Name: Hungarian Forint
Also known as: HUF
Currency Symbol: Ft
Denominations: Ft1 = 100 fillér (no longer used – see below)
Where is it used?
The Hungarian Forint is used in Hungary.
What does it look like?
The Hungarian forint only comes in note form – coins are no longer issued or used. This happened as recently as 1999, when the last fillér coins were withdrawn from circulation. However, the 1 and 2 Forint coins were used a legal tender up until 2008.
This is thanks to economic issues of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s which led to high inflation. It got to the point that 1 Hungarian Forint was worth so little (around half a US cent – $0.005), that the fillér coins were worth barely anything. The coins ended up holding more value in their metal content, which meant they were worth more once melted down.
These days, the Hungarian forint only exists in note form. Detailed descriptions of what these notes look like are listed below, so you know what to expect.
Hungarian forint banknotes are different to the banknotes we’re familiar with, in the fact that they are all the same size and do not get bigger as the value increases. This can mean that it’s a bit tricky to work out what you’ve got initially, but once you’re familiar with the colours of the notes then it should get a bit easier. Each note features a holographic strip down one side, as well as a watermark to prevent forgery. Although fake notes are rare, it’s wise to keep an eye out for 2,000-forint notes which have had their ink partially dissolved, and then turned into a 20,000-forint note – this is a known forgery which can be hard to spot, as both notes are of a similar colour.
Features a portrait of prince sovereign Frances II Rákóczi (who was the leader of the Hungarian uprising in the early 1700s) on one side and the Castle of Sárospatak is depicted on the other side.
Features a portrait of King Matthias Corvinus (who was the King of both Hungary and Croatia during the 1400s) on one side and the Hercules Fountain from the Castle of Visegrád is depicted on the other side.
Features a portrait of prince sovereign Gabriel Bethlen (who was King-elect of Hungary in 1620) on one side, and a painting of Bethlen ‘among his scientists’ by Viktor Madarász is depicted the other.
Features a portrait of count István Széchenyi, a politician who is considered one of the greatest statesmen in Hungarian history on one side, and his mansion – the Széchenyi Mansion in Nagycenk – is depicted on the other side.
Features a portrait of King Stephen I (who was the first King of Hungary from the year 1000 – 1038) on one side, and a view of the old city of Estergom is depicted on the other.
Colour: Purple and Orange
Features a portrait of Ferenc Deák, who was a Hungarian statesman known as ‘The Wise Man of the Nation’ on one side, and the old House of Representatives is depicted on the other side.
Colour: Green and Orange
How much should I expect to spend?
Hungary’s capital Budapest, as well as other tourism hotspots, will be more expensive than the road less travelled. These prices may look very high, but it’s worth noting that Ft.20,000 is only worth around £50. Average prices at the time of writing are: (13th February 2020)
- Double-occupancy hotel room – 22,861
- Meals for one person, for one day - 4,927
- Bus/taxi fares average cost – 3,186
- Bottled water – 360
Is it customary to barter and tip?
Haggling or bartering is not common in Hungary and the vast majority of shops will sell things at a fixed price. The exception to this is at markets, where you may be able to negotiate a lower price if you are buying many things at once. Hungary is much like the UK with respect to haggling.
Tipping is expected in Hungary in bars, restaurants and when using a taxi. A tip of 10%-15% for good service is normal and expected. When tipping - particularly in restaurants - make sure you hand the tip to the person you want it to go to. Never leave cash on the table after a meal as this is considered rude. It’s also customary to state how much change you’d like back (if paying in cash) rather than splitting the amount once you get it back.
Other customs to be aware of:
- Never clink glasses when drinking beer, it's a mysterious custom most probably explained when the Austrians celebrated their victory over Hungary in 1849, and remember that empty glasses will likely be refilled. If you don’t want any more to drink, it’s a good idea to leave some in the glass.
- Hungarians are emotive speakers who will often say what they think. When meeting someone and getting to know them, you may be asked questions that we would consider to be very personal.