Hungary travel guide
Culturally and linguistically distinct from all of its immediate neighbours, Hungary is very much the ‘odd one out’ in Central Europe, but for all the most honourable reasons.
This is a nation whose capital, Budapest, can hold up a mirror to classical Vienna; it’s a world of well-preserved castles, seductively good wines and quiet stoic pride; a landscape of low-lying mountains, oak forests and thermal springs.
The Romans were the first to make use of the hot waters, originally for medicinal purposes. Today, the pursuit is relaxation and over time the bathhouses have grown into splendid architectural affairs, most notably in Budapest.
The capital is an elegant, stylish and lively city made up of two separate settlements clustered on either side of the Danube River: hilly Buda has a wealth of graceful Habsburg and neoclassical buildings, while sprawling Pest is its commercial centre with a generous scattering of art nouveau architecture and an ad-hoc party scene.
The city has long been the focus of Hungary’s artistic, musical and literary community and is by far the best place in the country for a choice of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Smaller cities are equally architecturally fascinating and deserving of a visit in their own right: Pécs for its museums; Eger for it’s fortifications and infamous Bull’s Blood Wine; and Györ whose grand Basilica houses the golden herm of László.
Beyond these urban centres, Hungary’s bathes in natural delights. South west of Budapest is Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest body of freshwater, where locals spend hot summers cooling off in waters that average 20°C (68°F).
In winter, Hungary freezes, and thrill seekers head north to the Bakony Hills for the chance to ski through the forests before unwinding with a dip in the thermal spa.
It may be landlocked, but Hungary is a country content on ploughing its own furrow no matter what seeds its neighbours are sewing and is all the better for it.
93,028 sq km (35,918 sq miles).
9,821,318 (UN estimate 2016).
106.4 per sq km.
President János Áder since 2012.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since 2010.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Hungary on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Hungary.
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. A list of COVID-19 testing sites is outlined on the Hungarian National Centre for Public Health website (only available in Hungarian).
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Hungary
Everyone should comply with the measures put in place in Hungary to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Curfews are no longer in place and all shops and service providers are able to open as normal. Those who have received their first vaccine dose are issued with an Immunity Certification from the Government.
It is no longer mandatory to wear a face mask, except in hospitals and social institutions.
There is no longer any requirement to produce an Immunity Certificate to enter restaurants, hotels and leisure facilities and attend cultural events with booked seating.
Social distancing rules are no longer in force.
For sporting, dance and other indoor events, as well as outdoor events with more than 500 people attendance, limits remain in force and entry is only allowed to holders of Immunity Certificates. Children aged under 18 may only attend if a holder of an Immunity Certificate or under the supervision of an adult holding an Immunity Certificate.
Family and private gatherings are allowed up to 100 people, weddings may take place with up to 400 people, and there are no longer any limits for attending funerals. Visits to hospitals and social care facilities are allowed for all types of visitor, but it is mandatory to wear face masks. Visitors are banned from wards where coronavirus patients are cared for. Please check with the hospital for specific restrictions before visiting.
Local authorities have some powers to introduce additional restrictions, so follow local instructions.
The full details are set out on the Hungarian government website.
UK nationals living in Hungary should note that the National Directorate General for Aliens Policing has introduced changes in in-person appointments to help reduce the spread of the virus.
If you are a UK national residing in Hungary for over three months, and trying to register your stay, you should visit the webpage of the National Directorate General for Aliens Policing for guidance on how to do this.
Healthcare in Hungary
For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health
View Health for further details on healthcare in Hungary.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Hungary
We will update this page when the Government of Hungary announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Hungarian national vaccination programme started in December 2020 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sputnik V, Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) and Moderna vaccines. The Government of Hungary has stated that British nationals resident in Hungary are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme, including those unable to register for a TAJ number.
The Hungarian authorities have asked people to register their interest in receiving a vaccine on the https://vakcinainfo.gov.hu website. In the online booking system currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinopharm and a limited number of Sputnik V vaccines can be booked nationwide. Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) and Moderna vaccines are also available at certain vaccination centres. You may check if your registration for the vaccine has been successful on the https://vakcinareg.neak.gov.hu/regisztracio/ website.
Those who have tested positive for coronavirus over the past 3 months can now also receive their first dose.
Vaccinated persons and those who have previously contracted the COVID-19 virus are eligible for a Hungarian Immunity Certificate.
If you have received your vaccination in Hungary but have not received your immunity certificate, you should check on the status of your certificate with your local government office (Kormanyablak) either in person or online (Hungarian Government Services System (Ügyfélkapu) account required). If they say that there is not enough information in their database about your vaccination, then you should ask the doctor who arranged your vaccine to check if your details are correctly entered in the Hungarian Electronic Health Service System (EESZT) as a foreigner, along with an ID number issued by your government. If you are a permanent resident in Hungary and received your vaccination abroad (in the UK) and you would like to receive a Hungarian immunity certificate, you should reach out to your local government office (Kormanyablak) either in person or online (Hungarian Government Services System (Ügyfélkapu) account required) to register your vaccination and apply for an immunity certificate.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Hungary, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
If you receive your COVID-19 vaccination in Hungary, you can get an EU Digital COVID Certificate from the national authorities. The Certificate proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. It will help facilitate your travel within the EU and, in some countries, you can use it to demonstrate your COVID-19 status to businesses and other organisations. For further information visit the European Commission’s EU Digital COVID Certificate page.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
Further advice and information is available from the Hungarian government website (in Hungarian and English). Call the Hungarian government’s dedicated coronavirus hotline on +36 80 277 455 or +36 80 277 456 if you believe you have symptoms and ask for an English speaking operator.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
Take sensible precautions against petty crime. Bag snatching and pick-pocketing are common, especially in Budapest. Be particularly careful on busy public transport, in train stations, at markets and at other places frequented by tourists. Theft of and from vehicles is common. Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
Always ask to see the menu and price list before ordering drinks or food and check your bill carefully before settling up. Some restaurants and bars have been known to charge extortionate amounts and take tourists to cash points to demand more money. You should report any such incident to the police.
Some taxi drivers are accomplices in these frauds. They may receive a commission to recommend certain bars, clubs and restaurants to passengers. Never ask a taxi driver to recommend a bar or club. If a driver offers to take you to one, or you are approached on the street with an invitation to enter a club, treat that advice with caution. As a general rule it is better to phone for a taxi from a reputable local company. Be careful in establishments where menus do not properly display prices.
There have been some reported instances of drinks being spiked. Be sure to buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times.
Public transport in Budapest
Foreign visitors are often caught out by the ticket system in Budapest, and fined by ticket inspectors. Follow the passenger information notices, which are usually printed in English. Validate your ticket before starting your journey (before you get to the platform if travelling by Metro; and immediately after boarding buses, trams or trolley buses). Keep your ticket until the end of your journey and show it to inspectors on request. You have to validate another ticket every time you change lines.
A special ticket is required for use on the night service network.
All passengers on public transport in Budapest should wear a face mask, with the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Fines of around £40 can be levied for non-compliance.
For more information on ticket conditions and prices, visit the website of the Budapest Transport Authority.
In 2019 there were 603 road deaths in the Hungary (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 6.2 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
Street parking is free of charge nationwide to reduce crowds on public transport.
Licences and documents
You can drive in Hungary with a UK driving licence.
If you’re living in Hungary, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.
You must use headlights on roads outside towns even in daytime.
In winter, you must equip your car for severe conditions.
Hungary operates a toll system for the use of some major roads in the country. You must buy a motorway vignette at a petrol station, post office or online in advance, in order to use these roads. Further information about driving in Hungary can be found in the guides provided by the AA, RAC and European Commission
If you are driving a large haulage vehicle through Hungary, make sure you have full vehicle documentation. International loads must be supported by a TIR carnet providing a full inventory of the goods being carried. You must leave a financial bond with the Hungarian customs when transiting Hungary with a cargo. The financial bond, minus an administration fee is returned on leaving the country.
If you are planning to transit Hungary with consignments of humanitarian aid as relief following a disaster, or medical aid, you should contact the Hungarian Embassy in London in advance to apply for a waiver.
If you travel by overnight train, try to avoid travelling alone and secure your compartment from the inside.
Face masks on trains are mandatory.
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Hungary, attacks can’t be ruled out.
You should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be in public areas, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
Carry your passport at all times. You must be able to show some form of ID if requested. A photocopy is not acceptable.
Hungarian laws on the possession and use of drugs are strict.
Same-sex relationships and civil partnerships are legal in Hungary but same-sex marriages aren’t recognised in Hungarian law. Budapest is generally tolerant and open; the city hosts the largest Pride Festival in Central Europe with an annual turnout of over 10,000 people. Recent Pride events have passed without incident, but historically there have been counter-events which have led to confrontation. You should be aware that outside of Budapest public displays of affection may be frowned upon or attract unwanted attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Taking food and drink into the EU
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Hungary set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact their embassy, high commission or consulate. You may also check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and travel documents meet their requirements.
If you are travelling to Hungary for work, read the guidance on visas and permits as the rules have changed since 1 January 2021.
Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Hungary
Hungary has closed its border to most foreign nationals due to the coronavirus pandemic and therefore air travel is restricted. However, as of 24 June there is unrestricted land entry to Hungary from Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Residents or family
UK nationals may enter Hungary if they hold a permanent residence permit or a permit allowing them to stay in Hungary for at least 90 days, and can present their documents to the authorities at the border. UK nationals travelling with a family member who is a Hungarian citizen or resident should also be allowed entry.
Further to those arriving on land from Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, persons in possession of Immunity Certificates issued by the Hungarian authorities may enter Hungary without facing COVID-19 restrictions and with no mandatory quarantine.
UK nationals may also enter Hungary if they are travelling in the following circumstances:
- arriving for the purpose of business or trade activity - see below
- transiting through Hungary through travel corridors – see below
- operating cargo transport
- people able to prove credibly that have recovered from COVID-19 within 6 months of their travel
- as part of a military convoy
- people travelling on diplomatic or official passports
Foreign ticket holders attending 30 July - 1 August, Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix and 21-22 August FIA World Touring Car Cup are only required to present a negative PCR test result, taken within 72 hours prior to arrival.
Foreign nationals attending these events are also granted the same rights at hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues as holders of Immunity Certificates by presenting their event tickets.
Business and trade activity
Foreign (including UK) nationals entering Hungary for business purposes, and representatives of foreign (including UK) companies with a stake in Hungary (i.e. joint venture) may enter the country without restrictions. On entry, unless in possession of a Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, you will need to show proof of an essential business requirement for entering Hungary, e.g. an official letter from your company that includes contact details for verification purposes, or an invitation to a business event. You can provide this on paper or electronically. You will be subject to a temperature check on arrival (see below – Testing / screening on arrival) but are not subject to quarantine measures.
Transiting through Hungary
Unless in possession of a Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, you must provide proof that you entering Hungary is for the purposes of travelling directly to another destination outside Hungary; you must also explain the reason you are travelling and demonstrate that you are able to transit to your final destination, providing, for example, a hotel reservation or proof of address in another country, a travel ticket, or similar evidence.
Throughout the transit you can use only specified routes, dedicated petrol and rest stations and specific border crossing points (more information on transit is available in Hungarian).
It is also possible to apply to the authorities for an exemption to enter Hungary in a further set of specific circumstances. To enter on this basis, you must gain permission in advance of travelling. You will need to show that you are travelling to Hungary for:
- court proceedings
- business activities justified by central government, demonstrated with a letter of invitation issued by an administrative body, an independent regulatory body or an autonomous public administration body
- accessing healthcare with a referral
- studying or taking an exam, with certification from an education institution
- travelling to the point of departure for cargo-related transit
- participation in family events, eg marriage, baptism, funeral
- care of a relative
- participation in a sporting, cultural or church event of major international importance
- any other justifiable reason
You should apply for an exemption in advance using the online form on the police website.
Entry rules may change at short notice. You can find the latest announcements on the Hungarian government website (in English).
Testing / screening on arrival
Unless in possession of a Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, or arriving on land from Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, people entering Hungary will be subject to a temperature check on arrival. Unless resident in Hungary, foreign nationals will be denied entry should they show signs of COVID-19.
Unless in possession of a Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, or arriving on land from Austria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia most people entering Hungary must agree to enter mandatory quarantine, usually at home. You must notify the authorities of the location. If you have a suitable device, you must download software for police to monitor your quarantine. If on-site checks cannot be carried out in any other way, those in quarantine must allow police to enter their home.
If you have no place of residence in Hungary and have no Hungary issued Immunity Certificate, you must enter quarantine at a government-designated location. Quarantine is legally enforced and a fine of around £375 equivalent is levied for breaking the rules.
It is possible to leave quarantine early following two negative COVID-19 tests within 5 days of each other but at least 48 hours apart. Tests are self-funded and your local environmental health office will need to give permission for you to leave quarantine for testing, and also to end quarantine early after showing evidence of two negative test results.
The price of coronavirus tests are capped at Ft 19,500. Having the test conducted at home may incur an additional charge. See the list of environmental health offices in Budapest (in Hungarian); you must contact the office covering your place of residence. There is no single registry of environmental health offices outside Budapest; you will need to carry out an internet search for your local ‘Népegészségügyi Osztály’.
The government’s website has a list of medical centres (in Hungarian) where testing is available. Some offer home testing for an additional fee.
Regular entry requirements
The rules for travelling or working in European countries changed on 1 January 2021:
- you can travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training
- if you are travelling to Hungary and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries within the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days
- to stay longer, to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons, you will need to meet the Hungarian government’s entry requirements. Check with the Hungarian Embassy what type of visa and/or work permit you may need
- if you stay in Hungary with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit
Any time you spent in Hungary or other Schengen countries before 1 January 2021 does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
At Hungarian border control, you may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. Your passport may be stamped on entry and exit. You may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
There are separate requirements for those who are resident in Hungary. If you are resident in Hungary, you should carry proof of residence as well as your valid passport when you travel. For further information on these requirements, see our Living in Hungary guide.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.
You must have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Hungary.
Entry into Hungary can be barred if you have failed to pay a previous fine in Hungary. Contact the Hungarian Embassy in London for guidance on paying any outstanding fines before you next enter Hungary.
Community regulations ensure the free movement of goods between EU member states. This means that no customs procedures are required for exporting goods from Hungary to another EU member state and/or for importing goods from a member state to Hungary. The export and import of goods purchased for non-commercial purposes (for personal use or as gifts) while travelling 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 restricted or subject to special permissions.
Check the customs regulations before entering or leaving Hungary on the National Tax and Customs Administration of Hungary website.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Hungary on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Hungary.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
You should get a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Hungarian nationals. If you don’t have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, you can call the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team on +44 191 218 1999 to get a Provisional Replacement Certificate.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
If you’re living in Hungary, you can also find more information on healthcare for residents in our Living In Hungary guide.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 and ask for an ambulance. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should contact your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.
The local currency is Hungarian Forint.
Legislation on the controls of cash entering or leaving the EU applies in all Member States. Any person entering or leaving the EU will have to declare the cash that they are carrying if this amounts to 10,000 Euros (or equivalent) or more; this includes cheques, travellers’ cheques, money orders, etc. This will not apply to anyone travelling via the EU to a non-EU country, as long as the original journey started outside of the EU and will not apply to those travelling within the EU.
Don’t use street money changers. Take care not to accept bank notes that are no longer valid but which are still in circulation. There have been a small number of reports of taxi drivers deliberately passing these notes to tourists - as well as notes from neighbouring countries that are not valid in Hungary.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send us a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.