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Markets in Budapest – a centuries-old tradition dressed in modern clothes

Great Market Hall BudapestGreater Budapest

In the past few years, a new chapter has begun in the history of Hungary’s markets: the old tradition, which was an important part of the culture for centuries, is flourishing again. Markets traditionally sold mainly fresh food, but today they mean much more to society: they are also a place for social interaction, but shoppers also visit markets regularly in order to support small businesses, to follow a healthy and environment-conscious lifestyle, as well as to buy gourmet food ...

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At weekends, producers from different parts of the country take to the capital's best-known markets, which are flooded early in the morning by people trying to find the best products in the maze of stalls. Nowadays, markets have become a form of recreation, a hobby that also carries cultural value and that everyone should experience at least once. You can get a taste of this feeling at the following markets.

The alpha and omega of markets in Budapest: the Great Market Hall

At the end of the 19th century, Budapest's urban structure underwent a major change, and it acquired its present-day appearance in the space of a few decades. However, this modern world city still had outdated, dirty and unhygienic street markets, which were more and more loudly criticised by the press. In response, the most famous craftsmen of the time erected the imposing building that became the number-one market hall in Budapest. The colourful ceramic elements are from the factory of Vilmos Zsolnay, and the facade is also decorated with Zsolnay pyrogranite. The market hall at Fővám Square has been operating ever since, except for a few short breaks. The market stalls, which are open from Monday to Saturday, allow visitors to choose from a wide range of tasty products, from homemade dairy products to fresh meat. The stalls on Hungarikum Street specifically try to serve the needs of foreign tourists and offer quality Hungarian products that every Magyar household always has in the cupboard. If you get hungry while shopping, you can stop at one of the restaurants or buffets to taste traditional Hungarian dishes (lángos, fried sausages, hurka), or reinterpreted versions of them.

Czakó Producers' Market, where shopping turns into celebration

Every week, Hungary’s best producers bring their products to Czakó Garden in the Tabán district. You’ll be amazed at the multitude of delicacies. A special feature of the Czakó Market is that visitors are always greeted in an extremely direct, almost family atmosphere: many people wave at each other from a distance, but newcomers are also immediately welcomed to the community and provided with useful tips on where to buy the best products and to taste the most delicious snacks. This is a producers’ market, so it offers – in addition to "classic" market goods – gastronomic curiosities: micro-vegetables, free-from desserts and pasta and cheese specialties as far as the eye can see. The Czakó Market often organises thematic fairs, for example, joint lángos frying, various workshops or charity events.

Producers' market disguised as a ruin pub: Pancs Gastroplacc

At first sight you may think that Pancs Gastroplacc, located near the Corvin district, is one of the popular ruin pubs in the city centre. This should not mislead anyone as the punters will not find craft beers here but can choose from seasonal fruits and vegetables, cheeses, home-made hams and salamis, bakery goods, syrups, jams, fruit juices as well as vegetarian and vegan delicacies. At least on Sundays because on the other days of the week the place is home to a cosy ruin pub. It says a lot about the atmosphere that shopping often ends with breakfast or lunch together, often accompanied by street music. The producers regularly organise workshops and tastings, and – to pay tribute to the old Hungarian customs – you can also drink a pálinka here as the older generations agree that this it’s the best way to stay healthy.