge you the meter rate, so go to the desk first and get the card.

3. Safety and scams?

Check out the "How not to get ripped off" thread and the Know Before You Go section.

4. Which bath houses/baths/spas are worth visisting?

All of the Budapest baths!

Budapest is nicknamed the "City of Spas." The Széchenyi may be the most popular, but Budapest has a wide selection when it comes to spas.

Széchenyi, Gellért, Rudas, Király, Lukács are the most famous.

Here is a website with comprehensive information regarding all spas, hot springs and pools: Budapest Spas on the Map. The link is in English, but the website is also available in German.

Note that once in the spas additional services like towel rentals and the snack bar may only be purchased with HUF and in cash.

It's possible to purchase tickets to the Gellért and Széchenyi Spas online for exactly the same price as at the cash desk of the spas, these tickets will allow guests to avoid the sometimes lengthy lines at the entrance, however guests may enter the spa only between 9AM and 6PM, but can stay until closing time:

This is the webshop: Famous Baths of Budapest

 

5. How can I take the train to/from Budapest to <any European city>? Should I buy tickets online? Should I get a Eurail pass? Are the trains safe?

Train Tickets in Advance: you can buy train tickets online in advance but the MAV website is not too user-friendly as halfway through the buying process, the language switches back to Hungarian. Here is a detailed description of how to buy a rail ticket with screenshots, step by step guide.

Night Trains

Night Trains and Safety: travelling at night is usually safe, but keep your valuables with you, possibly safely locked into the night cabin.

6. Which is the best district/area/street to stay in? Will I be near the center and the sights?

Google Maps Budapest

Downtown: if you want to have the most convenient location possible in Budapest, zoom in on the map on District V, e.g. Vaci utca, Petofi utca, Kossuth utca, Astoria ter, Deak ter, Roosevelt ter, Hold utca, Szabadsag ter, Ferenciek tere, etc.  These are all in the heart of the city with great amenities and close to the attractions.

One conversation regarding neighborhoods and districts

Another regarding flat location

Also, search "buda pest"

Visitors can have good access to the center without staying in the downtown. There are a number of hotels in Kőbánya and Zugló, especially along and near Hungária Ringroad. These are generally clean and safe neighborhoods.

7. Public Transportation

Public transportation in Budapest is one of the best and most convenient in Europe. Buses, metros, trams go very frequently, and the passes and tickets are quite cheap. Subway (Metro) – Budapest has three subway lines and the fourth one, Metro 4, is currently under construction:

 

  • M1 or Millennium Underground (yellow line) - runs under Andrássy Avenue in Pest, between Vörösmarty tér and Mexikói út
  • M2 (red line) - runs east west, between Déli pályaudvar and Örs vezér tere
  • M3 (blue line) - runs north south in Pest, between Újpest-Központ and Kőbánya-Kispest
  • M4 - runs between Kelenföldi pályaudvar and Keleti pályaudvar

 

The main junction where all three subway lines meet is at Deák Ferenc tér in the city center. View Subway Map.

Other answers can be found on the BKV website.

Public transportation is cheap, easy and efficient in Budapest. The one hitch that seems to come up is people who don't understand the ticket system. It's simple - VALIDATE FIRST! You must always have a validated ticket or signed pass to be a legitimate rider. On the spot inspections will result in fines.

A few other common questions:

The 3 day or 7 day passes are well worth it, though most agree the Budapest Card (which includes museum entry and discounts) is not.

You can not buy passes at the airport, only single-ride tickets. You will need to go to a metro station to buy a pass.

The Budapest Card is a good option for families and people traveling with small children, as a card is valid for an adult and a child of up to 6 years of age. The Cards include free entry or discounts to a number of museums and attractions as well as a lot of other discounts, and accident insurance.