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Hungary Expat Health Insurance Guide

This alluring landlocked country in Central Europe is confined by Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Romania. Hungary is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe and its capital is often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Even though the country is small, it’s not short of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fairytale castles, stunning lakes and grand architecture.

Climate

Hungary generally has a continental climate but different parts of the country can often experience different climates. In the east there’s more of a continental climate but more of a maritime climate in the west. The south, however, experiences more of a Mediterranean maritime climate.

Summer brings very warm temperatures, although it can also be the wettest part of the year. During winter, temperatures hover around freezing temperature and the country usually gets around 30 days of snow a year.

If you’re looking for the best time of year to go to Hungary, it’s usually advised to visit during the spring as this is when temperatures are most pleasant.

Budapest

JanFebMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAug SepOctNov Dec
Max Temp °C25111722252727231683
Rainfall mm343229405666544939395544

Culture

Folk traditions are still very prominent throughout Hungarian culture and music is a very important part of everyday life. Other things that remain a staple part of Hungarian culture are ceramics, embroidery, dance, literature and traditional cuisine.

Bathing is still a vital part of Hungarian culture. They believe spending time at the thermal baths enjoying spa treatments is a refreshment for the body and soul. Not only that, but it has also become a big social activity for Hungarians.

Family is valued above everything else and it’s very common for multiple generations to live under the same roof and all have a great influence on the upbringing of the children.

Language

Hungarian is the primary and official language of Hungary. Over 99% of the population in Hungary speak Hungarian and as well as being the most spoken language in the country, it’s also the 13th most spoken language in Europe.

There are also several minority languages spoken in Hungary, these include Russian, Croatian, Serbian, Romanian and Slovak.

English LanguageDutch Translation
Good Morningjó reggelt
How are you?hogy vagy?
Do you speak English?beszélsz angolul?
How much is that?Mennyibe kerül, hogy?
Thank youköszönöm
Where is the train station?Viszontlátásra

Transport

The public transport in Hungary is well developed with very efficient bus, tram and metro services.

Buses are the backbone of the Hungarian public transport network in most towns and cities. It is the easiest and cheapest way of getting further afield. Using the Metro is the most convenient way of travelling around the capital, whilst the Tram is also a great way to travel in Budapest and other larger cities in Hungary.

If you’re in Budapest, you’ll likely make considerable use of public transport in more rural towns and cities where buses are less frequent, and most places are accessible by foot.

Healthcare

The healthcare in Hungary is of a relatively good standard, but what makes it stand out is the low cost of medical treatment. Healthcare is funded by the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) meaning there’s access to a wide variety of treatments in public hospitals.

Like in most countries, both public and private healthcare is available in Hungary.

Public healthcare is relatively good but public doctors aren’t well paid in Hungary and therefore, the best doctors often opt to work in the private sector. Due to this, waiting times can be long because surgeries are understaffed.

As a result of the troubles with public healthcare, many expats opt to pay for private health insurance and treatment. The benefits to this are hospitals with shorter waiting times and an increased amount of English speaking staff. Hungary’s affordable private healthcare has made it a popular medical tourism destination.

Money

The official currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint. Despite the country wanting to adopt the euro since 2003, it still remains and there’s still no target date for this yet.

Hungary is a relatively cheap country to live in and you’ll find that Budapest is a bargain compared to other European Cities. ATMs are very easy to find in and around the main cities and many international banks have branches in Hungary so it may be worth checking this before you move.

Credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express are accepted in pretty much all shops, restaurants and supermarkets, but if you’re planning on exploring the stunning countryside, make sure you take some cash with you as lots of small business are still largely cash-based.

If you’re planning on staying in Hungary for an extended amount of time, then it’s probably a good idea to open a local bank account. Most large banks have systems in place to make it easier for expats to open bank accounts, as long as you have the required documents.

Schooling

Education in Hungary is predominantly public and financed by the Hungarian government. Children must attend school from age 6-16, but children between three and six can go to kindergarten – the first two years are not compulsory, but the last year is.

From Kindergarten, children progress to elementary school and after finishing eight years at that school, students get to choose between high school, vocational school or trade school, where they will study for a further two years. Students can then progress onto university as long as they have a certification of secondary education.

Food & Drink

The Hungarians are known for their generous use of paprika, sour cream and garlic. Meat is their most popular dish because it’s a landlocked country, fish doesn’t play a massive part in the Hungarian diet.

There’s a large range of places to eat in Hungary, with a mixture of fine dining restaurants and cheaper eateries. Boutique coffee houses are popular in the capital and they generally serve coffee alongside rich pastries.

Wine is Hungary’s traditional drink and it’s taken very seriously. The country is full of vineyards that produce a wide range of distinctive wines.

Some of Hungary’s traditional dishes include:

  • Halászlé – A fisherman’s soup made with freshwater fish and, of course, paprika
  • Goulash – this is a classic Hungarian dish consisting of hearty beef, capsicum and paprika soup
  • Lángos – deep-fried dough served with a variety of toppings, traditionally garlic oil, sour cream and grated cheese
  • Sponge Cake – this is one of Hungary’s most famous desserts and has many layers including three different flavoured sponge cakes, cream, raisins, walnuts and then topped with chocolate sauce

Safety

Hungary is generally a very safe country, however, as tourists have increased, so have thieves. Therefore the biggest concern in the country is common types of crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching.

The country is overall at low risk for crime and is ranked 21st out of 162 on the ranking of the safest countries in the world.

When in Hungary, it’s important to be aware of scammers, drink spiking and ATM frauds. Take all of the necessary precautions when out and about in Hungary and you should stay safe.

Places to Visit

It may be a small country, but Hungary has a plethora of intriguing destinations to discover with a huge number of attractions that are not to be missed. Here are just three places that should be added to your list when exploring this fascinating country:

Budapest

Budapest is the stunningly grand capital of Hungary that is bisected by the River Danube. It’s home to Hungary’s neo-Gothic Parliament Building houses, the beautiful 19th-century Chain Bridge which connects the two districts Buda and Pest.

The city is bursting with things to see and do such as Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Margaret Island. You won’t be short of history, culture and incredible panoramic views.

Lake Balaton

This is one of Hungary’s most popular holiday destinations with beaches, volcanic hills, resort towns and high-rise hotels. The freshwater lake is located in western Hungary and attracts visitors because of its hiking trails, wine-growing region and protected wetlands and the walled Castle town of Veszprém.

Szentendre

This cute town on the Danube is slightly north of Budapest but is worth a visit if you get the time. It’s well-known for its baroque architecture, colourful houses, cobbled streets and churches.

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