Before you jump in this article it’s important to clear one thing. There is no Uber in Hungary! Instead of Uber you can use taxis to get around…
Uber in Hungary?
From January, 2016 the hungarian taxi drivers have paralyzed traffic for months with protests. They demanded the termination of Uber and all unauthorized transportation companies.
After lengthy negotiations, on the 13th of June, 2016, the Hungarian Parliament passed a law which ended Uber in Hungary.
Therefor, you can’t use Uber in Hungary.
Taxis in Budapest
We want you to have fun in Hungary and return home with many happy memories, which you can tell all your friends. However, the whole trip can be ruined by one simple bad thing, for example, if the taxi driver thinks you’re stupid, because you’re a tourist.
No matter how confident and prepared we are when we go abroad, in a foreign country we always feel a bit vulnerable. And of course, the local taxis are always well aware on how to use this to their advantages.
Back in the day it was much easier for taxi drivers to fool people (even the hungarians!), but due to the government’s new and stricter laws, almost all the scams were eliminated. But you can always be fooled, if you aren’t prepared. This is why we have a few tips for you, so you won’t become a victim of this.
Tips, so you don’t get fooled
Tip 1: Don’t sit into “barefooted” taxi driver’s car!
Barefooted taxi driver means, that they aren’t contracted by a taxi company. It’s possible he doesn’t even have a permission, he just covers his car with the yellow sticker, and the business is open. There is no problem with the business itself, as we do need more taxis. According to records, during peak times there are over a 100 thousand addresses that cannot be reached by dispatchers.
The problem is that many independent taxi drivers use tricks. For example they cover the taxi sign, they drive around without a permit, they mess with the clock, so it moves a lot quicker, etc. Of course, this is generalization, as there are some honest ones among them. There is a Hungarian proverb: “If the cap fits”.
Most of the barefooted taxi drivers don’t even answer to Hungarians. He won’t take you, if you speak hungarian. They are specialized in the foreigners, who aren’t aware of the tariffs, or where they can order a taxi, so they fall victim easily.
Due to this, the chances and views on honest taxi drivers are getting worse.
How to recognise a barefooted taxi driver?
– Look at his car. Check the doors and/or the hood for large stickers that indicate which taxi company he is with. These are among the trustworthy companies: 6×6 Taxi; City Taxi; Főtaxi; MB Elit Taxi; Taxi 4; Taxi Plus, Taxify. If you can’t find a sticker, no matter how much he says, get in, he will take you for cheap, DON’T DO IT!
– If you didn’t pay attention and you are already in the car, then look for a tariff chart on the dashboard in front of the right front seat, and an identification card with a picture! On the identification one of the 7 above mentioned certified Hungarian taxi companies’ name MUST be there, with who he is in contract with. If there isn’t an identification card, ask him to show it to you. If he has any issues with this, or starts to mumble away, but doesn’t show it, then:
- Hand on handle
- Door open
- Get out, while saying: “Ez nem jött be.” (Pronounce “Ez-nem-yott-be”, which basically means “You almost got me.”
- Door closes
- Optional: Right hand bands → Palm faces you → Middle finger slowly opens → Wink
– Most taxi companies require their drivers to wear a shirt and long pants. During summer, when it’s 36-38 degrees in the shades it isn’t always true, but it can help when you pay attention to their clothing. If the driver is wearing flip-flaps, shorts with a big gold necklace over his t-shirt, while spitting out sunflower seeds, RUN!
It can also be difficult to recognize barefooted taxi drivers, because they often park by designated taxi driver spots, even when they shouldn’t. They park there, because they gang up and scare away the contracted taxi drivers. Therefor, many times they are forced to park much further.
The question may arise, what happens if I do travel with one of these taxis?
– Well, in worst case scenario, you pay triple of the normal fare (or even more), and get a good idea on where you can find lovely Hungarian women and drugs. Other than this, you don’t have to expect any atrocities.
Tip 2: Call a taxi, don’t wave one down!
This is the safest, quickest and cheapest option.
It’s 100% that you won’t end up in a barefooted taxi driver’s car. A taxi will most often arrive within 5 minutes, no matter where you are in Budapest. Moreover, if you call a taxi, you get better tariffs then if you wave one down.
If you really want to wave one down, pay attention to what we described in tip 1.
Nowadays, many taxi companies have their own mobile apps from which you can order a taxi, but unfortunately none so far has managed to do it properly. It’s a shame. They are problematic. They freeze, they aren’t translated to english properly, they are over complicated, therefor I really can’t recommend any of them. Hopefully with time, they will manage to deal with this “complicated task”.
Every dispatcher can speak English. Just say your name and the address where you are. They will often ask where you would like to go, or if you have any special requirements. (for example: bigger car, airport transfer, child seats, etc.)
When the taxi arrives, ask them what is the name of the person, they came to pick up. If they say your name, you’re good to go.
Tip 3: Don’t get yourself driven around the city!
Many taxi drivers (even the contracted ones!) fool even us Hungarians, bz not going to the destination on the quickest route. Of course they don’t drive us all around because we know the area, but they’ll try, to make the price go up by a few hundred/thousand forint. At these times they take a different route, which isn’t reason enough for the passenger to start complaining.
But it’s different, when you’re a tourist. It can be a barefooted or a contracted driver, if they want to fool you a little with a few extra kilometers, you probably won’t notice. Despite this, I can give you some advice so this won’t happen.
The Hungarians are very sneaky. When a taxi driver asks you “where are you staying”, “how do you like the city”, and “is this your first time in Budapest?” he isn’t only trying to converse. He will quickly figure out if you are a good target for a bit of extra charge. If you say that you’re staying at Four Seasons and this is your first time in Budapest, he will know you’re the perfect target.
I recommend you don’t say that you’re staying in a luxury hotel. It’s better if you say you’re staying in a hostel or an apartment. But the most important thing is even if you’ve never been to Budapest, always say you’ve been here many times so he definitely won’t try to bring you on a sightseeing ride.
Another method is to say to the taxi driver as soon as he starts the car, that you’re in a rush and you need to get to your destination asap. If he hurries, you’ll give him a bigger tip.
Download a route planner (eg.: Waze). Give him your destination before you get into the taxi. Of course, mute it down. If you notice that something isn’t right, mention it to the driver.
Tip 4: Always carry change!
Taxi drivers never carry around smaller change. Especially, if they know that you’re staying at an expensive hotel.
- Always carry smaller amount of paper money.
- Many taxis now accept payment by card.
Tip 5: Watch my hands, because I’m cheating!
Rodolfo (1911-1987), world famous hungarian magician said often: “Watch my hands, because I cheat!”
He was always right 🙂
This is a similar situation. You arrive at your destination, and the driver lets you know of the cost. He doesn’t turn on the light. You give him a 10,000 Forint note, and you don’t even notice, but he is already waving a 1000 Forint note in front of you. (And with his other hand he already hid the 10,000 Forint note you gave him earlier.)
“Sir, I’m sorry but this is only a thousand, not ten thousand.” He does it so quickly and so convincingly, that you don’t even think about it, until he drives away.
- Sit at the front. Watch the money as you hand it over. He won’t have a chance to fool you.
- Get him to turn on the light, if it’s night time.
- If you’re sitting at the back, show him what you want to pay with. Wait for him to get the change. Swap at the same time.
Tip 6: Clock on!
Don’t let them convince you, to get dropped off without the clock being on. He has to turn it on, but without the clock, you more than likely will pay more. There is no guarantee that the cost you’ve agreed on before the trip will be exact, as you only agreed verbally.
If you follow these 6 tips, you won’t be fooled!
Are taxis in Budapest expensive?
Unfortunately, the taxi fares compared to other neighbouring countries like Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia are more expensive. The General Assembly of Budapest has a taxi fare that is unified everywhere!
The tariffs of taxis in Budapest in 2019.
Base fare: 700 HUF
Kilometre-based fare: 300 HUF/km
Time-based fare: 75 HUF/minute*
*for waiting and if speed < 15km/h
If these aren’t the prices you see, get out!
How much should I tip?
Taxi drivers live off money too. Most of them are honest, hard-working people, therefor they appreciate tips. If you were happy with the drive, then the acceptable tip in Hungary is 10%.
Trustworthy Taxi companies in Budapest:
Phone: +36-1-222-2222; +3620-222-2222; +3630-222-2222; +3670-222-2222
Phone: +36-1-2-111-111; +3620-2-111-111; +3630-2-111-111; +3670-2-111-111
MB Elit Taxi