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We fall for it more often than we care to admit. If it looks like a taxi it must be a taxi, right? Wrong.
Budapest is overrun by illegal cabs that take advantage of unsuspecting tourists. A five minute ride in an unofficial taxi in Budapest can set you back a startling HUF5700 (€23; $30).
Threatening to call the police or your local embassy won’t help, as the taxi syndicate is run by the local Hungarian mafia.
To choose your taxi wisely, follow these few simple guidelines. Always ride in cars that bear a taxi company logo and have yellow registration number plates. Don’t be fooled by the mere presence of a lighted TAXI sign. If you’re not familiar with the local system, head to the nearest restaurant and ask them to call a taxi for you. Most taxi companies have an English-speaking operator on staff.
Another tip: Taxis are often less expensive if you call ahead rather then flagging one down on the street. Dial these reliable taxi companies: City Taxi (+36 1 2 111 111); Budataxi (+36 1 2 333 333); and Fotaxi (+36 1 2 222 222).
Or take the metro, a gorgeous photo of which (thanks, h.andreas_xms!) can be seen above.