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Recent RS People Travel Concerns as they Relate to Budapest

Reading the other current posts begs me to point out a few things relative to what RS people are concerned about..

COVID
Hungary has no COVID paperwork to complete or websites to register with and no EU COVID pass or certificate is required. You will need a PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival from the US. If coming from the EU, generally speaking, nothing is required.

TRAIN or PLANE
Other than Vienna the nearest major tourism city is maybe Prague which is 7 hours on a train; which I figure to be 8 to 8.5+ hours door to door for an experienced traveler. Add 30 minutes if you are not familiar with European trains and the public transportation or taxi service at each end.

Upon arrival the train station is sort of in the center of Budapest, but possibly not the center of the part of town you will be staying in. Public transportation or taxi; both may take up to 30 minutes to get you to the hotel. Be sure you understand the luggage rules on the public transportation and be sure you purchase a ticket or pass and validate it. Okay let’s add another 15 minutes if you are using public transportation. For a taxi from the train station call City Taxi when you arrive. They will have a car there within 10 minutes. The taxi stand is on the north side of the station.

By train you get to see all the wonderful places in between like an experienced traveler; plan on an additional four days of travel to do so if you are coming from Prague; but not at the sake of cutting Budapest short. Not a whole lot to see out the window along the way except a very large, very angry looking bird just across the Hungarian border. The train from Prague will set you back about $25.

By plane the same trip from Prague is maybe 4.5 to 5 hours door to door if you use a taxi at both ends. If you check a bag it will add maybe 15 minutes to the time to get out of the airport. The flight with carryon only will set you back about $75.

The airport is 30 minutes and $25 from the town center by taxi. Taxis are somewhat inexpensive, well regulated, clean (follow the arrows on the floor to the Kiosk outside the arrivals hall and a very nice young lady will assist you). Or you can take a shuttle bus or the public transportation for a fraction of the cost. Figure an hour, maybe longer, including time to purchase the ticket and wait for the next one leaving and the drive time. With public transportation also count on a decent walk.

LUGGAGE and PACKING
Luggage from Walmart within the airlines size and weight restrictions is more than adequate for the short trip from hotel room to taxi to plane and back. Or upgrade to Target luggage. Pack it any way you want, no one will care. And if your hotel room sink is too small, I can recommend a good next day laundry service.

If you are going someplace nice, like the theater, please do bring smart clothes. People here do still dress up a bit for such events. The theater a few nights ago, 75% of the men had sports coats, 25% were tourists.

AMERICAN STYLE or EUROPEAN STYLE HOTELS
When booking a hotel, look at the photos of the rooms in each hotel. You will probably want to choose by bed linen type. You can see that in the photos. You might also consider the futon beds at the very nice Thai Hotel on Andrassy.

For breakfast I believe you can get fried eggs at Café Vian. Omelets, scrambled eggs and boiled eggs are readily available at most breakfast stops. Or you might want to send the K&K Opera Hotel the question, as the last time I stayed there they had both fried eggs and decent American style bacon at the breakfast buffet. Starbucks are everywhere for the coffee hounds, but I am good with what ever the local eatery is offering.

MONEY
Credit cards are almost universally accepted. Otherwise hit the ATM machines.

Posted by
5481 posts

Thanks, James - a useful summary.

I flew in from London and took the bus into the city centre then the underground - it was straight forward and easy to navigate. The ticket inspectors on the underground seem to outnumber the passengers at times! Trams and buses all ran smoothly and regularly. There are some beautiful stations.

Food was good wherever we ate, but I have to say, I haven’t had a decent Starbucks coffee anywhere in the world - far too weak!

We had an apartment near Oktogon station through Booking.com, which suited us fine, as it was quiet, yet close to the action.

Observation - there didn’t seem to be any bald Hungarians.

Posted by
13409 posts

Observation - there didn’t seem to be any bald Hungarians.

Hair transplants are cheap here 🙂

Posted by
12 posts

James, quick question - we are coming to Hungary on the 18th from Paris, but on a US passport. Are the PCR testing requirements premised on where we'll be coming from (Paris) or what passport we have (USA)?

Posted by
13409 posts

AND........... the government announced a few days ago that they believe that Hungary has crossed the peak of the 4th wave of COVID. That would be good considering it really isn't even winter yet. They have dedicated one hospital for COVID, but I dont think they have had to use it yet.

Restrictions are masks in large assemblies and the metro and medical facilities. Life is pretty much normal.

You will need a vaccination card to enter the Christmas Markets. I understand the US CDC card works fine.

If you are flying home from Budapest I posted a recommendation of where to get your US entry test.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks James. We have an EU Covid Certificate, sort of, the Pass Sanitaire printed in Paris. We also have the QR code from Belgium. But I'm not sure either one of those will save us from getting tested tomorrow.

Posted by
13409 posts

You mean upon entering Hungary or prior to? Are you driving or flying or taking the train?

Posted by
12 posts

Flying from Paris. We've been in Europe for a few weeks now (Germany, Belgium, and now Paris). On Saturday we're flying from Paris to Budapest. The issue we keep seeing is that it says US citizens need a PCR test flying to Budapest, but it also says no one needs a PCR test if they have an EU COVID certificate. That ambiguity is causing us heartburn, since we are US citizens, but we also have an EU certificate, and won't be flying from the US. It's so weird to me that there's no clear answer for this, as I can't imagine we're the first US citizens to fly into Hungary after spending time elsewhere in Europe first.

Posted by
13409 posts

Dont know where the official site says US Citizens. The catch for US citizens is that we dont have:

"those providing their protection against the COVID-19 while entering Hungary with valid immunity certificate (issued according to the 60/2021 Government Decree) with the travel document indicated on the immunity certificate"

But you "probably" do. But you know, I would get the PCR test just to cover yourself.

When i flew there in November I had my PCR, but the Turkish Air person in Istanbul demanded to see my CDC card, which is not a requirement with the PCR test. Very confusing these days. Best to have a backup.

Posted by
12 posts

Just to close the loop on this, it was no issue with a Pass Sanitaire. When I checked in to Lufthansa online, I had the option to scan the QR code, and with that, I was able to get a boarding pass. With a boarding pass, no one in the Paris or Frankfurt airport checked anything Covid-related. In Budapest, as we got off the plane, we had to show something, but candidly I don't think they were looking especially critically at whatever we were showing them, as it was less than a second per person.

Posted by
13409 posts

That's good news. Where national website is weak is they quote government edicts, and dont say things directly. So any COVID card recognized by edict XYZ is good. Never been able to find the actual edicts. Very frustrating. But since there are no land border controls I had to assume an EU card or QR or .... would work. They dont look hard, because the airline is doing the job for them.

Now if you are going back to the US afterwards, and you test positive you will be required to quarantine and the local police department will check on you to make sure you are there. With the new variant its very contageious and there is a great odd you will never know you have it till you are tested. I plan on taking some self kits on the next trip and pre-test before I get the official test. That way if I am positive I dont have to figure out how to get back to the room without coming in contact with anyone.

Okay, enough serious. Enjoy my favorite town.