Central Europe doesn’t come much more central than Hungary, but there’s more to the country than its (often striking) geography. Hungarian culture and ideas have also been central to wider European history, leaving their mark on the striking architecture of cities like Budapest and Pécs.
All of this makes Hungary a popular destination for travellers heading off the beaten track in Europe, but what’s it like to live there for three or more years during a Hungarian PhD? This page provides a helpful introduction, with information on accommodation, living costs, leisure opportunities and other important details.
Hungary has well and truly emerged as a hub for European tourism in recent years, with visitors attracted by its beautiful cities, unique folk culture and rich history. Not to mention the food and drink. As a PhD student, you'll be to get closely acquainted with all of these.
You'll be also researching your thesis in a country that has inspired plenty of other great ideas, from the ballpoint pen to the Rubik's cube (who knows, you might even find time to solve one whilst you're there).
As part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hungary played a key role in shaping modern Europe. This may not seem all that relevant to your PhD (unless you’re studying nineteenth-century politics) but the country’s history has left a rich architectural and cultural legacy, all of which you’ll be free to explore (and / or research) during your degree.
The capital (and largest university city) Budapest, is especially spectacular: its churches and other historic buildings lining the banks of the river Danube. Other cities such as Pécs are also home to some of the oldest Hungarian universities.
Hungary has a proud sporting history, having been runners up in two World Cup competitions and holding the sixth highest number of Olympic medals in Europe.
The country is also famous for its tradition of music, dance and literature, drawing on a range of rich folk traditions and celebrated in its museums, concert halls and galleries.
In contrast, Budapest in particular is famous for its twenty-first-century ‘ruin pubs’: unplanned venues derived from apartment buildings, warehouses and other spaces, now serving as hubs for the city’s vibrant – and welcoming – nightlife.
Hungarian cuisine is very distinctive, including unique versions of soups, stews and goulashes – many of which derive from early nomadic farmers and settlers. Meat is a staple in many traditional dishes, but don’t worry: vegetarians and vegans are also well catered from by a range of cosmopolitan shopping and dining options.
Hungary is also one of Europe’s most important winemaking regions with Tokaj (a sweet desert wine) and Bikavér, or ‘bull’s blood’ (a full-bodied red wine).
The good news is that housing in Hungary is relatively cheap and you’ll have a range of housing options available to you during your PhD programme:
For more information, see the accommodation advice published by the official Study in Hungary service, or check with your university’s international office.
The cost of living in Hungary is also fairly low – at least compared with other popular European study destinations.
The Hungarian Government suggests that students have access to around €700 per month (including accommodation) and this will be a condition for your visa application.
Actual living costs will vary according to your needs and lifestyle, but the following table gives some typical examples:
|Monthly Travel Pass||€26.04|
|Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.|
The best way to find out typical living costs for your PhD is to ask your university about prices (and accommodation options) in the local area.
All students are entitled to work to some extent whilst completing a degree in Hungary.
However, you should check that any work you take on fits with the requirements of your doctoral programme. Hungarian PhDs usually follow a two-stage structure and the first phase in particular is likely to be fairly demanding, with a number of taught classes and curriculum elements.
The amount of work you can do during a PhD will depend on your nationality and visa status:
Some paid employment - such as teaching - may also be available as part of your doctoral programme. You should check whether this counts towards overall restrictions on your working hours.
The Hungarian currency is the Forint (Ft), not the Euro. Opening a local bank account won’t be compulsory for your PhD, but it may be required if you are receiving any funding – including support as part of a state-funded PhD place. Needless to say, a local bank account will also be useful if you plan to work in Hungary as a student.
Various high street banks operate in Hungary and most will offer standard ATM and online banking facilities to international students.
Hungary is land-locked, so, unless you try a Danube river cruise, you probably won’t be arriving at university by boat. Instead you’ll be better off travelling by train or coach.
Most inter-city services connect with or pass through Budapest, meaning that it’s probably easier to arrive in the capital and travel on from there (if you need to).
The largest airport in Hungary is Budapest Ferenc Liszt and this is the main hub for international flights in and out of the country. Smaller domestic and international airports operate in other cities.
Large cities such as Budapest operate their own metro services and some may offer student rates or other discounts for regular travellers.
Last updated - 16/10/2020