Hungary: Scams to Avoid & Safety

Emergency numbers are: 112 for emergencies, 104 for ambulance, 105 for the fire brigade and rescue services, 107 for the police.

Hungary on the whole is a safe place to visit, Budapest like any capital city is the main hotspot for crime. The most common scam artists are bar owners, taxi drivers and ladies of the night working in groups to intimidate targets consisting usually of lone males or small groups. This makes sense as many stag weekenders are held here, scammers have merely adapted to this. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular scams and a list of ‘blacklisted’ bars.

Victims of crimes, such as theft, robbery, scams or even overcharging while in Hungary are encouraged to report all incidents to the police. The Hungarian National Tourist Office has a special, 24-hour telephone number for tourists who become victims of personal crime while in Hungary. Their phone number is: 438-8080.

Taxi Scam

Rampant before the new taxi regulations came into force in 2013, some taxi companies in cities would regularly change their tariffs for tourists. You may come across but should avoid using unmarked cars with just a taxi light on the roof. Licensed taxis are yellow and have fixed prices that are clearly indicated on the sides of the vehicle.

Tricky Ticket Inspectors

Train tickets do not need to be validated like metro and tram tickets do, but some sneaky inspectors still use this as a reason to fine foreign travellers. Challenge the fictional fine and the inspector will back down eventually.

Blacklisted Bars / Clubs

Scam bars boasting extortionate prices and aggressive staff usually operate with no clear name, quite literally there is no signage or branded menus. Most of these scam establishments are located in Budapest’s fifth district no surprise really as the Váci utca and its surrounds are a main tourist area.

Accommodation Closed Scam

A taxi driver tells his customer he believes their chosen accommodation is closed for some reason then comes to the rescue by whisking you away to his recommended alternative which will be overpriced or miles away, probably both to make the most of it. Always tell taxi drivers you have your accommodation booked if they ask and have a phone number to hand for just this sort of occasion.

Tourist Menu Swap

Seen as normal practice in some bars and restaurants, not exclusively the ones you are led to by women on the street or taxi drivers either. An establishment simply swaps the menu to one with higher ‘tourist’ prices, or shows you a priceless menu allowing them to change the price at will. Look out for extra charges when receiving your bills and ensure you get a price prior to ordering anything.

Money Exchange Scam

Avoid using small currency exchanges when possible and never accept offers from random people on the street, you could be subject to a poor rate, hidden charges or worst of all counterfeit cash This is becoming less prevalent as more people use the many ATMs available.

Money and Passports

One or two plain clothed men pretending to be undercover police officers approach a tourist target flashing poorly falsified police identification cards, they then insist on checking the targets cash then confiscate it as counterfeit or accuse the target of breaking a law which demands an on the spot fine. Walk away and call 438-8080 or the police.


Another potential scam may occur while driving on the Motorways. This one involves someone who attracts your attention by saying that there is something wrong with your car (i.e. a smoking hood, or a flat tire) in order to encourage you to pull over to the shoulder of the highway. Once you are pulled over, while you are busy inspecting the aforementioned trouble, these scamsters will take your purse, etc. out of the car, or even the car itself, and drive away. Also, car theft continues to occur; favored cars are VWs and Audis. It is best not to leave any items in the car, use alarms and immobilizers, and not to let others see you put things in the trunk (do this before you arrive at your next destination).