When you travel abroad, it is recommended to look up what you should do and see in the city or country you are visiting. However, there are usually few words written about what you should rather not do because it is not considered funny, or quite the opposite, it is viewed as rude behaviour. If you keep on reading, we will give you some tips on what to avoid saying or doing during your time in the Hungarian capital.
Jokes about Hungary and being hungry
I am quite sure that almost every Hungarian person who has ever talked to a foreigner heard the joke hungry Hungary and the question whether all Hungarians really are hungry all the time. It was funny at first, maybe the next two times, but let’s make something clear. When you hear the same thing over and over again, several times every year from your friends visiting abroad or a random tourist you meet in a ruin bar, it does not only become boring but quite annoying and, frankly, it can sometimes be perceived as a rude comment. We have heard it a million times, and we would not say it to each other.
Budapest is not Bucharest
I know the two countries are right next to each other, I know we have a shared history, and I know that there are territories that were previously part of Hungary but now belong to Romania. Us Hungarians, we do not mind if you pronounce Budapest with the consonant “S” when in our language it is a different sound, that is completely fine, you do not have that sound in your alphabet. But joking about calling our capital Bucharest, when there is more than 600km between the two cities, is not a very nice thing to do. Also, it makes you seem like you do not know European geography.
Never toast with beer
It might sound weird for anyone not to toast with a glass or a pint of beer (mostly pint, I mean, who drinks only a glass when it comes to a good Hungarian craft beer?), but for us Hungarians, it is essential. It might be a superstition, but it is definitely based on historical happenings. 150 years ago, during the revolution in 1848-1849 when the Hungarian uprising was defeated by Austria, the winners celebrated in Vienna by toasting with beer. It was even illegal to do it in Hungary for a while, but nowadays, it is only tradition that tells us not to do so. Still, it is very much recommended for foreigners to avoid this custom when they visit our capital.
Being topless in the middle of the city
We know Budapest is a cheaper option than most European cities when it comes to visiting a capital – or organising your bachelor party for a reasonable price, with everything included. These trips are great fun. But please, respect residents of the city by not getting half – or completely – naked in the middle of the day or night, right in the centre. We know you are on holiday and you want to enjoy every second of it and do things you would not do at home, but shouting profanities or anything that comes to your mind at 2 am is not the nicest behaviour, nor is it appreciated.
Not to avoid giving a tip
We know this can be a bit strange since in most countries, tipping is only advised, and some countries even get offended since it is included in the check and prices. However, in Hungary, tipping is part of the culture; usually around 10-15% of the check is given as a tip in bars and restaurants. And when it comes to checks, if you pay in cash and expect to get the change back, do not say thank you because that is a signal for waiters that you are giving them that amount of change as their tip for their services.
Never say no to Pálinka!
We take this rule seriously. Pálinka is our national drink, one of our hungarikums, and we think everyone should try at least a couple of flavours when they visit us. Pálinka, when consumed in a small quantity, is medication. When you drink a bit more, it is a cure, for every existing disease and problem. Well, at least according to our grandparents, but hey, they survived two world wars, they must know something.
Never say no to trying Hungarian food!
Pálinka is not the only thing we consume, like, and have the urge to share with people. We love eating, and food brings people together; however, our food choices may be a bit interesting and strange for foreigners. Do not forget that cold winters require dense, heavy foods for our bodies to function properly, so please do not freak out if your friend invites you to their home for a nice rooster stew or a plate of kocsonya full of pork meet, feet, nails, or other soft parts of the animal. Just give them a try, only one bite, you never know.
Don’t forget to learn some basic Hungarian!
If you are a huge travel addict, you probably know that learning the most useful or most basic expressions whenever you are in a foreign country is not only a good feeling for you, but it is very much appreciated by the hosting country. We know our language is very difficult, not only grammar-wise but also because of all the weird extra letters in our alphabet, but if you pick up just the most essential words and sentences, you can become a local favourite in no time. Here is a little help to amaze Hungarians right when you arrive in Budapest.
Hi – Szia (see ya)
How are you? – Hogy vagy (hodge vadge)
Thank you – Köszönöm (ko szo nom)
Sorry – Bocsánat (botsanat)
Cheers – Egészségedre (just stick with cheers, after 3 pálinkas, even we use the English word)
Beer – Sör (sure)
Wine – Bor (boar)
Yes – Igen (eagen)
No – Nem (nem)
Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun!
Budapest is a gorgeous European city, big enough to entertain yourself with all sorts of plans but not overcrowded so that you would not be able to move in the centre. It offers everything you need, from old architectural monuments through modern bars to thermal baths where you can relax after a long night out. The most important thing to remember when travelling to Budapest is to enjoy your time to the fullest.