We've traveled to Europe often, but not in countries where the euro is not the currency. Is there an app on the phones that convert the Hungarian currency to dollars, so I have an idea of how much something costs? I'm assuming one gets local money from the ATMs just like other countries. True?
Yes, XE Currency has a currency converter app for both Iphone and android. And, yes, you get local currency (forints) from the ATM's, just like anywhere else.
Pulling out a phone can be a hassle. I spend a lot of time outside the eurzone and i usually just carry a little cheat sheet for each country. And yes, the ATMs work fine with US Debit Cards.
$1 = 270 forint
With the forint right now its sort of easy if you don't care to be too specific.
At 270 forint to the dollar, that means a:
500 forint paper note is $2 ($1.85 actually but who is counting)
1000 forint paper note is worth $4
2000 forint paper note is wroth $8
5000 forint note is a $20 bill
10000 forint note is $40
20000 forint note is $80
Unused forints can be put in an envelope and mailed here: https://jakabglasermemorialfoundation.com/
Thanks Nancy and James. Since we will only be in Budapest for about 5 days I needed to have a general idea of how much local currency to take out of the ATM. I'm assuming that credit cards are accepted in most restaurants? Gift shops?
Most every place a typical tourist is likely to go you will find takes credit cards.
If I had to guess, i would say pull out 40.000 forints and then see how it goes. ATMs are all over town if you need more.
Generally speaking the tourist zone is maybe 10% cheaper than a typical European tourist zone. The good stuff on the side streets will start at about what you would expect to pay in the US and then decrease in cost as you get further from the madness until you reach something about 20% to 25% cheaper than US prices. Once outside of District V, Lower Andrassy ut, and the District VII bar areas prices begin to drop quickly.
Since I'm not charged by my credit union for using overseas ATMs, I made smallish withdrawals to avoid getting stuck with large bills. If you're mainly using cash for small purchases, it's awkward to spend a 20,000-forint note. This is a problem not unique to Budapest, but I was surprised at how fond a lot of those ATMs were of dispensing as many 20,000 notes as possible.
Getting rid of all those left over forint notes is easy. Simply put them in an envelope and mail them here: https://jakabglasermemorialfoundation.com/ Better yet, call ahead and ask if you can join them one Saturday morning..
Do they take euros at all or only the local currency?
Most places in the tourist zones will take your euros. The shops in District V where all the river boat tourists end up, often quote their prices in Euros. But plan on spending about 10% more for the convenience of using Euros.
Since I like to visit the flea market in Budapest (and I like to shop for other stuff when I'm there) I like to have an idea what I'm really spending on something (whether or not I pay cash or charge) so instead of using my phone I print out the wallet size converter from dollars to forints on The Coinmill just before I leave home. I travel solo so I do bring some forints with me from home so I can start enjoying my trip without worrying about finding an ATM.
If you have a lot of forints left you can use them to pay part of your hotel bill when you check out.