Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media

Planning

Entry Requirements: U.S. and Canadian tourists need a valid passport to enter Hungary. No visa is required.

Security: Budapest is generally considered a safe city, but pickpockets congregate in tourist areas, especially on public transportation and in crowded shops and historic sites. Carry only as much cash as you need for the day and keep valuables secure in an inside pocket or in a belt bag worn in front of your body.

Time: Hungary is six hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.

Money: The Hungarian currency is the forint. For current conversion rates go to OANDA Currency Converter. www.oanda.com/convert/classic

Phone Calls: The international country code for Hungary is 36. The Budapest city code is 1. To call Budapest from the U.S., dial 011 36 1 the local number.

When to Go: Budapest summers can be very hot, with temperatures reaching 104ºF (40ºC), while winters can drop below 32ºF (0ºC). Spring and autumn are the most pleasant times to visit. Museums and galleries may operate on reduced schedules during the low season (approximately November-March)

Getting There: Budapest Ferihegy Airport (BUD; www.bud.hu/english) is located ten miles (16 kilometers) southeast of the city. Taxis are available from the airport taxi stand. Negotiate a fare before leaving the airport. There also is an Airport Minibus and a pre-pay, local express bus that runs between the underground metro terminus, Köbánya-Kispest, and the airport terminals. www.bud.hu/english

Getting Around: Budapest’s public transport is efficient and relatively cheap by western standards. Visit www.bkv.hu for routes and timetables. For an excellent street-finder, including precise locations of addresses, go to www.utcakereso.hu.

Checklist

Swimming Gear: Pack a swimsuit and other essentials, such as goggles and a swim cap, even in the winter. The city is home to several thermal spas, many in historic settings, so open-air swimming is possible year-round.

Business or Name Cards: Hungarians love handing out and receiving business cards in both professional and social settings. If you have cards, bring a handful to distribute during your visit.

Electric Adaptor: Hungary uses two-pin plugs with a current of 220 volts. An appropriate adaptor is required for electric shavers, toothbrushes, and other small appliances.

Seasonal Clothing: Budapest summers can be very hot, with temperatures reaching 104ºF (40ºC), while winters can drop below 32ºF (0ºC). Spring and autumn are the most pleasant times to visit.

Pocket Phrasebook: The language of the locals is unrelated to English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, or any of the Slavic languages such as Russian or Polish. While English or German may be spoken in many hotels and restaurants, a phrasebook is essential, if only for requesting certain items in shops and for understanding the otherwise indecipherable signs in the street.

Tough Footwear: Ramblers, brisk walkers, and strollers will appreciate the Buda Hills on the western side of the Danube and still within the city limits. Tip: A fun way to reach the hills is via the Libegő (floater) chairlift. Take bus no. 158 from Moszkva tér to its terminus.

Special Dietary Requirements: Although food items in general are not in short supply in Budapest, anyone requiring gluten-free or nut-free products, for example, is advised to bring a supply with them, as they are not easily found in the city.

Web Links

Caboodle

If not quite covering the whole caboodle of Budapest information, certainly a good stab at it. A lively portal including, news, listings, events, and tourist information. www.caboodle.hu

Pestiside

Sister site of Caboodle, adopting a much more irreverent and amusing attitude to all things local. Describes itself as “the international voice of underground Hungary.” www.pestiside.hu

Budapest Tourism Office

Calendar of events, sights, general information, and more. www.budapestinfo.hu

Budapest Travel & Tourism Guide

Lots of links to lots of Budapest-related websites. www.budapest.com

Budapest Portál

Similar to the above website, but with more information about everyday developments in the news. www.budapest.hu

Budacast

A podcast of features about the city. Archive access to previous programs. www.budacast.hu

Karl Gray Photography

Stunning photograph galleries of the city, from Budapest-based British photographer Karl Gray. web.mac.com/graykarl

Budapest Panorama

An up-to-date listing of the latest Budapest events, including music, dance, theater, art exhibitions, and tours. www.budapestpanorama.com

Xpatloop

Regularly updated website for expats, but of interest to Budapest visitors, too. News, views, programs, and tips. www.xpatloop.com/index.php

Local Media

Budapest Sun

English-language general weekly, published Thursdays. News, cultural features and listings, including current films in Budapest being screened in English. www.budapestsun.com

The Budapest Times

English-language general weekly, published Mondays. News and features, including political analysis. www.budapesttimes.hu

Where Budapest

Free monthly features and upscale listings magazine, distributed widely in hotels. www.wherebudapest.hu

Budapest Funzine

Lively, biweekly program magazine. Lots of social scene and entertainment information. Free. Available at many locations. www.budapestfunzine.hu

Budapest Business Journal

A weekly English-language look at local business and commercial developments. www.bbj.hu

MTI

Hungary’s official news service with some English-language pages. http://english.mti.hu

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