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Currency in Hungary - interesting facts about the Forint

The Hungarian Forint (Budapest currency), the official currency of Hungary, has a rich and intricate history that reflects the economic and political upheavals of the region. Introduced on August 1, 1946, the forint replaced the pengő, which had suffered the most severe hyperinflation ever recorded, peaking in 1946. This drastic measure was necessary to stabilize the Hungarian economy in the post-World War II period, where the pengő became virtually worthless overnight.

Currency in Hungary - interesting facts about the Forint

Currency in Hungary - where does its name come from?

The name "forint" is derived from the city of Florence, where gold coins called "fiorino d'oro" were minted in 1252. This historical linkage underlines the long tradition of minting coinage in Europe and connects Hungary to a broader continental economic history. Initially, the forint was a stable and strong currency, backed by substantial gold reserves, which instilled confidence in a war-torn society.

During the initial years following its introduction, the forint contributed significantly to stabilizing Hungary's post-war economy. The currency underwent several reforms and denominations to adapt to the changing economic landscape, particularly during the transition from a centrally planned economy to a market-driven one following the fall of communism in 1989.

Budapest currency – coins and banknotes

The coins and banknotes of the Hungarian Forint are not merely instruments of everyday transactions but also cultural artifacts that encapsulate Hungary's rich history, heritage, and identity. The current series of Hungarian currency offers a diverse range of denominations suited to the modern economy, each uniquely designed to reflect significant aspects of Hungarian culture and history.

Coins in circulation include denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 forints. 

The banknotes of Budapest currency are particularly illustrative, encompassing a broader range of denominations from 500 to 20,000 forints. Each note is designed with sophisticated security features to combat counterfeiting, including watermarks, security threads, and color-shifting inks. The design of each banknote is meticulously crafted to highlight significant Hungarian historical figures and landmarks. For instance, the 1,000 forint note features King Matthew, while the 2,000 forint note depicts Gábor Bethlen. Gábor Bethlen was a prominent figure in Hungarian history, known for his role as the Prince of Transylvania from 1613 to 1629. Born in 1580, Bethlen came to power during a period of significant turmoil and conflict in Central Europe, particularly during the Thirty Years' War.

The 5,000 forint note illustrates Count István Széchenyi, one of the most prominent statesmen of Hungarian history, reflecting the 19th-century era of reform and modernization. The 10,000 forint banknote features King Saint Stephen the 1st. King Saint Stephen I of Hungary is a central figure in Hungarian history, recognized as the founder of the Hungarian state. He was born around 975 AD and reigned from 1000 or 1001 until his death in 1038. As the first King of Hungary, Stephen was instrumental in establishing the Christian kingdom, integrating Hungary into Christian Europe and solidifying its medieval monarchy.

The highest denomination, the 20,000 forint note, features Ferenc Deák, known as the "Wise Man of the Nation," who played a crucial role in the Compromise of 1867, leading to the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This note not only circulates as the highest value but also serves as a reminder of the country’s complex historical narratives of unity and division.

Where to buy Forint (Budapest currency)?

You can purchase Hungarian Forint in several ways. Here are some common options:

  • Currency Exchange Offices: before traveling or upon arrival in Hungary, you can exchange your home currency for Forints at currency exchange offices. These are widely available at airports, train stations, and tourist areas. It's advisable to compare rates and fees as they can vary between locations.

  • Banks: many banks offer currency exchange services. It might be beneficial to check if your local bank offers Hungarian Forints before you travel. Banks in Hungary also provide currency exchange services, often at better rates than exchange offices at airports.

  • ATMs: withdrawing Forints from ATMs in Hungary is one of the most convenient ways to get cash. ATMs are readily available throughout the country, including in smaller towns. Be aware of potential fees for international transactions, which can vary depending on your bank's policies.

  • Online Currency Exchange Services: you can order Forints through online currency exchange services. These platforms often offer competitive exchange rates and deliver directly to your home or a nearby branch for pickup.

And speaking of Hungarian money, it's worth mentioning at least one place where it's really worth spending a few banknotes!

For Sale pub Budapest – a really unique place in the Hungarian capital

Tourists are always drawn to standout spots like Budapest's For Sale Pub. This bar's memorable decor includes a distinctive Western flair, primarily from the countless notes left by past visitors, who scribble messages for those who follow. Adding to its charm is the live music that fills the space in the evenings. Rather than its existing name, alternatives like "Message Haven," "Sea of Paper," or "Little Elephant" might capture its essence more vividly. Let's explore why these names might be more fitting!

Sea of paper - or the other great mystery of the For Sale Pub Budapest

As soon as you step into the For Sale Pub in Budapest, you're greeted by walls plastered with scraps of paper. These papers, adorned with messages, drawings, and greetings in various languages, are left by visitors, each adding their unique touch to the pub’s decor. It's as though the patrons themselves have curated the interior design with these personal tokens. Tourists often leave their messages dated and prominently displayed, capturing a moment of their journey. Taking a photo with these notes is a popular way to preserve memories, especially when traveling with friends. Reflecting on these shared moments later can be profoundly satisfying. It raises the question, though, of who reads all these high-placed notes, some even reaching the ceiling. The management of these papers by the pub's owner is a bit of a mystery, as they seem never to be discarded. 

Nice drinks and fine food

The For Sale Pub Budapest is popular with locals and tourists alike, not just for its endlessly unique interior design. Delicious drinks and great food await those looking for sophisticated entertainment. If you're in Budapest, be sure to spend some quality time at this cozy pub.

We advise every visitor to make a reservation at the bar. It's quite popular, and patrons often end up waiting at the entrance for a vacant table. At the bar, let them know how many are in your party and the type of table you're after, and they'll call you by name when it's ready. Tables are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The bar is spread over two floors, featuring a bar counter near the entrance with smaller tables on the ground floor and areas for larger groups in a rear corner. The second floor hosts tables suitable for groups of four to six. Once seated, you can place your order for food and drinks. Keep in mind that the food may take some time to arrive, so it's best not to come overly hungry. If you're just there for a drink, you can enjoy it directly at the bar.

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