Common Customs in Hungary

Hungarian customs will not seem nearly as foreign or incomprehensible as the language. In fact, if you have ever traveled in Western Europe you won’t be too surprised by the ways in which Hungarians conduct themselves in everyday life. However, it’s always wise to be attentive to foreign customs so you don’t offend anyone in the beginning.

Consider the following:

  • Hungarians tend to differentiate between those who are familiar to them (i.e., family and friends) and those who have yet to enter this realm. So when you are first introduced to someone make sure to call them by their appropriate title (e.g., Dr., Mr., Mrs.) followed by their last name. When in doubt in Hungary, opt for formality.
  • On business cards and the like, the last name precedes the first name.
  • Handshakes are the common gesture of greeting, no matter how well you know someone.
  • Expect to be offered both food and drink – and lots of it – when you enter someone’s home. Always accept at least a modest serving of whatever is offered. If you’re concerned about drinking too much, drink slowly and then politely decline the offer of another drink.
  • Try to bring some kind of small gift when you are invited to someone’s home.
  • Hungarians are a talkative and passionate people. They frequently state their opinions in very direct terms. Expect lively and sometimes heated discussions.
  • When in doubt, tip, much like you would in North America. Ten percent and upwards is a good, general rule for wait-people, bartenders, taxi drivers, hairdressers, etc.


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