Hungary Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Hungary
Popular Hungarian souvenirs include embroideries, Herend and Zsolnay porcelain, wooden toys and national dolls. If you’re in search of bargains, try Budapest’s Ecseri Flea Market or the so-called 'Chinese Market' near Kerepesi Cemetery, which both offer a wealth of antiques and bric-a-brac items.
Hungary is a good place to buy food and drink gifts such as sausages and spicy salami, bags of paprika, tinned goose liver, caviar, wines and spirits. The best salami comes from Szeged in the south. Caviar is relatively inexpensive here, but comes from Russia rather than Hungary. Paprika comes in seven strengths, ranging from mild to hot, and can be bought in special presentation bags, making them ideal as presents for those at home. Budapest’s markets are excellent places to buy these food products; the best of these is the Great Market Hall in central Pest, which has food and fresh produce downstairs and handicrafts upstairs, all contained in magnificent art nouveau surrounds.
Hungary has more than 20 regional wines, including Bikavér (Bull’s Blood) from Eger and sweet Tokaji Aszú (contained in long-necked bottles), which make good gifts. Bottles of pálinka (fruit brandy) – in particular the apricot brandy from Kecskemét – are also very popular items.
Most shops are open Mon-Fri 1000-1800 or 1900 and Sat 1000-1300. Shopping centres have longer hours and are open Mon-Sat 1000-2000; some are also open on Sundays. Food shops are open Mon-Fri 0700-1800 and Sat 0700-1300.
Nightlife in Hungary
Budapest is by far the country's biggest centre for nightlife, having a wealth of clubs, bars, discos, music clubs and casinos, with a large concentration on VII Liszt Ferenc tér and IX Ráday utca.
For opera, ballet and classical music in opulent surroundings, head to the magnificent Hungarian State Opera House (tel: (1) 814 7100; www.opera.hu), which stages regular performances throughout the year. Tickets are very reasonably priced for the quality offered and may be bought online or at the box office by the entrance.
Jazz fans are also well catered for in the Hungarian capital, with several specialist jazz clubs staging both Hungarian and foreign talent. Music clubs offer rock, hip hop and electronic music, with the most popular venues tending to change quite frequently.
The capital also has a large number of crowded nightclubs geared to dancing that have resident DJs playing electronic house music. In the warm summer months, some clubs make use of outdoor venues next to the Danube River. Up-to-date listings can be found in English-language publications Where Budapest or the Budapest Sun.
Although on a smaller scale, the nightlife in the larger cities and university towns of Debrecen, Györ and Szeged is also lively. During the summer months, the popular Lake Balaton resort of Siófok has sufficient nightlife for it to be dubbed ‘the party capital of Hungary’. Cinemas in major towns show many films in their original language with Hungarian subtitles. Western Hungary, in particular, has a lot of very good wine cellars that open late.