Budapest.travel's complete shopping guide
Tourists usually come to Budapest to see the sights, have a good meal or a few drinks while going out. Most of them do not realise that there are (although few) things that are best if, or can be only bought in Budapest. Interestingly, most of the stores are open on Saturday, and even on Sunday. This next part is about where and how to get the right stuff, that is: how to go shopping in Budapest.
Six “Hungaricum” as gifts
As it is quite well known, near the Tokaj region, only white grapes are grown, however a lot of different types of wines are produced, from the dry white wine all the way to the so called “aszú” which is sweet dessert wine and the greater its “puttony-szám” is, the more precious it becomes. The wine-country was totally renewed and revived after the 1990s, due to the significant investments, especially by French firms.
The more than 200 years old bitter herbal liqueur is sold in the traditional bomb-shaped bottle – must be served cold. It is available in all sizes.
(piros paprika), in linen bags. Although it originates from the Americas, its grinding is traditional Hungarian and an essential ingredient of Hungarian cuisine.
Modern print of a 30s photo
Many of the geniuses of photography have emigrated from Hungary. Their contemporary peers have stayed. You can buy some amazing replicas made from the negatives of their photos in the bookstore of Mai Manó House (Mai Manó Ház). (District VI. Nagymez? Street 20., www.maimano.hu,.)
Herend Chinaware (Porcelain)
The almost 200 years old factory produces about 12,000 types of handmade products.
Symphonies of Ferenc Liszt on CD
performed for example by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Liszt (1811-1886) founded the Academy of Music of Budapest and although he spent little time in his home country, he always considered himself to be Hungarian.
Quality presents and souvenirs in general
The main shopping aim of a tourist is to take home some memorabilia for themselves, and presents to their family and friends. If you had enough of the souvenir shops around the main sights or at the main market hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok), that mainly sell bad quality products, and you want to find the original (and way cheaper) sources, read on.
A piece of folk art can be a nice present. If you are really looking for the most authentic one, visit Mester porta, where you can buy genuine pieces of art and music CDs. (This store is run by the association of applied artists). If you want a drink, buy a bottle of pálinka at Magyar Pálinka háza (the House of Hungarian Pálinka), or at the shop of Bortársaság. You can find the list of shops selling guaranteed quality products here. Keep in mind: if you buy something in a souvenir shop, chances are that you will pay twice or three times the price for a lower quality product.
Antiquities, porcelain, crystal
There are numerous shops selling antiquities in Budapest. If you do not have the time to go to the Ecseri market, you can find a dozen shops in Falk Miksa street. Hungarian porcelain is world-famous – Zsolnai or Herendi porcelain will be a perfect decorative object to illuminate your home. You can buy these easily and cheaply in Budapest. Hungarian lead crystal can also be a unique souvenir or present for others: these products are available at, for example, Haas and Czejk. You can find the list of antiquity and porcelain stores here.
If you want to visit a flea market, you have to see the Ecseri market. It is best to visit by taxi, or during a sight-seeing walk, especially on Saturday mornings (it is also open on weekdays, but only before noon). Ecseri is like Larousse – if it is not here, it does not exist. Paintings, books, furniture, thousands of all kinds of little objects, cameras, lamps, weapons and so on. Be careful, as many items are fake, but it is worth the search, as there are lots of fantastic antiquities. It is a wise thing to bargain: you can get almost everything for 60% of the original price, sometimes (if you are good enough) even cheaper.
Foods and drinks
Basic foods and drinks can be purchased in supermarkets (MATCH, SPAR, COOP, CBA etc.), or in smaller shops. There are hundreds of non-stop groceries, all of them with a wide range of products (however, it is not advised to buy cold meat at these stores, as they are not always fresh). If you want to visit a ’great’ sight, visit the main market hall (Nagyvásárcsarnok) - the building itself is interesting, but the storeclerks and the quality of the products are in no way comparable to those in Italy, France or Spain. Pate made of goose liver can be a unique present, but if you want a taste, the pickle stores from Vecsés, in the basement, are the choice for you.
In the market hall there is a wide range of Hungarian salamis and sausages. The most delicious ones are Pick Téliszalámi (salami) and Gyulai kolbász (sausage), as well as red paprika from Szeged. We repeat: if you buy at a souvenir shop, you will most likely have to pay twice or three times the price for a not-so-high quality product.
Fashion (clothes, shoes, accessories, jewellery)
The biggest luxury brands are opening stores one after the other in Budapest, mostly in the city centre and on Andrássy avenue. Trendy young people may find the shops Retrock and Retrock Deluxe interesting, where you can buy clothes made by young designers.
If you are looking for jewellery, Budapest has interesting things to offer. It is worth checking out this list.
Design and handicraft shops
Lots of young designers and applied artists recently opened their own stores in Budapest. They sell unique decoration and articles for personal use. These are not only nice and quality products, but also very creatively designed. A list of recommended shops can be found here.
Numerous American style shopping centres have been opened in the last decades in Budapest. Within these centres every service is available from bowling to clothing, supermarkets to consumer electronics, open all week from 10 am to 8 pm. The biggest one is Westend City Center, while Mammut and Árkád probably represent the highest quality. Full list is available here.
HAPPY SHOPPING IN BUDAPEST!