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Safe to travel to Budapest and Prague

How safe is it to travel to Budapest and Prague in September/October of this year? Is there unrest in either of those cities because of the immigrant situation and are Americans appreciated or hassled there because of our nationality?

Posted by
650 posts

We felt perfectly safe in Prague last week. We saw no signs of unrest. We found the Czechs welcoming and proud to show off their beautiful counrtry. Why do you think it wouldn't be safe?

Posted by
23437 posts

There is no unrest being reported in either city so I don't know what you are referring when you ask about unrest? In all of my years of travel I have never been hassled because of being an America. But I have been ignored a few times. Whether it was related to being an American, I will never know.

Posted by
4637 posts

I already replied your identical post under General Europe. To put your post under Trip Reports is misleading. You are not reporting about your trip. You are asking questions.

Posted by
5 posts

Excuse me! I'm not familiar with posting questions on this site. But you needn't be rude.

Posted by
4637 posts

I am sorry, Laura, I certainly didn't mean to be rude. I tried to help. Maybe you can forgive my awkwardness with English which is not my first language.

Posted by
23437 posts

Perhaps you should take some time to understand how and where to post questions. Iija was just trying to be helpful with an excellent suggestion for you.

Posted by
7506 posts

Laura, the best place to get definitive (instead of "internet") advice on safety is the US State Department list of Travel Advisories:

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html

Perhaps, because you have not traveled very much (?), you may not understand that it reads, to us, as a state of "alarm" to be asking about two months from now (who knew there would be an attempted coup in Turkey - certainly not our State Department!) and about two countries that have a particularly strong affinity with the USA. (When we were in Budapest some years ago, we heard from older taxi drivers how much the loved the USA because of our support against Russian aggression.) Both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan (!) are a revered in Hungary. That's hard to conceive of from here in the US!

These countries are also very far from the current refugee traffic. During our June, 2016 cruise around SIcily, I was startled to see an Italian Navy ship with the helicopter deck filled with seated refugees, waiting to be processed in the Red Cross tents set up on the pier in Catania, Sicily. I was shocked when, as our (maybe ...) ritzy cruise ship pulled out, the refugees crouched on the deck, 60% of them, waved to us!

I hope you will have such a simultaneously isolated and poignant encounter with refugees, so that you will have some feeling for the religious refugees from England who endured terrible privations in the New World, to found, eventually, the United States.

This newsboard is composed of particularly experienced and ready-to-travel people. While your question may be entirely reasonable from your point of view, you have to understand that it sounds like someone asking whether Texas is a dangerous state because of Open-Carry and Alamo-nuts!

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

I went on a day trip to Prague on the 3rd of June 2016. No problems at all. Lots of tourists there of various nationalities...Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Italian, German, and American, and others I saw and heard. All very normal and crowded too.

It makes no difference to me whether I as an American tourist ( and I have tourist written all over me) am appreciated there on not, but I'll tell you that I've never been hassled any where in Europe as a US tourist, not even in 2003 when the US invasion of Iraq took place, which prompted some to warn not go over to Europe because of possible anti-American reaction. I went over anyway in the summer, spent eight weeks peak season, going to France, Germany, and for the second time, to Poland where we spent 5 days.

You won't see any migrants in Prague hl n or anywhere else.

Posted by
8212 posts

We took the Free Walking Tour in each city. Then we paid for their nightly Pub Crawl Tour--where we made 20 new somewhat wild and crazy friends from all over the world. Both are great nightlife cities, and the tour taught us where the happening places were.

Posted by
308 posts

I happened to be in Budapest in October 2006 with my sister and we encountered a riot while walking to the metro station. There were riot police, tear gas, helicopters flying overhead, etc. We got close enough to get watery eyes from the tear gas, then met an American ex-pat who had lived in Budapest for several years. He explained the political situation in Hungary, gave us walking directions to get around the riot, and advised us that we were probably safe as long as we stayed away from anyone waving a flag!

My point is that it is hard to anticipate everything that might happen, but those unexpected experiences are the most memorable! I certainly count my time in Budapest as the most memorable time I've had in Europe.

Posted by
18568 posts

Okay, I put this at your other post as well, but Rita brought up an interesting moment. Hungary and Italy are two countries that come to mind with I think of street demonstrations. 99.9% of the time they are peaceful, but that doesn't mean there wont be some Robocops around. Best to avoid it, which isn't difficult, but my wife and I had a lovely lunch on day at a place called Anna's on Vaci utca. At one end of Vaci one group of protesters was doing their thing, while at the other end another competing group of protesters was dong their thing. We sat in the middle at this café and drank wine as the Robocops ran past, first one way then the other. It was a marvelous lunch with entertainment. This day, no violence. Since then, over a dozen years we have probably seen 3 more such events; also without violence. Just a lot of noise and a lot of cops.

But Rita, you were there for the biggest since the change in government and nothing since has come close to comparing to this. We arrived in Budapest about a week later. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/23/1

If you are still nervous, you can take some lessons to be better prepared for the unexpected: http://www.tank.hu/start_en.htm

How safe is it to travel to Budapest and Prague in September/October
of this year? Is there unrest in either of those cities because of the
immigrant situation and are Americans appreciated or hassled there
because of our nationality?

I love this question. I have a small business investment in Budapest and I spend about a month each year there, spread over two or three trips. I have that investment for the sole purpose as an excuse to visit this amazing city. I have been doing this for about a dozen years.

The Hungarian government has controlled the migrant flow across their borders so the conditions that impacted tourists last year are not prevalent at all this year. So don’t worry about that.

We have traveled a lot in Europe and I am pretty confident in saying you won’t find a people that are kinder or more helpful to tourists. My wife and I wait for that one moment on each trip. It’s become a tradition. Unsolicited, will it be help at the metro stop, or assistance with the train ticket machine, or advise on which candy to purchase or “are you lost, can I help?”. After about a dozen years of traveling to Budapest we still look like tourists and we still get offers of assistance. Welcome home I always say.

Prague? Ehhhh, wellll………., been there but not my specialty. You need Nigel’s input.

Posted by
308 posts

I would never trade my experience in Budapest for anything. Now that it's been ten years, it is fun to remind my friends and family that I've actually experienced tear gas firsthand! If I had done extensive research before I went to Budapest and found out that I would be there for the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising, and that it would be a convenient time to have a demonstration due to very high unemployment, maybe I would have avoided it. I'm so glad that I didn't over-analyze the situation and cancel the trip.

Another amazing travel experience happened on the way out of Budapest. My sister and I shared a train car from Budapest to Vienna with a man who had fled Hungary in 1956 after the failed uprising and now lived in Florida. He was there for the 50th anniversary. We were mesmerized by his life story.

Posted by
14580 posts

Admittedly, this time in Europe I forgot the 50th anniversary of bloody 1956. Had I remember that during my visit in Vienna up until the end of the first week in June or so, I would have traded my day trip to Prague from Dresden for Budapest. The day trip to Brno and Slavkov is another story. A repeat visit there is mandatory...next trip!

Posted by
14580 posts

@ James... I'll just have to get back before I get any older, ie, conceivably in 2017. Missing this 50th anniversary event inadvertently...what I call historical negligence... is almost like my missing the special exhibit at the history museum in Lüneburg in 2010 on the 200th death anniversary of the person featured when I was over in Germany. That was plainly dumb.

Posted by
14 posts

I have not been to Prague or Budapest, however, I'd like to offer another perspective to this question. I'm not trying to dismiss your feelings in any way, but sometimes we let the perception of fear take over.

I'm a Canadian, and all I've been hearing about the U.S as of late is Black men being shot, Police Officers being shot, etc. To me, the idea (based on what I see on the news) of going to Texas or Louisiana is frightening, like I'll get caught up in some sort of war zone and potentially get shot by a stray bullet. In reality, that's not likely to happen. I would remain vigilant of my surroundings and not place myself in a situation that could get violent. If I was walking along and happened on to a protest march, I'd probably go the other way and be most likely be safe.

If you really want to visit Prague and Budapest, do it! Be aware, be safe, and enjoy yourself!

Posted by
18568 posts

Sadie, I agree. If I believed what I heard on the news I would be afraid to go to a lot of places. Unfortunately all the news medial, Right and Left, is agenda driven so you really cant ever know for sure. And if you try doing it off statistics it becomes almost a six dimensional challenge to balance all the factors.

I can attest that with about a year total combined time in Budapest that day or night I "feel" pretty safe on the streets. There are few real riots. The are more like protest marches and even then it amounts to one of any significance each year, Most cities have probably as many. And yes, its good judgment to give them a wide berth.

I said "feel" because that's what it really comes down to. There is another post here where an individual stated that they "felt" perfectly safe in Istanbul during the coup attempt. So its sort of a personal thing.

Posted by
14580 posts

Three day trips to Budapest within the last five years, I never felt unsafe there, normal like everyone else. How do the locals feel when you see them in public places, do they feel unsafe? If they don't feel unsafe in BP, why should I? They see I am a tourist anyway. On Budapest or Prague I would not even entertain this idea of not feeling safe especially pertaining to daytime. I've "bumped" literally into demonstrations, (Hamburg, Paris, Stuttgart), first you hear them, because of the noise, then you decide to stick around to see or ditch the place. Usually after sizing up the what was taking place, I left, didn't want to be bothered.

Posted by
14 posts

@James E, I work in Toronto, and walk from Union Station (train) to my office, with my little laptop rolley bag, with my wallet/phone, etc in the front pocket of said bag without a care in the world. I often use this as an example when speaking with folks who are afraid to travel in other cities.

There was a stabbing several months ago of a woman in front of an office building - only about 15 minutes from my own. If I was a tourist watching the news all that would sound crazy scary - but because I'm from here, it kinda rolls off. I think its human nature to be scared when you hear of these things happening somewhere else, but we should all give ourselves a reminder - it can happen where you live too. :)

Posted by
18568 posts

You are an excellent muse.

Budapest is where I go a few times a year when I am burned out and need to relax and unwind in a peaceful, tranquil, comfortable environment. Can't even imagine being worried about safety.

Posted by
14 posts

@James E, that's lovely!

What I was trying to say/convey (and not very well!LOL) was that you are just as safe in the vast majority of places as you are at home. And possibly even safer, as you're more diligent about your surroundings (how unsafely I carry my wallet phone around at home vs. how I'd carry it abroad as an example).

Posted by
61 posts

I was on the RS Prague and Budapest tour last October. Hungary was dealing with migrants then and our tour guide explained both the laws and the situation occurring. Prague and Budapest were lovely cities and I felt no fear walking alone both places, including on public transportation. That said, I attempt to be low key and learn basic words in the local language (especially how to express thanks).

Posted by
18568 posts

Last October was about the time the Hungarians were finishing up their fence along the Serbian boarder. Since that time the influx has been diminished significantly and the vandalism in and around the train station has been repaired. The Austrians and Slovaks and a number of other countries (even the French) have built barriers and that has changed the migration pattern as well.

Still, the only negative to tourism in Hungary, even during the heaviest periods of migration through the country, was issues with the trains. Not much else hindered a tourist and in general, tourists didn't see the migrants in Budapest.

If you have any concerns at all, in Hungary or anywhere, then schedule your trip in the opposite direction of the migration.

Posted by
14580 posts

Very true that Clinton and Reagan are much admired and venerated in Budapest...quite understandable too.

The train stations at Brno and Praha hl n which I saw on my day trips there in June 2016 were totally normal and crowded with locals, foreign backpackers, some American too, tourists of different nationalities, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary with the station and the train rides. Being hassled because of my US nationality, once they see my Passport, is not a concern. I'm glad I went to Brno and Prague.