The Republic of Hungary is a parliamentary democracy with a population of just under 10 million. The capital of Budapest is inhabited by 1.7 million people. Hungary occupies an area of 93,000 square kilometres and borders with seven neighbouring countries: Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. Hungary has been a member of NATO since 1999 and joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.
Main religions are Roman Catholic (52%), Calvinist (16%), Lutheran (3%), Greek Catholic (2.6%), Jewish (0.1%) other religions, including (1.1%); belonging to no religion or denomination (14.5%), unknown or refusing to declare their religious affiliation (11%).
The official language is Hungarian which is part of the Finno-Ugric language family and said to be one of the most difficult languages in the world. Hungarian language is the only major national language of a European and Western country where family name is followed by given name, so Hungarians use last name first!
Although the vast majority of the population is Hungarian (90%), numerous ethnic minorities – Gypsies (4%), Germans (2.6%), Serbs (2%) Slovaks (0.8%), Croats, Slovenes and minor communities live throughout the country who spoke their native language and do a lot to preserve their traditions.
Flag of Hungary Cote of ArmsBack to Submenu
Have you ever seen a book "Easy Hungarian" or "Learn Hungarian in 3 days"? Likely, no. Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to learn and likely the hardest language with over 5 million speakers. Not just our grammar is complicated, but learning the Hungarian words is also challenging, because most of its word roots do not resemble to Latin, German or Slavic words and contain special accented letters like ö,ő,ü,ű,í which might not be displayed correctly on your monitor. Once a lyrics translator illustrated how different English and Hungarian is by using the example of "plane crash" which is "repülőgép-szerencsétlenség" in Hungarian.
We, Hungarians are aware of how difficult our language is, and appreciate if you can say "Thank You" or "Good Morning" in Hungarian. Here you find a few basic words and phrases in Hungarian, which we consider can be useful during your stay in Hungary.Back to Submenu
Hungary has Visa Waiver Agreements with more than 100 countries, including EU Member States, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
EU Member States' citizens can travel to Hungary with valid Ordinary Passport (OP), Diplomatic Passport (D), Service Passport (S) and Identity Card (ID). Exceptions are Denmark, Latvia, UK where ID Card is not accepted and there are limitations on various UK passports. Length of visa-free stay is 90 days.
USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand citizens can use their valid Ordinary Passport (OP), Diplomatic Passport (D), Service Passport (S) and can stay visa-free for 90 days.
Travel documents should be valid for 3 months at least. Please be advised that the driving license is not a travel document.
Hungary is part of the Schengen Area since December 2007. The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel with external border controls for those travelling in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls when travelling between Schengen countries.
Hungary is bordering with 3 Schengen countries: Slovakia on the North, Austria and Slovenia on the West. On these borders, there is no border control.
Contrary at the borders of the European Union (borders with Ukraine, Serbia and Croatia) or the Schengen Area (border with Romania), Hungary operates strict border control.
Hungary's customs regulations are in line with EU rules. The regulations of the European Union ensure the free movement of goods between member states. Generally the import/export of goods purchased for non-commercial purposes (for personal use or as gifts) while travelling to/from Hungary is not restricted. However, the transport of certain goods (such as: pets, hunting weapons, alcohol and tobacco products, medicines containing drugs, etc.) within the European Union is subject to restrictions and/or to special permissions.
Special rules apply to travellers arriving to Hungary from countries outside the European Union (from third countries). The rules mostly refer to import tobacco, alcoholic beverages, other items and cash.
To see more information on visa, travel documents, border crossings and customs regulation, visit our Travel to Hungary page.Back to Submenu
Arriving by car. Either you arrive in Hungary on a motorway or wish to use Hungary's motorway network you need to buy an e-vignette. It's a virtual vignette, replacing the traditional windscreen stickers. You can buy the e-vignette at retailers, petrol stations, on-line on the internet or by mobile phones.
For passenger cars and motorcycles you need to buy a D1 category e-vignette, the minimum length is 10 days. If you arrive to Hungary on Motorway, buy the e-Vignette right at the border or latest at the first petrol station. In summer there can be long queus at the petrol stations, so buying the e-sticker in advance on the web can be a good idea.
Arriving by plane. In Budapest your plane will arrive to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport. Originally, it was called Budapest Ferihegy International Airport, but in 2011 it was officially renamed, in honour of Franz Liszt (in Hungarian: Liszt Ferenc), a world famous Hungarian pianist and music composer. The website of the airport does not even mention its official name, just call itself simply Budapest Airport, and makes branding of its IATA code BUD. Just to avoid any confusion, when you hear/read Ferihegy Airport, Ferenc Liszt Airport or Budapest Airport, it's the same airport, but all names are in use.
For more information visit our Arriving in Hungary page.
In Hungary the official currency is the Hungarian Forint (Ft or HUF).
The denominations of the forint coins are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200, while the HUF banknotes are 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000 and 20000.
Though, the official currency is the Hungarian Forint, you can also pay in other currency (mostly in euro) at many places. It is legal, because businessess can decide which payment form including the use of currency they accept. For example big retail chains (like Tesco, Spar, Auchan), most hotels, certain petrol stations (near borders and along transit routes), certain restaurants and shops accept euros.
If you need Hungarian Forint in cash, you can change your euros, dollars either in banks, at certain travel agencies, or at exchange kiosks. Never change money on the street. It's against the law and you can be easily cheated or end up with counterfeited money.
The quickest and most economic way to change money is to use exchange offices or kiosks. Exchange kiosks located in tourist areas or shopping malls offer the best exchange rates. Change offices usually do not use commission, but always check for it on the display.
In Hungary more than 4600 ATMs are in use and more than 1100 operates in Budapest, so it is easy to find them. Most ATMs accept MasterCard, Cirrus Maestro and Visa, but in the past it was hard to find ATMs which accept Amex, JCB or Diners Club cards. Since the biggest retail bank OTP started to launch American Express cards, you can withdraw money from 1800 OTP ATMs using your Amex card. Diners Club cards are generally accepted by the ATMs of Citibank and Budapest Bank (BB).
In Hungary credit and debit cards, especially Visa, MasterCard, Maestro are widely accepted, and you'll be able to use them at many restaurants, shops, hotels, car-rental firms, travel agencies and petrol stations or nowadays even in taxis (if you call a taxi company tell the operator that you wish to pay by credit card). Since in Hungary the banks issue most cards belonging to MasterCard, Maestro or Visa, these are the most widely accepted bank cards.
Many shops do not accept Amex or Diners Club cards, because these cards are not common in Hungary, and transaction fees are high.
In Hungary many banks do not process traveller's cheques at all. If they do, they are willing to pay only in Hungarian Forint even if the cheque is issued in US Dollars or euro. Further on the authorisation and verification process is cumbersome, so if you do not want to spoil your stay in Hungary forget the Traveller's Cheque.
Hungarians usually give tips when eating out, having a drink at a bar, using a taxi, having a hair cut, etc. The tip is usually 10% of the price, rounded up to the nearest 100 or 500 or 1000 HUF. It is considered rude if you don't give any tip to the waiter, it means that you were absolutely dissatisfied with the service. However if the service or food was bad, don't give a tip. If you would like to know more about payments, exchange, ATMs, acceptance of credit and debit cards, traveller's cheques and tipping, see our Money Matters page.