If you are considering travelling to Hungary for the first time you may be a bit nervous but it is normal to be apprehensive about visiting new countries particularly if the language is not familiar.
If you would like to know is Budapest safe for tourists then we have rounded up the following advice from credible sources to reassure you.
Common questions people have about safely visiting Budapest include…
- Is the tap water in Budapest safe to drink?
- Is Budapest a safe city?
- Is Budapest safe for tourists, women & Americans?
- Who should I call in an emergency?
- Any tips for staying safe in Budapest?
Yes the tap water in Budapest is generally safe to drink. Many people choose to drink bottled water as it is relatively cheap (1.5 litre bottle is about HUF110) and can be refrigerated more easily when the weather is hot but the tap water is perfectly fine to drink too.
The water in Budapest is very mineral rich so the tap water may taste a little different to the tap water you are used to and it is worth running the tap for a short time so the water is colder and fresher.
Street crimes – particularly pick-pocketing, petty thefts from persons, thefts from unattended vehicles, and vandalism – are the most frequently reported. Budapest’s major train stations and the public transportation (tram, subway, and bus) systems are popular venues for such thefts.
Residential crimes (burglaries/thefts from properties) are also a significant issue and continue to be on the rise, with most people employing alarm systems and other security measures as a deterrent.
Elderly people are prime targets of burglars and robbers. Most attacks against the elderly occur in the countryside, or villages and small towns, but have become more frequent in larger cities as well.
Small, fractional fringe element groups of neo-Nazis, skinheads, and other far right-wing extremists continue to be present in Hungarian society but rarely adversely impact foreigners. Their activities, particularly rallies and demonstrations, are strictly limited and monitored by police.
In 2011, the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section received reports from private American citizens who were victims of the following crimes:
- Lost/Stolen Passports: 64 (usually from unattended bags)
- Scams: 5
- Sexual Assault: 0
- Aggravated Assault: 0
- Theft/break-ins: 9
If you are the victim of a crime, call the local police at telephone number (107) or (112). It is also recommended that American citizens notify the U.S. Embassy’s American Citizen Services Unit.
During the peak tourist season, police patrolling major tourist areas are often accompanied by multi-lingual students who assist with problems or complaints.
Police also have a tourist information office that operates every day from 8:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. The office is located downtown at Suto Street 2, District 5, and it is able to receive complaints and render assistance in both English and German.
- (107) Police Response
- (112) Police, Ambulance & Fire Emergency Assistance (consolidated number)
- (104) Emergency Ambulance Service
- (105) Fire Emergency
Additionally, the Hungarian Ministry of National Economy and the Hungarian National Police have a hotline for tourists who are scammed at restaurants and clubs.
The hotline number is 438-8080, and it operates 24-hours a day with English and German language capability. There is also a tourism information line, operating 24-hours a day, which is toll free (06-806-60-044) from Hungary and (605-50-044) from abroad.
Reports of overcharging at some restaurants, clubs, and stripclubs, especially in those areas of the city frequented by tourists, are not uncommon. A popular scam is when “recruiters” seek out men to meet with women in clubs (or the women themselves approach their victims).
Those who choose to buy drinks or spend time with the clubs’ women are usually charged exorbitant fees. American citizens have reported that club bouncers are intimidating and have escorted club patrons to ATMs or back to their hotels to obtain money to pay the bills.
If someone becomes a victim of this activity, the police should be called immediately; however, the presence of Hungarian police does not necessarily mean the customer will not have to pay the bill. Before entering these clubs, customers should always ask about prices.
NB – to avoid falling prey to the ‘clip joint’ scam mentioned above visit bars, restaurants, nightclubs and stripclubs recommended in the Budapest nightlife guide section of our website.
* Source: adapted from information provided by the United States Department of State – Bureau of Diplomatic Security