Using the Telephone in Hungary
At best, telephones in Hungary are merely frustrating. Most of the time, though, they are outright appalling – even worthy of profane outbursts.
“I had promised to call someone at three o’clock in the afternoon, when I was out and about in downtown Budapest. I covered several blocks and more than a few telephone booths before finding even one barely functional pay-phone, and it still took me three or four tries to get through.”
The telephone system is presently in the midst of a long-overdue overhaul. Numbers are changing to meet the specifications of the new digital system. And it’s a mess.
- Public phones come in three colors: red (for long distance), silver (for local), and blue (for both).
- Look for the newer style of public phone. They work for both domestic and international calls. You will need coins – at least five forint denominations, for most phones. Long-distance calls require 20 forint coins.
- For reliable pay phones try the main post office(s) in Budapest or your town of residence.
- Keep looking until you find one that works!
- Buy telephone calling cards. These will help keep you from dumping all your coins into the ill-working phones.
For long distance calls within Hungary: dial 06, wait for a dial tone, and then dial the city code and the rest of the number.
A central service for sending and receiving fax messages is available at:
Post Office No. 62
VI. Terez krt. 51
Phone: (01) 112-1200
Fax: receiving (01) 153-4670
(You must pick up your faxes personally at the post office.)
For international calls, try AT&T Direct. It’s by far the most reliable way to use a calling card or call collect.
AT&T Direct Dial 00 (wait for tone) 800-011-11 or 00-36-0111
Important Telephone Numbers
Police emergency: 07
Fire emergency: 05
Ambulance: 04 or (01) 111-1666
Police headquarters: (01) 118-0800 or (01) 111-8668
Fire station: (01) 121-6216
Directory assistance: (01) 267-7111
International operator: 09