Hungarian Forint - HUF
If you should ever go to Hungary you will probably use the Hungarian forint. It was originally thought the country would replace the currency with the Euro by around 2010 but this has yet to occur. There is a lot of history surrounding the forint as you will shortly see, and much else to learn about it too.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
As a decimal currency the forint is subdivided into 100 filler. With that said however, the rampant inflation that occurred in the Nineties practically did away with the filler altogether. Now when you visit Hungary you will only receive the forint as the filler is not in circulation anymore.
There are six forint coins currently in regular circulation, forming part of the 2012 issue. These are the 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 forint coins. The word forint appears as Ft when displayed next to an amount, so you can easily see the currency and the amount something costs. There are also two other commemorative issues worth 3000 and 5000 each, although you will probably not come across these on your travels.
There are plenty of forint banknotes in circulation as well. These are the 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 forint notes. Each one bears a different design on the front and rear.
From past to present – the history of the forint
To find the first usage of the forint in Hungary we need to travel right back as far as the 14th century. The name is said to come from the gold coins originally minted even earlier than this back in the 13th century in Florence (hence forint). From there the name changed to florentinus, the name given to the next set of coins minted and used in Hungary.
As with many other older currencies around the world, the forint has gone through a number of changes over the years. However if we want to discover the true beginning of the currency in use today, we would need to travel back to 1946. This was owing to a troubling period of hyperinflation. The forint came into use in 1946 and has been in use ever since. It remains to be seen how much longer it will be used for given the fact that Hungary is part of the European Union. There has been talk of the country adopting the Euro as its new currency but this depends on the country being able to meet the right economic conditions to make it happen. At present they are far from being able to do so.
How to get hold of the Hungarian forint
You have a number of options available to you. Firstly you can order your forints before your leave your own country so you have a number of banknotes and possibly coins as well to take with you. Traveller’s cheques are a good idea too if you want to be sure you don’t simply have cash on your person.
Fortunately Hungary is well served by cash machines in most areas. Of course you would expect cities and large towns to have more of them than villages but other than that you can be sure you will be able to withdraw the cash you need without too many problems.
Your own debit or credit card should suffice for withdrawing cash; however be aware that debit cards are easier and cheaper to use. This is because the charges for foreign currency withdrawals are likely to be a lot lower than they would be for credit card withdrawals. It might be a good idea to check the current rates for the cards you use prior to going away. It could save you a nasty surprise when you return and look at your statements.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Hungarian forint
As is the case with every other currency you need to find out more about, you simply have to use an online currency converter. This should have two drop down boxes – one you can choose your own currency from and the other you can choose the Hungarian forint from. You can then request the amount of your own currency you want to transfer so you can get the conversion rate. You can then see how far your own currency will go when transferred into the forint.
If you require any further information on travelling to Hungary and anything else of a similar nature, the best place to visit is the Embassy of Hungary in London. You can do this online by visiting their official website at http://www.mfa.gov.hu/kulkepviselet/UK/en/mainpage.htm.
Travelling safely with the Hungarian forint
Hungary is a relatively safe place to go and the threat from terrorism is very low. This means you should enjoy a lovely trip to explore the country and you shouldn’t have to worry about crime.
Of course it makes sense to ensure you are conscious of your surroundings and you keep your valuables in a safe place. There are pickpockets around and they tend to congregate in areas that are known for having lots of tourists. Those who are visiting tend to be more fascinated by the sights than by the people around them. This can make you stand out as a tourist so make sure your cash and cards are kept safely tucked away in a wallet or purse – somewhere that is not easy to get to.
While Hungary has a great exchange rate as far as many foreigners are concerned, you do still need to be careful in terms of what things cost. One of the main areas to be cautious of is in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. While there are some superb deals to be had on food and drink here, they are not to be found in the business area of the city. By all means go to bars and restaurants in this area but make sure you see a price list before you order anything so as not to get a nasty surprise.
Where to spend your forints in Hungary – and what to spend them on
If you are visiting Hungary it will be a shame not to see its capital, Budapest. It is a stunning city and boasts the Danube River cutting right through the middle of it. Among the most breathtaking sights (apart from the river itself) are the Chain Bridge, St Stephen’s Basilica and Buda Castle. The castle looks quite stunning especially at night as it is fully lit for everyone to see. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Budapest comes from the agreement made in 1873 to join together three smaller areas – Buda, Obuda and Pest, hence the name Budapest.
Don’t let this convince you there is nowhere else worth going in Hungary however. It’s not all about cities and towns. For example Lake Balaton is a highly popular area to visit for both Hungarians and tourists. You will find it in the south western part of the country, and there are plenty of towns and villages dotted along either shore. Indeed you will also find several resorts around the lake, perfect to help you make the most of this part of the country.
If you want to get away from it all you can do no better than to visit Lillafured. This can be found in the north eastern reaches of the country and it offers forests, waterfalls and hills to be impressed by. The air feels clean and it really does show you another side to the country – one you will be completely unaware of if you stick to the main attractions such as Budapest.
Szeged is a city but it is completely unlike Budapest. It is packed with stunning buildings including The Water Tower and Szeged City Hall, and provides many places to simply sit and watch the world go by. It may have been largely destroyed back in the 1800s but it rose from the ruins in fine fashion and you will see the results today.
Hungary is fast becoming a very popular part of Europe to visit. While it is landlocked on all sides it has the majesty of the Danube running through it and with Lake Balaton to boast as well, there is no shortage of watery pleasure to be had!
There are many reasons to visit Hungary and it is just as pleasing to visit for a long weekend as it is for a longer trip of a week or two. You certainly won’t run out of things to do while you are there, and thanks to the good exchange rate you can try all manner of local specialities as well. It is worth trying some of the traditional Hungarian dishes if you can, such as langos (dough that is fried with toppings added) and of course the famous goulash. Give it a try – it warms you through and gets you ready for another stint of exploring Hungary.