Shopping in Budapest
The variety of goods on sale in Budapest has dramatically increased since the end of the Soviet era, and despite the ubiquitous shopping malls and designer stores that have popped up, there are still a great many small, charming shops selling something unusual.
Pest's chic shopping street, Váci útca, has been a fashionable spending spot since the 18th century. Today its surrounding avenues tempt tourists too with familiar high street and designer names. Andrássy Avenue is another high-end option featuring some art nouveau gems such as the Paris Department Store. Fashion Street, from Vörösmarty tér to Deák tér, is home to many stylish labels and Király útca is where Budapest’s emerging design scene currently resides.
The Great Market Hall (Nagy Vásárcsarnok) at Fovám tér offers a fine selection of produce with strings of paprika-coloured coral necklaces, pots of pickles, goose liver and salami all on offer. There are supermarkets to stock up on Tokaj wines, Pálinka (cherry and apricot brandy) and bitter, black Zwack unicum (herbal liqueur). Upstairs, there are hand-embroidered tablecloths, porcelain and traditional folk costumes.
The Corvin Plaza (Futó útca 37-45) is the newest of Budapest's shopping malls. It has everything from pharmacies and printing services to clothes and electronic shops, plus a free ice rink. There are many malls around the city, but for something different try Budapest's BÁV stores, state-run pawn shops selling everything from junk to gems. Its main branch is at Bécsi útca 1.
Standard opening hours are Mon-Fri 1000-1800 (often 2000/2100 on Thursdays) and Sat 1000-1300. The Great Market Hall opens Mon 0600-1700, Tues-Fri 0600-1800 and Sat 0600-1400. Only shopping malls open on Sunday. Many small shops close in summer.
Good gifts include Hungarian folk art such as dolls in local costume, embroidered pieces, clothes and pottery. Good hand-painted porcelain can be found at Zsolany, Kigyó útca 4 and Herend, I Szentháromság útca 5.
Sales tax (ÁFA) of 27% (18% food and hotel rooms, 5% medical supplies and books) is included in the price and can be reclaimed by visitors from outside the EU. The production of a receipt and a completed refund application form is required at customs.