Good travel health depends on your predeparture preparations, your daily health care while travelling and the way you handle any medical problem that develops while you are on the road. Hungary is an easy country to travel around, with ready access to medication (though if you require prescription medication, it's best to bring your own) and almost no health hazards.
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Before You Go
- If you’re an EU citizen, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available from health centres, covers you for most medical care. It will not cover you for nonemergencies or emergency repatriation. Citizens from other countries should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Hungary.
- Foreigners are entitled to first-aid and ambulance services in Hungary only when they have suffered an accident and require immediate medical attention; follow-up treatment and medicine must be paid for.
- If you do need to use your health insurance while travelling, find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. The former option is generally preferable, as it doesn’t require you to be out of pocket; if you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation.
Hungary doesn’t require international travellers to have any vaccinations, but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination.
Availability & Cost of Health Care
- Medical care in Hungary is generally up to the standards of most Western countries and good for routine problems but not complicated conditions. Treatment at a rendelő intézet (public outpatient clinic) costs little, but doctors working privately will charge much more. Very roughly, a consultation in an orvosi rendelő (doctor’s surgery) costs from 5000Ft to 8000Ft while a home visit is from around 12,000Ft to 15,000Ft.
- Most large towns and all of Budapest’s 23 districts have a gyógyszertár or patika (rotating 24-hour pharmacy). A sign on the door of any pharmacy will help you locate the closest one.
- Emergency dental care is easy and inexpensive to obtain, as many Hungarian towns have an abundance of dentists.
Tap water in Hungary is safe to drink.
Insect Bites & Stings
Tick-borne encephalitis, a serious infection of the brain spread by kullancs (ticks), which burrow under the skin, is a common problem in parts of Hungary. Vaccination is advised for campers and hikers, particularly in Transdanubia and the Northern Uplands between May and September.
Lyme disease is another tick-transmitted infection common in parts of Central and Eastern Europe. The illness usually begins with a spreading rash at the site of the tick bite and is accompanied by fever, headaches, extreme fatigue, aching joints and muscles, and mild neck stiffness. If untreated, these symptoms usually resolve themselves over several weeks, but over subsequent weeks or months disorders of the nervous system, heart and joints might develop. Protect yourself by wearing trousers and long-sleeved shirts when hiking in forests.
Mosquitoes are a real scourge around Hungary’s lakes and rivers in summer, so make sure you’re armed with a DEET-based insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers around sundown.
The number of people registered as having AIDS or being HIV positive in Hungary is relatively low (around 2000), though Hungarian epidemiologists estimate the actual number of those infected with HIV to be around 3000 or more. That number could multiply substantially as Budapest claims the less-than-desirable title of ‘sex industry capital' of Eastern and Central Europe. Resources to contact include Budapest AIDS line Anonymous AIDS Association.