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Christmas markets and money

Hello! After a few days in London my daughter and I fly to Budapest to board our river cruise. We arrive on Sunday, November 26th and I was surprised to read in other postings how many places may be closed on a Sunday.....BUT, the markets will be open by then, and upend on Sundays? And we're staying near the basilica which has a market. What I'm wondering is if credit cards are an option at the market stalls. I have a Charles Schwab account so I can withdraw cash but my brain is really struggling with the concept of forints. I prefer to use a credit card as much as possible simply to track my spending, but what is a reasonable initial withdrawal of cash? I don't want a lot of leftover cash.

Thank you!

Posted by
2329 posts

I've been to Budapest's wonderful spring market and also a museum festival with lots of stalls to buy handcrafts from and can say that it's a mixed bag--some vendors ( both food and craft stalls) have credit card machines and some don't. I always print out the conversion chart in the link below so that when I'm tempted by things in Budapest (I also love to visit the flea market) I can get a good idea how much I'm really spending. 50,000 HUF is about $191.00 US right now.

There's plenty to do in Budapest on a Sunday--one of my favorite museums, The Neprajzi (ethnographic) is open and it's right across from Parliament. Also the Terror House on Andrassy ut. For more shopping on a Sunday and also spectacular views of Pest you can also explore Castle Hill, lots of shops there with items that aren't just the usual tourist stuff, and just off the Basilica there's the Memories of Hungary shop--everything is made in Hungary, high quality and unique as well as more typical items.

Posted by
646 posts

We've been to the Xmas Markets throughout Germany, Austria, France, & Switzerland - you will see that there are vendors from other countries there. Cash/Euros/or whatever the local currency is always best. Vendors from other countries will gladly take Euros (at least thats what we found)l. We found very few take a CC except for the more expensive items. ATMs are everywhere. We rarely have money left over, but if we do, we use it on our next trip. Most of the Markets are in the Olde Towns - where ATMs are plentiful. Just be aware some banks charge more than others to withdraw and remember you are converting currency. We take anywhere from 300-500Euros out each time. Many of the small cafes and coffee houses prefer cash.

You will love the markets - amazing food too.

Posted by
13727 posts

A lot of the booths do take credit cards. Not all, but a lot. I don't know what you read, but most of Budapest is open on Sunday. Hungary did try Blue Laws a while back but they were repealed in August of 2016. The day when most of the museums are closed is Monday. "Jewish Budapest" has some closures on Saturday.

Charles Schwab or any other ATM card will work just fine. Tell me where you are staying and i can direct you to the nearest BANK ATM, I say "bank" because i know of a private ATM near the Basilica and they don't provide very good deals.

As for the forint issue. I still carry a little home made conversion card in my wallet. If i dont want to pull it out i just round it off to 1000 forints = $4; which is pretty easy to calculate 90% accurate.

HUF 300.00 $1.00

HUF 500.00 $2.00

HUF 800.00 $3.00

HUF 1,000.00 $4.00

HUF 5,000.00 $20.00

HUF 10,000.00 $40.00

HUF 26,200.00 $100.00

HUF 52,400.00 $200.00

HUF 78,600.00 $300.00

HUF 104,800.00 $400.00

HUF 131,000.00 $500.00

HUF 262,000.00 $1,000.00

Posted by
71 posts

Pounds and euros are easy peasey and one of us gets into those zones frequently enough that leftovers aren't a problem, well, pounds are at the moment. I was just in London in May and got "round pounds" in change and they ceased being legal tender last week. Excess forints could sit around awhile.

The conversion chart helps...but it would also help if I had a general idea of what a....fill in the blank....costs in forints. Is a bottle of water 500 forints? How about a cup of coffee? Is currency in large denomination coins and notes? I'm way out of my comfort zone here! With no transaction or exchange fees I can start with $100 worth and see how far that gets us.

We are staying at Hotel Moments on Andrassy ut. Thanks again!

Posted by
13727 posts

Quick answer is that there is an OTP bank next door to the hotel..

Cost are a little tougher because it depends where you are. Andrassy ut is a little pricier than other places. I'm going to find a couple of links to some of my favorite restaurants for you. That will give you some idea.

General rule of thumb, I live in one of the states with a low cost of living, and Budapest is possibly 15% to 25% less depending on the neighborhood; but absolutely not more expensive than my US Home even in the heart of Tourist Hell (Vaci utca and District V in general).

This is a place across the street from the back of the Basilica. Sort of my standard for not quite tourist and not quite local and a short walk from your hotel. Ignore the Euro prices on the menu. The jack them pretty good so they don’t have to reprint their menu so often: This will give you a pretty good idea of the cost of eating in town. If you move closer to the river the prices will go up maybe 10%, as you move away from the river and get on the side streets the prices will drop as much as 15%.

There is change in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 forint coins. The bills come in 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000. The 20000 bills are a little tougher to change. I dont know your travel style so i dont how much cash to tell you to pull out. Generally for three meals my significant other and i spend about 10000 forint a day. I will spend another 10000 forint at the wine bar before bed time (wine and pate at Kadarka Wine Bar about a 5 minute walk from your hotel - you will pass my place on the way, so wave!)