Etiquette & Customs (in short)
The Hungarians have a formal and reserved attitude to practices and attitudes.
Try to learn as much Hungarian you can before you arrive, or at least so many simple words you can, like “Hello”: Szervusz (SER-voos) or Szia (SEE-a), “Thank you”: Köszönöm (KØ-sø-nøm) or “Goodbye”: Viszontlátásra. (VEE-sont-la-tash-ra) or Viszlát/Szia (VEES-lat/SEE-a)
This shows, that you are willing to learn their language. You can learn more here.
- Both men and women greet by shaking hands, although a man should usually wait for the women to extend her hand
- The older generation may still bow to women
- Close friends kiss one another lightly on both cheeks, starting with the left cheek
Gift Giving Etiquette:
- If invited to a Hungarian’s home for a meal, bring a box of good chocolates, flowers or Western liquor
- Flowers should be given in odd numbers, but not 13, which is considered an unlucky number
- Do not give lilies, chrysanthemums or red roses
- Gifts are usually opened when received
- Arrive on time if invited for dinner, although a 5-minute grace period is granted
- If invited to a party or other large gathering, arrive no more than 30 minutes later than invited
- Do not ask for a tour of the house
- Table manners are formal in Hungary
- The hostess will wish the guests a hearty appetite at the start of each course
- Do not begin eating until the hostess starts
- Hospitality is measured by the amount and variety of food served. Try everything
- If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork across your plate
- Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate
Should you leave a tip in restaurants or bars?
You can leave a tip, but you don’t have to.
As in many European countries, the bill includes a service charge. So make sure to check the bill itself; there is no need to leave any extra tip in addition to this amount. A service charge is not the same as a tip.
People sometimes give 10% of the bill as a tip or round up to an even number. It depends on how happy you were with the service.
Hungary is generally a peaceful country, but there can always happen thefts of mobile phones, cameras and other valuable things. Be aware of pickpockets around various sights – especially around cathedrals and other places where tourists gather.
Most travellers will not experience any issues or problems on their holiday in Hungary. It can happen, but it can also be prevented by some simple precautions as:
- Do not “flash” cash or expensive items
- Visit only the cash machines during the day or early evening
- Do not leave expensive items visible in the car
Places you should avoid in Budapest:
- Districts 7, 8 and 9 – There areas are not safe day and night
- Castle District, district 5 and 6 – Use caution, you do need to be careful after dark
- Budapest-Keleti Pályaudvar (central station) – Use caution, you do need to be careful after dark
Places you should avoid in Debrecen:
- Debrecen Vasútállomási Határátkelőhely (central station) – Use caution, you do need to be careful after dark
Places you should avoid in Szeged:
- Szeged Railway Station (central station) – Use caution, you do need to be careful after dark
Emergency numbers in Hungary (free call)
In case of any emergency call:
- 112 – National emergency number
- 105 – Fire brigade
- 104 – Ambulance
- 107 – Police
The caller must:
- State the location where assistance is needed
- State their name and telephone number
- State what happened and if it is still happening
- State how many people need help
- State, if there are weapons involved