If you want to impress the locals in Hungary, being able to use their native tongue is a great way to start! While the language is hard to learn, these essential phrases will have you on your way to conversing in Hungarian in no time at all.
Szia! Sziastok! (‘See-ah! See-ah-stock!’)
One of the first things you’ll need to learn if you want to talk like a local is this standard greeting in Hungarian. Szia is used when greeting one person; sziastok is used for two or more. (This phrase can also be used to say goodbye).
Koszonom – Szívesen (‘Keu-seu-neum – see-ve-shen’)
Meaning: Thank you – you’re welcome
Being able to say thank you is an essential. Equally useful is being able to respond when people say it to you! Koszonom can be shortened to ‘Koszi’ (keu-see), which is the equivalent to ‘thanks’ in English. When someone says this to you, the correct response would be “Szívesen”.
Nem beszélek magyarul (‘Nem bes-el-ek ma-ja-rule’)
Meaning: I don’t speak Hungarian
This one could come in handy when you greet a Hungarian in their native language, only to have them respond in Hungarian too!
Kérek egy pálinkát / sört / bort (‘Care-ek edge pah-link-cat / shirt / bore-t’)
Meaning: One pálinka / beer / wine please
You’re enjoying Budapest’s awesome nightlife and want to impress the bartender with your language skills? This is the phrase to know if you want to order a beer, wine or Hungary’s favorite fruit brandy, pálinka.
The equivalent to “cheers!” in English, this is said when raising a glass together while drinking. In Hungary, you should also look in the other person’s eyes when you say it. This can also be said when someone sneezes, just like “bless you!” in English.
Vegetáriánus vagyok (‘Ve-ge-tar-i-a-noush va-dj-ok’)
Meaning: I’m vegetarian
While Budapest is becoming more vegetarian friendly by the week, with new cafes, shops and restaurants appearing on a regular basis, Hungary is still very much into its meat. If you want to let someone know you’re vegetarian, this is the phrase to use.
Jo étvágyat! (‘Yoh eht-vah-djot’)
Meaning: Bon appetit!
A phrase used multiple times a day, this is a way of letting someone know you hope they enjoy their meal. A Hungarian will always say this if they see someone about to eat.
Tele vagyok (‘Te-le vah-dj-ock’)
Meaning: I’m full
When it comes to portion sizes, Hungarian cuisine isn’t shy of going a little over the top! To that end, this is how to let someone know that the huge meal you just enjoyed was more than enough.
A számlát, kérem (‘Aw sam-lat keh-rem’)
Meaning: Check, please
While it’s also easy to signal for the check, being able to ask is always appreciated! When it does arrive, common tipping etiquette is between 10 – 15%. However, a number of restaurants will include the service charge in your bill so check first to avoid tipping twice.
Egy kávét kérek szépen (‘Edge kah-v-it keh-reck say-pan’)
Meaning: One coffee please
For many, the day doesn’t begin until they’ve had their morning coffee. If that sounds like you, then this is one of the most important phrases there is to know. This refers to a black coffee but simply replace “kávét” with your drink of choice to order a cappuccino, latte, flat white or whatever takes your fancy.
Viszontlátásra! Viszlát! (‘Vee-sont-lah-tash-ra! Vee-slat!’)
As well as being able to say ‘szia’ when wishing someone goodbye, you can also use this phrase which is a more literal way to say it. Viszontlátásra is slightly more formal, however, it’s also a lot more difficult to pronounce! If you find yourself getting tongue tied, viszlát is perfectly acceptable.