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Hungary travel guide

About Hungary

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.

Key facts

Area:

93,028 sq km (35,918 sq miles).

Population:

9,821,318 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

106.4 per sq km.

Capital:

Budapest.

Government:

Parliamentary Republic.

Head of state:

President Katalin Novák since 2022.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán since 2010.

Travel Advice

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.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. 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.

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

From 7 March it is not compulsory to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces or on public transport. Wearing a face mask remains mandatory in hospitals and social institutions.

Social distancing rules are currently not in force.

The full details are set out on the Hungarian government website.

As of 7 March, Hungary does not require any proof of COVID-19 vaccination status to enter the country.

Tested Positive

If you contract COVID-19, there is a requirement to self-isolate in Hungary, which is generally for 7 days, but your isolation period is dependent on circumstances. For more information, call the National Healthline at +36 1 550 1812 and press 2 for the English option.

Resident permits

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.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

Further advice and information is available from the Hungarian government website (in Hungarian and English). Call the National Healthline at +36 1 550 1812 (and press 2 for the English option) if you believe you have symptoms.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Travel from Ukraine

There are multiple reports of widespread military activity in Ukraine. The FCDO advises British Nationals in Ukraine to leave immediately if they judge it is safe to do so.

If you have arrived in Hungary from Ukraine and are in need of assistance, you should call +361 266 2888 and select the option for “consular services for British nationals.” You can also send an enquiry via the web contact form.

Crime

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.

Local travel

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.

For more information on ticket conditions and prices, visit the website of the Budapest Transport Authority.

Road travel

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.

If you are planning to drive in Hungary, see information on Driving Abroad.

As of Friday 27 May, only Hungarian-plated cars are entitled to buy fuel at the price capped by the Hungarian government. Foreign-plated cars are required to pay the higher market price at filling stations.

Licences and documents

You can drive in Hungary with a UK driving licence.

When driving, you must carry with you:

  • a reflective jacket
  • a warning triangle
  • a first aid kit

You should also carry with you:

  • your driving licence
  • your car papers
  • your insurance document
  • your MOT certificate
  • your passport or ID and those of your passengers

If you’re living in Hungary, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.

Driving a British car abroad

You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. From 28 September 2021 UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the GOV.UK Displaying number plates website for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.

Road safety

Driving regulations

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

Haulage vehicles

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.

Rail travel

If you travel by overnight train, try to avoid travelling alone and secure your compartment from the inside.

Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Hungary, attacks can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

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 has information on travelling to Hungary.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Hungary set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Hungary’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.’

All travellers

As of 7 March all COVID-19 restrictions on entering Hungary have been lifted. Hungary do not require any COVID-19 vaccination proof, or a negative test result to enter the country, regardless of your vaccination status.

If you’re fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Hungary are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You don’t need to provide your vaccination status for entry to Hungary.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

Entry requirements for Hungary are the same for all travellers, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

Entry requirements for Hungary are the same for all travellers, regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.

Children and young people

There are no specific requirements for children and young people.

If you’re transiting through Hungary

Transiting is when you pass through one country on the way to your final destination.

Check with your airline before departing.

Exemptions

There are no exemptions to Hungary’s entry requirements.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

If you are visiting Hungary, your passport should be valid for at least 3 months from the date you arrive.

If you are a resident in Hungary, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months from the date you arrive.

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

If you are planning to travel to an EU country (except Ireland), or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino or Vatican City, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

Your passport must be:

  • issued less than 10 years before the date you enter the country (check the ‘date of issue’)
  • valid for at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’)

You must check your passport meets these requirements before you travel. If your passport was issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added to its expiry date.

Contact the embassy of the country you are visiting if you think that your passport does not meet both these requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

Visas

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 are travelling to Hungary for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.

If you stay in Hungary with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Passport stamping

Check your passport is stamped if you enter or exit the Schengen area through Hungary as a visitor. Border guards will use passport stamps to check you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays in the Schengen area. If relevant entry or exit stamps are not in your passport, border guards will presume that you have overstayed your visa-free limit.

You can show evidence of when and where you entered or exited the Schengen area, and ask the border guards to add this date and location in your passport. Examples of acceptable evidence include boarding passes and tickets.

You may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

If you are resident in Hungary, read our Living in Hungary guide for passport stamping information.

Fines

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.

Customs regulations

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.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Hungary.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

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).

Healthcare

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.

Travel safety

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.

Further help

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, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.’

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