Budapest loves its malls, and the Westend is one of the biggest and most popular of them all, and very central. Located right next to the Nyugati station (Nyugati means West Station - geddit?), it makes the perfect shopping point for anyone located on the Pest side of the city (Mammut is probably your best bet if you are in Buda). It's long and narrow and stretches along several floors, reaching all the way to the back where you'll find a very modern multi-screen cinema complex.
The Budapest-Eye, a hot air balloon ride, is (or was) supposed to take off from here, but I have never been able to find it.
Although the Great Market Hall in the ninth district is bigger, this is the real big marketplace for locals. Many of the stalls are run by farmers from the countryside around Budapest, who bring in their goods every morning. You'll find lots of traditional Hungarians, with polite and quirky mannerisms. You'll also find some quirky little shops, like the Arabic food store. My Israeli friend, and enthusiastic regular, claims this is run by a Palestinian and his Hungarian wife, and it is full of traditional Arabic foods, some imported directly from the Middle East. You'll find hummus, tahini, feta cheese, mint tea and pita bread by the basketful.
This part of the world is perfect for wine. In fact if you took all of what used to be Hungary, before it was carved up after World War 1, you'd have one of the world's top wine producers. As it is, they're a respectable 14th.
Most of the wine is grown in the western half of the country, with Eger, the villages around Pecs in the south, and the shores of Lake Balaton being some of the most famous. And then of course there is the Tokaj wine growing region, the most famous of them all... but I'm not a fan of white dessert wines so I know nothing about that.
Probably my personal favourite at the moment is Bikaver (bull's blood). Legend has it that originally it contained actual bull's blood, and was given to the Hungarian soldiers fighting off the Turks to boost their strength and stamina. Today it is merely a blend of several different grapes that combine into a full bodied wine. There's something about a good Bikaver that keeps me coming back for one more swig...
It actually has a bit of a bad reputation as a cheap and nasty wine. That's because the first people to "discover" it from the west were the low-rent backpackers who hit East Europe after the Iron Curtain fell. They found the vineyards of Eger a great place to get drunk on the worst, cheapest Bikaver, and took back with them the idea that this wine is just plonk to get drunk on. Today it's regaining its reputation as one of Hungary's finest wines, but the poor reputation means there are some real bargains to be had.
Central European grapes, especially those found in Germany, do well here, but you also get a good Merlot, Pinot Noir or Cabernet. Hungarian reds to look out for are Kadarka, Portugieser, Kekfrankos and Bikaver.
What to buy: I get all my wine for Bortarsasag, and it's the most reliable wine store I've found in Budapest. It has stores all over the city, and you can find your way to the nearest one by checking out their English language web page. There you will find addresses and maps - it's easy!
What to pay: Hungarian wine is relatively cheap, and buying it in Hungary is the cheapest. You can get a drinkable bottle for as little as a couple of euros. But personally I'd recommend spending at least 5 euros, which will get something very palatable. Anything over 10 euros is usually fantastic.
The building is an historic one, renovated in the 1990s. It was designed and built by Samu Pecz around 1896. It is the largest market in Budapest and offers combination of food and tourist things to buy. I found the building gorgeous and, as always, enjoyed the variety of foodstuffs available. There are small cafes and restaurants inside. The food is on the ground floor, the souvenir stands aer on the balcony.
So it is a combination of shopping and "things to do."
What to buy: This is heaven if you are staying in an apartment and wish to cook.
What to pay: Wandering around is free. But there are plenty of temptations!
Today, everyone is Campona Nagytétény shopping center to name but few are familiar with the story, which dates back to the Roman era. The city is named after the leader is likely to Tétény.
Hensel Aquincum next to a small Roman settlement was fortified with the Campona Castellummal lying on the Danube limes, ie military and border defense line functioned as an integral unit. The ancient line of defense was that one of the weakest stations, where most break-ins and arson occurred, the archaeologists have found traces of which are also found in the XXII. district.
Lots of souvenir stores are located at Vaci utca which is the most commercial street anyway. We bought some magnets at Gellert Hill near the citadel, but you can find more tourist traps at Castle Hill or everywhere near touristic spots. Ceramics, painted eggs, paprika of course, not only the real one but plastic in every shape and style (there’s even a paprika vodka!), some local wines (most of them seemed great in low price scale, maybe we were lucky), palinka (traditional brandy), salami and sausage are also famous we didn’t buy just tried at the market
The largest flea market is Esceri (at Nagykorosi ut 156)open daily 8.00-16.00 (a bit earlier in weekends)
During Christmas don’t miss the popular market of Vorosmarty square full of wooden stalls and lights (typical central Europe)
The Christmas Fair is traditionally held on Vorosmarty ter, in the heart of the Inner City (Downtown). Snow, special lights, Christmas ornaments and the taste of hot wine and 'kolbász' (~sausage) ensure the special atmosphere of the Christmas Fair.
What to buy: Buy any of the so-called 'Hungarikum' products. Paprika, csipke, Unicum, wine, other souvenirs... anything you find interesting at the fair!
What to pay: The fair takes place in the middle of the major tourist area of the city, therefore souvenirs are more expensive than in other Christmas fairs in Budapest (e.g. in Budapest Arena at Nepstadion metro station).
There are number of stands along the bank of Danube, especially in front of Vigado, offering some pretty interesting local craft souveniers. If one is good in burgaining wont spend too much money here in bying souveniers for family and friends. The major problem could be language barier because this guys here dont speak much other languages besides Hungarian.
The shop is located at the underpass level colorful, youthful with rich supply of goods. The staff is friendly and helpful.
What to buy: Sportswear, women's athletic clothing, menswear, street clothes, sport shoes, skate shoes, bags, backpacks, children's outerwear and shoes, wallets, finger board, fingerbike, track items, skateboards and accessories, sunglasses and accessories,
My favourite streets located in Pest side from the new Corvin Shopping Centre to Petõfi Bridge. The shopping centre is in hart of 8. district of Budapest. The past and the present merge in this area.
What to buy: everything
Budapest has a gorgeous Central Europe feel at Christmas, The most popular Christmas markets is the one of Vörösmarty Square. There’s cake-making, along with full size nativity scenes in the wooden stalls lining the streets.
Annually, usually from around third week in November to end of December.
Sunday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
What to buy: Over 100 wooden chalets with plenty of crafts on offer, from wooden toys and candles to iron and glass ornaments. Don’t forget to try the warm sausages.
What to pay: Various
The plans for the interior decoration of the café were completed by the artisan Henrik Darilek in the years after 1910. Fine woods, marble and bronze were used. The ceilings were decorated with rococo plaster work in Louis XIV style; the chandeliers and wall lamps were created in Maria Theresa Style. Gerbeaud had secessionist style tables sent from the Paris World Fair so that the elegant ambiance would be perfect. During this time, however, the effects of the First World War were felt ever more strongly, even in the Gerbeaud House.
What to buy: For more than 150 years Gerbeaud has defined what we know as a café and confectionery.
Budapest's largest flea market is off the beaten track though, in spite of that for the tourists is worthy to visit here. On the swarming market not only the shopping, but looking around and searching is an experience.
Open: Mon-Fr: 08.00 - 16.00 Sat: 06.00 - 15.00 Sun: 08.00 - 13.00
What to buy: Here everything can be found, everything is for sale: antique objects, violins, gramophones, books, chinas, coaly irons, carpets, old soda-water bottles, feathers, dinner services, coins, military relic, laces etc. The old copper mortars, buckled glass, tin soldiers, military honours quote back a disappeared world. It is not miracle , if the visitor feels, as if the time would have stopped here.
What to pay: It is not allowed to omit the bargain from the game, since this is a rite of shopping. The shopper has to decide it, what is the maximum sum, which he is willing to pay for the chosen object.
Special products of Hungary
Unique traditional folk art items: ceramics, embroideries, painted eggs, dolls in folk costume, hand-painted Herend and Zsolnay porcelain, crystal and Halas lace.
Food: red paprika in gift boxes, goose liver, Pick salami*.
Spirits: apricot and plum brandy, Unicum liqueur, Tokaj and other famous regional wines.
This is the famous stuff ... Pick and Herz are among Hungary's most famous exports. Quality is legendary. If you are not as lucky as I am to buy them in the supermarket across my street (in Germany!), sample some of the produce in one of the Budapest shops.
What to buy: Salami Snacks