Budapest Dos and Don'ts - traffic warnings
Even though you will use the pedestrian crossings, you may wish to look around before crossing the road on a ‘zebra crossing’. Polite and careful car drivers are rare. Drivers tend to drive faster than the speed limit and act impatiently (that’s why biking in Budapest is also a mid risk). Some of the drivers do not know that they have to yield to pedestrians if they turn on the road you are just about to cross (seriously!). So look around, make sure the cars are slowing down, especially if the crossing has no traffic lights only the zebra stripes painted on the road.
Even if we take pride in our efficient and somewhat old public transport system, we love complaining about it (dirty buses, no AC on subways, impolite ticket inspectors). The truth is, you can get almost anywhere very quickly in Budapest, you do not wait for hours, but you may travel in a shabby bus, with a big crowd. What you as a tourist need to pay attention to is the TICKET issue. First and foremost, always buy a ticket before entering the metro zone or getting on a bus, streetcar, etc. You will be expected to have a ticket, what is more, you need to have an already validated ticket. If you only buy the ticket but do not punch it with the punch machine, you will be considered a dodger. In addition, check what the ticket is valid for (how many trips, can you freely change metro / subway lines, etc. ) If you are not sure and there is no-one to help you, it is safer to punch a new ticket for every new vehicle or every new metro line no matter which zone you are staying in. We have put together a simple but thorough guide on Budapest Public Transport with detailed info on How to Buy Metro / Bus / Tram Tickets in Budapest? or a useful guide for what kind of tickets or passes are worth buying depending on how many days you are staying in Budapest: Tickets or Passes in Budapest?
Here comes a tourist story to keep in mind (Imb1009 from NYC) “Our first trip on the subway we bought tickets at the station when we got on, and when we got off we saw two officers waiting to check your ticket, so both of us took out our tickets to show the guard. As soon as we showed them, the guard pulled us aside and started yelling at us in Hungarian. After a bit of confusion, we learned that we had not validated the tickets, and he charged each of us USD70 American!!!! So that put a bad taste in our mouth right from the start.”
What a shame! Sorry folks, being a public transport inspector is usually looked down on in Hungary, it is a badly paid job (unless the inspector scares tourists to death), low requirements. There are quite a few complaints from local people about public transport inspectors, we still need to learn about better communication. Until we do, please prepare for the worst, buy your tickets / passes and validate them. If you need help, ask for help before entering the subway zone or getting on the trolley, bus, streetcar. It is not worth having three ticket inspectors around you, speaking Hungarian and demanding a big charge from you…
Unless it is of utmost importance to you, there is no need to rent a car in Budapest. Why not? See some of the reasons:
Check out Budapest FAQ for more useful tips!
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