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Four things that make traditional Hungarian marketplaces so special

Fonyód MarketFonyódBalaton

Although grocery stores put a chokehold on the good old marketplaces for some time, this traditional form of shopping has been making a huge comeback, thanks to a greener and more healthconscious approach. These markets are worth visiting not only to purchase your fruit and vegetables, but also because they act like social hubs for local communities. And you will also definitely appreciate a little break from the rush and the rat race. 

Markets in Hungary have roots running centuries deep and it is no coincidence that the Hungarian word Sunday literally translates as “market day.” The etymology of the word commemorates the fact that King Saint Stephen ordered weekly fairs and markets to be held on Sunday, making it a holiday. Certain Hungarian settlement names also reflect their own weekly fairs and markets in their names, the prime example being the town of Szombathely (“Szombat” translates to Saturday, the day of the weekly fair and market held in the town). Incidentally, the marketplaces were not only venues for shopping, but also served as the settings of a vibrant community life where people could learn about local news. Despite the proliferation of shopping malls and supermarkets today, traditional marketplaces and flea markets are now back in vogue, with more and more people returning to the high-quality goods offered by local farmers and producers. Here is our list of four reasons you might want to join the camp of marketgoers. 

Unknown acquaintances

While in malls and hypermarkets you will see new faces behind the counter and at the checkout every time, the same vendors at the marketplaces will greet you as long-term friends. This shopping experience can be a perfect break from mundane everyday life as, in addition to being greeted at the stalls with friendly smiles, you will know exactly where the fresh fruits and vegetables that will end up on your plate actually come from. And you’ll mostly be walking outdoors, instead of under cold neon lights. 

Market, Fonyód

Authentic marketplace gastronomy

It is not only the kind people but also the finest smells that will make a visit to the market such an exquisite experience for anyone. An essential part of shopping at a marketplace is grabbing a bite in the local eateries: a pair of fried sausages with a slice of fresh bread, a homemade lángos (a deep-fried flatbread) with cheese and sour cream topping or some delicious flammekueche.  

Traditions 2.0

Although most people go to marketplaces primarily to get vegetables and fruit, you can also buy flowers – and in some places, even small livestock (such as poultry). Although markets have represented the “traditional” way of shopping, there has been a definite shift to the more modern in the range of goods they offer. The traditional products are still there, but now you can also buy clothes, second-hand books and electrical appliances at reasonable prices.  

Market, Tihany

Going greener

If you feel a real commitment towards a wastefree and environmentally friendly lifestyle, you may want to do some of your main shopping at your local marketplace. Instead of using plastic, here you can carry your shopping in your own canvas bags and trolley bags, and you can also get your milk in a returnable bottle. This will help you eliminate a significant part of the needless waste produced in your kitchen. In addition, the fruit, vegetables and meat you can buy at these markets typically come from local producers only a few kilometres away, rather than being shipped across the country, let alone from abroad, which can also reduce their environmental footprint. And we haven’t even mentioned that the vegetables and fruit that come from your local farmers and producers are usually much higher in minerals and vitamins!  

Market, Fonyód