Hungary Hostels, Eurail Passes, and Backpacking Tips

A short hop from Vienna, Hungary is just the place to kick off an Eastern European trip. The allure of Budapest, once a great imperial city, is obvious at first sight, but other cities like Pecs, the warm heart of the south, and Eger, the wine capital of the north, have much to offer travellers. Throughout Hungary you'll find much of the glamour and excitement of Western Europe at less than half the cost.

When to Go

Though it can get pretty wet in May and early June, spring is beautiful. Summer is warm, sunny and unusually long, but the resorts are crowded. If you avoid Lake Balaton, you'll do OK. Like Paris, Budapest comes to a grinding halt in August. Winters are cold, cloudy and damp or windy.

Visas & Documents

Citizens of the USA, Canada, most European countries and New Zealand do not require visas to visit Hungary for up to 90 days.


Hungary is hardly a violent or dangerous society, but crime increased dramatically in the 1990s (from a communist-era base of virtually nil). Violence is seldom directed low aids travellers, though racially motivated attacks against Roma, Africans and Arabs are not unknown. As a traveller you are most vulnerable to pickpockets and taxi louts.


Hungary is on GMT/UTC plus one hour. Clocks are turned one hour ahead at the end of March and back again at the end of September. In Hungary, 'half eight' means 7.30 and not 8.30.

Business Hours

Grocery stores and supermarkets open from about 7 am to 7 pm weekdays and department stores 10 am to 6 pm. Most shops stay open until 8 pm on Thursday but close at 1 or 2 pm on Saturday. Post offices open on 8 am to 6 pm weekdays, 8 am to 1 pm Saturday. Banks usually close no later than 4 pm Monday to Thursday and as early as 1 pm on Friday.

Public Holidays & Special Events

Hungary's public holidays are: New Year's Day, 1848 Revolution Day (15 March), Easter Monday, International Labour Day (1 May), Whit Monday (May/June), St Stephen's Day (20 August), 1956 Remembrance Day (23 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

The most outstanding annual events include: the Budapest Spring Festival (March), Sopron Festival Weeks (mid-June to mid-July), Gyor Summer Cultural Festival (mid-June to mid-July), Koszeg Street Theatre Festival (late July), Pannonia Festival in Pecs (July and August), Szeged Open-Air Festival (mid-July to August), Festival of Music on Obuda Island in Budapest (August), wine harvest festivals nationwide (September) and Budapest Autumn Festival (mid-October to early November).


There is one emergency number which is 112 (police, fire, emergency hospital).

Foreign Embassies

The following places are all in Budapest (area code l).

Canada (275 1200), XII Budakeszi ut 32
UK (266 2888), Harmincad utca 6
USA (475 4400), V Szabadsag ter 12


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