Budapest is not on the Euro, so you will need to change the Hungarian currency called Forint: but where to get the best exchange rates? First of all, do not buy Hungarian Forint (HUF) from a street vendor. No matter what. Secondly, once you get off the airplane or train, you can find exchange bureaus easily but they tend to give approx. 25% less for your money than the ones in the city centre, or off the airport / station! So if you have to change, only get enough Forint for your Budapest airport transfer / bus ride.
You can get the best exchange rates in Budapest in several city central currency exchange booths, which are legal, reliable and give the best rate to your money (see details below). In addition, there are many ATM machines all over Budapest, especially in touristy places (airport, train station, downtown, tourist attractions, etc.)
Budapest Currency Exchange
Currency Exchange, i.e. buying Hungarian Forints should not be a problem at all in the capital city of Hungary. Downtown Budapest is full of legal and quite fair-priced exchange offices. You can also use the ATM at Budapest Airport and at other tourist hot spots.
Best Rates in Budapest
There are several excellent, and a lot of acceptable currency exchange bureaus in about 5 minute walks in the city centre. But searching for the best rates might be worth a few minutes. We have found that You can check the best available current exchange rates here (Hungarian website in Hungarian, but we will walk you through, it is simple):
This website enlists dozens of currency exchange companies in Budapest, Hungary, and you can arrange the list according to the best rates, which are really really good. Of course, the website is not definitive, the prices are to inform not to promise. But we have had quite good experience with the data we found here. Please let us know what your feedback is by sending your comments below.
The interface of the website is in Hungarian, but with google translate, you can easily fill in the advanced search form for the best Hungarian Forint rates.
To help you through the search for the best rates in Budapest, we have filled in the form to show you an example (selling 100 Euros for Hungarian Forints – we have chosen the option “eladni szeretnek” which means I wish to sell).
Search for the Best Exchange Rate
This is the “Best Exchange Rate Search Form” filled in for 100 Euros:
- Osszeg is SUM
- Penznem is CURRENCY
- Valuta eladas is for your intention to buy or sell, where the default is set to BUYING (venni szeretnek), so you will need to switch to SELLING (eladni szeretnek)
- Megye is COUNTY (in this case Budapest is considered to be a city with country rights, so choose Budapest)
- Telepules is CITY (settlement): choose Budapest
- Kerulet is DISTRICT: in the example we have chosen the city centre, District V (V. ker) with city central places of interests and attractions in downtown Budapest, such as Deak Square, Erzsebet Square, Vaci Street (the shopping street), Vorosmarty Square, Chain Bridge, Parliament, Basilica, etc. District VI is also part of the city centre. Please pick a district of your preference.
- Halozat / Cegcsoport: this option enlists all the currency exchange vendors, companies in Budapest, so it is best to be left as it is, if you are interested in the choices of all booths and vendors.
- Keres: in the black button at the bottom of the form, you can see the word KERES, this means SEARCH, so click on it and see the list of the best rates in Budapest
Budapest Currency Exchange Bureaux Map
What you will get in the next interface (the following page) is the following: the map of Budapest currency exchange booths in the district of your choice in the form, in a very well presented interactive google map. Each red balloon shows a booth, or company, or a travel agency doing currency exchange, buying and selling Euros, GBP pounds, US / AUS / CAN dollars.
If you click on the balloon, you will get the detailed info of a given exchange place, e.g.
Name: Ádám Travel Kft.
Address / Cím: Budapest, V. Váci u. 12. fsz. 4. (address)
Opening Hours / Nyitvatartás: H-V: 9-19
Phone Landline / Vezetékes telefon: 411-01-67
Mobile Phone / Telefon: 06(30)263-99-56
List of Best Rates and Addresses
Below the map of currency exchanges in Budapest, if you scroll down, you will get the detailed info of the best rates with the addresses for each agency in the district of your choice in Budapest:
in red numbers you can see how many Hungarian Forints you will get for your foreign currency, you will see the name (NEV) of the company, the address (CIM) and when the list was last updated (FRISSITVE)
As you can see, there is really no need to rush to the pricier airport exchange rate offices, and please do forget street vendors.
Budapest Foreign Exchange Bureaus at Weekends
Many of the foreign exchange bureaus are open at weekends, on Saturdays and Sundays, e.g. in downtown Budapest you can get good rates at the following vendors (please check the current best prices at the above link to make sure you really get the unbeatable price for your money). These few have currently quite good offers for a weekend Forint exchange in the city centre of Budapest, on the Vaci utca shopping street:
- Asmi Rania (19-21 Vaci Street Budapest) Opening hours at weekends: Saturday – Sunday : 10 am – 8 pm
- Adam Travel Agency (12 Vaci Street Budapest) Opening hours at weekends: Saturday – Sunday : 9 am – 7 pm
- Hon Tours (39 Vaci Street Budapest) Opening hours at weekends: Saturday : 10 am – 6 pm
Avoid Street Vendors
On the other hand, rarely though, but there are still a couple of street vendors selling Hungarian banknotes, and promising a better exchange rate than official vendors.
This is not only illegal but also dangerous, or at the least absolutely not cost-efficient. If you fall for some unreliable guys, you may end up with fake banknotes, or banknotes that are not in use any more at all.
Changing Money in Budapest Banks
We recommend using the official currency exchange booths in the city for changing money as oftentimes they give better rates than banks in Budapest. If your own bank offers a good deal to you while travelling abroad, you may consider the ATM machines too, which are easy to find (5-10 min walking in the city centre and by attractions).
Again, official currency exchange vendors are really abundant in the city, and many have good weekend opening hours. For a not too favourable rate, you can also go the banks in Budapest, but only as a last resort. Bank rates are in general lower than currency exchange rates in booths.
Exchange rates fluctuate of course, so you may need to test what is better for you: maybe you can save some money by withdrawing cash from the ATM rather than buying Hungarian Forint at an exchange rate office.
Paying by Card in Budapest
Several stores, supermarkets, boutiques, international retail chains accept bank cards in Budapest (Visa or MasterCard is a sure bet).
Our experience is that banks in Hungary are more expensive than exchange rate offices.
Definitely DO NOT DO: Further Budapest warnings
- Do not have valuables with you. Learn from general Budapest warnings.
- Do not travel unprepared. Save the Budapest crime emergency phone numbers to learn how to contact the Hungarian Police just in case.
- Do not stay near the Parliament and the Heroes’ Square on Hungarian national holidays
- Do not take marijuana, drugs in Budapest. What about alcohol?
- Do not go to dangerous night clubs in Budapest.
- Do not hail down a taxi in Budapest.
- Do not buy HUF / Forint from a street vendor in Budapest.
- Do not board Budapest public transport vehicles without a ticket.
- Do not cross the road without checking the traffic in Budapest.
- Do not expect some cultural conveniences in Budapest
- Do not take valuables with you to Baths in Budapest - or preferably in the city.
- Do not go to Budapest Airport unprepared – there are 2 Budapest terminals - approx. 5 min car travel from each other: even though T1 is getting closed, T2 is a bus stop away from T1 train station.
- Do not go to touristy restaurants in Budapest - to eat pricey food of lower quality.
Check out Budapest FAQ for more useful tips!
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Last updated: June 2013