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Trip Plan

Planning a trip. Rothenberg, Bavaria, Vienna, Prague, Budapest. Feeling concerned over Prague and Budapest. Looking for comments, hints, tips, etc.
Is safety an issue?

Posted by
6164 posts

No, safety is not an issue in those cities any more than the other areas you mention. I did something the same last summer (without Rothenburg) and absolutely loved both Prague and Budapest, but Budapest maybe a little more. I'm an older female traveling alone and never experienced any safety problems anywhere. Just be aware of your surroundings and use normal precautions you would in any city. It's a great itinerary and they are wonderful places to visit.

Posted by
162 posts

Prague is one of the safest places I've ever been--walked all around town at all hours with no fear at all. Just be careful about pickpockets in crowded areas. Budapest seemed the same, but the owner of the hotel I stayed at pointed to a section of my map and told me to avoid going there at night. I didn't listen but I had no problems. The people of Budapest were some of the friendliest Ive come across in Europe.

When in Prague, particularly the Old Town Square, be sure to leave the tourist zone and explore one of the many streets that radiate off the main square. You can escape the crowds and find cheaper places to eat and drink. Oh, and get a street map for sure! Easy to get lost in Prague.

Posted by
48 posts

We just got back from Prague and Budapest with no problems - just use common sense you would use in any American City. Found Rick's Eastern Europe guidebook excellent. Re Budapest, if you arrive by train, use Uber instead of local cabs. The train station can be intimidating, but we had no problems. Rick warns about the cabs in Budapest in his book, so Uber was great - and very reasonable.

Posted by
11759 posts

geochuck, if RS warns about cabs in Budapest without making any other distinction, then he is wrong. The general advise and good advise is to call a cab from a reputable company and not to use one of the freelance cabs. I would feel 100% better in a company cab than I would in an UBER ride. Besides the company cabs compared to most of the world are cheap. From the train station to most central hotels will cost you 10 to 15 dollars. My preference is a company called CITY TAXI, but there are many other good companies as well.

As for the station being intimidating??? Have you been to Nord or Termini or Waterloo? Those are intimidating. Keleti is just one big room.

As for crime, I would suspect that the inner city of Budapest or Prague or Vienna is safer than Paris or Barcelona or most major US cities. We have been traveling to Budapest 2 or 3 times a year for over a decade now and have never seen a crime or a crime victim. Once about 8 years ago someone tried to sell us a brand new video camera and last year someone tried to sell a new IPhone. In both cases I suspect it was stolen merchandise. But in all these years those are the only two cases I have come across. On each visit to Paris I have witnessed street crime. Nothing violent or serious but bothersome to watch the Police watch the criminals in the act and do nothing.

I do know of one gentleman that was pickpocketed in Vienna now that I think about it.

Posted by
11759 posts

I don't know how good these stats are but its something:

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/city_result.jsp?country=Hungary&city=Budapest

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/city_result.jsp?country=Czech+Republic&city=Prague

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/city_result.jsp?country=Austria&city=Vienna

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/city_result.jsp?country=United+Kingdom&city=London

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/city_result.jsp?country=France&city=Paris

http://www.numbeo.com/crime/city_result.jsp?country=United+States&city=Washington%2C+DC

If you are planning on going to Budapest please feel free to PM me and I can help with hotels, restaurants, etc. You will find as others have that these are among the nicest and kindest people you will meet anywhere. To this date there has not bee a trip to Budapest where someone didn't approach us and offer to help. Simply amazing.

Posted by
2483 posts

I am a regular visitor to Prague and reckon it is one of the safest places around.The train station used to be a bit dodgy years ago but over the years it has been completely transformed and is a lovely bright place now..you still get vagrants hanging around outside but they never bother anyone. Like any city just be aware of your surroundings and watch your property.

Posted by
16807 posts

For anyone without the guidebook, this is Rick's specific advice re: Budapest taxis. Among various transport options, we are not recommending an unlicensed Uber.

Budapest’s public transportation is good enough that you probably won’t need to take many taxis. But if you do, you may run into a dishonest driver. Arm yourself with knowledge: Budapest has recently introduced stringent new regulations. Official taxis must be painted yellow and black, and must charge identical rates, regardless of company: a drop rate of 450 Ft, and then 280 Ft/kilometer, plus 70 Ft/minute for wait time. (The prices go up at night, between 22:00 and 6:00 in the morning.) Prices are per ride, not per passenger. A 10 percent tip is expected. A typical ride within central Budapest shouldn’t run more than 2,000 Ft. Despite what some slimy cabbies may tell you, there’s no legitimate extra charge for crossing the river.

Instead of hailing a taxi on the street, do as the locals do and call a cab from a reputable company--it’s cheaper and you’re more likely to get an honest driver. Try City Taxi (tel. 1/211-1111), Taxi 6x6 (tel. 1/266-6666), or Főtaxi (tel. 1/222-2222). Most dispatchers speak English, but if you’re uncomfortable calling, you can ask your hotel or restaurant to call for you.

Many "cabs" you’d hail on the streets are there only to prey on rich, green tourists. Avoid unmarked taxis (nicknamed "hyenas" by locals), as well as any cabs that wait at tourist spots and train stations. If you do wave down a cab on the street, choose one that’s yellow and black, and marked with an official company logo and telephone number (otherwise, it’s not official). Ask for a rough estimate before you get in--if it doesn’t sound reasonable, walk away. If you wind up being dramatically overcharged for a ride, simply pay what you think is fair and go inside. If the driver follows you (unlikely), your hotel receptionist will defend you.

Posted by
11759 posts

I want to emphasize something. The odds of you having a bad experience with a taxi in Budapest in the year 2015 is about as great as you finding bird poop in a Cuckoo clock. We have ridden in literally dozens and dozens of taxis in Budapest for over a decade with no bad experience. For the ease of the process if arriving by train, when the train pulls into the station call City Taxi and have them pick you up. By the time you get outside the taxi will be waiting. Easy. From the airport follow the line painted on the floor from the baggage area to the Fotaxi kiosk. The folks at the kiosk will take great care of you. No other way of getting from the airport makes sense to me. For trips from you hotel or apartment or .....???, again, call City Taxi. When they answer in Hungarian just say "good afternoon" (or as the time of day requires) in English and the always bilingual operator will take care of you in English.

Oh, and one last suggestion. Don't have the desk call. At one time unscrupulous desk clerks got kickbacks which the guest ended up paying for. Generally only a few dollars but still.......... With the new rules in place I don't think its possible, but who knows and its just as easy for you to call by yourself.

If you do want to be paranoid. Check the meter when you get it. It should read 450 (the base fare). The rate is 280 a km PLUS 70 per minute. So a 10 minute ride for 2 km will cost you (70 x 10) + (280 x 2) = 1260 or about $5.00 with tip ( I would give the guy 1500 forints. One of Europe's last great taxi deals.

Posted by
2135 posts

I travel solo and felt perfectly safe walking around Prague, Vienna, and Budapest night and day. The eternal taxi question is easy--just call them yourself. My Budapest trip was a huge success thanks largely to the expert advice of James re taxis (and everything else!) and how to get from Keleti to my hotel.

In these cities I felt the people were helpful--even to the point of going up out of the metro station onto the street with me to point me in the right direction or assisting with a balky ticket machine.

I quickly became very familiar and comfortable with the metros in Vienna and Budapest--master them and you can go anywhere.

Posted by
12139 posts

Hi,

Daytime is my only experience with Budapest Keleti pu. Safety is not issue. Paris Nord is unlike Keleti, which is more aesthetic, a step into history. The set up is very logical. Paris Nord inside is just practical, functional, convenient. As far eye pleasing, Keleti has it over Nord. The ticket office at Keleti for the metro (lines 2, 4) is basically organised to help tourists, very tourist friendly. You'll see that on the signs. The underpassage is like that in Vienna, except newer.