Practical information

Hungary within the international community

Hungary is an active member of the international community, best shown by its various memberships in international organisations. Most important memberships of Hungary in the order of adhesion are:

  • United Nations (1955)
  • Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (1975)
  • International Monetary Fund (1982)
  • Council of Europe (1990)
  • Visegrad Group (1991)
  • Organisation of Economic and Development (1996)
  • European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) (2004)
  • Schengen Agreement (2007)

 

As a member of the European Union and Schengen Agreement, Hungary has fully adapted EU regulations therefore the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital applies to Hungary and to its citizens as well. International border controls were abolished within the Schengen Area that includes almost all the EU member states.

Information about visa and residence permit can be found under the Incoming students > Plan your arrival menu, although the most up-to-date information is provided by the Hungarian Consular Services or the Immigration and Asylum Office .  

 

Public Administration

Hungary is a parliamentary republic, in which the National Assembly embodies the legislative branch and the Government owns the executive role. Traditionally the Prime Minister as the head of government is the most powerful and influential actor in Hungarian politics, while the President of the Republic has more of a ceremonial role.

Administratively, the country is divided into 19 counties with the capital city of Budapest being independent of any county government. These divisions correspond to the NUTS3 level.

Biggest towns

Budapest
Budapest is the capital city of Hungary and the country’s principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial and transportation center. With almost two million inhabitants, Budapest is the biggest and most densely populated town in the country. One in every five Hungarian lives in Budapest and over half of the nation’s GDP is generated here. The town itself stretches along the banks of the Danube, which divides it into two parts: Buda, dominated by hilly slopes on the right bank of the river, and Pest with its plain on the left bank.

The capital city is rich in historical monuments and there are countless architectural treasures such as the Parliament or the Opera House, Saint Stephen’s Basilica and the Buda Castle. Furthermore, there are numerous sites and events to see: more than 200 museums and 40 theatres, festivals throughout the year, and around 80 thermal spas and springs!

Debrecen: the second largest town of Hungary with 200,000 inhabitants, the regional center of the Northern Great Plains region and the seat of Hajdú-Bihar County.

Miskolc: a town situated in North-Eastern Hungary, with a population of close to 190,000, the regional center of Northern Hungary and the seat of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County.

Szeged: fourth largest town with a population of 170,000, regional center of South-Eastern Hungary and the seat of Csongrád County.

Pécs: which lies at the Southern slopes of the Mecsek Mountain, and is the administrative and economic center of Baranya County.

Eger: a picturesque historical town, famous for its castle, wineries and is also a regional center as well as the seat of Heves County.

 

National holidays

1 January - New Year's Day

15 March - Memorial day of the 1848 Revolution

1 May - Labour Day

20 August - Saint Stephen's Day

23 October - Memorial day of the 1956 Revolution

1 November - Day of remembrance of the dead

25-26 December - Christmas

 

Good Friday, Easter Monday and Pentecost Monday are moveable holidays.

 

Geography

Hungary is one of the 15 most popular tourist destinations in the world with the capital regarded as one of the most beautiful cities. Despite its relative small size, the country is home to numerous World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grassland in Europe (Hortobágy).

Hungary is located in Central Europe without access to the sea. The neighbouring countries of Hungary are Austria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia.

The two major rivers are the Danube (Duna) and Tisza, dividing the country into three main regions, while the biggest lake of the country is Lake Balaton.

Transdanubia is the region lying west of the Danube, with bigger hills, while the plain “Alföld” lies on the south-east part of the country. The north-east part of the country is characterised by a mountainous landscape.

 

Climate and Weather

Hungary has a relatively dry continental climate. There are big differences in temperature between the four seasons: summers are hot (25-30 °C), while winters are relatively cold (0 – 15 °C). Average temperatures range from -1°C n January to 21°C in July.

Weather forecast is available at the website of Hungarian Meteorological Service (http://www.met.hu/en/idojaras/)

 

Language

The official language of the country is Hungarian that belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family. Hungarians call their language Magyar. Although Hungary is located in Central Europe, Hungarian is not related to any other languages of the surrounding countries. Hungarian is spoken by 10 million people in the country. There is a significant Hungarian population speaking the language in the neighbouring countries, in Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Ukraine, as well as Slovenia and Austria. There are Hungarian descendants living also in the United States, Canada, Israel and Australia.

 

Currency

Forint (HUF) has been the local currency in Hungary since 1946. The name “forint” comes from the name of the city of Florence, where golden coins had been minted since 1252. In the central districts of Budapest Euros might be accepted.

Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2 000, 5 000, 10 000, 20 000. All of them are watermarked, contain an embedded vertical security strip of thin metal and are designed to be suitable for visually impaired individuals. Six different coins are in use: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 forint coins.

Coins value 1 and 2 forints were withdrawn from circulation in 2008, therefore it prices are rounded when paying with cash. The obligation to round figures not affects payments by bankcards and electronic transactions (transfers).

Credit cards are accepted at many places, including supermarket, bars, restaurant or museums, even in the countryside. If in doubt, ask the shop assistant or look for symbols and tags on shop windows. The most popular credit cards are Visa, MasterCard ad American Express. PayPal is also available at several shops.

ATMs are also widespread, in the city centre of Budapest there are also bank automats issuing Euros. Many exchange shops are also available all around the city, mainly in the central districts.

There are several banks operating in Hungary, thus opening a bank account is also possible. Banks offer different services with varying costs, however it a national regulation that withdrawing cash from any ATM must be free of charge up to 2 withdrawals and to a maximum value of 150 000 HUF. The usual opening time for banks is from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Main banks operating in Hungary (with the most widespread network of ATMs) are:

  • OTP
  • Erste
  • Raiffaisen

 

Accommodation

For a determined period of stay the most typical form of accommodation is to rent a flat, or to apply for dormitory in case of students. There is a significant difference in the prices of renting a flat or living in a dormitory, however the number of available rooms in the dormitory are limited.

Renting a single room in Budapest costs  around 60,000 HUF / month plus overhead. Renting a flat is more expensive and can cost anywhere between 100,000 HUF to 150,000 HUF a month plus overhead. Despite it is common to share a flat between 2-4 students.

It is suggested to get advice from the Erasmus Student Network before renting a flat.

 

Costs of living In Budapest

The costs of living can vary greatly depending on the personal needs and expenses of the individual. However, this short list can give one an idea about the possible costs of living in the capital city.

regular milk, 1 liter: ~ 250 HUF
1 kg of apples: ~ 300 HUF
1 kg of chicken breasts: ~ 1500 HUF
bottle of beer (0,5 liter): ~ 300 HUF
one bottle (1.5 liters) of water: ~ 120 HUF
public transport, single way ticket: 350 HUF
meal at an inexpensive restaurant: ~ 1500 HUF

 

Estimates in Euros

Students need about EUR 450 – 750 per month to cover all expenses.

Accommodation: about EUR 250 – 400 per month per person, depending on the size and location of the flat as well as on the number of students sharing it.

Living costs (food, transport, miscellaneous): about EUR 200 – 400 per month.

Academic related expenses (books, photocopying, etc.): about EUR 50 – 100 per semester.

 

Internet, Wi-Fi, telephone, postal service

Internet

Hungary has a nearly 100% high-speed (LTE or 3G) internet coverage. Not only mobile internet is available throughout the country, even at the countryside, but Wi-Fi services are well-developed as well. The capital and the larger cities usually provide free public Wi-Fi that don’t require registration. There is also free Wi-Fi at shopping malls and bigger hipermarkets, also without registration. Wi-Fi is usually available at bars and restaurants, in which the waiters or bartenders should be asked for the password. In certain cafés, such as Starbucks or Café Frei, the password is written on the bill.  UPC subscribers may use the UPC Wi-Free network free of charge.

Mobile subscriptions (with or without a mobile device) can be purchased for a reasonable price. Disposable SIM cards can be bought at certain supermarkets as well. The main mobiles service providers are Telenor, Vodafone and T-Mobile.

Home internet or combined subscriptions are usually included in rents. When buying an own subscription, landlords should be asked if there’s an exclusive service provider for the building. The main service providers are UPC, Telekom, DigiTv or MindigTV. Some of them also provide mobile subscriptions.

 

Telephone

The country code of Hungary is +36.

For local phones there is always an area code following the country code. For Budapest it is ‘1’, while other area codes have two digits.

Cell phones have 9 digits following the country code. The first two digits are the codes of the telephone companies.

 

Postal services

Post offices in Hungary are called "Posta". Post offices are able to handle cheque payments, letter and package deliveries and cash withdrawal, among others. When sending a letter, it is recommended to send them as registered letters.

 

Healthcare system

First aid is a service free of charge for each foreigner. EEA nationals possessing European Health Insurance Card are entitled for the same state-funded healthcare services as Hungarian nationals.

Pharmacies in Hungary are called “Gyógyszertár” or “Patika” (indicated by a green cross).

 

Emergency numbers

Ambulance: 104

Police: 107

Fire service: 105

Central Help: 112

24-hour English-language crime hotline: +36 1 438 8080

English language telephone directory service: 191

International operator: 199

 

24- hour pharmacy (Patika/Gyógyszertár): +36-1-311-4439
Teréz krt 41., 1067 Budapest