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Is Hungary Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Is Hungary Safe to Visit in 2023? | Safety Concerns

Hungary is a central European country that borders Ukraine to the Northeast and Slovakia to the North. It’s an excellent destination for travelers who want to explore its rich culture, history, and heritage.

People like visiting Hungary to sightsee its many historic cities, including the capital city of Budapest. They also enjoy its vast steppes and national parks for leisurely walks, bird watching, and exploring.

But before you make your final decision to go, is Hungary safe to visit? We’ll cover all the tips and alerts you need to know and current information on traveling to Hungary so you can plan a safe visit to this beautiful country. 

Is Hungary Safe to Visit?

View of the Parliament building in Budapest at sunrise for a piece on Is Hungary Safe

photo.ua/Shutterstock

Hungary is generally a safe country to visit. The crime rate is lower than in most European countries and its infrastructure is well-developed. The overall risk of traveling to Hungary is very low.

There are, however, some concerns at the moment with Hungary’s proximity to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. There are also some areas of Hungary that might be considered to be bad neighborhoods.

You may want to avoid these areas or at least take extra precautions when visiting them. In addition to crime, Hungary is also prone to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

While these are rare occurrences, it’s still important to be aware of the risks and take appropriate safety measures. Weather in Hungary can sometimes be extreme, so proper clothing should be worn during the winter and summer months.

It’s particularly important to take precautions against heat exhaustion in the summer. Read on to get further details about each of these points and more.

Crime in Hungary

The Hungarian police force is generally efficient and reliable. They are serious about enforcing the law and maintaining public safety, which is great for tourists who want to stay safe during their visit here!

But while crime has been declining, it’s still important to be vigilant with your belongings, especially in crowded areas and tourist hotspots. Pickpocketing and other petty crimes occur here and elsewhere, so keep your belongings close and be aware of your surroundings.

Other crimes throughout Hungary include drug trafficking, human trafficking, and organized crime. It’s best to avoid areas that are known for these activities and listen to your instincts if an interaction feels off.

Finally, while most people in Hungary are pleasant, welcoming, and honest, some people may scam you for your money. This is especially true in the big cities where lots of tourists congregate.

Some tips to avoid dealing with petty crime and scams include:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Get familiar with common scamming and distraction tactics
  • Don’t carry too much cash or valuables with you
  • Only use legitimate taxi services
  • Stick to well-lit and populated areas at night

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

There are some areas of Hungary that you should avoid due to crime and safety concerns. These areas are usually located on the outskirts of a city, away from popular tourist spots.

They tend to be characterized by poor infrastructure, dilapidated buildings, and higher crime rates. It’s best to avoid wandering around in these areas at night, as this increases your risk of coming into contact with criminals.

Additionally, it’s important to be aware of any local warnings or travel advisories that might be in effect during your visit.

Budapest is the most crime-ridden city in the country at large, while Hajdú-Bihar county is the safest area of Hungary. If you’ll be visiting the capital Budapest, use extra caution to protect yourself from scams and theft. 

Spiked Food and Drinks in Hungary

People dining outside on a street in Szentendre, a safe place to visit in Hungary for a piece on Is Hungary Safe

August 17, 2018: People in restaurants and coffee shops in the old town of Szentendre, Hungary/Milan Gonda/Shutterstock

Spiking food and drinks is not common in Hungary, but it can still happen, especially in nightclubs. It always pays to err on the side of caution and be extra cautious if you’ll be drinking in public. 

If you plan on going out or visiting nightclubs, it’s important to be aware of this danger. Don’t leave your food or drinks unattended and never accept drinks from strangers. 

In Hungary, alcohol isn’t served to people under 18. That’s lower than the drinking age (21) in the U.S. You may be refused service if you are underage.

Demonstrations in Hungary

It’s not uncommon to come across protests and demonstrations in Hungary, especially in major cities like Budapest. Generally, these demonstrations are peaceful and are held by locals protesting various causes.

However, it’s best as a tourist to avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people to reduce your risk of being harmed.

Be aware of any potential travel advisories that might be in effect due to demonstrations or other events taking place. If a demonstration turns violent, move away as quickly as possible. 

Getting a Visa to Travel to Hungary

Hungary is part of the Schengen Agreement and allows people from certain countries to enter freely without a visa. For example, U.S. citizens can travel to Hungary visa-free as long as they are staying for less than 90 days.

Beyond that 90-day period, you may need to apply for a different type of visa. Check with your embassy online to verify the requirements ahead of time if you’ll be staying longer than 3 months. 

It’s helpful to have at least 6 months left on your passport’s validity period to travel to Hungary. At least 3 months of validity is required past your planned departure date, so double check your passport before you decide to go! 

Natural Disasters in Hungary

Hungary is on a downhill slope, so flooding is one of the most common natural disasters. Flood protection has been a critical issue in recent years. The government has implemented numerous programs to help reduce the risk of property loss and danger.

In addition to flooding, other natural disasters that can occur in Hungary include droughts, erosions, lightning strikes, earthquakes, and cloudbursts (when heavy rain causes flash flooding).

Natural disasters aren’t a reason to avoid Hungary. However, it helps to be aware of the potential risks so that you can plan ahead.

Transportation in Hungary

Holloko village in springtime with tulips in bloom and cloudy skies to demonstrate safety for a piece on Is Hungary Safe

berni0004/Shutterstock

Public transportation in Hungary is reliable and safe. The bus and train system is the most popular form of public transportation. These systems can take you to any major city in the country. Many cities and areas are very walkable. 

Taxi services are also available, but it’s important to ensure that you get into an actual taxi and not a private car. Taxi scams occur throughout Hungary, and the way to ensure you don’t fall for one is by using an official taxi service.

Taxi scams are important to identify and avoid. They’re very common throughout Hungary and involve an unlicensed driver posing as a taxi. These drivers will often offer low fares but, eventually, add hidden fees or overcharge for the ride.

They also may take travelers to a different destination than requested to increase the fare. It’s important to only use official taxi services recommended by local hotels or the Hungarian government.

Cellular Phone Service in Hungary

Cellular phone service is available in Hungary, but coverage can be spotty in some areas. It’s best to purchase a local SIM card for your phone to ensure that you have access to data even when traveling away from larger cities.

You can cheaply and easily purchase your SIM card once you arrive in Hungary. The more remote areas of the country will have the spottiest cell service and data, but the cities are very well connected. 

Travel Insurance in Hungary

It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance when traveling abroad. Hungary is a safe country, but it’s important to prepare for unexpected events.

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses, lost or stolen items, and other emergencies that may arise while traveling. You don’t want to be caught without it, so research a few companies offering travel insurance and pick a suitable plan before you go. 

Health and Disease Concerns in Hungary

Fishing village with cottages and floating docks on Bokod Lake for a piece on Is Hungary Safe

np/Shutterstock

Fortunately, most travelers are unlikely to experience any major health issues while traveling in Hungary. Vaccinations are not required for entry into the country and there are no notices in effect for Hungary.

Still, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re up to date on your routine vaccinations, such as tetanus and measles, before you head to Hungary. 

It’s also important to take precautions to reduce the risk of getting sick while traveling. This includes:

  • Washing your hands often
  • Avoiding contaminated water
  • Avoiding contact with animals
  • Prevent bug bites by carrying insect repellent or wearing long sleeves and pants

Dangerous and Poisonous Animals in Hungary

Hungary is home to various animals, including some that can be dangerous or even poisonous. Common dangerous animals in Hungary are spiders, wolves, and wild boars.

It is advised to avoid contact with these animals if possible, as they can cause serious injury or even death. Keep an eye out for the potentially dangerous animals in Hungary and avoid them at all costs! 

  • Brown recluse spiders deliver a poisonous, potentially lethal bite
  • European badger can unleash vicious attacks if provoked
  • Wild boars are dangerous when hungry and provoked
  • Roe deer can be aggressive during mating season
  • European jackals move in huge numbers that can be dangerous
  • Eurasian wolves may be aggressive when hungry and mating
  • Moose/elk have huge antlers you don’t want to mess with
  • Noctule bats may carry viruses
  • Mosquitos may carry viruses and diseases

Weather in Hungary

The weather in Hungary tends to be very hot during the summer months and quite cold during winter. Temperatures in the summer can reach upwards of 104°F – blistering hot with the potential to lead to heatstroke and dehydration.

Take precautions by dressing lightly in the summer, wearing sunscreen, carrying lots of water, and wearing a hat. If you feel faint or overheated, take a break indoors or get to a shady spot to drink some water. 

In the winter, Hungary’s temperatures can drop to as low as 14°F. It’s important to bring suitable clothing for the temperature, especially during winter when temperatures drop below freezing. Snow and ice can also be common during winter, so stay safe by wearing appropriate footwear.

Frequently Asked Questions

View of Gabriel Archangel statue in Heroes' Square at sunrise in Budapest, Hungary

ZGPhotography/Shutterstock

Wondering what else you should know before deciding if Hungary is safe enough to visit? Here are some of the most common questions from would-be Hungary travelers. 

Is Hungary safe for foreigners?

Yes, Hungary is a safe country for foreigners. However, you should stay alert when in big cities here and avoid protests and demonstrations. Be sure to research local safety tips and be aware of your surroundings.

Is Budapest, Hungary safe?

Budapest is the most dangerous city in Hungary, but that's not saying much since the country is so safe overall. You should take the necessary precautions when traveling in Budapest, especially at night and in unfamiliar areas.

Do they speak English in Hungary?

Many people speak English in Hungary, but it's not the official language. Most people speak Hungarian, but English is widely used as a second language.

You may encounter some difficulties communicating in certain areas, but people should be able to understand and converse in English. Learning a few common phrases in Hungarian is ideal for getting by and demonstrating respect for the country and culture.

Is Hungary safe for female travelers?

Yes, Hungary is generally a safe country for female travelers. However, exercising good judgment while traveling as a female is still crucial, especially if you're a solo female traveler visiting the city.

Like most cities across the world, there are certain dangers that women are more susceptible to facing. Being aware of your surroundings is key! Stay vigilant and stick to well-lit areas at night. Never leave a drink unattended if you go out to a bar at night.

Is it safe to travel to Hungary right now with the Ukraine-Russia war?

While Hungary is an independent country, and it's still safe to visit, Ukraine's and Russia's conflict poses a slight risk. Traveling to Hungary is not recommended if you plan to cross the border into Ukraine.

Due to Russia's full-scale invasion, there is a level 4 travel advisory to Ukraine. In March 2020, the Department of State recommended U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Ukraine due to the risk of civil unrest and military conflict.

So, Is Hungary Safe to Visit?

Overall, Hungary is a safe place to visit and explore. With some common sense and following safety precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to Hungary.

Tensions are elevated with the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but unless you’re planning to enter across the Ukraine border, you shouldn’t be at additional risk here. In the capital city, Budapest, you should be extra cautious to avoid theft and similar crime. 

Be sure to research the local safety tips and stay vigilant while traveling in unfamiliar areas. Armed with knowledge, you can better enjoy Hungary’s amazing sites like the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and the thermal baths without worry.