When traveling to anywhere new or even picking a destination to fly to, one of the first questions all travelers ask before they travel is – am I going to a safe place?
Well, let’s be honest, nowhere in the world is 100% safe, for example, there are always parts of a city that should be avoided, but some cities are safer than others so how does Budapest do?
Join me as we ask the question “Is Budapest safe?” and dive into all the details about safety you need to know before visiting Budapest.
Budapest is safe overall and when visiting Budapest you will love spending time on both the Buda side and the Pest side, crossing the stunning Danube River as you go.
While Budapest is a very safe city, you don’t need to worry about violent crimes in Budapest as violent criminal acts are extremely rare, and any violent crime committed never involves tourists.
That being said, Budapest does suffer from petty crime like every city with minor crime acts like pickpocketing and fraud being the crimes to watch out for. So while there are minimal dangers to tourists in Budapest, there are a few things to look out for to ensure your safety in Budapest.
Pickpockets are one of the biggest safety issues in Budapest and pickpockets will remove things from an open bag, valuables left on a table, and any other opportunity the pickpockets can take.
Pickpockets tend to target people around crowded areas like subway stations, major hotels, fast food chains, train stations, and popular tourist sights too. Bag snatching can happen too but usually bag snatching is uncommon and they usually just want to pick something out of your bag unnoticed.
Taxi drivers can also play a fraudulent game with you. Your taxi driver might, for example, take you somewhere you don’t want to go as a recommendation and then add the journey to the fare despite it not being something you requested. Or the taxi drivers might take you to a place that then extorts you.
Another of the crimes to look out for are scams in restaurants. Quite often, the staff in restaurants will add a tip to your bill along with other items that you didn’t order in the restaurant. This is one of the easiest scams to avoid, simply check your bill carefully and if a crime has been committed, don’t leave a tip.
Men walking solo on the street, particularly after a few drinks, should be suspicious of over-friendly women as they are running scams to take your money.
Being such a popular tourist destination, Budapest is perfectly safe, and it is actually getting safer and safer. Staying safe is easy in Budapest, it is simply about keeping an eye on the belongings you have on you.
If we take a look at the safety index, Budapest ranks 76 out of 100 which classifies it as a low risk city with close to no violent crimes involving tourists but with some minor crimes. Overall it is a very safe city that you can enjoy exploring and are pretty much guaranteed a safe trip.
The next question we need to ask is whether Budapest is a safe city at night as nighttime is usually when the most crime occurs, and the heavier violent crimes tend to happen across the world.
Budapest has a booming nightlife with tons of pubs serving affordable beers as well as bars and nightclubs too. All travelers will want to experience Budapest’s nightlife, so how cautious do you need to be while doing so?
Generally speaking, you are safe to walk around Budapest at night, especially if you stick to busy tourist areas, well-lit streets, and the main areas of the city. You will see beggars on the streets but they are as chilled as they are in the day and you never bump into unsavory types like drug users or hookers.
One thing to look out for is people who have drunk too much as both the locals and tourists can drink too much and become overly friendly. Usually crossing the street is enough to get you out of their sightline.
I would suggest only walking down brightly lit streets with traffic and open establishments. Walking down dark alleys is never a good idea anywhere in the world, so be sure to avoid these. Make sure you know your route back to your hotel and that you have chosen a well-lit one. Following the main streets near to the Danube is always a good idea.
Solo travelers need to think about safety more than friends traveling as a group, and female solo travelers, unfortunately, have to take safety even more seriously.
Luckily, Budapest is safe for solo female travelers as the locals are very much used to seeing women doing things on their own. But, like in any European City, there are always some risks but women traveling alone should feel no concern when they explore this stunning city.
The atmosphere is very enjoyable and relaxing in Budapest and a woman alone can really get involved without concern. Enjoy everything from seeing a show to the thermal baths on your own.
Just be wise about where you decide to stay and ensure your accommodation is in a safe part of the city. You should plan your routes to the city center well, especially for returning home to your accommodation at night.
Going on a guided tour is a great way to stop wondering if you are safe, which you are, and if you want to do one of the popular pub crawls, do it with your hostel as a group.
As with all major cities, common sense is king so if you feel uncomfortable, feel like you are in a dodgy area, or anything like that, don’t be scared to remove yourself from the situation.
The public transport in Budapest is excellent and it is a great way to get around the city to see all the cultural attractions and other sites too. You can choose between four different metro lines, buses, trams, and even boats on the river.
When using public transportation it is extremely important to get your ticket validated at the orange or red box, usually at the station, before you travel. Make sure you keep your ticket for inspection as if you don’t have it you will get fined.
This often happens to tourists and one of the scams that has come out of it is fake ticket inspectors charging fake fines. An authentic inspector will have a photo ID and be wearing a blue and red armband.
Pickpockets are the only unsafe thing about the public transportation in Budapest, so when using the transportation services keep your belongings out of reach and don’t get distracted. If you are carrying much cash, maybe use a money belt.
Overall using public transport in Budapest is safe, just look out for a picker pocket or two.
Driving in Budapest is as safe as driving in most big cities in Europe but is also not really worth it.
There is a ton of traffic in Budapest so half the time you will be stuck in a jam and the other half having to deal with locals driving too fast who know the roads a lot better than you. Public transport also slows you down as there are bus lanes and trams have priority too.
You will also find a load of one-way streets in parts of the city and one-way streets are a real nightmare, especially if you don’t know the city. Also, the drink driving rules in Budapest are serious, you can not even have a sip of beer and drive a car so you will miss out on any beer and wine tastings by having to drive.
Budapest also experiences heavy snowfall and ice which only makes navigating the city in a car a lot harder.
Overall, Budapest is as safe to drive in as any other city in Europe but it is not worth it and sticking to public transport is actually more efficient.
The tap water in Budapest used to have a bad reputation and numerous blogs put travelers and tourists alike off drinking it. But, this is no longer true as Hungary has taken control of this resource to ensure it is clean and safe to drink.
You can drink the water in Budapest, eat food washed in it, shower in it, and brush your teeth with it. If you travel on a budget it is a great idea to bring a water bottle with you so you can fill up at every opportunity and have water whenever you travel around the city.
Budapest and Hungary are known for their amazing food and generally, the food is safe to eat with tourists rarely getting sick. Some of the best food to try include curry, goulash, beef stew, and späetzle.
That being said, there is very little standard precaution when it comes to food hygiene and keeping it at the right temperature especially with street vendors and markets. Here are some pointers to ensure you don’t get sick from the food in Budapest.
Any food that is not kept hot enough or cold enough will be full of bacteria. If you see a steaming curry that is bubbling at a street vendor, then it is going to be safe to eat. If it is lukewarm and doesn’t look hot enough, it is best avoided.
Don’t eat in any restaurants that don’t have prices on the menu as these restaurants are designed to overcharge you and rip you off.
It is always a good idea to eat in places full of locals, and the central market hall has an awesome array of food to choose from. You should also ask your hotel for recommendations and check out what google reviews and trip advisor is saying.
Yes, Budapest is a family safe destination and it has a ton for you and your kids to enjoy while you are there. There are loads of parks, boat rides, museums, and lots more attractions that will keep you all busy.
The public transport in Budapest makes travel as a family easy as there is space for pushchairs on the metro and trams too. Restaurants also have high chairs so you can dine out as a family with ease.
You will be able to find big family rooms at most of the hotels in Budapest and if you have splashed some cash, you will also be able to use a complimentary babysitter from the hotel too.
One thing to be aware of that might make you feel unsafe, to begin with, is that the older ladies of the city will be super sweet and kind to your kids, giving them sweets and little touches. This is just a part of the culture and nothing to worry about.
The main thing to be on the lookout for when you travel as a family to Budapest is the weather, pickpockets, and staying in the right area. I would suggest avoiding District VII as this is the noisy party section where sleep may evade you and your kids.
Pickpockets will take advantage of you being distracted by your kids to make sure all your things are safe and don’t leave things under the pushchair.
It gets very hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter in Budapest, so be sure to pick a good time of year to visit as a family so no one overheats or gets too cold.
Generally, Budapest is one of the safer destinations to travel to and when it comes to areas to avoid, there are only a few you need to think about.
The city is divided into 23 districts that stretch between the Buda side on the west of the Danube and the Pest side on the east. Chances are you will be spending most of your visit between Districts I, III, V, VII, VIII, and XIV as these are where all the major attractions can be found.
But, as we have already discussed, busy areas are great places for pickpockets to operate unnoticed so be sure to keep your valuables secure and not fall for any scams or distractions. This is pretty much all you need to worry about in these areas.
If there are any areas in Budapest to avoid, it is the outer sections of Districts VII, VIII, and IX as this is where crime is most prevalent in the city. Some streets should be avoided too, including District XIII’s Angyalföld street and District VIII’s Kőbánya and Józsefváros street.
There are some dodgy streets in every district and if you take a wrong turn down one, you will know about it, just turn around and go back. Overall though, there isn’t much to avoid in Budapest, especially in the tourism areas.
If Budapest is a safe place to visit, then surely it is a safe place to live too? Yes, it is, and since it is so affordable and now a part of the EU, there are a lot of ex-pats moving in too.
With very few violent criminal acts, a vibrant atmosphere, loads to do, and a rich history, who wouldn’t want to live there?! But there are a few things to be aware of.
Break-ins do happen like in any city, cars being robbed is a thing, and there are a lot of homeless people in there, which may shock you. There are also no late-night restaurants or shops, so it’s not like the big cities such as London or Paris.
If you do plan to live there, make sure you rent somewhere in a nice part of the city as this will make all the difference to your time there.
The best time to visit Budapest when it comes to weather is between April and June or September and October. These are the shoulder seasons when the temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold, and the city isn’t chocked full of tourists either.
The summers in Budapest are incredibly hot and the winters are freezing cold so these times are best avoided bar one.
Christmas time in Budapest is pretty special as the city is already so beautiful and when lit up with Christmas lights, Christmas markets, and snow on the ground, the festive spirit is intoxicating and a joy to experience.
Going to Budapest for a long weekend before Christmas is high on my bucket list and I would recommend adding it to yours too.
You have probably made a list of safety tips if you have already read everything above but just in case you haven’t, here is a list for you.
Generally, official taxis are safe in the Hungarian capital but there are a few things to look out for.
Make sure you get in an official taxi that has a real taxi sign, has a company name on it, and you should find the driver’s license number and plate on the back of the front seat. Take a picture of it.
Always get a taxi with correct change as they will say they have none as a scam. Also, make sure they start the meter immediately or you might be being taken on a recommendation tour. Pull up the directions on your phone to show them the direct route so there is no ambiguity.
The key to not being pickpocketed is not standing out and to do so, do not look like a tourist. Avoid using a big map for example. Also, revealing clothing stands out compared to the locals so keep your shoulders, legs, et al covered in a light long dress in the summer instead of skimpy clothing.
Budapest holds one of the largest LGBTQ parades in Europe and is home to a lot of great gay bars too. The only thing to be aware of is public displays of affection, PDAs and this goes for everyone, homosexuals and heterosexuals alike.
The city is not as accepting as others when it comes to PDAs so keep these off the streets and in the fun bars.
Only use official money changers as you will get scammed on the street and the airport is a great place to do it. You can also withdraw local currency at the ATMs just be sure to be vigilant and only use them in the daytime.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!