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A week after, I'll be going on a central Europe tour of Budapest-Prague-Vienna. This is the first time I'm travelling abroad, and as a new graduate I'm on a rather tight budget in case of shopping costs. I know Austria uses euros, but Czech republic and Hungary use their respective currencies also.

Will using Czech crown (koruna) and forint be more profitable then using euros? If so, will 100 euros to koruna and 100 euros to forint exchange cover the cost of;

  • Lunch and dinner + tips (breakfast is covered by the hotels)
  • A cup of coffee or beer
  • Around 6-7 souvenirs (magnets, snow globes, key chains, etc.)

I'll be spending 1 and a half days in Budapest and Prague.

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    Using a currency rather than another cannot make anything more or less profitable. However the cost of living can be noticeably lower in some countries compared to others. Obviously in any country you can have lunch and dinner and a coffee and a beer and this kind of souvenirs for a lot less than 100 euros, or a lot more than 100 euros, depending on your standards... It would probably be useful if you told us were you are from, and how much you would spend in your local currency there for those things, so they could be compared. – jcaron Mar 30 at 23:43
  • @Harvey If you exchange your home currency for 3 different currencies you will possibly incur 3 sets of exchange fees. Exchanging a small amount of koruna and forints will probably cost disproportionately more (eg if there is a minimum exchange fee) and if you have a very small amount left over it could well not be cost-effective to change them back. If you can use Euros in all three locations, that might be the better option overall. Changing your home currency to Euros and then changing Euros to koruna/forint also doesn’t make much sense economically. – Traveller Mar 31 at 0:05
  • If you can, get a revolut card and you'll stop worrying about exchanging currencies and fees. – JoErNanO Mar 31 at 7:49
  • I think you should be in the €50 per currency range, less when you pay lunch and dinner by card. Bank card might work. – Willeke Apr 1 at 6:52
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if you want live on a budget, you need to exchange cash - small shops don't take Euros or Credit Cards, or only on horrible rates.
If you go in middle class restaurants, you probably can pay with credit cards (no Euros).

Generally, those countries have lower cost of living; but as you will be in 'Tourist Central', you will easily pay equal or more than in western Europe.

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    This was not my experience in Budapest. These days you'd be hard pressed to find any cash only establishment. It's disappearing fast. Market stands are the only ones I recall. – chx Apr 1 at 5:33
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    What chx said applies to Czechia as well. As a local, I need cash maybe once every few weeks. A small shop in a village somewhere has perhaps 30-50 % chance of accepting cards. But in Prague or other places of interest for tourists, cards are accepted by every single establishment. That applies mainly to VISA and Mastercard, other types (AmEx, JCB, etc.) are somewhat less popular. – TooTea Apr 1 at 8:53
  • My experience form December 2018 is that you cannot buy a sausage on the street, or a roll in a bakery, other than cash in local currency. Especially when you want to life low-key, and don't visit the tourist restaurants. – Aganju Apr 1 at 12:26
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Our usual advice, and it holds for Hungary and the Czech Republic, is to find an ATM card with no foreign transaction charge, and use it as much as possible. Every tourist-oriented concern I went to in Prague and Budapest took plastic. Indeed, American Express was running a special promotion with the cinema for 15% off: usually that's a lousy card to use overseas.

If you can't find such a card, I would attempt to pay with Euros, which will be accepted at some exchange rate, likely poor. However, neither the koruna nor forint will be easy to exchange outside their home country, and I think you will lose even more bringing your change from 100€ home.

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My advice would be to choose a bank in your home country that has low or no conversion fees, and primarily use an account in your income currency. I travelled to all three cities, and have rarely ran into cash-only places.

Since you're saying you're only there for less than 2 days,

  • Cash. If you do need cash, avoid the tourist-area 0% fee exchanges, since they factor their profits into poor conversion rates.
  • Food. Look for low-price places on Google Maps and Foursquare. Also,
  • Coffee. I'd look for individual coffee shops and avoid chains such as Starbucks or Costa Coffee
    • Prague: Coffee Break and Cake Žižkov
    • Vienna: Coffee Pirates, Jonas Reindl, Phil (Gumpendorfer Str.)
    • Budapest: Madal Cafe
  • Internet. Do not buy a separate SIM card for each country, instead enjoy the EU-wide "Roam Like At Home" regulation. For example, I'm getting 11 GB of EU-wide data from an austrian carrier.
  • Souvenirs. I'd look in regular grocery stores or retail chains and avoid tourist-y places like central train stations.
  • Transportation. If you don't mind biking, try using the City Bike system in Vienna: first hour is free, taking a break for 15+ minutes resets the counter and the next hour is first (therefore free) again. They say you can sign up only using a credit card, but I've had two debit cards working on my account for years now. Use their site for a map of stations, I can't post any more links here unfortunately.
  • Toilets. These are non-free most cases. Look for shopping centers (e.g. Palladium in Prague), Starbucks in Vienna, or selected McDonalds locations.

For Prague, you can learn a lot from the Honest Guide Prague YouTube channel. For example, their take on budget restaurants from 2016 still holds.

  • Useful tips, but if you're in each city for only 1.5 days, I wouldn't be recommending McDonald's, University canteens and Hungarian Mexican restaurants... – lambshaanxy May 5 at 21:45
  • @jpatokal I was under impression doing this on a budget was the key point here. Could've gotten it wrong though. Regardless, the ones I listed above, I myself confirmed to be either cheap, or affordable, or at least getting the best bang for your buck (or euro, for that matter) – WhatHiFi May 7 at 8:30

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