Money Changers - avoid Inter Change
When you arrive at the airport, you will see a money changer in the baggage claim area. There is also one operated by the same company outside in the arrival hall. DON'T change your money there. We did and we got 30HUF less than in the city. All seemed to not charge a commission. The current rate was going at 1 Euro = 280 HUF and we got 250 HUF.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to change money, change only enough to pay for your trip to the hotel. Once in the city, there are money changers EVERWHERE! We saw Interchange on Vaci Utca (the tourist shopping street) and they still had a ridiculous rate even though the others all had the same better rate. Perhaps this only applies to Euros.
In general, we found that all money changers in one area had the same rate. Those around körút Erzsébet seemed to have the best rates with the worst being on Vaci utca (but it was a minimal
Avoid this place!
If you seek girls in Budapest nightlife...
Then avoid this place called Broadway bar & cafe. They cheated customers, with big bills.
I was not the only customer who was cheated. They even didn't gave me my change money back.
- Luxury Travel
Scams to be aware of
One of the oldest scams which still happens is when a young (and usually very pretty) woman asks a man if he will buy her a drink (or perhaps more). The drink or drinks are shared and then the man asks for the bill. When it arrives it is extremely expensive, because it is a scam devised by the bar. As a result it is always prudent to ask to see a menu before you place an order, that way it is much easier to resolve any disputes.
Unique Suggestions: The US Embassy has released another list of bars, restaurants and strip clubs, all in
Budapest District V, of which it says it has had complaints from American citizens. It is claimed the establishments on the list have grossly overcharged visitors and, in some cases, made threats of physical violence when customers refused to pay charges.
City Center Club and restaurant (same owner as Mephisto Cafe), Vaci utca
Mephisto Cafe, Vaci utca
Nirvana (formerly known as Lola Club), Szent Istvan Korut.
The Black and White Club (formerly known as Tropical Bar), Galamb utca
Fontana Cabaret, Vaci utca
Piccolo (espresso/drink bar), Parizsi udvar.
Fun Alternatives: In the business area of Budapest, drinks and food really can be very expensive, so don't order anything before you have seen the price list.
Sometimes in bars there have been occasions where arguments over the bill have resulted in violence, there have also been incidents where travelers have been forced to pay the bill under the threat of violence by security guards. In this kind of situation it is usually just best to pay up and then chalk the whole incident up to experience.
Forints are really easy to get hold of. There are lots of ATMs everywhere, so you will find that you can simply go to an ATM and withdraw as much money as you need (or can afford).
It is always cheaper to withdraw money abroad using a debit card, since if you use a credit card, you will find that it is more expensive, due to higher interest charges.
Budapest scams - Vaci Utca
If you're a tourist in Budapest, especially if it is your first visit, then the best tip
is to avoid Vaci Utca like the plague. This street is home to all sorts of low life scammers - you will be
approached by girls who try to befriend you with the sole purpose of taking you to a bar where money
will be extorted out of you. Restaurant scams are also rife. One restaurant on Vaci Utca called Gallileo Gallilei
( a corner basement restaurant) uses a special trick to lure customers. They have a notice board outside
which promises 50% reduction on main courses and have a friendly man on the door who chats to you to
lure you in, and reinforces the 50% reduction promise. As you can guess, they do not honour their promise, they
also rip you off with drink prices ( 9 euros for a litre of beer). Food is disgusting too. When questioned,
they get nasty. Avoid this restaurant and avoid this street at night too - it is sleazy at night and a real rip-off tourist trap.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go and visit this street then do so during the day - the 'drinks whores' are likely to still be in their bed, or
counting their money from the previous night!
Fun Alternatives: Any street other than Vaci Utca is a good alternative - there are scores of complaints posted on the internet about rip-off incidents which occur on Vaci Utca.
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
Be careful around Vaci Utca (that's Vaci Utca not Vaci Ut near Nyugati). It's not a dangerous area, but there's a lot of people and places that prey on tourists. There's a much higher chance of getting ripped off here, and there's a number of cheesy and seedy joints on the street.
Away from Vaci Utca, one place that seems to be popular with visiting tourists, but seems universally hated by the locals and expats, is Sir Lancelot. It's a restaurant that serves tough, overcooked meat in a "medieval" setting, where locals are forced to dress up in embarrassing costumes and perform "shows" for visitors.
Reactions tend to be laughter or embarrassment.
How to avoid Taxi rip off
Always call / take a taxi of a major company. Major companies has nice corporate looking signs and not only the taxi light on top. And most importantly the taxi sign on top doesn't say only "taxi" but it has the company name on it. Also make sure that the sign on the side is matching with the sign on the taxi light.
Some taxi companies you can call from your cell phone at any time:
Budapest Taxi, cheapest, family style: +36.1.4-333-333 from cellphone or 4-333-333 from a local Budapest phone
6x6 taxi: +36.30.2-666-666 from cellphone or simply 6-666-666 from a local Budapest phone
City taxi, more expensive: +36.30.2-111-111 from cellphone or simply 2-111-111 from a local Budapest phone
If you arrive by plane take the Zone "airport" taxi solely just to get transfered to the city or call any of the taxis above and ask for the "fixed price". All mayor taxi companies have fixed airport transfers, so never take an airport transfer (either inbound or outbound) by the meter.
If you arrive by train or bus, your chances to get riped off are pretty high. Most scamer taxi drivers are fishing at bus stations or train stations. So you better not go with the drivers trying to invite you, but rather call the taxi companies above.
Always call for a taxi (numbers above), never wave for them, this will save you money and also you have a great chance of not bumping into scamer drivers.
If you stay at a fancy or not so fancy hotel, ask the receptionist to specifically call any taxi companies above for you otherwise if you take the official "hotel taxis" that can easily cost you almost twice as much.
If you don't speak Hungarian, ask a German or English speaking driver when you call for the taxis, that can save you some headache.
All Taxi companies have different categories, the most premiere is "A" and "E" category. These are bigger cars, like a Mercedes or similar. When you call for the taxi, you can specify the category and it won't cost you extra, but you might wait for them to arrive later than more ordinary taxi categories.
You can specify if you want a smoker or non-smoker taxi when you call for them, it won't cost you more. By default there are more taxis out there who are smoker ones, so they might be stinky for a non-smoker nose.
I'm a local from Budapest, so you can't go wrong with these tips.
Here is a full list of the major taxi companies:
The central street is nice but lined with souvenir shops and restaurants with inflated prices out to catch tourists.
Is should be renamed tourist Street. Real Budapest is not here, which is a pity as it is a place you will no doubt find yourself on due to it's location.
NEVER GET PICKED UP BY GIRLS IN CENTRE OF BUDAPEST
If some girls come and act nice and try to pick you up and take you to a restaurant they know in the centre of Budapest , never accept . Always go to a place of your choosing . Especially avoid a place where you walk up with an elevator . The place is named "VAROSKZSPONT ETTEREM" AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS and always look on the menu and at the prices before ordering anything . Always ! You will save alot of money by doing this.
Unique Suggestions: If you got there the only thing to is look on the menu before you order or if you order pay only for what you have consumed and if they refuse call teh police .
- Road Trip
well being a city, obviously it is not the cheapest of places.
Be careful how much a beer is going to cost you.
they vary from 350 huf to 1000huf
i'm use to in the UK paying £2.50 to £3.00 for a beer, but these prices vary from £1.50 to £3.00
most menus aren't so clear as to price, also if you use an italian of which there are many, they use italian beers, so dear prices, and add there own service charges, so don't tip them after.
Unique Suggestions: ask prices of beer and avoid italian restaurants/bars
Fun Alternatives: use places selling traditional hungarian food, and ask for Local Beer.
Wine is very cheap drink that instead if you like it
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
St. Stephen basilica's treasury
When you arrive the beautiful st. Stephen basilica the enter is free but they request money to see the treasury and climb the tower.
The basilica is a very beautiful building and the view from the tower is amazing but the treasury is a big disappointment - it cost me 400 forint to enter a small room in a size of a toilet room with 4-5 exhibits that i realized are not the original ones.
You see those exhibits in less than 2 minutes.
Fun Alternatives: Don't enter the treasury - just walk in the Basilica and climb the tower.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Religious Travel
The Budapest card is a touristic card that allows you to drive in the public transportaion for free and enter attractions with discount or free.
Sounds great - isn't it ?
The problem is that it is more expensive than what you should pay and also some of the places are not worth visiting , while other places will take money although you have the card.
Fun Alternatives: Use the metro (check if the daily card is worth buying) and avoid not interesting places.
Taxi rates will be higher than any other transportation option you need.
Metro and trams will be a lot cheaper so try to use them morew than taxis.
If you need a taxi just use a company and not a taxi on the street.
Fun Alternatives: Metro or tram , or just Walk for a few minutes.
I wanted to see the statue park but a lot of people told to stay out of the Statue park because :
1. it is far from the center and the transportation to get there is really bad.
2. it is not worth the visit , very boring.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to learn about the communism in Budapest and Hungary you can go to the House of Terror museum - located on Andassy street.
Many hotels or the tourist office that you booked your filght with , offer you a Danube cruise - to the Danube bend or only in Budapest.
The problem is that they want a lot of moey for this cruise - we got an offor for 16000 Forint (100 usd) for a Danube bend cruise.
Unique Suggestions: Enjoy the cruise and take a lot of pictures.
Fun Alternatives: The best thing is to ask a local tourist information about such crusies.
There is a cheap cruise from Vigado square called mahart passnave - check their link :
It cost me 2000 Forint only - 8 times cheaper than the tourist company's offer.
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
City bus tours
To my opinion taking the touristic bus for a 1-2 hours trip is a big trap.
Although it can be a perfect option for a tourist that have limited time in Budapest and wants to see as much as he can.
Ths bus ride will cost more than 3000 forints most of the time
Unique Suggestions: If you are on the bus try to enjoy as much as you can , see a lot of things and attractions , take a lot of pictures.
Fun Alternatives: The best way to my opinion is to walk to each attraction and see it for yourself but if you are a limited time tourist , try take tram number 2 and you will get an almost free sightseeing tour.
A tram ride will cost you something like 200 forint , while the real city tour bus will cost more than 3000 forint !
The ride is less than 30 minutes and you will see - the danube , the parliament , museum of ethnography , lajos kossuth square , chain bridge , vigado square , a view to gellert hill , central market hall and more.
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
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