About Budapest - Article, 10 April

Safety of Budapest

Careful and carefree – A safe time at Budapest

In terms of safety Hungary comes before the neighboring countries therefore it is a preferred destination among tourists. The number of visiting people can be measured for example on the utilization of hotel rooms which shows a constant rise. Naturally, most tourists visit Budapest, since one can enjoy the historical buildings, the beautiful riverside, wide range of hotels and bustling nightlife at one place here. Not just foreign tourists but often Hungarian people also choose Budapest as their destination.

Budapest is the capital of Hungary therefore it is a big city where safety is always a question. Compared to other European cities, Budapest performs great on lists measuring public safety. See safearound for a reference.

Of course, this does not mean that we should not be careful of our belongings. Danger could be anywhere, at home or on the streets. Do not be careless and avoid becoming a victim.

What exactly could be stolen from us? It could be our wallet, camera, mobile phone or any kind of electronic we carry with us, like a power bank but expensive looking jewellery, sunglasses and a watch could also attract attention.

Creativity blooms on the field of crime, there are many different type of tricks to scam people. Fortunately with a few precautions we can spare ourselves the frustration and the trouble of replacing our stolen goods. Here comes a few tricks we should avoid:

  1. Do not keep your wallet in your back pocket or any open pocket on your bag. This invites pickpocket’s hands on crammed public transport or even streets. Be careful of anybody coming too close to you or even touching you. Do not forget that zips do not protect from practiced pickpockets particularly if you once forget to zip it.
  2. Unfortunately, not everybody needs real help when they ask for directions. It could be a distraction until another person takes our belongings. It is less likely for these people to pick us from the crowd if we keep our valuables in well-hidden pocket and do not flask them on the streets.
  3. Do not take every leaflet. It is a common way of scammers to get in contact with people. They usually ask money for the leaflet you took and could resort to shouting or aggression when you refuse to pay. In a worst case another one could take your valuables. Be careful, look at the leaflet before you take it, and is someone shouts at you keep walking without looking back.

Especially dangerous places are underpasses, the sights visited by tourists and railway or bus stations. If possible do not go to these places alone at night, better safe than sorry. Fortunately, at night there are quite a few police patrols and people are eager to help. Ask for help if you need it.

Our valuables could be in danger even when we leave them at home. It is better to prepare in case a venturesome burglar picks our home for their work. Here are a few tips to prevent them from invading:

  1. Our first line of defense is the door. In the city center most buildings have closed doors which can be opened with entryphone. At some places there is also a barred door at every floor. We can put a crossbar door lock on our door or a barred door before it for further protection. Use multipoint locks and use them when you leave home (insurance usually covers burglary only if all locks were locked). Do not be careless because you live on the ninth or tenth floor, burglars like unfrequented places.
  2. Lock doors when you are home to avoid anybody to come in unwanted. Ask for the ID card or certificate from a repairman who comes without previous notification, even if they wear a uniform and do not let anybody in your home. Utility services always let you know in advance if a control is needed on your heating, electronic system or water conduit. Ask the common condominium representative or if you are a tenant, the homeowner if the control is real so they can warn other residents of the scam.
  3. If you live on the ground floor it is wise to put bars on the windows. It is advised to have the curtains pulled before the windows so nobody can look in and wish to have your television or laptop.
  4. It is better to keep your valuables hidden in your home. Burglars know of the usual concealments (e.g.: the fridge, among your underwears in the drawer, the cupboard in the living room), be creative.

In everyday life it is advised to count the change you get every time even if you seem slow while doing this. In restaurants check the bill before paying. When traveling with a taxi order the taxi for yourself, not just choose one in the street to avoid being scammed.

After listing possible dangers of living in a city as big as Budapest it seems like danger is everywhere. Remember that these are examples and do not happen to everybody. The focus is on being cautious and not careless. An encouraging example is the eight district of Budapest, which had a bad reputation but today is a blooming, fashionable part of the city where we can find the Corvin Mall and many restaurants.

We are not in danger everywhere and do not have to think about what could happen if we take our wallet and go shopping alone. Just put your money in your bag instead of your back pocket and most likely you have avoided becoming a victim.