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 the security at its borders. Foreigners in Hungary are by law required to carry with them proper identity document and show it to the local authorities upon request.
Please make sure to carry your passport at all times: Police authorities can fine anyone up to 150.000 HUF for failing to show a valid passport (or in case of EEA citizens a national ID card).
How do I travel the simplest and cheapest way in Budapest?
While using the Hungarian public transport system you can opt for the following:
- a single ticket: 350,- HUF
- a Budapest 24-hour travel card (1.650,-HUF)
- a 7-day travel card (4.950,- HUF)
- a 14-day pass (6.300,- HUF),
- a monthly Budapest pass (9.500,- HUF). The monthly pass allows you to travel day and night on any vehicles run by the Budapest Transport Center (BKK).
If you regularly travel by public transport, the best arrangement for you is to buy a monthly Budapest travel pass - for which a pictured ID card is required.
One single ticket is valid for one uninterrupted journey of up to 60 minutes, whereas a pass is good for unlimited travel in Budapest. It is cheaper to buy a 10-piece discount coupon booklet ("gyűjtőjegy": 3.000,- HUF), rather than buying separately single tickets .
Tickets and passes can be purchased at Metro stations or any ticket vending machines around the city. Tickets must be validated by ticket punchers in buses, trams and trolleys or before entering any metro stations. The validated tickets must be kept until the end of the trip and handed over to a controller upon request. Unlike single tickets, travel passes do not need to be validated for each trip: these are valid for the indicated period on the pass. Transport officials are authorized to check the validity of your ticket or pass any time during and after your trip. Passengers without valid ticket or pass are to pay a heavy fine - 8.000,- HUF (approx. 30 euros) on the spot.
For more detailed information please visit: http://www.bkk.hu/en/main-page/news/
Hungarian Student Cards
The Hungarian Education Ministry introduced in 2012 a new law related to Hungarian Student Cards ("Magyar diákigazolvány"). According to these new regulations only students in CEU programs accredited both in the USA and in Hungary, are eligible to opt for a Hungarian Student Card, entitling the holder to a significant discount on public transportation). The application process is administered by the Student Center (Dean of Students Office). Students, enrolled in these programs are entitled to apply for a Hungarian Student Card.
Additionally, students in programs accredited only in the USA (but not in Hungary) – and who are citizen of the European Economic Area (including Switzerland) – have also the possibility to apply for a 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 here. The application forms are available at the Student Center.
Students not eligible for a Hungarian Student Card, are advised to buy regular tickets or full-price passes (9.500 Ft) for traveling in Budapest. Please note that neither a CEU ID Card nor an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) entitles the holder to use the monthly Budapest discounted student pass for traveling.
Holders of a Hungarian Student Card are entitled to buy the monthly Budapest student travel pass at a reduced rate (3.450 Ft). Other discounts in selected shops in Hungary and abroad are available on http://www.diakkedvezmeny.hu/ and http://eyca.org/discounts/search.
Safety in Budapest
Public safety is fairly good in Budapest. But just like in any other popular destination there are some common tourist traps you should know about and take some precautions to ensure your safety in Budapest. If you are prepared for them, chances are that you will 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 are 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 not only against the law, but you can be easily cheated or end up with counterfeit money. You are advised to convert your currency at any legal exchange office or bank.
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.