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Top 5 Security Tips When in Budapest

Useful tips to avoid an embarrassing situation in Budapest


Top 5 Security Tips When in Budapest

Budapest, the Hungarian capital, is well-known for its magnificent architecture, amazing views, and very delicious cuisine.

Although Budapest is safe for tourists same as the other European capitals, there are some expected and common tourist traps and inconveniences that all tourists have to be aware about and take precautions to ensure their safety in Budapest.

So before hitting some of the best places to party in Budapest and while catching the airport shuttle upon landing, make sure to have a list of possible security issues you may encounter while visiting Budapest. Or, to be even clearer, make sure to recognize and avoid any safety issues. Here’s a list of tips that might help you have a safe and pleasant stay.

Taxi scams are still possible

In 2013 a new set of taxi regulations came in effect in Hungary. Prior to that, many taxi companies operated on their own, charging completely different fees. Needless to say, many of them were scamming and ripping off the tourists. After this new regulation, this is not the case anymore. Today, all taxis are uniformed in terms of distance vs. tariff ratio. You can recognize these licensed taxis as yellow cabs with a sign on the roof and transparently indicated prices on the side of the car. When it comes to taxy safety, always make sure to call a credible taxi company to order a car and never get a taxi off the street. On top of that, use this transportation when it’s the quickest way to get somewhere. As pointed out earlier, always use yellow cabs with clear marks, such as prices and taxi company logo, since this way you’ll know how much you’d pay. Always avoid unmarked cars solely with a taxi sign on the roof. Once inside, look for a table of fares usually placed on the dashboard.

Overcharging at restaurants, nightclubs and bars

Budapest has a variety of restaurants, bars and clubs and many of them are targeted at tourists. Some of the best local bars and nightclubs for tourists offer an unforgettable experience, but make sure not to fall in a financial trap. Some of these places can be simply overpriced, since they would charge you a lot more for a dish of average food and service than you would pay at a more common place. Hence, before ordering, always make sure to ask for a menu with indicated prices and ask in advance on the place’s policy of service fee. If you ask in advance, they’ll have to provide an answer and you may obstruct their mission to rip you off.

Beware of the pickpockets and scam merchants

Probably the same as in any other city, the pickpockets are most active on public transport vehicles, on escalators leading down and coming up from the metro, in very crowded shops or shopping centers, at the food markets, and at some of the popular touristy places, like Matthias Church, Fishermen’s Bastion, the Parliament, the Danube promenade, Váci Street and even at the ZOO. To make sure that you won’t lose a lot of money in case you get pickpocketed, carry only as much cash as you need for the day. On top of that, keep your money, documents and mobile phone safe and secure in a belt bag at the front of your body or in an inside pocket. Additionally, keep your camera in a bag with a strap across your shoulder or on the front of your body. Just be a little more aware on your movements and environment in a crowded place and you’ll probably be fine. If they notice that you’re alerted, they’ll just pass by you. As for the scam merchants, they usually operate in groups along with the pickpockets, thus distracting the unobservant individual. So if you notice someone suspicious trying to loudly grab your attention, just walk away.

Exchanging money on the street

By now, your common sense should tell you that exchanging money in the street is never a good idea, even if the person insists on giving you an amazing deal. It is against the law and you’d probably get scammed and handed counterfeited money. Always exchange your money at some of the near banks or at exchange offices. To be sure on the rate you are getting, always check the rates before handing in your money.

Be careful when befriending strangers

Be very careful when making “new friends” abroad. In Budapest, this is actually the case with making friends in small bars. Some of the tourists are targeted under false pretenses and very often the bartenders and servers are part of the scam as well. These scammers operate by providing a false sense of security and excitement of new friendship, so after a night of drinking, there may be plenty of missing wallets, passports and even robbed hotel rooms. So keep your extroverted self in check and never trust to invite anyone you don’t know in your hotel, nor get too close and open.

In general, Hungary is a safe country where the local people are hospitable, friendly and welcoming of tourists. However, same as with any other touristy place in the world, some shortcomings are highly possible if you are not careful. Hence, to avoid uncomfortable and costly experiences, make sure to be rational in your decisions and behavior from the moment you land at the airport, until the moment you transport yourself from the center of Budapest city to airport. Make an effort to plan your agenda in advance, and have all of these information at hand and you will have an amazing experience. Safe travels!