For many years after independence, Hungary’s shoppers were on a diet of want, having to cross over to Austria for all but the most basic needs. Nowadays it’s a very different story, will the size of the malls outstripping their US counterparts and up-to-the-minute fashions, exquisite crafts, jewelry, home décor and more displayed on Budapest’s shopping streets and two-story market hall. Souvenirs include traditional embroidered linens, fine gilded porcelains, leather goods, carvings - including chess sets and mystery boxes, pottery, lace, rugs, and tapestries.
For gifts, head to the narrow streets and small boutiques in the Castle district and Gellert Hill. For trendsetters, Vica Street has some things, but the largest selection is found on the second floor of the Market Hall. Bargaining is acceptable here, and the goods are high quality and authentic. The most famous of all the potteries in Hungary is Zsolnay, known for its gleaming metallic glazes and intricate patterns. If you’re planning a tour around the country, the traditional craft town of Holloko is the place to buy.
For luxury shopping, Andrassy Avenue, Budapest’s main drag is a hub of international designer boutiques and, for affordable fashion, the renovated old buildings in Deak Ferenc utca, locally known as Fashion Street, yield interesting clothes at high street prices from brand names. Nagykorut (Grand Boulevard) and the city’s outdoor markets are well worth a look if you enjoy bargain hunting. Budapest’s antiques district around Falk Miksa is heaven for collectors, as are the former Government and now privately-owned BAV pawn shop off Szervita ter. The weekly Flea Market is a joy too, but best accessed by taxi as it’s difficult to find.